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Why Your Content Isn’t Working: My Personal Case Study

29 January 2015 Jane Kryukova
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Well, if you’ve decided to read this article, you are probably disappointed with content marketing. Perhaps, once upon a time you had read a lot of inspiring articles and case studies and decided to fuel your promotion with this strategy – writing expert, quality articles, answering topical questions fr om your potential customers, making your texts semantically unique – but it’s already been half a year, and you still haven’t got any results. It seems like you’ve done everything right by following the recommendations of marketing rock stars, but there is no traffic, no sales leads, and your budget is wasted.

My blog has already 100 posts. Where are my clients?
My blog has already 100 posts. Wh ere are my clients?

Of course, the first thing you probably think is that content marketing is overrated, and it is not worth your time. If so, if this is what you are thinking, and you plan to stop using content marketing in the near future, then don’t rush, please. Perhaps, the only thing you have missed in getting the desired results is this article.

Why Does Content Marketing Not Produce Results?

There are two global reasons:

The first one is your business. More precisely, it’s about misunderstanding its actuality and perspectives. For example, you are engaged in an expensive paper diaries retail business, while nobody uses them - because almost everyone has a tablet, or maybe you repair tube TVs – of course, I exaggerate, but you should get the idea. Content marketing also might not work if you use it in the wrong niche. For example, there is no use for content marketing when promoting a website, related to a single service, which is in demand here and now – like ordering a taxi, for example. In this case a small website with short text and a clearly seen phone number is enough. There are another couple of reasons related to this point. Read this article if you are interested – you’ll find more details and even a small case study by our agency. I won’t stop at these reasons in the article you are reading right now. I hope that your business itself is completely Ok.

The second reason is the quality of your content. Den Savelyev, the main content marketing expert in Russia, says: “If your content marketing isn’t working, then your content is a useless piece of shit”. Yeah, it sounds rude, but it’s straight to the point. That’s the reason 99% of brands can’t succeed at content marketing. They start creating content without a final idea of what this content should be to produce results.

In this article I’ll tell you what principles should be followed when creating content for a blog, and how to apply best practice when for searching new ideas, which I always use when searching for new ideas for Texterra.

What Should Your Content Be?

We have written a lot about what content should be to drive both traffic and leads. If you have missed these articles, then here’s your chance to read them now:

These are the articles on our English blog, but we also have Russian blog, which is extremely popular – it has about 3000 unique visitors a day. We were working on our blog for several years, and we’ve achieved great results with help of content marketing.

All of the above mentioned articles are translations from Russian, all the recommendations we give are based on a real-life experience, and we have tried all of them – we have no doubts that they work, and so we want you to have no doubts as well.

Read these articles and you’ll find a lot of recommendations – all of them are really helpful. However, according to my own experience, there are 5 of them that are extremely important:

1. Mix Different Types of Content

Content can be divided into 3 types: content that drives traffic, content that makes you an expert in the user’s eyes and persuades a user in need of your product or service, and the last one – sales content.

The first type includes:

  1. Posts with a lot of useful tips (list-articles). Example – Quintessence of Social Media Marketers’ Experience: 70 Articles That Will Make You a Professional. 399 shares. In Russian.
  2. In-depth posts (guides). Example – Free Website Promotion: 62 Steps to Conquer the Top of Search Engine Ranking. 685 shares. In Russian. Read the English version of this article here.
  3. Posts with exclusive tips (unknown for majority). Example – 7 Free Hidden Gems That Boost Your Online Working Experience. 347 shares. In Russian.
  4. Posts about recent events (newsjacking posts). Example – “Magic Gates” of SEO Have Closed. 315 shares. In Russian.
  5. Provocative posts (unpopular opinions). Example – Conversion Killers: 7 Lines That Make Users Leave Your Website. 292 shares. In Russian.
  6. Funny posts. Example – Life Of a Content Marketer in Pictures. 173 shares. In Russian.

As you already know, there is one common thing for all this type of content – people want to bookmark or share it. As a matter of fact, it has no impact on buying decisions, but it plays another role which is much more important than you may think. It drives a new audience to your website and becomes the starting point of the new user’s journey into the sales funnel. Being interested in a post, a user is likely to read another one, and sooner or later will notice the second type of content:

  1. Posts which explain your services’ advantages over a competitors’. Example – SEO Market in the Epoch of Suspicion. In Russian.
  2. Posts showing that you are an expert authority in your niche. Example – Putting Online Marketing in Simple Terms. In English.
  3. Posts that create a need for your product or service. Example – Using Responsive Web Design as an SEO Tool. In English.

