How can you tell when your content marketing workflow isn’t working?

Building and maintaining your small business content marketing calendar isn’t easy. During our livestream coaching sessions and on our discovery calls with prospective clients, we often meet business owners who procrastinate on content marketing tasks for a variety of reasons.

However, there’s one thing worse than not having any plan at all: it’s locking a content marketing workflow in place that’s not really getting any results. Going through the motions with a stale strategy could mean you’re spinning your wheels—or even hurting your results.

Let’s take a look at a few ways you can tell when your content marketing workflow isn’t working, and some tips and tricks we’ve used to help our clients get a stronger return on their marketing investments.

Has your content marketing failed?

Brian Sutter’s got a list of ten things he looks for to signal a failing content marketing strategy. When working with prospective clients, we like to laser in on just three of those indicators:

  1. You haven’t accounted for crucial stages in the customer journey. Many novice marketers focus too early on overly broad market education “brand building,” which doesn’t address the reasons prospective customers search for informative content in the first place. If you only have budget to tackle just one portion of the customer journey, we advocate targeting prospects who already know they’ve got a problem you’re uniquely qualified to solve.
  2. Your content’s not optimized for the way prospects search for your products or services. In our team’s experience, many business owners attempting a content marketing strategy on their own tend to lean on industry jargon. If you’re trying too hard to impress your peers, you’re likely missing the ways that your prospects really talk to each other about your products or services.
  3. Your content publishing process doesn’t match your customers’ buying cycle. At too many companies, new content gets posted when “the boss gets a free minute.” We’ve found that the most successful content marketing campaigns get planned between 3-6 months in advance. This way, you can match your strongest campaign elements to times of the year when you know your prospects are most receptive to your pitch.

How can you reverse a content marketing failure?

Here’s the good news. If you’re stuck with a content calendar that’s not performing or a website that’s not converting, you can always make a course correction:

  • If your content’s just doing okay: Perform a content audit to determine which pages on your site and which messages in your social feeds drove the best results from your target audience. Double down on those topics and develop them into resource hubs.
  • If you’re not getting enough traffic to determine what works: There’s no more Field of Dreams scenario for online content. If you build it, there’s no guarantee that anyone will come. Leverage paid search results or paid social media campaigns to get more eyes on your owned media.
  • If you’ve got no fresh content or no current content calendar: Resist the urge to dive in too quickly, or to just copy what your closest competitors are doing. Totally organic content marketing programs usually take 3-6 months to generate measurable results, so use this time to start building your master plan.

(Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash)

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram