For the most part, digital advertising has always been about delivering ROI.
The prevailing notion that most marketers still operate with is that since everything is measurable in digital, you’re doing something wrong if you don’t get immediate results.
I strongly believe that if this is the way you’re used to running your marketing department, you might get great results for your direct response efforts but unfortunately you’re probably not going to be very successful in your branding strategy broadly or in your content marketing efforts more specifically.
Let me try to explain why.
Content Marketing is a 1-2-3 Punch Combo
We’ve been so trained to think of digital advertising as a simple punch combo, a jab and then a cross.
You serve an ad when someone searches for something (showing intent), they go to your landing page and then “convert” to buy your product almost immediately.
Based on this equation, measuring ROI is easy.
How much am I paying for a click versus how many convert and buy?
With content marketing, this kind of approach is almost guaranteed to fail. That’s because it’s a top-of-funnel initiative, not a lower funnel one.
When people engage with your content, they might not have “intent” yet. They might not even realize they have a need for your product or service, and they definitely haven’t developed an affinity for your brand.
Expecting that someone who just read a piece of your content for the first time will drop everything they’re doing and rush to convert is silly, and it rarely works.
So what should you do?
I recommend a more advanced punch strategy. Like a jab, duck left, right hook.
Jab: Get your content discovered by the right target audience, by promoting your content on native platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Outbrain.
Duck Left: Focus on optimizing engagement with the content by monitoring engagement KPIs like page views per session, time on site, newsletter registrations, sharing etc. With some platforms like Outbrain you can even place an optimization pixel on these soft actions (like registration page) and have the media auto-optimize itself to drive maximum results.
Right Hook: After you’ve optimized for maximum engagement, you can begin to leverage some of that engagement into conversions.
Here’s an example of how to do that:
Tech Giant Gets Startup Founders To Convert
A large tech company we work with wanted to get startups to choose their cloud service over a competing service.
They wanted to try content marketing, so they launched a campaign with an article about why startups need cloud computing in order to succeed.
When people landed on that article, there were big call-to-action buttons on the side rail, top and bottom of the page to increase conversion rates.
Jab, cross: Get them to the content and get them to convert.
The result: Complete failure.
Almost no clicks on the call to action (CTA) and no conversions.
Instead of giving up, they went back to the drawing board and re-launched the site with articles that were more interesting to the target audience.
For example: “5 IT Mistakes to Avoid in Your First Business.”
When readers came to the page, they weren’t being overtly sold to with CTAs plastered everywhere. In addition, they changed the design layout of the articles to be much cleaner and more inviting.
Our client also implemented a personalized “more articles you might be interested in” module, which was placed below the content to increase engagement.
In addition, they added an option to sign up for their newsletter, which promised to feature more content like the piece the reader had just consumed.
Slowly but surely, our client succeeded in building a relationship with subscribers, and after months of providing value in that way to build affinity, they started to promote their cloud solution in a much more inviting and non-intrusive way than before.
This time around, the results were pretty amazing.
Their content marketing strategy is now driving more leads and at a much lower cost than any other marketing initiative of theirs.
Jab, duck left, right hook.