It doesn’t matter if a user will not make a spontaneous decision to buy after reading this content. There is nothing bad about it. The same user may regularly consume these 2 types of content for months before moving forward to the next one. It’s ok. The more complicated and expensive your product is, the more time it takes to think everything over. Anyway, you have already achieved your main goal – you have attracted a visitor to your website, let him or her know about your brand, showed that you are great experts in your niche, told them about your strengths and shared examples. Now you have to wait till the day a user decides to go to the “Our Services” sales section of your website (the third type of content) and makes an order or contacts your sales manager.

These three types of content work perfectly together, and our blog is a great example of this.

2. Create Content That People Want to Share

All online marketers are worried by the same question. How do you create content that people will share? As a matter of fact, it’s pretty simple. Ask yourself just one question when searching for new ideas: “If I was the target reader, would I share this post?”. Please, don’t laugh at how simple this question is. It really works. When I started asking myself this question, the number of shares of my articles greatly increased.

It may not be very pleasant to hear, but your content marketing likely isn’t working for this reason. Most copywriters, especially freelancers, write content just to write it. They just type the necessary number of characters. They learned how to pour one simple thought into a huge wall of text, and they think they are great professionals. Do you know what I’m going to tell you? Copywriters such as this are useless. No one needs waffle and dummy texts – it doesn’t matter how beautifully they were written, and what metaphors were chosen. People need useful information. The more useful an article is, the more likely it will be shared. That’s why you should create content with tons of useful stuff. TONS of it, not just a single tip explained in one article, but LOTS of such tips. People should want to save this post to implement its ideas in the future.

By the way, it’s funny but in most cases these posts aren’t even read, just shared. Once we had posted an article with 50 helpful tips for Google Analytics on our Russian blog, and there were a lot of broken (by mistake) links. The article had lots of shares. Only after a week had passed, some very attentive reader contacted us and told about the problem. So, our conclusion is: list-articles are explosive, use them with no doubts.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Promote Your Competitors

One more conclusion I’ve made during working on the Texterra blog is that there’s no need to be afraid to mention your websites-competitors. Take a look at the most popular posts on our Russian blog. Just look at the numbers of shares:

Such articles drive traffic like crazy. It doesn’t matter that in this way you promote your competitors too, because all the shares this post gets will lead to your website. People will study it, click links, read other materials and build awesome behavioral factors. In any case, you are the one who wins.

4. Build Audience on Social Networks

It’s necessary to build an audience on social networks to succeed at promotion. You know, there’s one thing – you can’t get a lot of traffic without social networks. Even if your content is amazing, no one will notice it, if you have no audience on social networks. Yeah, you’ll be getting search engine traffic, but it’s not enough. Register on all the popular social networks and start building your audience now to speed up your promotion. There are millions of ways to do it. I have mentioned most of them in The Complete Step by Step Guide to Facebook Promotion.

5. Don’t Count on Your Imagination – Steal Ideas

It is said that ideas can be found anywhere – they can dawn on you even when you go shopping or ride a bicycle. Yep, that’s right, but does it happen to you that often? Let’s imagine that you are going out to buy something. Do you really think about your job? I guess you’re thinking about how not to forget to buy eggs and bread. So, I recommend the following to you: don’t count on your imagination and inspiration. You should look for ideas and take them.

A great place to look for new ideas is in your bookmarks. You should bookmark all the quality websites in your niche and track their new posts. I have about 50 online marketing websites bookmarked to search for new ideas for Texterra. Once a week, minimum, I go through all of them and see what they have posted.

The second place (the treasure box of ideas) is BuzzSumo. This is how it works: you enter a query, and it searches the most shared articles for this query. The results page shows the most popular posts and number of shares on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.

BuzzSumo found the most shared posts about cats
BuzzSumo found the most shared posts about cats

There are a lot of search options. For example, you can use punctuation marks:

  • Add a minus mark before a word, phrase or a domain – to exclude them from search results
  • OR preposition between words or phrases to search by several queries at the same time
  • Use quotation marks to make an exact query

You can also enter a website’s domain and find the best content from it.

BuzzSumo domain search
BuzzSumo domain search

BuzzSumo has another three useful options. Firstly – it can search viral posts for a certain time period. Secondly – it can search for a specific type of content (articles, infographics, guest posts, giveaways, interviews and videos).

BuzzSumo

Finally, the third one – it can export data to Excel.

Well, these are the conclusions I’ve made during one year of working in Texterra. Hope you’ll find them helpful.

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Автор: Jane Kryukova
Marketer at Texterra. She writes awesome stuff for our blog, composes email newsletters, and is always searching for new tools and methods of site promotion. Jane believes that great content is one of the most powerful weapons of a marketer and successfully uses this idea in her practice. Find Jane on Facebook, where she loves to share interesting posts on online marketing.
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