Why your content marketing is failing - and how to fix it.

We break down a few reasons why your B2B content marketing might be failing - and what you can do to fix it before your business suffers.

Picture of Dan Hanks Dan Hanks

Published: 11 Jul 2016

5 minutes read

Why your content marketing is failing - and how to fix it.

If your B2B content marketing doesn’t seem to be doing anything positive for your business, you’re not alone – according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 survey, a whopping 62% felt their content marketing was ineffective.

However, this statistic isn’t a reflection of its potential. Content and (on a more in-depth scale) inbound marketing are still powerful lead generation tools for most businesses. It’s just that there are a lot of factors to consider before you jump in, and if something gets missed then it can be a block to success.

Here are a few areas where things can go wrong – and how you can fix them.

Tactics, but no strategy?

A lot of businesses don’t really understand that content marketing is a whole lot more than getting a few blog posts up. You need a proper strategy in place to ensure you stay on track in the weeks and months to come, centred around the question of “What’s your USP, what’s your end goal, and how are you going to get between the two?” Are you simply after leads or trying to position yourself as a thought leader in the market too? What types of content are you going to produce? What fields will you talk about? How often? Who for? And where in the buyer’s journey will it fit?

Used within a wider B2B inbound marketing strategy, your content marketing tactics can really work wonders. You just need to plan a little bit.

Know your audience

This one’s pretty obvious, but you can’t really write good content unless you have a fair idea who you’re writing it for. Talk to your customer service and sales teams to find out who your average customers are and what their problems have been. Then create a ‘buyer persona’ (or three) that your team can have in mind when deciding what to talk about and how to say it best.

Who am I?

You may think you know what your business represents to others, but it’s still worth spending a little time identifying exactly what your USP is. For example, a lot of IT resellers sell the same ERP systems as their competitors, so the focus shouldn’t be on the products, but rather themselves. What lifts them above the competition might be their highly-rated customer service, or their years of experience in the industry, or perhaps even a superior implementation methodology—all of which can be demonstrated through producing helpful, insightful content.

Show some commitment

Content marketing isn’t about punching people in the face with our stuff (hello, advertising!), but rather helping them over time until they trust us enough to buy what we have to offer. So you need to be committed to a longer-term strategy to get results.

Even when you’ve built up a steady stream of visitors to your blogs, you should know they won’t necessarily convert on the first hit. You have to nurture them with great content until they do. There’s no hard and fast rule here, but according to Rand Fishkin of Moz, they usually see a conversion on the 6th or 7th visit.

Keep the Sales Director happy

This is one of the more common oversights. If content marketing takes time, it’s imperative you have a short-term win strategy that brings you leads right from Day 1 (and keeps the Sales Director off your back). We find that influencer marketing (if tackled correctly) can be a big help here, using social media platforms to network and get your content in front of the right audiences without having to wait for them to find it organically.

Beware the dead ends

No (or poor) calls to action (CTAs) in your blog post means that readers are not encouraged to stay on your website once they’ve read it—and will probably leave. Keep them with you by using CTAs to guide them to the next natural step on their content journey. Whether you use links within the copy (see below), a button at the top, or a banner at the end, make sure you give visitors an opportunity to engage with you further, driving them down your content marketing funnel and cementing that B2B relationship with you.

Free guide: How to use content marketing to become a thought leader

The lead generation game

Keeping people on your website is one thing, but you also need to make sure you’re prepared to convert those all-important visitors into even-more-important leads. Which means as well as blog posts, you need to get busy producing specialist content that those people will kill (or at least fill in a form) for. This is known as ‘gated’ content and these pieces often form the centrepiece of your content marketing campaign.

However, it’s not just about the quality of what you’re offering. You also need to grasp what makes a good landing page (concise copy, benefit heavy) and form (match the quantity of information you ask for to the value of the content you’re offering), in order to get those downloads – and grab the leads you need.

Authenticity is everything

This business used to be about ‘churn and burn’—producing content as quickly as possible, then publishing and repeating. It didn’t really matter who wrote it, or how good it was. It was about getting words onto the internet in the search for rankings.

In this competitive market you’ve got to produce the goods. Content farms are (almost) a thing of the past now because they lack authenticity, which is priceless in this game. Of course, well written authentic content is still the ultimate goal, but even a passionate, educational piece that could do with a proofread will connect with its audience better than anything you paid a Fiver for.

If you’re an agency, this means speaking to your clients, getting inside their heads and retrieving all the gold nuggets you need to write mind-blowing pieces. And if you’re a client, give your agency an all-access pass to your talented team – they might have the writers to pen award-winning copy, but you’re the experts in the field you’re talking about.

Matching content with the buyer’s journey

Content marketing, especially within inbound marketing, revolves around the buyer’s journey. HubSpot talks about this in terms of three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision – and it can’t be stressed enough that the content that you’re writing about, and the way you write it, is very much dependent on these stages. Without knowing which stage the piece you’re writing fits into, you’re in danger of ending up with weak content that doesn’t hit the mark.

Poor social skills

You can write the most informative blog post on the planet, but without readers what’s the point? Don’t wait for the search engines to do their thing. Make sure you spend as much (if not more) time distributing your content through social media as you do writing it, for instant views and shares. Just be careful to choose your outlets to match your audience, because while Twitter might work for one sector, Facebook or LinkedIn might be a better bet for others.

Got all that? Great! Now to the holy grail of content marketing - becoming a thought leader. Click the link below to lift your lead generation game to the next level.

Become a thought leader in your industry

Our content marketing guide has everything you need to know about becoming a thought leader within your industry, including top tips and best practices.