Why does content marketing fail?

Listen and subscribe on: iTunes | Stitcher | Soundcloud


“I tried content marketing and it didn’t work…”

I’ve heard this more times than I care to remember, and there are many reasons why this might happen.

My follow up question when people say the they are going to stop or quit content marketing is “OK, so tell me, what are you going to do instead…?”

Typically met with a blank stare.

So, let’s talk about the reasons content marketing fails and why people give up, and see if we can do something to increase success for you.

I’ve got 10 points I want to cover, and many of them have follow up episodes to listen to, which I’ve included here in the show notes for you.

The 10 reasons why content marketing fails are:

1. Not understanding what content marketing is
2. Not understanding the importance of SEO
3. Not measuring results
4. Not managing your expectations
5. “…I don’t have time for content marketing…”
6. Not creating content for your prospects
7. Complacency
8. Fear
9. Lack of belief or passion for your business
10. No strategy or plan



I have tried content marketing, and it didn’t work. I’ve heard this more times than I care to remember. There are many reasons why this might happen. My follow up question when people say that they’re going to stop or quit content marketing is, “Okay, so tell me, what are you going to do instead?” This is typically met with a blank stare.

Let’s talk about the reasons content marketing fails and why people give up, and see if we can do something to increase success for you. I’ve got 10 points I want to cover. Many of them have follow up episodes that you should listen to and dig into, which I have included in the show notes for you. You can kind of use this list, this 10 reasons why content marketing fails as a kind of way into other episodes that cover the topics in more depth. Let’s get started.

1. Not understanding what content marketing is

Number one, the first reason why content marketing fails for organizations and people today, not understanding what content marketing is. That’s the first reason. All the talks, workshop, teaching, and content I have created, after doing all of that, it’s still obvious to me that people think that content marketing is a tactic. It’s blogs and social medias and stuff. It’s clear to me that they don’t truly understand what content marketing is, then that misunderstanding leads to a mis-education, and therefore a lack of results. Then, just stopping altogether, and that’s even if they get started in the first place. Just not having that understanding, it just makes content marketing not a priority for people and they underestimate the power.

I’ve been teaching content marketing to hundreds of business people and marketers for a while now, so here’s my thoughts on what content marketing is or how we should understand or see content marketing. Content marketing done well is executed as a commercial strategy, a sales process for you business. In other words, you create content that helps your prospects to feel more educated, confident, and then trust you to help them make an educated buying decision. You can see the whole sales journey. You’ve got this vision in your mind, you can see the whole sales journey for your prospects and your customers, and you understand how your content serves them at each stage of the journey.

Content marketing will not only help you to get better customers, but it will also speed up your sales process. It makes so much sense when you understand it. If you’re not convinced yet or you’re not fully aware or you don’t fully understand what content marketing is, go ahead and listen to episodes 129 and 130, which are just before this episode that you’re listening to. I go into more depth about how content marketing increases sales. I’ve dropped the links into the show notes for you, so that’s episodes 129 and 130. Go and dig into that stuff. Start to understand content marketing better. Once you get it, there’s no going back. It makes complete sense. That’s number one, not understanding content marketing.

2. Not understanding the importance of search engine optimisation

Number two, a reason why content marketing fails is not understanding the importance of search engine optimization, or SEO. This is one of the most common mistakes, and I see it all the time. It’s also one of the major factors that has a big impact on success with content marketing as well, so it’s a big common mistake but also a very quick way to get some quick results. The main reason people don’t value SEO is because they’ve never really experienced the results from organic traffic, so they just don’t value it, they don’t prioritize it.

An example of what this might look like if you’re making this mistake is that, you’re writing and publishing blog articles and you’re only getting traffic when you publish that blog and put it out there by email or social media. In other words, no one is searching for, finding, and using your information. They can’t find you in search. That’s a good example of the symptom of that problem, the result of that problem, is that you’re just not found in search. No one can see you when they search for you.

