[Editor's note: Happy Holidays! This week, the editorial team at Content Marketing Institute wanted to share some of the best content marketing blog posts we've seen from our CMI Consultants. Today's post originally appeared on Marcus Sheridan's website, The Sales Lion, on Oct. 1, 2012.]
As many of you know, a few weeks ago I asked my newsletter readers to send me their blog URL if they hadn’t been seeing much success to generate traffic, leads, and sales. Of the 200 or so readers that responded, about 30 of them were marketing agencies of various sizes, a number that frankly left me quite a bit to think about. (Note: When I say “agency,” I’m referring to companies from 1-1000, so bear with me on the semantics, if you will.)
Upon much thought and analysis of all these blogs, one thing became astoundingly clear:
Blogging and inbound marketing aren’t working for a huge percentage of marketing agencies, social media “consultants,” and many other businesses in this online realm.
So that begs the question … why?
Why are companies that teach marketing failing to find success in what they’re preaching from the rooftops that everyone else do?
Here are my thoughts as to why this phenomenon is occurring, and also why I think it will only get worse and worse with time.
7 reasons why blogging and inbound marketing are failing
1. Unbelievably high CSI: Some of you have heard me talk about CSI before. In marketing terms, this stands for content saturation index, and it is at the core as to why so many of these agency blogs are failing.
Think about it for a second: How many blogs are there about marketing and social media? The number is in the thousands, which means in order for someone to rise above the noise, they have to do some pretty amazing things. Furthermore, with the CSI being so high, search engine optimization is extremely difficult in this industry. With everyone targeting prevalent keyword phrases, garnering organic traffic and rankings isn’t easy, and can be incredibly frustrating as well.
As I’ve stated before, the No. 1 reason I was able to dominate the swimming pool industry so quickly wasn’t because I was awesome, but rather because of an extremely low CSI — thus leaving almost any keyword phrase I really wanted up for the taking.
2. Terrible blog titles: This is the one trend that surprises me the most. Despite the fact that witty and catchy blog titles are generally a waste of time unless you have a huge subscriber base of readers, a huge portion of marketing blogs still overlook solid SEO practices with their titles and end up coming up with catchy references for what is an incredibly meager group of subscribers. And yes, even though I said the CSI of this industry was high, it doesn’t mean by any stretch that search rankings are impossible to achieve with the proper techniques — something I’ll now discuss further in No. 3.
3. Poor to nonexistent targeting of specific industries: This one is important, and if you don’t pay any attention to the rest of this post, I hope you pay close attention to this one, because it applies to all businesses, not just marketers. Let me give you an example of three blog posts that go from good, to better, to best:
A. Does inbound marketing work? (good)
B. How long does it take inbound marketing to work? (better)
C. How long does it take inbound marketing to work in the technology industry? (best)
Just a little over a year ago, I would have considered choice “B” here to be a great blog post title. But with so much content saturation over this time period, we’re now entering a phase where niche and industry targeting is very necessary for marketers.
But if you think about this, it makes a ton of sense. If you’re in the tech field and you want to know how long it will take inbound marketing to work in your industry, there is a very good chance you’re going to go to Google and type in, “How long does it take inbound marketing to work in the tech industry?”
The competition (CSI) for such phrases is much lower and, therefore, the ability to do well in terms of traffic, leads, and sales increases exponentially.
4. Blah,blah,blah: Although I’m a firm believer that some content is better than no content, the reality is the marketing industry is full of blogs that simply are boring with few opinions, no personal voice, and oftentimes little thought provocation. As to why this is, I’m not totally sure, but I know it doesn’t work very well to be lukewarm in an industry as dense with content as the marketing realm.
In fact, I strongly feel the main reason The Sales Lion has risen above the chatter in the marketing arena is because I have strong opinions backed up by personal experience, which brings me to my next point.
5. A major lack of case studies and personal experiences: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t amazed at how few of the blogs I looked at recently discussed stories of clients they had helped and the results of said labors.
Like I said a while back, consumers and businesses are not terribly interested in theory these days. They want to know the victories and success stories your agency has had. They want to know why you’re good at what you do. And they want to know if your help will make them more money than you’ll cost.
If you can’t show this in your content, then there is a good chance your phone isn’t going to ring.
6. Poor utilization of writing talent: I’m always astounded when I see an agency with 10+ employees yet only one person is blogging. The way I see it, if someone is teaching others to blog and produce content, they should be doing it as well. Plus, when companies learn to leverage the writing and brain power of their existing employees, the amount of content that can be produced is astounding. Just look at HubSpot, Kuno Creative, or PR 20/20 if you want to see companies doing this the right way.
7. Awful networking: To be frank, some industries don’t require great networking with others in your field to be successful. For example, I networked with a grand total of ZERO people with my swimming pool blog, but that was again made possible due to the fact that the CSI was so very low. On the other hand, after a year of writing on The Sales Lion with little traction, I realized that strategy wasn’t very effective and if I didn’t start networking much better, I’d never rise above the chatter.
To see examples of exactly how you can get this done, read this article.
As I said at the start of this article, I don’t see this problem with agency/social media/marketing blogs going away. As more and more blogs pop up daily, more and more people will find lead generation incredibly tough in this extremely saturated industry — arguably the most saturated subject in the online world today.
This being said, I have found that one of the best ways marketing agencies can deal with this problem is to actually get out and speak to real people. In other words, if you’re trying to generate clients for yourself and/or your agency, you need to start teaching as many groups of people as possible. Whether it’s at a conference, at a Chamber of Commerce meeting, or at a simple lunch appointment — the value of face to face lead generation is making a huge comeback in this industry. Yeah, I know it may sound surprising and even ironic to many, but starting a blog and calling yourself a “marketing expert” is as quick a way to credit card debt and business failure as any in today’s society.
But as I stated above, if you truly want to have a GREAT blog with great results, average is going to get you nowhere quickly.
So have opinions. Target. Write intelligent and strategic titles. Utilize your employees. Learn to network.
And most of all, just be exceptional at what you do.
Easy? Nope. But without question, the opportunities are still there.
I’ve said my thoughts, now I’m excited to hear yours. Do you agree/disagree with my points made here? Also, what are some other reasons agency blogs are failing left and right? What else would you add to the list?
Jump in folks, the floor is yours.
Want to hear more great advice from Marcus Sheridan? See his presentation at Content Marketing World 2012 on demand.