Dominick Sorrentino

We polled our LinkedIn followers about their biggest content marketing challenges, and nearly everything about the results surprised us.

The survey prompt was straightforward: What’s your biggest content marketing challenge right now? 

(“Right now” = February/early March 2024.)

The options to choose from included generating leads, creating engaging content, measuring ROI, keeping up with the calendar.

The Unexpected Results

Here is what our LinkedIn community flagged as their top challenge:

  • Creating engaging content: 29%
  • Keeping up with the calendar: 29%
  • Measuring ROI: 24%
  • Generating leads: 19%

Why This Outcome Goes Against the Grain

Last year, we conducted a content marketing management survey; more than 100 marketers participated. 

At that time, the No. 1 challenge faced by these respondents was “ensuring every piece of content ties to a goal.”

Consequently, we anticipated “measuring ROI” to be the biggest content marketing challenge, followed by “generating leads.” Those were second to last, and dead last, respectively.

Meanwhile, “creating engaging content” and “keeping up with the calendar” tied for first. There is some precedent for the latter. 

But the former was interesting to us, and here’s why: It highlights the fact that generative AI has solved very few actual content creation challenges. 

The one thing we know for certain about generative AI is that it can create a lot of content, very quickly. However, when we ran our survey in 2023, respondents weren’t concerned about lacking the time for creating content (only 1 of 120 said that was their biggest challenge). 

By that logic, AI is solving a problem that not many people had in early 2023. 

What AI cannot do yet is create engaging content. “Engaging” is the operative word here. If we had just said creating content, would we have gotten a different response? 

Obviously we don’t know. But what we do know is that our small (but highly qualified) pool of respondents struggles to create content that earns the desired level of engagement. 

Critical Takeaways 

Creating engaging content is unprecedentedly hard (and getting harder)

This wasn’t the result we expected from our audience, but it makes perfect sense. There were more than 200 million ChatGPT users as of June 2023, and there are likely a lot more today. 

However, only a handful of those users have learned how to impactfully use AI for content creation (we’ve witnessed it first hand, and it’s a marvel). 

Everyone else is left competing against many more content creators, all of whom also have access to tools like ChatGPT. These same people are also competing against the aforementioned elite content creators who have figured out how to use AI to make great content, even better.

So to sum up, more people are creating content than ever before, and the top-tier creators who have figured out how to use AI are pulling away from the pack. 

Generative AI has accidentally made creating engaging content more challenging than ever. 

Content calendar woes often stem from poor technology

In 2023, keeping to a content marketing schedule was the third greatest challenge among our respondents.

More than a year later, it’s still one of the biggest challenges content marketer’s face. Consider these stats:

  • 17% of marketers say they don’t even have a proper content calendar.
  • 13.2% say they have a calendar, but struggle to meet deadlines. 
  • Another 6% say they almost never meet deadlines.

On the whole, only about 28% of marketers are truly settled into a strong content calendar routine.

Look, I get it. Sticking to a content calendar will always be a challenge. Marketing is about timing. That requires some degree of flexibility, which means posting priorities can change at a moment’s notice. It’s important to be realistic in this sense. 

But you can—and should—simplify the management of your content calendar as much as humanly possible. Unfortunately, that’s not happening, and this is why:

Spreadsheets? Physical notebooks?

Your marketing deserves better. 

Content calendars are such a seemingly simple thing, and maybe that’s why people assume spreadsheets or a regular Google Calendar are enough. Clearly, they are not. 

Some Parting Wisdom

I’ll close out this article with two pieces of advice:

  1. When it comes to content creation, only about half your time should be spent doing the actual creation. The other half (or probably more) should be spent figuring out how that content will earn engagement. 
  2. Don’t sleep on the power of content marketing management tools. We, as marketers, sometimes focus so intently on the shiny new thing that’ll get us the biggest results, that we forget about the basic housekeeping stuff (like a proper content calendar). 

This advice has serviced me well, and hopefully it will do the same for you.