Over time, this can stop people and make them think that it doesn’t work. Someone at some point told them that, “If you produce unique and fresh content, Google will reward you.” Well, there is a little bit more to it than that. You can’t just simply turn up and blog. There has to be search engine optimization, deliberate SEO strategy, and that needs to be on your agenda for learning and understanding as well.

Go ahead and check some of the related podcast episodes in the show notes; what’s the difference between content marketing and SEO, why do content marketers use keyword tools, and stop creating content and do these things instead. Those are three episodes that I suggest you go and check out and have a listen to, and any of the other episodes really, to be honest with you, will help you understand why search engine optimization is so important for your content. If you’re going to put all that effort and time and resource into creating content, let’s try and make of it the best chance of winning online. Search isn’t the only way to be found, but it is a major, major factor. Make that a priority. That’s number two.

3. Not measuring results

Number three, the third reason why content marketing fails is not measuring the results. We’ll talk about this in future episodes of the podcast too, I’ve got more I want to share with you on this, but for just now, this is more about how to make sure that your content is actually working right. The mistakes that people make are typically in not measuring anything at all, or measuring the wrong metrics at the wrong time.

An example of this would be, you’ve been blogging or creating content for three months, and in order to measure the success of that you’re measuring sales. You’re measuring pounds and dollars in the bank, when you really probably should be measuring engagement metrics like position in Google or traffic on your website. That mismatch of when and what, so what you’re measuring and when you’re measuring it, can lead you to think that it doesn’t work.

That’s a major player, that’s a major factor. I’ll cover that in more future episodes, but don’t forget, when you’re measuring not everything can be measured in a spreadsheet. We encourage people that we work with to also measure qualitative results as well. Things that can’t be measured in Google Analytics, and that’s when someone phones you up or contacts your business or walks into your shop for the first time and says something like, “Oh, you’re the girl from the videos,” or, “I’ve been watching all your videos to try and help me …” whatever. You’re getting that qualitative response from your prospects. That’s stuff that you should write down and note, because that’s important too.

In short, measure the right metrics at the right time and you will notice that results come quickly. If you don’t measure, how can you expect to know what’s working and what’s not? More importantly, how will you know how to improve? That’s what measurement’s all about, getting better.

Now, there’s a little bit of a myth with content marketing. Many people say and think that it takes a long time to get results with content marketing. In our experience, that’s simply not true. What’s more accurate is that it takes a while to get your best results from content marketing. It takes a while to get your best results with content marketing, but it’s possible to see quick progress in three to six months. Especially if you’re doing the right things consistently, and you aren’t making other mistakes that I’m mentioning in this episode as well.

An example would be Jack at Clinic Mastery and the team there. Within three months of consistent blogging on their website, they multiplied their traffic and page views by five times, by a multiple of five. They also increased their sales by three times as well. It can be done if you’re doing the right things and you’re measuring the right metrics at the right time for your part of your journey that you are in. That’s number three, not measuring the right things or not measuring at all.

4. Not managing expectations

Number four, fourth reason why content marketing fails for people and brands and companies, is not managing their expectations. Sometimes in life things don’t work out the way that you want them to. Marketing’s no different. You can’t expect every single article or piece of content that you create to be a hit right away. Don’t judge or put too much pressure on yourself or those that work for you to justify the results for each single piece of content.

See the bigger picture, but make sure you are measuring the right metrics for each piece of content as well. Like, what’s the objective for this piece of content? Did we meet that objective? Is it being put to the right job or the right task? Focus on what you can control, and what you can control is creating high quality content and the results thereafter are really out of your hands. You can influence those results, but you can’t control them. Remember that there will be quantitative and qualitative results to measure. Everything can’t be a number in a spreadsheet. It isn’t always clear cut like that. Manage your expectations and don’t give up when something doesn’t work. Figure out what you can do better next time, and keep turning up.

