Content marketing is essential for building trust with your audience, establishing your authority in your industry, and ultimately building lasting relationships with clients and customers. 

But not all content is created equal. In fact, some content marketing is just downright bad. And when your organization has a poor content marketing strategy, or a strategy that is poorly executed, it can really end up hurting you in a couple of key ways. 

Firstly, bad content can damage consumer trust. When your organization puts out low quality content, it hurts your overall brand and reputation, decreasing general trust in your expertise and making it harder for you to generate leads and build momentum around your other marketing strategies. 

Bad content can also hurt your SEO rankings. And that’s because search engines prioritize not only content that is optimized around a particular keyword but that is actually helpful in answering users’ questions. If a large number of users indicate through their behaviors that your content misses the mark, search engines will not pull it up as a top result. 

In short, poorly executed content takes you in the exact opposite direction you want to be headed with your content marketing strategy. The time and resources you put into your content will not only not yield a positive return but can actually result in a negative one. 

Your organization wants to avoid that at all costs. Here are four signs that your content marketing strategy may be in need of improvement.

1. Your Content Marketing Strategy Consists Mainly of Endless and Shameless Self-Promotion.

If your content strategy consists entirely or mostly of content that merely outlines the goods and services that your organization offers, people will quickly tune you out. 

This is a harsh reality, but it is one that content marketers would do well to learn: no one cares about your organization—at least not at first. What will capture their attention are clear and compelling messages that indicate you can help them solve their problems. 

This means speaking with expertise and authority about the unique challenges of your audience, offering free content that is highly valuable, and proving that your organization can be trusted with their business. 

In the words of leadership expert and content creator Carey Nieuwhof, make it your goal to make your free content “better than other people’s paid stuff.” 

Once you have established a following of loyal readers or viewers, sales pushes for your paid products and services will require much less effort and yield a much higher conversion rate.

2. Your Content Features Topics Irrelevant to Your Target Audience.

A bad content marketing strategy may contain high quality content that’s just written to the wrong audience. Make sure that the content you produce is congruent with the products and services you offer and that the material is presented in such a way that it appeals to someone who would have decision making power in making that purchase.

If you don’t know who your target audience is, spend some time defining exactly who it is that your organization is speaking to. Then, only speak about topics that that specific person would find relevant and helpful. Anything else, though it may be interesting to you and helpful to someone who will never buy your products or services, is ultimately sideways energy.

3. Your Content is Shallow and Generic, Contributing No New Insight.

While some organizations can have a tendency to produce good content that isn’t targeted to the right audience, others may fall prey to successfully identifying their target audience but then generating content that offers them little value. 

Content that is shallow or generic will not build your authority as an expert in your industry. Quite the opposite. 

In order to ensure that your content provides value that your audience cannot easily get somewhere else, consult the subject matter experts within your organization to ensure that the content you produce is insightful and timely. 

Don’t simply publish content for the sake of putting anything out into the world in the hopes that someone will click on it. Low quality content will eventually lead your target audience to continue scrolling past the resources you offer, no matter how relevant the topic or slick the marketing copy and graphic design.

4. Your Content Isn’t Released on a Consistent Basis.

Another pitfall that content marketers may fall into is that when they produce content, it is well targeted and value-adding—it’s just that there isn’t a very consistent stream of it. 

If your organization’s content execution is inconsistent, you are missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with your audience, build trust, and establish yourself as the solution to the challenges they face. 

While your organization must balance the need for quality content over a quantity, the best case scenario is that your organization should strive to produce a large quantity of high quality content, on a regular interval. 

Sometimes, marketing teams grow discouraged because some of the content they have poured time and resources into has not generated as much of a response as you hoped or anticipated. This may mean that you need to dial in your target audience description or address issues with the content itself or its distribution. 

However, the more content you produce with a measure of excellence, the more opportunities your organization has to connect with potential customers. 

Not every piece of content will be a home run. But the more at-bats you take as a marketing team, the greater the chance that you will eventually get some points on the board. The more consistent you are over time in producing high quality content, the more those points begin to add up.