By Marcus Sheridan published December 27, 2012

7 Reasons Why Your Blog Is Not Generating Leads

[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.] 

Sheridan sales lion generating leads

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.)

marketing agencies not generating leads

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. 

good titles key for generating leads

In this article, you see I had a very clear keyword goal (HS v WP), but still managed to have a catchy title. Today, this article ranks very well for this important keyword phrase.


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.

targeting specific industries helps with generating leads

My friend Matt Stock nails a perfectly targeted title with this blog post for his company, Inbound Storm.


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.

HubSpot uses success stories for generating leads

HubSpot always does a masterful job in looking at the marketing success stories of other companies and how they were able to achieve their results.


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.

multiple bloggers for generating leads

Easily one of the best marketing agency blogs, PR 20/20 utilizes a multiple blogger platform well.


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.

Going forward

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.

generating leads with speaking engagements

Along with this blog, speaking has been a major lead generation tool for me over the past year. In fact, there are many marketing consultants that draw almost 100 percent of their leads from speaking to groups of people.


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.

Your turn

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.

Author: Marcus Sheridan

Author of the popular blog The Sales Lion and a sought-after speaker – Marcus started his own company River Pools and Spas in 2001. After the company grew be to one of the largest of its kind in the world (due to inbound marketing efforts and an incredibly popular blog) Marcus began teaching other business professionals how to embrace inbound marketing and content marketing – specializing in the use of HubSpot.

Other posts by Marcus Sheridan

  • Barry Feldman

    “So have opinions. Target. Write intelligent and strategic titles.” Opinions? But what if someone disagrees 😉 ? Great article Marcus.

    • Investigative_Consumer

      If someone disagrees with your opinion, that is actually a GOOD thing! 🙂 Myriad behavioral economic research studies show that people with strong opinions –even strong UNPOPULAR opinions–have more loyal customers. Why? Because we are hard-wired to take sides. When you have strong opinions you will create dissenters, who will post their very strong opinions. That, in turn, will spark your supporters to come to your defense.

      It’s counterintuitive, but people who take a middle-of-the-road, don’t-offend-anyone position have less power, fewer loyal customers, and less perceived expertise.

      If you’re interested, I can direct you to some of the studies.

      • barryjfeldman

        Amen. (I had my tongue in my cheek when I wrote that. Perhaps I was too subtle.)

        • Marcus Sheridan

          Isn’t tongue-in-cheek the language of Barry Feldman anyway?? 😉

          • Barry Feldman

            Got me.

  • vknipper

    Great post, Marcus. Thank you so much for including us. You’ve inspired me to get going on writing some blogs!

    • Marcus Sheridan

      Thrilled to hear it! 😉

  • M

    Thanks, Marcus. I was disappointed I missed your talk on blogging to the DC Hubspot Partners Linkedin group. Anyway, this post was great. Question: I just re-launched my blog and have gotten considerable leads from using the new Hubspot tool that allows posting to multiple (up to 50) Linkedin groups. But I’ve read concerns about “spamming” when one posts to more than one group at a time, especially when you aren’t a regular poster. I’m trying to be sensitive to that by posing a question for discussion in the group with a link to my post instead of overt hype (“read my blog post”). Thoughts from your others? Full disclosure: I may blog about this topic!

    • Marcus Sheridan

      Sorry you weren’t in DC, we certainly had a great meeting! As for sending out to multiple LI groups, I do understand what you’re saying, but I’d be very nervous that it would blow up in my face in some way. Then again, if it’s working I can’t argue with that!

  • Writtent

    Great post, thank you!
    I will try to take into account all of the reasons written here. I also do believe that ‘getting out and speaking to real people’ really is the way to generate clients.

  • collier1960

    Marcus, I’m going to share this post with the community of architectural bloggers. Many of us need to turn the corner from hobbyist bloggers to content providers who attract new clients. This article will help.

    • Marcus Sheridan

      So glad to hear that, I’ve thought a lot about the content marketing possibilities in the architectural industry as a matter of fact…just waiting for someone to take the lead! 🙂

  • Kristian Rasmussen

    Very interesting indeed. Thanks !

  • RizzoMB

    Marcus, completely agree with speaking, ironically that is how I found you, after hearing you speak first. Any suggestions for setting up speaking events?

  • Johnny Koh

    Thank you for sharing about CSI. It definitely had me thinking and re strategize my blog titles to cover more niche industry.

  • Mark kens

    You are quite right with the reasons why blog isn’t
    generating leads. When content saturation index is high then it is really hard
    to generate leads from blogs. Social media and SEO are the niche of highest

  • Marc Halliburton

    Marcus, Love the CSI info and I just started to work on Keywords for our industry My first brush through brings me to realize all the cool words I thought would be all catching don’t mean squat for the most part. Since I am a beginner, this is the most critical component for us at this moment. If we do not get this correct we are toast…thank you for bringing this to light. I will keep you posted and how is the Inbound class coming along? I have signed up…keep us posted. M. Halliburton/Cali

  • 3rd Planet Media

    Awesome. You’ve just given me a THOUSAND ideas for our next blog posts! Waaay back, when I was in broadcasting we referred to CSI as “Saturation” or “Noise” … but the point remains the same; just being different isn’t enough. Frank Zappa said it best … “Don’t be different to be different. Be different to be better.” If you are to stand out … you must be different in a significant way … so, if everyone is shouting you should whisper etc.

    Thanks. Geat position, great ideas, convincing argument.


  • Neil Ferree

    Strong work Marcus. Going to click your “on demand” link to see you in action at Content Marketing World 2012

  • Paul Ricci

    I love your post and your CSI definition. I think you will like mine too.
    I wish you had a better definition of inbound marketing. Do you have it defined in another post?

  • Cheryl Hammer

    Spot on! I like the point regarding lukewarm content. As marketers, we fall into the trap of appeasing the masses and have forgotten that the Biblical scripture (So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth) applies to customers, too. Thanks for the repost.

  • Michael Nelson

    Great article Marcus. I think this fairly new marketing arena is full of churn and if you don’t stand out, you’re lost in the saturation. Much of marketing starts way before blogging / social media with the differentiation and uniqueness of the offerings figured out and tested. The lack of foundations mean that many just keep pumping more into the “pool” of content hoping for results!

  • Jayden Chu

    Very informative, Marcus. I just think that there is another factor in play here: the use (or non-use) of other marketing tools. Relying solely on blogs will not cut it in today’s fast-paced business environment. If a company wants to generate more B2B leads, they will have to use other tools available.

  • Kimberly McCabe

    Great blog post. I think your final comment hits the nail on the head….the floor is yours. Creating community is essential to making content work. Everything is dynamic now – people may not agree with your content but if you open the door to communication then you break down the corporate barriers and build trust. SEO is fantastic to have – but its also great to have a people come to read your content because they feel they are a part of a community allowed to comment and ask questions and able to observe the opinions of others.

  • Diana Landau

    Great post, Marcus. Saw you speak at CMI’s conference last year. You walk the walk and it comes through in your speaking and your writing. Seems the key is to be fully engaged in what you are doing and your audience will respond accordingly.

  • sambredl

    Awesome! Very inspiring post, Marcus! Will try to apply some of the stuff I’ve read.

  • remierogbogbo

    I’ll definitely be implementing point 5! I’m new to blogging and I’m glad that I have future posts that focuses on clients that I have worked with.