5. “I don’t have time for content marketing”

Now, the fifth reason why content marketing fails is when someone says, “I don’t have the time for content marketing.” Now, we’ve talked about this a lot in the past, in previous episodes. Check out episodes 122 and 123 on the topic of time; how to be more effective with your time and how to get over this challenge of not having the time. I put the links in the show notes for you.

The main reason why people say that they don’t have the time is because they don’t value content marketing yet. This leads to giving content marketing a kind of lip service. Like, they don’t really invest in it, which naturally leads to a lack of results, which justifies exactly what they were thinking, that it’s a waste of time. Therefore, they don’t take time to learn, to measure, to improve, and they just eventually stop. One of the biggest mistakes people make is saying that they don’t have the time. What they’re really saying is, “I don’t understand it, I don’t value it, and therefore I’m not willing to make it a priority in my life.”

6. Writing for peers instead of prospects

The sixth reason why content marketing fails is writing content for your peers instead of your prospects. This is a big one. Now, your peers don’t pay your bills. It’s no good being famous in your industry and not having any customers. It’s no good being a celebrity and being poor. What this leads to is, if you’re creating content for your peers instead of your prospects, it leads to a lot of traffic on your website and a lot of page views, but no leads and no sales. You may have said this or you may have heard someone saying this, “We’re getting a lot of traffic, but we’re not getting any leads. Content marketing doesn’t work.”

It’s a tough lesson for people to learn, but it makes sense once you get it. It feels natural to write about what you know about your industry and the work that you do, but that’s not what your prospects are looking for. Let’s change that from this point forward. Listen to your customers better than anyone else and create content for the people that are already in your sales funnel, those that are interested in buying from you.

Create and publish highly targeted content for your prospects that helps them to make an educated buying decision. Get specific, very super specific about the questions and the problems your prospects have, and create the best version of that content that exists online today and deals with those questions and problems, and you will see a complete change in the results that you’re getting from your content. Yes, we want lots of traffic. Yes, we want lots of leads. What we really want is the right kind of people on our website, the right kind of traffic, and we want highly qualified leads.

7. Complacency

The seventh reason why content marketing fails is due to complacency. In other words, not doing anything to improve, and instead just burying your head in the sand. Complacency kills businesses. You’re either green and growing, or you’re ripening and rotting. Also, marketing is perhaps the fastest change in landscape in business today. I know a lot about content marketing, but I wouldn’t go as far to say I know everything. There’s so much changing all the time. Even me being a marketer, I still find it hard to keep up.

What does that mean for you? Don’t try to know everything and don’t worry about knowing everything either. Continue to make progress. Don’t get complacent. Invest time in learning; reading the books, the blogs, watching the videos, listening to the podcasts. The progress you make in marketing and your business will be reflected by your personal and professional development. Don’t get complacent. Don’t think you know it all already, because you don’t. You just don’t. Keep your finger on the pulse. Keep learning. Keep making progress and that will keep you future-proof in terms of what marketing you’re creating and keeping you ahead of your competition.

8. Fear

The eighth reason why content marketing fails is due to fear. Now again, I’ve discussed this on the podcast before. Check out episode 126, which is called Fear, What’s It Going To Be This Time? One of my favourite episodes in recent times. Fear is real for those that have it. There is no doubt about that, so I don’t want to underplay this. Even from the outside looking in it might seen trivial, but people have real fears about publishing their ideas and their words online today, either in written content or in video or in podcast.

What we need to appreciate is that people do have fear. Also, appreciate that many people are doing it already and overcame the same fears that you have now as well. There’s a few ways to quickly overcome fear. Get more education. Get more knowledge and understanding. Belief in the process. Get support from your peers and take action. It’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be.

