Content marketing has been a part of business for decades. From Jell-O’s free recipe book distributed in 1904 to Lego’s Brick Kicks Magazines in the late 1980s, companies have been looking for innovative ways to build an ‘audience’ rather than just a customer base. The technique has exploded in the digital age, though. Blendtec’s ‘Will It Blend?’ video campaign is one of the most well-known examples, and it still runs today a decade on from its inception.
Content marketing relies on creating quality, enjoyable content that engages the audience, wins return visitors and in turn leads to greater conversions down the line. But building an audience isn’t an ends unto itself; it’s how companies exploit that audience that sets the great content marketers apart, how they turn the visitors to their site into paying customers. So, you’ve built an audience with some strong content but aren’t seeing an uptick in sales - check that you’re doing these four things to get the very best out of your audience.
Exploit the inexpensive tech available
If you’re consistently creating content and building an audience, you should be collecting and analyzing data around who reads it and how well different types of content are performing. Without this, you’re throwing your content out without a clear direction and with no idea of how to improve it.
Free software like Google Analytics is easy to use and has put business into something of a ‘golden age’ of marketing tools. This year, Google announced beta testing of a free version of its Optimize 360, a tool - powered by Google Analytics - that will test your landing page and help you optimize it for the best conversion rate.
Use proper metrics
Having said that, many companies gather lots of data but have very little idea of how to garner actionable insights from it. The secret here is not fixating on vanity metrics like Facebook ‘likes’ or page views. Though obviously positive, these are insignificant up against more impactful metrics like clickthrough rates, conversions and subscriptions.
Collecting data without identifying which metrics are actually important to your business is doing so in a vacuum. To be actionable, the metrics you collect should be specifically chosen for their relevance to your engagement and conversion. To develop KPIs, first define the business objectives that your progress can be measured against. Once you’ve done this, you can start looking at improving conversion rates and, ultimately, the ROI on your content marketing.
CRO and regular testing
How exactly these conversion rates can be improved is a big part of the content marketing conversation. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a complex business, and Econsultancy found that more than half of companies plan to increase their CRO budgets over the course of 2017 to tackle it head on.
Even so, only 11% of those surveyed said they’re likely to run all-important testing at least three times a month. For the best results, perform A/B testing or multivariate testing on your CTAs, the length of your content, the type of content you produce, etc. Effective and regular testing will give your content marketing team the information they need to optimize conversion rates and, ultimately, drive up the ROI.
Build the right kind of audience
This last point relates to the notion of vanity metrics. Of course, building the widest audience possible is good for brands, but the type of audience you draw is just as important as its size. If your product is premium, appealing to a mass audience isn’t necessarily the best way to go. Similarly if your business is B2C, producing content that’s too industry specific won’t work.
Essentially, this means creating content with your target audience in mind. Try and build a rounded view of your customer before you plan your content, tapping into what the demographic(s) are interested in and which channels they’re most likely to use. Content marketing is something almost every company is doing or wants to be doing, but very few get it right - these four steps are a good place to start.