This is my current analysis of the most significant changes in the landscape affecting audience-first businesses.
The list is a work in progress and as I learn more through research and experience, I’ll update them here.
If you’re content is not performing the way you expected, I’m confident that the symptoms you’re experiencing are the result of at least one of these five issues.
They aren’t rocket science. You’ll agree with most of them. But your content strategy will need to be adjusted to account for them in proportion to the magnitude of their effects on your site.
For that reason, a deeper understanding of your situation will help inform what an optimal content strategy looks like for you.
If you’re able to identify what symptoms you’re experiencing, then you’ll know which content levers you need to focus on pulling first.
Without further ado:
If you’ve been around a while, you have seen members of your audience eclipse your traffic, list size, and likely, sales.
You used to be the only game in town but now everyone has a list, funnels, courses, podcast, book.
Some of them are good. Darn good.
This depth and strength of competition should not be taken lightly.
There is so much content on the web now, that there are not enough people in the world to consume it all. For every post you have written, 5 to 10 others exist with the same title.
This is the new normal.
The Growth Paradox
The more success you find, the more responsibility you have, and the less you get to focus on what matters most.
Growing a team, setting up systems, replying to growing numbers of comments, switching technology stacks: all these things sap energy and focus from your core mission: developing your expertise and making an impact serving your people.
People are pretty fed up with the old school gimmicks of fake scarcity and formula-based funnels. And they’re quickly tiring of the new school tactical AI-this, chatbot-that culture of growth hacking.
These things “work,” but you end up eroding trust, annoying users, and losing touch with your base. You trade short term sales for lifelong customers.
The real kicker here is that most of marketing is now completely customer driven. You’re much less likely to be a key factor in a purchasing decision.
As a result, your current marketing efforts are not showing the returns you are used to.
Doing Content One Way
You’ve been doing things just one way for a while now.
Maybe you took a “publish and pray” passive approach to SEO or built a following on Twitter or Facebook and the returns aren’t what they used to be.
The constant algorithm changes to social newsfeeds and search engines (Google) mean you cannot rely on any one channel to sustain and grow a business.
It’s the all-eggs-in-one-basket approach that works until it doesn’t. Habit and sunk cost bias prevent you from pivoting until you can no longer expect users to find your content.
The time and money costs of getting traffic from Big Tech platforms will only increase as this trend accelerates.
You may have heard of “technical debt.” It’s the idea that there is a future cost associated with a technical solution that’s quick and easy to do now but results in more work later. And time only makes it worse.
Content is no different. By publishing content over time, you create content debt.
As your site grows, technical issues around your content compound. Your best content gets buried in archives and every additional piece of content you publish adds to the problem.
Every day that passes makes getting the right content in front of the right person at the right time a little harder.
This handicaps your ability to quickly make smart data driven decisions. What content is performing well for who and when? Why is content that used to perform well doing so poorly now?
Let’s say you can make sense of the data around your content in a way that leads to smart decisions. You identify a sweet spot, some piece of content resonates so deeply with some segment of your audience that you see outsized sales on it.
How long would it take you to act on that information? Even if you “know where to go,” your ship is too clunky to change course and then get there in a timely fashion.
Content debt poses a problem for search engines as well. You’ve published content around the same topic five times in the last four years. You’re thinking by publishing and with each piece of content, your perspective and understanding evolves. But how is Google supposed to know which piece to return in its results?
All these little issues add up. More content, more problems.