9. Lack of belief and passion for your product or service

The ninth reason why content marketing fails is a lack of belief and passion for the product or for the service. Now, if you don’t believe in what you are doing, you’re not going to have much motivation to work really hard for it. Content marketing is hard work. If you don’t have the passion for your work, then you aren’t going to lead the way with your content. It’s a tough message to hear, but maybe you are doing the wrong thing. As soon as it feels like hard work, you have to ask yourself if you truly feel passionate about what you’re doing.

I read and listen and watch a lot of content, and over time you can start to see a difference between someone who truly understands and believes what they’re doing versus someone who doesn’t. For most, however, it’s a case of getting back to why you do what you do and just getting really clear on your values. Why are we creating this content? Why are we putting all this hard work into this? When you truly believe in what you do, it’s far less scary hitting that publish button and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

10. Not having a strategy or a plan

The tenth and final reason why content marketing fails is not having a strategy or a plan. Now, I’ve left his one to last because I hope that many of the things I’ve covered already are a result of not having a strategy. I hope that you can see that. Now, your strategy should include things like: why are you doing it? What are the main objectives? How will content marketing help to solve both a business growth problem and the problems for our prospects? Who are you creating content for and why?

How will you measure success? Who is doing what and when? Who is going to be doing the blogs, the videos, the podcasts? If so, who’s creating it, editing it, publishing it, and promoting? How will you do it? What resources do you need? Do we have a customer-centric approach to content? Are we truly listening to our prospects and customers? You need to document this and you need to write it all down so we’ve got a really good understanding of what we’re trying to do, why, and why we’re trying to do it. Really, really important that we have that strategy.

Those are the 10 reasons why content marketing fails. Not understanding what content marketing is, not understanding the importance of SEO, not measuring results, not managing your expectations, saying, “I don’t have the time for content marketing,” writing content for your peers instead of your prospects, complacency, fear, a lack of belief and passion for your product or service, and not having a strategy or a plan. Those are the 10 things that will stop you in your tracks. Those are the 10 reasons why content marketing fails. There are lots of examples and success stories in my blogs and in my other podcasts. You should definitely check them out.

Here are five examples of people who are doing really well with content marketing and doing all the right things. Now, I’ve already shared Jack at Clinic Mastery’s story, they multiplied their traffic by five times and also their sales by three times in a very short space of time.

John Espirian went from having 20,000 page views in 2016 to over 100,000 page views in 2018. That was from regular and consistent blogging.

Col Gray has went from zero subscribers to almost 10,000 YouTube subscribers in two years from producing regular content on his YouTube channel.

Debbie at Eagle Leisure has seen almost a 300% increase in sales due to content marketing.

Cara at Gillies and MacKay has seen an increase of 350,000 pounds in sales just from content marketing. These examples are on the blog. Like I said, you could go and dig into these.

Now, in conclusion just to wrap things up, based on my experience so far, these are the 10 mistakes, these are the biggies. These are the 10 major factors that make the biggest difference between success and failure with content marketing. Now, content marketing isn’t an all or nothing activity. In other words, you can do other things while developing and executing your content marketing strategy. You don’t have to stop everything and this is the only way.

For example, you can still do your networking, you can still do direct mail, you can still do all your email marketing and you should do all these things. I’m not saying you have to stop everything else and focus only on content marketing. However, I do think that you’re leaving a ton of opportunity on the table by not exploring how you could benefit from developing your content marketing strategy for your business. Hopefully what’s happening for you now is that you’re starting to see just how strategic and commercial content marketing is, and the kind of results that you can get for your business.

My challenge to you is that, if one or many of these factors are the reason you’re not making progress, to focus on it, focus on a solution for that problem, and put it to bed forever. If you need help, you can Tweet me @chrismarr101. If you’ve got any questions, you can email me chris@cmauk.uk, or you can join CMA. There’s a link in the show notes for that too. We will fast track you to success with content marketing.

Thanks again for listening to the podcast. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. I hope that you’re enjoying the work that you do, and I will catch you next time. Don’t forget to be awesome.