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The Frustrating but Successful Content Marketing Path

About a year ago, we began dedicating ourselves to a more intentional and dedicated content marketing strategy. We’re a small business that serves a larger market, so having our potential clients find us became critical.

successful content marketing

Our goals were simple, but difficult to track.

We wanted more qualified prospects to find us and then convert into clients. A business like ours doesn’t need a ton of clients. A handful throughout the year can keep us very busy and profitable.

A year later, and we’ve learned some things. But we’ve also found it impossible to learn others. And this is through a lot of work.

Our strategy involves a few core tactics, including:

  • Publishing on our own blog several times a week, on a consistent schedule.
  • Syndicating our content on appropriate partner sites (CustomerThink, Business2Community, Social Media Today, etc.)
  • Publishing original content on sites in our sphere of influence (Retail Customer Experience, Multichannel Merchant, iMedia, Social Media Club)
  • Using social channels effectively through both sharing information (Slideshare, Pinterest, List.ly, Instagram)
    • and promoting our own content and discussions (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+)
  • Creating original content to drive engagement and promote our thought leadership (Infographics, Ebooks, etc.)
  • Delivering a newsletter via email with exclusive content

I wish I could say it was a well-oiled machine, but we’re a growing company and I do most of the writing.

So here’s what happened that completely threw off our strategy last year.

  • My family and I were in a car accident, leading to months of healing for me. I required hand surgery and couldn’t type for weeks. (Thankfully, we had a lot of good stuff in the archives. The team brushed them off and updated them.)
  • Our original content deadlines for our own content, like ebooks, were the deadlines we gladly pushed to the side when client work was too intense or speaking travel schedules became too demanding.
  • We had stops and starts with social channels, as many do, because when Mark Zuckerberg changes his mind, we all have to change ours, too. When Google kills what they see as “projects” like authorship, we have to adapt quickly.
  • Our newsletter wasn’t consistent and we didn’t build our email list.

As for results?

They were mixed. While we gained clients last year, many of them were a result of me speaking at events like Customer Experience World or leading webinars for other organizations.

I received calls asking me “who is your writer and editor?” which made me want to laugh and cry. It’s a compliment people think we have professionals creating this content, but that also means they don’t realize it’s me doing it!

I received plenty of “can I pick your brain for 5 minutes” requests which I had to learn to politely decline. Our social communities were built largely of people tangential to our market. The discussions might be great, but they were with people who wanted to learn from us, not hire us.

Many of the inbound leads would answer the question of “how did you find us?” with “I clicked on something, then something else, then finally I was on your site.” That’s success, right? But we couldn’t necessarily trace back where they started. We knew some spaghetti was sticking to the wall, but we didn’t know which noodles. Or what wall.


This leads to a conundrum.

My favorite part of my job is sharing, teaching, writing and speaking. We love hearing feedback that we provided great information or someone benefited from the content we provided. And yet, like any business, compliments and feedback don’t pay the bills.

Here are some of the ways we’ve already approached 2015 differently.

  • Beginning January 1st, we created a 21-Day Customer Experience Challenge to share bite-size tips through email. We built our email list and will continue to do so.
  • We’re focusing on specific channels that work for us. Slideshare has been great so we are planning more helpful slideshare decks this year. LinkedIn publishing has picked up steam. Google+ communities weren’t great so we killed ours.
  • Our blog will continue to be the place for our content, but we’re starting to revamp the web site to have more offers and specific information about what we do.
  • We’ll be offering a lot more unique content via our email list. (Subscribe below!)
  • We’ve started our own webinar series, so we’re not providing the content for other organizations as much. Visit and subscribe on YouTube to keep up!
  • We’ll be doing more with video! (Stay tuned!)
  • My new podcast with Adam Toporek, Crack The Customer Code, will continue to focus on business leaders tackling real issues for customers.
  • We’ll continue to use our content visually and in a variety of ways through social, as well as continue the conversations there.
  • Our focus on guest blogging is renewed.

Successful content marketing isn’t just about great content.

I’m sharing this because you all have been part of this journey with us, and we’d love your feedback on what you like or don’t. But I’m also sharing because I believe in content marketing, but it’s not as easy as some may make it seem.

It’s not all about “great content” as some like to claim. It’s not just about repurposing. It’s about learning what works and what doesn’t. We’re still throwing spaghetti at the wall. But our aim is improved.

We’re glad you’re here!

Image credits: www.metaphoricalplatypus.comstriatic via Creative Commons license


About Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CSP

Jeannie Walters CCXP CSP small square photoJeannie is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker, and sought-after business coach who is trailblazing the movement from “Reactive Customer Service” to “Proactive Customer and Employee Experience.” More than 500,000 people have learned from her CX courses on LinkedIn Learning, and her insights have been featured in Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and NPR

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