By Margaret Johnson

You know that WordPress is the most widely used web content management system on the planet, right? In fact, as WordPress has grown more powerful, so has its ecosystem – entire businesses built around developing plugins, consulting, and supporting the platform.

But marketing – marketing remains a challenge. What has been available for marketers is a group of independent plugins to do various things, all of which needed to be knitted together to try to come up with a cohesive lead generating website. In most cases, the knitting fails to create a solution – and in fact, causes more work for marketers.

Here are my top five painful marketing realities, based on my own personal experiences as well as those I’ve witnessed with others.

1. Blog subscribers are great, but who are they and what do they really want?

We all love to see our subscriber numbers creeping up or even skyrocketing, don’t we? There are people interested in what we’re saying! Yay! But – and this is a big one – who are they? Does your blog import your subscribers into a marketing platform for you? Do you know what pages each of them has visited on your site? Do you know what blog posts interest them? Likely, you don’t, and from a marketing perspective, this is horrible. You have actual leads, but you don’t know them, and you don’t know what their real interests are.

2. Your sidebars are the same – and they are not doing what you really need them to do.

Sidebars in WordPress are sadly static. Yes, you can get a plugin that allows you to create different sidebars, which may allow you to be a little more relevant, but you can’t manage them on the fly. You must create your sidebars up front, then choose which one to use on what type of page. Have you written a new blog post, and want to include a reference to a specific download just in that post? Well, embed it into the post, because your ability to inject unique or specific calls-to-action into sidebars doesn’t really exist.

3. Speaking of calls-to-action, good luck with gating that content appropriately.

There are many ways to handle gating your content. You can get one of dozens of form plugins, or you can use one of several landing page generators. You can write HTML code (can you?) or hire someone to do it for you. However you do it, you end up with forms on your site. Site visitors fill them out to get your content. Where does the information go? Many form plugins just drop the information into your email inbox, and it’s up to you to go enter the information into whatever email software you’re using. Others might integrate with one or a few specific email service providers, but the information sent over is incomplete – and you can’t track what else that lead did while they were on your site. Ugh. Oh, you want the option of having your form pop-up versus being on a landing page? That’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.

4. You want to send a newsletter out, but there’s no easy way to create it, so….

Your subscribers want your information, and you’d like to send a newsletter out with your latest blog posts in it. It’s just not that easy to do, so you rely on Feedburner to do it for you. Nice. Except… who is getting it? What are they opening? What are their interests? You don’t know what is resonating with your audience, and what is falling flat. You go look at Google Analytics to try to figure out what is being read, because you want to write more content around the topics that people are reading (right?), but then… you don’t know whom to send that new content to, so you just send it to everyone and hope it hits.

5. When something stops working, the first thing support says is to disable all plugins.

Trust me, I’ve heard that dozens of times, and, if you’re running a WordPress site, you’ve likely heard it too. Disable all the plugins to make sure you don’t have a theme conflict, then add them back in, one-by-one, testing at every step. “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” If you’re like most WordPress-using marketers, you’ve got at least three and probably many more than that just to handle your marketing objectives. Turn off your forms plugin? Heresy! Turn off your subscription tracker plugin? An abomination! Stay up until midnight when traffic is lowest to get all of this done? Intrusive and inconvenient!

Knitting together multiple plugins is a huge issue for marketers. Being able to track incoming leads appropriately, understanding what happens after you send an email – at the individual lead level – these should not be hard. But they are.

If only someone would revolutionize marketing in WordPress. Life would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?