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When Content Marketing Goes Wrong


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Content is both the shiny new object, and the elephant in the room, when it comes to digital marketing.

It’s exciting, because it’s inherent focused on giving potential customers something of value. It’s frustrating, because often the agency and the client have very different points of view on what will provide value. Here’s three simple questions to ask yourself when trying to determine what makes a piece of content right for your website, email newsletter, social network update, or mobile experience.

What is this content asking of the user?
The biggest barrier to people engaging with content is that it asks too much of them. A ten minute video is asking someone to stop doing anything else, for ten minutes. A 5 question form blocking access to content is asking them to invest time against the idea that they might like what’s behind it. The best content online asks for a limited amount of time or effort (in my experience a video longer than 2:30, or a blog post of more than 750 words, is usually asking too much).

What do they get out of this content?
Is this something that people get value out of? Would they watch or read it again? Do they learn something? Most importantly, will they be entertained? Content online is faced with the ultimate problem – everything on the internet is competing with everything else on the internet. So your content needs to be relevant, entertaining, amusing and valuable, to the same degree it needs to be accurate, compliant and on-brand, if not moreso.

Who would they tell about this content?
If the answer is no one, it’s a bad sign. If it’s everyone, you know you’ve done something right. But the best answer is usually a specific person, or group of people. If you create content that’s intended to resonate with people based on an experience, an interest, or a concern, they are likely to know others who share that attribute with them – is your content going to be valuable enough that it can feel like a gift to a users friends or family?

Content marketing can take the form of anything from an infographic, to a blog, to a video. The important thing is that it be something a user can relate to, something that builds to a larger communication strategy, and something that gives them more value than just repeating the talking points from an ad.

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