Look To Your Metrics And Your Prospects’ Buyer Journey
If you want to see massive results from marketing these days, some experts are suggesting you need to generate a ton of content. Data and research from our client work shows similar results. The more you create, the better your results. But how much is too much? Can you do too much? And more importantly, how do you know when you’ve crossed over and your energy, time and expenses are not delivering incremental gains?
The answer lies in two places. First, look at your data and analytics. What does the data related to content tell you? Are your prospects keeping up with your massive content flow? Are they converting (and at higher rates)? That shows they are taking in everything you’re putting out. Or do you see a decline in conversion rates?
Next, look at their buyer journey. Are you answering their questions? Are they moving along because of your content? What is the sales team saying about your content’s ability to move prospects through the sales process? If your content is effective, you’ll quickly see that it’s being consumed all across and down into the sales funnel, and that prospects are using your content to help them continue their journey.
Here are some more tips and techniques for your content marketing strategy to make sure you’re not overdoing it with content marketing assets.
Look For Trends In Blog Article Topics
Blog articles are great places to see what your prospects are interested in learning about. You can create a blog article in a few hours, post it and see what kind of views, conversions, shares and comments it generates.
Compare it to your general blog performance metrics. If your blog articles generally score about 1,000 views, then ideas at or above that target views number are keepers, while ideas below that are losers. You can turn that into a range of plus or minus 10%, if that’s more comfortable for you. Our experience is you typically see big swings, which makes it easy to identify the winners and the losers. Once you start working related content around the winning themes, keep an eye on them too, because your readers can show fatigue if you focus on a similar topic for too long.
Constantly monitoring these metrics is key to identifying reader fatigue quickly and responding to that with new and fresh content ideas.
Leverage Those Trends Into Long-Form Pieces Of Content
If your blog articles create a stir, turn them into a long-form e-book, whitepaper or infographic. You’ll have a much better idea of its potential after you test the idea on the blog.
Flipping this idea on its head, we often create long-form content that we know is going to do well and, at the same time, curate out five to seven new blog articles. This allows us to create a content item that is used in more than one place. Plus, by promoting the long-form item in our short-form blog article, we have guaranteed tactical orchestration that is so often the reason your inbound marketing doesn’t perform up to expectations.
If you want to be even more aggressive and extra experimental, you can publish a CTA and promote a piece of content without ever actually creating it. If the offer is wildly popular, then get working on it and deliver it quickly. If it’s a dud, let anyone know who asked for it that the offer was a test and you’d be happy to chat with them about the offered content, so they get what they asked for. It takes some solid communication to set the right expectations, but I’ve seen this approach work well when resources are tight and you want to make sure you’re putting data behind your effort.
Create A Questions Inventory
If you want to know if you’re creating the right content, start with an inventory of questions prospects and customers ask during their buyer journey. These questions are generally easy to collect, and the sales team is usually a great place to start. Keep in mind that people ask different types of questions at different stages of the buyer journey.
Start collecting those questions and then prioritize the questions based on either the most common or the most important. Now create content that answers those questions. For example, we often get asked the question, “How do we go about selecting an agency to help us?” So we created an e-book titled, “The 10 Must-Ask Questions Before You Hire A Digital Agency.” This content helps our prospects be just a little smarter during the selection process.
Another question might include, “How do you know if you can write for my company?” To answer that one, we have a video that features a client talking about the writing process at Square 2 Marketing, the professional writer we assigned to the team and the editorial steps we take to ensure our clients are raving fans.
Answer Questions With Content
You can answer questions with long-form content like I described above, but you can also answer questions with blog articles and social media conversation starters. The key is to tightly orchestrate all of the different content channels, so your prospects get a seamlessly integrated experience. If I have a question that just came up (or has come up a lot recently), we might want to invest heavily in creating a complex set of content assets, but a blog article might also be just what the doctor ordered.
Now we can use the blog in the sales process, put forth a reasonable expense and budget allocation to create that content, and if it takes off, gets shared and ranks quickly, we can build out something meatier for ongoing consumption.
The same works with social media. If we post a question, we’re looking to see how interested our community is in that question and that particular content theme. If it sparks a lot of engagement, we’ll follow it up with a blog article and then a long-form content deliverable to drive all that interest back to our website and reinforce our brand with this audience. It’s one of the secrets to connecting what can be diverse activities into one, coherent and strategic campaign.
Match Formats To Buyer Personas
Finally, you have to make sure you have enough diversity in your content formats to satisfy, match and keep your prospects engaged. If you only publish e-books or even infographics, they might get bored. If you never run any webinars and only do podcasts, they might get bored. Remember, getting bored is not an arbitrary assessment. You’ll see that your readers are getting bored if the metrics start trending down.
A few years ago, we were focusing on one topic for a month. We did a month of articles and content on social media, a month on websites and then a month on video marketing. It became apparent that this was too long for our audience. Your audience might be different, and you must find out for yourself. That’s why benchmarks and best practices can be misleading. No one has the same audience as you, and only you know their propensity for engaging with your content.
Creating a lot of content is not always possible. Budgetary limits and access to resources sometimes makes content creation challenging, and it’s not always easy to come up with compelling and industry leading topics. The key is not creating more content but rather creating the right content deployed at the right time and in the right way.
By testing and adjusting quickly, you learn what the right content is, what the right timing is and what format works best with your potential buyers. In some of the recent research, it has become clear to industry experts that a small percentage of content drives a large percentage of the results, so finding those content drivers is key. The best way to do that is to iterate quickly, cycle short-form content out, get data on the content and then convert that insight into longer-form pieces that continue to drive results.
It’s a circular cycle that needs to be spinning month over month. The faster it spins, the better your results — not because you’re creating more content, but because your content creation efforts are getting smarter.
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