What to Do When Your Content Marketing Falls Flat

Like most of us, I’ve been glued to my television the last 13 days watching Olympics. It’s my favorite time of every fourth summer, sitting on my couch in the comfort of my living room while people half my age break world records.

I retired from gymnastics at the age of 5 when I decided I just wasn’t ever going to be able to do a cartwheel. But it’s still my all-time fave Olympic sport to watch.

Until the other night, when a gymnast who had otherwise performed exceptionally well this Olympics fell flat on her face – twice – during her floor routine. It was shocking to see someone who had, just the previous night, medaled on vault, come in dead last in the rankings.

This got me thinking about successes and failures in everyday life – not just for two glorious weeks during the summer. And, of course, content marketing came to mind, since anyone who’s spent any time developing content programs knows that you win some – and you lose some.

Content Marketing Fall Flat

So let’s take a look at some proactive steps you can take when your content marketing initiatives don’t perform as well as expected:

Get Analytical

For one of our newer clients, we recently performed an extensive content audit of their main site and blog as part of our SEO project roadmap.

Now, let me just say this: As a writer, I am not a math person. In college, I somehow managed to escape taking math altogether, fulfilling all math credits with a course that was literally called “Physics for Poets.”

That said, my colleagues and I spent hours analyzing various website metrics to develop a solid understanding of how the site had performed in the past and how it was performing at present.

Examples of metrics we analyzed include the following:

  • Total & organic website traffic (via Google Analytics)
  • Landing page performance (via Google Analytics)
  • Keywords driving traffic (via SEMrush)
  • Blog post performance across social networks (via Buzzsumo)
  • Top linked content (via Search Console)
  • Top linking sites (via Search Console)

We discovered, for example, that >50% of blog visits over the past year had been driven by two blog posts alone!

Similarly, we found that top keywords driving traffic were all related to the topics discussed in each of these blogs.

The point is this: An analytical deep-dive can provide you with just the right kind of fuel to jump-start a content marketing program that’s died out.

It’s this type of analysis that you should be performing routinely, whether it’s at 3, 6, 9 month, etc. intervals – not just at the beginning of a program or when content marketing performance has fallen off a cliff.

Here are a few resources that may prove helpful in rolling up your sleeves and digging into content marketing performance analysis:

Get Creative

All right, let’s say you’ve thoroughly dug into performance metrics for your content marketing program (links acquired, organic blog traffic, conversion data, etc.) and you’re still coming up short. What can you do then?

Here comes my favorite part about content marketing: You get creative!

Sky’s the limit when it comes to content marketing strategy – you can literally get as creative as you want (and you pretty much always want to). But it’s about more than simply doing what everyone else is doing – you want to focus on doing what they are not.

“In a world where our audiences are more in control than ever, and where attention is the most precious resource, we need to dig deeper than simply following the latest tech or trend,” says Content Marketing Institute.

So maybe that means doing a competitive audit (example below of the type of data you can find through tools like SEMrush) to figure out how you can do whatever everyone else is doing better.


How frequently are competitive sites blogging? What keywords are they ranking for in organic search? What does their link profile look like?

Maybe you think beyond the content marketing strategy and tactics you’ve used in the past and approach content initiatives moving forward in a new way.

This is something our SEO team, in fact, does on a monthly basis. During our monthly planning meetings, we go over not only goals/traffic status and monthly highs/lows, but we also each come to the table with a handful of ideas about what to do differently in the coming month. The idea isn’t necessarily to come up with groundbreaking stuff (unless it really is the best idea ever), but it’s an opportunity to review what’s already been done for the client versus other clients and see what stands out.

At the end of the day, being creative doesn’t mean coming out with the most original, outstanding content (although it certainly could!) but instead just shaking things up a bit and trying something different.

Here are a few resources that can help with thinking outside the box with your content marketing efforts:

Get Motivated!

So now that you’ve combed through your performance metrics and brainstormed new ways to approach your content marketing better, you’re done, right?


You still have to actually act on those great ideas.

Do yourself a favor and get moving – there’s no time like the present to tackle new initiatives! Take a walk to clear your head. Connect with team members to set new and improved goals for your content program from this point on and figure out how each individual will contribute to the larger whole of the project (don’t forget to document your updated goals so you can measure against them in the future!).

The point is to act instead of react to disappointing results in your content program and find a way to turn these setbacks into opportunities for the future. And to keep at it.

“It’s virtually impossible to hit the mark every time – even the very best blogs still publish mediocre content from time to time – but you have to strive for nothing less than excellence,” notes Wordstream.

Here are some resources with additional suggestions of how to proactively address content marketing roadblocks:

Final Thoughts

In the world of content marketing, there’s no magic bullet that will ensure success. And there’s no guarantee that what will have worked one day will work the next. The key is to keep a close eye on your content performance and look for areas that could use improvement so that you can creatively approach those gaps with new, better strategies.

What do you do when your content marketing comes up short? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

“KoMarketing is instrumental to the success of CDNetworks global search marketing efforts. The relentless attention to detail and strategic approach continues to push us toward greater results.”

William Vuong — William Vuong, Senior Marketing Manager

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