Have you ever felt like your content is stagnating? That you’re sending out content people aren’t yet ready for, that doesn’t apply to them, that they don’t have the context for, or are simply not interested in?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then you’re reading the right article.
Wasting time or money on activities that don’t work is every marketer’s worst nightmare. But it's hard to understand what types of content are suitable for different audiences at different times, and then how to coordinate and distribute those assets in a way that ultimately drives sales.
Research from the Content Marketing Institute shows clear differences between the most successful and least successful content marketing approaches. Fortunately, these differences are easy to identify and serve as an excellent basis for optimizing your strategy.
A look into successful purchase paths reveals a solid pattern: You have to send the right message, delivered at the right time, to the right person, with the right information, using the right channel, every single time.
But how do you do this?
In this article, we delve deeper into the “whys” and “hows” of getting the right content in front of the right people. We’ll discuss how different types of content fit well into various stages of the buyer’s journey, where you might be doing it wrong, and how to make sure your content reaches its full potential.
Each funnel stage is unique, so your content should be too
Marketers who align their content efforts with the stages of the buyer's journey yield 73% higher conversion rates. Mapping your content to the buyer’s journey and exposing your prospects to a pool of targeted marketing collateral is fundamental to moving them further down the funnel.
Let's do a brief refresher on the stages of the buyer's journey:
In this initial stage, prospects are struggling with something. They're trying to articulate their needs and identify their challenge by researching for the pain they’re experiencing. This stage calls for content that uses “symptom” keywords and helps prospects to articulate their problem.
Prospects have spotted the problem, they’re exploring different options and are educating themselves more about the topic they’re interested in. Informative and trustworthy pieces of content about how other people have managed to overcome similar problems successfully, fit perfectly into this stage.
After comparing available options, prospects are now seeking validation before committing to one solution. Their focus is on features, value for money, ease of use, and future potential. Here, quantitative pieces of content showing how you're better than the competition will inspire prospects to take the leap of faith.
Signs your content strategy is broken and how to fix it
It's a noisy digital world and developing an effective content strategy can be challenging. Part of that is finding and fixing the places where it's going wrong.
Below, we’ve gathered some of the most common problems content marketers face, along with proposed solutions based on how we tackle these challenges at Foleon.
1 People aren’t finding your content
If you're crafting good content, but not reaching anyone, you should ensure you're optimizing each piece for search engines. Even though it can feel like a tedious process, implementing a thorough SEO strategy is a surefire way to get discovered by the right people.
The internet is crowded. An astonishing 77 million new blog posts are published every month on Wordpress.com alone. If you want to be found, not only should your content be valuable, it should be more valuable than any other similar content out there.
On top of that, you should have a solid distribution and traffic generation strategy in place. Sending emails every time you publish something new is a good first step, but you should try more proactive techniques as well. Try guest posting and regularly asking others to link to your content. Not only is this good for brand exposure and SEO, but over time, you'll begin to generate a network of contacts you can rely on to help you get traction.
2 People read, but then they don't come back
If your percentage of returning users is low, it may be that your content is not relevant or valuable enough for your target audience. It's essential that you understand your readers — their needs and their pain points — and that you address these in a way that is both helpful and inspiring.
But it could also be that you simply need to find a way to remind people to come back.
If you can persuade visitors to subscribe or sign up for your mailing list, you can encourage them to revisit your website or blog with an email every time you publish something new. People don't always part with their email addresses easily, though, so try offering them something valuable in return like an eBook or white paper that relates to the topic they're reading. You can use forms embedded on your page or even a tool like Sumo to create popups that gather reader information in exchange for a content offer.
Another way to alert visitors of new content — one that's growing in popularity — is with browser notifications. These allow you to push messages to users' computers or phones even when they're not on your site and get them to come back.
You should also encourage readers to make use of the comment section under your blog posts. Simply ending your post with a prompt like, "Tell us what you think," can do wonders for generating comments. If people leave a comment, they're more likely to return to see if others have replied. This is especially powerful if you, the author, regularly reply to comments. Your blog post will feel more like a 2-way conversation that readers will want to take part in.
And finally, don’t forget: quality is king. People will ultimately come back if your content leaves a lasting impression, creates anticipation, and adds value.
3 People aren’t converting
If your visitors are returning and engaging with your content, you're clearly doing something right. But the next challenge is to get them to actually convert and buy something. If leads are getting "stuck" in your sales funnel, consuming your content but not showing much interest in your offerings, you need to find a way to incite that interest.
First, you should ask yourself whether those who are reading your material are in fact your ideal customer profile — the kinds of people who would be interested in whatever product or service you're offering. Are you attracting the right crowd? If not, you should reexamine your repertoire of topics and ensure it's in line with your primary business activities.
Second, is it clearly apparent to the average visitor what you offer and why it's valuable? It's entirely possible (quite common, actually) for a reader to repeatedly visit a blog without ever being aware of what that the company behind the blog does. This doesn't mean your blog posts should be all about your product. But it means that your business propositions should be clear and visible.
To begin driving conversions, you need to be proactive in communicating with visitors who've subscribed to your mailing list. Send them additional material, based on their previous reading activity, that ties their topic of interest directly into your product or service. This is how you move from being merely a thought leader in their eyes to being a potential solution.
4 People are delaying their final purchase decision
If your prospects have turned into opportunities and they're responding positively to the more promotional content you've sent them, you may still need to give them an extra nudge or two. They're now in the decision stage and you have to convince them to make that final purchase decision.
This is where you can make great use of behavioral persuasion techniques:
Build up the fear of missing out
Make your prospects feel like they'll be left out if they don’t use your solution; that your offering is working wonderfully for crowds of other people who are challenged with similar problems.
If one of your customers achieved a 50% increase in conversion rates after using your solution, then let your prospects know! Great success stories are elaborate, segmented per niche, and contain all the necessary information to demonstrate your value and eliminate your prospects’ doubts.
To make sure your success stories get noticed, add them to your sales decks and retargeting campaigns.
Touch on their emotions
Humans are always looking for stories that inspire and excite them — and you can use this. Every piece of marketing collateral, whether a blog post, eBook, or sales deck should be presented in the form of a story that triggers emotions. Engaging emotions is how you create authentic connections between your readers and your brand.
Explicitly prompt your leads to take action
Unless you tell your leads what you want them to do, it’s unlikely that they'll perform the action you intended when you were crafting your content.
Include calls to action (CTAs) on every landing page, in every email campaign, and in every other type of communication. Make sure your CTAs are relevant, clear, positioned correctly, and compelling. Continually test and analyze your CTAs' placement and copy for optimal results.
Bonus tip: It’s not just the timing, it’s the delivery too
Attention is a precious resource, and strategizing your inbound efforts to attract the right people is a marathon. Your audience is exposed to a sea of content each day. Sending them the right content at the right time is not enough — you need to make sure its packaged properly too.
If you want to be noticed, you need to dazzle your audience with content that’s visually appealing and breaks through the noise.
“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” — Doug Kessler
Before you start googling “inbound growth hacks” or “quick ways to increase sales,” it could be that you just need to take a step back, review your strategy, identify what content assets are missing from your marketing mix, and optimize your content funnel.