There’s a lot focus on ROI and analytics and measuring whether your content is working the way you want it to, and this is entirely understandable. It would be foolhardy in the extreme to just throw content out into the marketing wild and cross your fingers without ever examining whether the resources devoted to producing and distributing that content were well used. But if you find that your content is failing, if your results aren’t what you wanted them to be, how do you fix it? How do you figure out why content that you trusted enough to produce and put out there isn’t working?

It’s just not good or interesting

Okay so this is probably not the most likely scenario, because I trust our wonderful readers to be smart enough and talented enough to not produce and use content that they didn’t have faith was good, but it should be addressed. You don’t need to belabor the point if you find content isn’t working, but it’s still worth taking a moment to re-evaluate the work and make sure it’s as good as you thought it was. Once you’re confident that it is (which I expect will be the cast most of the time), move on to the other possibilities. If you hire content creators you trust and put things through sufficiently rigorous editing, the overall quality of the content is most likely not the issue, and assuming it is runs you the risk of trashing content that is good and potentially useful with some adjustments either in approach or targeting, or damaging your relationship with content producers who feel to blame for a lack of success that is not, at least solely, their responsibility. Examine the quality of your content if it’s not succeeding, but be prepared for the likelihood that the answer isn’t “it’s no good.”

It’s not reaching the right audience

Good content reaching the wrong people will in all likelihood look remarkably like bad content when you look at whether it’s actually driving the results you want. Content that’s good but off target is going to lack the necessary relevance to actually encourage lead generation or engagement or sales, despite the guts of what it is being what you thought you needed. This failure to reach the right audience can happen in one of two ways. Either it is reaching who you had in mind as a target but you missed the mark in your estimation of how big a market that audience could be for you, or it’s not actually reaching who your target is. I’ve talked before about the mismatch between who is actually watching baseball games and who advertises seem to be targeting during broadcasts before, with baseball having a wide audience and one that skews older than sports on average despite so much of the advertising seeming to be geared towards younger males, and that is a great example of just not reaching the audience you expected to. Re-examine your buyer personas, look carefully at your targeting, and then either figure out a way to get the content in front of a better audience or figure out how to adjust the content to connect with the audience you were intending. Again, if the content is good, at least the core of it should be usable even if it requires adjustments to be as effective as you hoped.

You’re not sharing it widely enough or at the right time

To paraphrase “How I Met Your Mother”, you had everything but timing, and timing’s a pain. If you’re tweeting out a link to new content of any kind, think about things like time zones and what your peak time to get someone’s attention is. Are you on the west coast and trying to reach people who are three or more hours ahead of you? Is it a weekday where first thing in the morning is a prime time to get people’s attention as they do their early scan of social media and their email while they drink their coffee, or is it a weekend where people are sleeping in and heading out to breakfast and are more likely to see something closer to lunch time? You’re probably going to need to send the same link out a number of times to get the kind of coverage you want, and you’ll probably also need to share things on multiple platforms. Don’t spam people, and don’t forget to add some kind of “ICYMI/in case you missed it” note when you send out a link for the second/third/fourth/tenth time, but don’t assume that the people you want to see things will see them just by you sending them out once. This is also an instance where developing relationships with influencers in the target audience or market that you’re attempting to reach can go a long way if you take the time to send things to those influencers specifically, rather than relying on them happening to catch something as it scrolled past on their feed.

You haven’t given it enough time

If you’re expecting to get traffic through search results, that will take a bit more time to measure accurately than social media engagement or click throughs, and the last thing you want to do is scrap what could be effective content just because you got impatient. The speed with which things get indexed is unbelievable compared to when search engines were new, but it’s still not exactly instantaneous, not to mention that it then takes time for people to find your content that way and share it to help it move up in search results. We’re not talking about geologic time here, so don’t worry that I’m expecting you to sit on content that’s not working for many months or years, but while the biggest response to something on social media is going to happen within minutes or hours of initial posting, search traffic is going to take more on the order of weeks or months. Business moves fast, but not quite at the speed of light, so sometimes a little patience is due.

Hopefully these tips will help you get that great content that may just not be producing the way you hoped in front of the right people in the right way at the time to truly inform, excite, and inspire your customers. We all have examples of content that just didn’t work the way we thought it would when we created it, so share with us in the comments, and maybe there’s new life to be had for those pieces after all!