Humor me for a rant?
I was paging through my Feedly feeds today, at least the ones about Marketing. And I realized just how often “Content Marketing” was coming up.
It started to frustrate me.
Because here are all these websites spending precious space talking about how to create content for your website that will somehow magically grow your business.
How about these headlines?
“4 Metrics to Track Impact of Content Marketing on Brand Awareness.”
“This Week in Content Marketing: The New Content Business Model Awaits.”
“Proven Steps to Earn Brand Preference with Content Marketing.”
“Content Marketing Strategy — 15 Keys to Shooting 25 Social Media Videos in One Day.”
“Content Marketing Best Practices: Content Writing in 2017.”
I’m an unabashed direct marketer — I wish to be judged by the bankable business results my marketing generates — and “content marketing” is an incredible turn-off!
Here’s the thing. Most businesses can’t sit around creating content all day, hoping that someone will read their content this month, have a need next month, remember their name the month after that, and finally buy the month after…
And keep creating content heaped upon content in the hope they’ll stay above the fray and clutter, and actually get their message put in front of prospects that will take so long to convert, they won’t remember the business when it’s time to buy.
Yet if you read a large portion of the articles on content marketing, you’d come away with the message that “if you create the content, they will come.”
And yet, try to put that into practice, and your growth will be slow-to-middling at best.
The only time “content marketing” works is when it’s tied to “conversion marketing.”
Ken McCarthy, a Titan of Direct Response, and the founder of the System Seminar where most of today’s internet gurus got their chops, taught a simple formula.
Qualified Traffic + Consistent Conversions = Online Profits
The way many content marketers approach it, they’re all about the traffic. Sometimes qualified, sometimes less so. They don’t want to worry about conversions.
They create content because they’re scared to sell!
However, if you don’t convert, you don’t have profits — and your entire marketing effort is wasted!
The only way to market profitably online is to get traffic, and get that traffic to convert. If you focus just on content for traffic or even “brand awareness” and other feel-good measures, you’re not marketing, you’re simply publishing free content to clutter up the internets.
To be fair, some content marketers get it right. Here are some other recent articles in my Feedly…
“How Strategic Content Converts to Email Subscriptions and Sales.”
“23 Facts to Pull Out When Someone Says Content Marketing Doesn’t Work”
“What Works Now: 13 Content Marketing Secrets from Kissmetrics, WordStream, Unbounce, KlientBoost, Close.io & More”
All of those talk, at least in part, about conversions as well as content for content’s sake.
But there’s no clear border drawn between “content marketing” and “content marketing with a conversion focus.”
So if you start to follow the self-appointed content marketing “experts” you could easily think you’re doing everything right when you’re not asking for the conversion — and be left wondering months later why your business isn’t going anywhere.
But I’m not just here to complain…
Here’s one question you can ask to make sure you’re doing the right kind of content marketing…
This is a simple question that I don’t believe most people building even a business website have asked themselves. However, it’s probably THE most important question you can ask about ANY page you put online.
“What’s the next action I want someone to take after visiting this webpage?”
This completely reorients your content marketing efforts.
Are you writing the article to get them to click through to your product page? Are you writing it to get them to convert to an email subscriber?
If you’re creating social media content, are you asking them to share it, so you can later remarket to them and anyone else who views it?
Your content MUST have a bigger purpose than simply getting eyeballs and good feelings.
Now, there are some really interesting capabilities that have come online in recent years, that multiply the power of content…
For example, if you know what you’re doing, you can write an article that’s all-value, no-fluff, no-pitch, and have it serve an important purpose. Through the power of remarketing, that article can be a way to attract visitors so that you can target them with later advertising that directs them into a sales funnel. But in this case, you’re pre-qualifying the traffic, as much as anything else. The content itself isn’t what makes it all work. It’s the content that gives you easier access to qualified traffic, so you can bring them back for more consistent conversions, to give you those vaunted online profits we all want.
Or, in many cases, content is being used today as a better landing page than the sales page itself. For example, in the financial publishing industry, most ad networks won’t let you run your ads on major news sites and direct the clicks straight through to a video sales letter. But they will let you run an ad that directs people to content that pre-sells them on an idea, with lots of in-content links plus on-page ads that all point people to that same sales page. The visitor experience, in this case, is that they click from article, to “article,” to sales page. This is considered a smoother transition, and is welcome in the big ad networks, whereas linking directly to a video sales letter will get you banned.
The long and the short of it is…
Content marketing is stupid, except when it isn’t…
Done right, content marketing can generate more qualified traffic, and be a step toward consistent conversions.
Content marketing best practices can be used at important spots in the prospect journey toward conversion, as part of your sales funnel.
Great, valuable content can grow your audience and prospect list, and actually grow your business.
But you can’t be a spineless ninny who thinks you’re doing marketing but you’re too afraid to sell. You’ve got to be willing to stand behind your offer and the value the prospect will get out of doing business with you, and leverage the familiarity and liking you develop with your content and get them to take the next logical step toward conversion.
Then, good content marketing can be a breakthrough.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,