In the world of content marketing, a lot of goals and KPIs are focused on acquiring more visitors, encouraging audiences to spend more time on the website, gaining more blog subscriptions, and earning more likes on social media.
If you’re focused on always getting more, you have to ask yourself if more is always better.  Is your goal to have a large following or to improve sales and retain customers? While it’s nice to show that your efforts are driving more traffic to the website, if the traffic you’re driving will never buy your product or service, you might as well do nothing at all. On the other hand, if your goals are to increase conversions and reduce churn, make sure your efforts are attracting the right audience and improving their experiences to encourage sustained engagement.
Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.39.05 AMUse content marketing efforts to get more qualified leads and change the focus of your measurement from the popularity and performance of individual pieces of content to the impact your content marketing efforts have on higher revenue and lower churn rates. Shift your goals from attracting more people to attracting people who spend more money or stay with the brand for a longer period of time.

Content marketing goals to impact the bottom line

There’s already plenty of content on the Internet. At this point, there’s no reason to create content for the sake of having more content or growing your audience share, unless the audience you’re growing is also converting. Driving more traffic to your site and increasing pageviews doesn’t really mean anything unless you’re also increasing conversions.
“It’s pretty obvious to most people that driving a lot of traffic that’s the wrong traffic isn’t going to drive a lot of conversions, Ironically, that realization hasn’t really slowed down requests for content that does just that,” notes Erin Robbins O’Brien, President of GinzaMetrics.
Sometimes requests for more content are a knee-jerk reaction to the amount of content being produced by competitors. While monitoring your competitors is good, instead of measuring your competitiveness by the size of your content inventory, track their successes versus your own by how well they’re ranking on the search engines and how well content is performing. If you’re watching your competitors and notice they’re consistently ranking higher in search results and you decide it’s because they blog daily and you only blog weekly, you may be missing the point.
Instead of trying to compete with your competitors by increasing the amount of content you create, compete with them by creating quality content that better addresses audience needs. Blogging more won’t necessarily improve your search engine rankings; it just increases the number of blogs that exist on your site. Instead of competing for quantity, compete with your competitors for quality by producing content designed to engage your target audiences.
Just because someone is creating more content than you, doesn’t mean they’re selling more products or services than you. If your competitors are engaging more people, find out if they’re the right people for your product. If they are, create content that competes for those audiences by topic or type of content. Simply continuing to create more of the same content that wasn’t engaging in the first place won’t improve your rankings or your conversions.
According the Erin, “It’s like there’s a disconnect between knowing that you need people to convert and not recognizing how the content you’re creating has an impact on that outcome.”
Driving more people to your website isn’t necessarily to cure to a low percentage of conversions among your current traffic. Instead of setting a goal of creating more content to drive more traffic and maintain a low percentage of conversions, set a goal to improve your content and increase the percentage of conversions among the people who you’re already attracting to your website.
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You can choose to use your resources to create new content for people who might accidentally convert now and then or you can decide to spend your time and money making your existing site more relevant. Focus on delivering content assets the market actually needs and wants and make the customer journey through your content to conversion as easy as possible.
If the goal of your content marketing efforts is solely to drive new traffic to the site in hopes that some of them might convert, eventually you’ll run out of new people to drive to the site. Instead, amp up the conversion rate and understand how your content performs across the mediums, methods, and messages you’re using to improve its performance amongst the right audience – the ones that come to your site in search of your solution.

Set content goals that emphasize quality over quantity

Getting the desired results from content begins with setting the right goals. Make sure your goals are emphasizing quality over quantity:

  • Conversions vs. pageviews
  • Form fills vs. social media likes
  • Purchases vs. visitors

Before you decide on a set of arbitrary goals, understand what’s working and what’s not.
According to Erin, “You need to know how what you’re saying, where you’re saying it, and how you’re saying it is working toward building an experience that delivers what users want. You’ll also need to understand the market – the people you’re talking to specifically.”
If you haven’t already set up personas, stop and take the time to understand your audiences by their likes and dislikes, preferences, and pain points. Develop a content mission statement that promises to deliver the content your audience is looking for. Depending on your business and your audiences, you’ll want to decide if your content should be helpful, opinionated, instructional, entertaining, or some combination thereof.
Once you know your audience, set departmental or functional goals which reflect the organizational goals. Include how your department will contribute to overall goals and how functions within the department will help meet those goals and objectives.
Goal setting should include an inventory and analysis of what already exists and how it’s performing. Before you set goals you should know:

  • Inventory of content by type
    • Blogs
    • EBooks
    • Slide decks
    • Videos
    • Infographics
  • Inventory of content by location
    • Websites
    • Microsites
    • Social channels
  • Performance metrics
    • Medium
    • Method
    • Message
  • History of how content has been updated
  • Channel performance
  • Content performance by persona

Not only will you want to know what’s working and where’s it’s working, you’ll want to know why. Content marketing is the bait we use to bring audiences into our websites. Make sure the bait you’re using is attracting qualified audiences who will give you results that contribute to the bottom line.

Attract the right audiences with your content efforts

“When we talked about personas a few weeks ago, what I wanted to drive home is that you want to be able to slice and dice and measure and understand behavior for more than just things like men versus women or this income group versus that income group. You need to understand what matters to them and how their reception of the content is affected by that,” advises Erin.
“You are not your audience”, seems like an obvious statement. But what it really means is that you’re not grouping people or writing content for groups of people based on what’s important to you. Creating relevant personas requires collecting data about how people are finding your content, how they’re consuming it, and what common threads exist between them. Instead of looking for how people differ, group them by their commonalities. You might find groups according to:

  • Type of product or service they’re seeking
  • Geography
  • Social media engagement
  • Specific keywords
  • Industry
  • Title
  • Other

The idea is to pull together groups with certain things in common and then track their journeys through your website. If you can pinpoint where conversions fall off, you can help your audiences by creating a better path or providing better content to answer the questions they’re already asking.
Once you discover whose already converting, you can expand your research to determine your negative personas – those people coming to the website and not converting. Once you know who isn’t converting, you can find out why and make changes to your content to either stop attracting the wrong people or improve user experiences on your website.
According to Erin, “Having someone who comes to your site regularly and never buys anything doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it can really be problematic. Besides the problem of spending time and resources nurturing prospects whose needs or budget don’t fit your solution, you’ll end up with feedback you don’t need or that leads you in the wrong direction.”
Knowing who is most likely to buy your product and then targeting your content, topics, and website flow to best address their likes and needs may not increase traffic to your site, but it will most likely improve the quality of your sales leads and impact the bottom line.
Watch the Found Friday episode here:

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