Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You’ve got great writers. You have a reputable brand. You spend time, money and effort on your content strategy. So why aren’t all those efforts paying off?
There are many reasons why content marketing strategies fail to see a positive return on investment (ROI). But one of the most nefarious culprits is also one of the least acknowledged: inconsistency.
Why is inconsistency such a content marketing poison and what can your business do about it?
Why inconsistency Is such a problem
We all know that content marketing is valuable. If used properly, your content can be an engine for developing a better brand reputation, more visibility and even better customer relationships. How does inconsistency get in your way?
- Customer expectations: For starters, inconsistency interferes with your customers’ expectations. If you don’t publish at regular intervals, customers won’t know when they can enjoy your new content. If your quality is all over the place, customers won’t know if they can trust your brand.
- Publisher relationships: Inconsistent publishing streaks may also make your affiliations ambiguous or confusing. Don’t publish work on publisher websites that aren’t associated with your industry or your brand in any way. People might be thrown off about your intentions and your areas of expertise.
- Momentum loss: Consistent momentum is ideal for ongoing growth via content marketing. Write new articles and publish new links at consistent, regular intervals. You’ll be much more likely to see iterative progress in your keyword rankings, inbound traffic and other areas. As soon as you break that consistency, your consistent improvements will taper off.
Related: Here’s How to Improve Your Business’s Content Marketing
Types of inconsistency
Content consistency comes in many forms. What exactly do we mean when we refer to inconsistency in a content marketing campaign?
We’re referring to inconsistency across a variety of different areas, including:
- Timing: However often you choose to create new content, you should create it at consistent intervals. For example, if you decide to publish every week, make sure you never miss a week.
- Tone: The tone of your work also matters across all of your writings. Even if they come from different authors, your followers should enjoy a somewhat consistent brand voice and consistent takes on popular topics.
- Quality: Perhaps more obviously, the quality of your work needs to be consistent. In some ways, it’s better to have consistent work of slightly lower quality than a body of work that constantly alternates between high quality and low quality. That said, you should be striving for the highest quality content you can produce – you just have to produce it consistently.
- Publishers / channels / locations: To a lesser extent, you should be interested in maintaining consistency in where you publish and syndicate your work. People need to develop familiarity with your creations and primary content outlets.
Related: What Makes Copy Persuasive
The cures for content marketing inconsistency
Fortunately, there are some easy things you can do to correct your content marketing inconsistencies and develop a better strategy overall.
- Thorough planning: Take the time to think through all of your decisions. Create a framework that you can use repetitively throughout all your content channels. If your content campaign is mostly reactive, or reliant on your own impulsive directional changes, your campaign will naturally be less consistent.
- Documentation: Despite its importance, many content strategists never bother documenting their content strategies. This is a major issue since it makes it harder to train new people on your content standards. It leads to inconsistent approaches within your organization and it sets the stage for an eventual drift away from the standards you originally envisioned. Make sure you document everything you want to be reflected in your content campaign, both in the present and in the future.
- Authoritative direction: There are times and places where committee-based decision making can work, and departments where autonomous, decentralized decision-making is even better. Before your content strategy is to be consistent and reliable, it needs to have some kind of authoritative direction. One person or one small group in charge of making all the big decisions and ironing out inconsistencies as they arise.
- Automation: Automation provides value in a few different ways. Not only does it save your team time, it also streamlines consistency and reliability. For example, if you get automatic reminders when a new post is due to be published, you’ll be much more likely to keep a consistent schedule.
- Gradual changes: Content strategies aren’t meant to remain static. In fact, if you’re too consistent, your stagnation can cost you significant potential value. If and when you do make changes, try to make them gradually.
- Improving the overall consistency of your content marketing campaign can help you see better results and increase your ROI: Just remember that consistency is only one ingredient to a successful strategy. It’s also dependent on other ingredients to work. Consistency only works if the quality and direction of your content campaign are on point.
Related: Why Nobody is Reading Your Company Blog