4 Guiding Lights for Content that Converts
How many blog posts have you read today? If you ask me, I’d put that number at around twenty at the very minimum. Social media posts, videos and other forms of content aside, that would be my approximate blog count for the day.
Why? Because there is such abundance of content, and a lot of it is actually quite good. Content that is largely put out there by brands, non-profits and even government agencies.
In other words, content marketing is taking over every-day reading.
Do We Know What We Want?
In spite of the quantity of content marketing that populates the web, the objectivebehind each piece is still pretty vague if you dig a level deeper.
The attitude seems to be, “Let’s create content and hope that users like us and maybe, just maybe choose us.”
The trouble with this spray-and-pray attitude is that the glut of information on the internet means that the user is well-informed before he even approaches a potential seller. According to a CEB study (in a B2B context), 57% of the due diligence required to make a purchase decision is already done even before a buyer speaks to a supplier. This is not too far off in the case of B2C purchases either.
So what do we want our content marketing to do for our brands? If people tune out ads, and content marketing is our big shining hope, are we making our content marketing contribute real numbers? How can you and I create compelling contentthat makes users want to buy now?
That said, not every piece of content has just one overarching objective. It’s perfectly alright to have different goals for different types of content, the way we have clear goals for different mediums.
From creating awareness to building interest, to educating your users to inciting them into immediate action, your goals can be many. What matters when measuring conversions is spelling out what these goals are and then tracking performance. Judging a fish on how well it flies is a little unfair, don’t you think?
Know Your Audience
We tend to write about topics in our signature style, no matter who’s reading. When content does not speak to each audience member directly, why would they stick around to read and react to what you’ve got to say?
The simplest way to know your audience is, of course, via Google Analytics. Find out where your audience is from, how old they are and which websites they come from to know what style of writing would suit them best.
Social media is another great resource for audience data. By overlaying data from both sources, you can create distinct segments of your users called ‘buyer personas.’
A buyer persona is not just about the age, sex or country of a visitor. It would include things like the average education of the group, their frequency of purchase on your site, their preferred social networks and so on.
Basically, a buyer persona lays the foundation for creating personalized content that captures a user’s attention and connects with them at a deeper level.
These buyer personas don’t have to be limited to users who accesses your content marketing. Take your buyer personas you created for your content marketing and apply them to your website content to see longer time spent per session and higher CTRs.
A website personalization tool can easily help you set this up. For example, you can target visitors who fall into preset buyer personas individually via a recommendation engine such as Unbxd, which uses a machine-learning algorithm to track visitor behavior and present content or products most relevant to the respective visitors in real time.
It’s when your content talks about fur coats to Eskimos and sunglasses to islanders that you can truly hope to reap results from your content marketing.
Write About Things That Matter to THEM Not You
Tony Haile from Chartbeat shares that over half of all netizens spend less than 15 seconds reading any page. That’s less than half the time you spend watching an average TV commercial. We actually expect that our well-researched, beautifully laid out content will create awareness, arouse desire and convince readers to buy from us all within those 15 seconds. Wishful thinking.
Or is it?
Multiple pieces of research have found that long-form content performs better on social media, gets more links and ranks higher on search result pages. How does this happen if people spend only 15 seconds per page?
Clearly these really long pieces of content that do well are getting something very right. That something is user connect. When you write about things that matter to your users instead of what matters just to you, the eyeballs will come. And stay.
Go back to the basics to understand what matters to users. From your keyword research tool find the keywords that are most popular among your users. Keywords your users search for are indicators of information that they are actively looking for. Provide them with useful and well-written (long-form?) content around these keywords.
A useful trick to have your content rank higher than competition is to focus on the long-tail. A personal favorite is the ‘low hanging fruit’ feature on RankWatch to isolate long tail keywords.
Not only does it tell me about keywords that I would have otherwise missed out, it also shows long-term trends for each of them, allowing me to judge their relative importance to my content marketing efforts.
Thanks to the fact that most marketers focus on the juicy, fat keywords; long-tail topics typically have very little content from competing brands. Create some killer content around them and voila, results guaranteed!
Want Conversions? Make Your Content Visible
This one’s a no brainer, and yet so many content marketers ignore it all the time. Great content is not just destined for your blog. You may publish it on your blog or even a third-party site as a guest or op-ed piece, but unless it reaches your target audience, it’s not doing its job.
This is when content marketers need to roll up their sleeves and work closely with the social media team, the email marketing team, the PR team, even the sales team to get your word out there.
From paid promotions via platforms like Taboola to both organic and paid posts on social media to reaching out to influencers to using hashtags, there are a million and one ways to get your content noticed. Use them all.
Post your content on each of these platforms with the aim of increasing not just user visibility, but also influencer relationships. Let me explain.
Instead of simply posting your content on social media, try tagging a relevant influencer who has a direct interest in the topic under discussion.
Chances are they will retweet your post, expanding your audience by gigantic multiples.
Today content marketing has replaced the hard-sell ‘Buy, Buy, Buy’ style ads of the past.
Content marketing is regarded as a means of engaging with our audience, a way to inform them in an entertaining manner. Whatever may be the officially stated purpose of an organization’s content marketing efforts, we as content marketers need to be clear that we’re not just writing for the pleasure of the written word (that can well be an ancillary benefit).
We’re writing to get customers to know about our brands, to like our brands, to buy our brands. Any content marketer who does not keep these three goals as the focus of their writing is probably barking up the wrong tree.