You’re thinking about producing a big content campaign but can you justify the spend on an epic hero piece and how can you ensure its success? You love interactive pieces such as Cocainenomics, Journey to the center of the earth and The Mixtape of Love (self-promo) but what can you produce and how can you make sure you get results? What would successful results even look like? Most importantly, how do you avoid a content fail?

The state of content marketing 2017

Content production is not showing any signs of slowing down. In fact, 79% of content marketers in the UK expect to produce more content in 2017 (CMI), but the consensus is that “We’re spending more but struggling with justification and delivery.” (State of Content Marketing 2017)

Even though ‘content shock’ was first cited by Mark Schafer in 2014, ‘brands as publishers’ are forging ahead and churning out content mostly without consideration for objective, strategy or measured results. From my experience, few have the understanding of how to construct a successful content campaign.

Buzzsumo produced a report back in 2015 that highlighted how 50% of content obtains eight shares or fewer and 75% obtain zero links. And still today, many marketers are struggling to define what makes good content. Surveys show that 65% find it a challenge to produce engaging content and 60% say they can’t produce content consistently.

A prescriptive content process

After specialising in the production of content over the past six years and watching who produces what, I have seen a lot of content successes and fails. Being so focused on this space I have a clear insight into why content fails and how prescriptive content production can be.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an easy formulaic process – no one gets it right every time.

What is a ‘big content campaign’?

Content that is produced within a strategy to gain awareness for a brand or website, is the essence of a ‘content campaign’.

As links have been the metric for content campaigns to date, what I am focusing on here is content that has the specific aim of gaining links from media or influential hub sites.

What is a content campaign fail?

There are many ways in which content can fail (depending on your objective) but in this instance, for ‘big campaign’ content, a fail is considered a piece of content that doesn’t obtain links from authority sites or have any mentions and shares.

And that brings us to: why do content campaigns fail?

From producing many pieces of content over several years and observations working alongside others, I have distilled what I think are the six predominant reasons why campaigns fail. By trying and doing lots of things I have made mistakes (and achieved big wins) to learn and develop the experience to know what makes and breaks content.

1: You didn’t conduct audience research first

The first question you should ask yourself in any campaign is:

Where do I want my content to be placed?

This is the number one mistake: creating content first and then secondly thinking about where and who to outreach to. Know who and where you want to target for exposure and then create content specifically for that influencer or website. This feeds into your objective and your concepts.

Understand your primary and secondary audience

Predominantly, you want the attention of your influencer or journalist but secondary and just as important, is that you understand what their readership consume and want. You can read in-depth about creating personas here.

After identifying the website you want to gain placement on, take the time to go through it by hand to get a feel for titles and themes. Use Buzzsumo to check share counts and links to top pages.

It’s not about you, avoid self-promotion

Another issue I have dealt with is heavy-handed branding and self-promotional pieces that you can guarantee an influencer will not want to share. Big brands have internal policies and style guides to adhere to but this can impact on quality of concept and production. I’ve had awful situations arise from creating bold concepts to gain attention that initially got approval but after due diligence and several rounds of stakeholder intervention, the concept and the piece of content has become so diluted to be rendered useless and the content bombs. This is a waste of time for everyone.

…to continue reading all six reasons content campaigns fail, download the complete ebook…

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