When I joined Imagine – just over a year ago now – part of my role was account manager for one of our newest clients. It was a great opportunity for me to learn how we approach a client engagement from the very beginning and to understand the process that we go through.
The very first thing we do with a new client is develop their buyer personas. As is usually the case, our client had ideas around who their ideal customers/prospects were but they hadn’t documented those ideas or answered all of the necessary questions. When the process was complete, we had identified and defined three primary personas.
From there, we created an editorial calendar and plan for premium content that would be directed at those personas and began to execute. We were confident with our plan. Our editorial ideas were in line with what we had learned about the buyer personas.
Jump ahead six months…our content wasn’t getting any traction. We were blogging twice per week and publishing at least one piece of premium content per month…but no one was downloading it. At least not the personas we wanted to be reaching. We thought we had done every thing right. Why was this happening? The content part of our approach seemed to be ineffective.
At the end of the day, the purpose of content is to generate leads. We found ourselves in a position where that wasn’t happening. Here’s what we did to turn the situation around.
1. Review buyer personas
Our content plan was based on the buyer personas we had developed and assumptions we had made at the beginning of our journey with this client. So why wasn’t it having an impact?
Content that resonates creates value by solving a problem. In developing our personas, we made assumptions and defined problems that the data indicated the personas should care about. Could those assumptions be wrong?
They could. If fact, the results were indicating that the personas did not care about the problems we were solving with our content – at least not the way we were presenting it. We hypothesized that the teaching point-of-view we were trying to establish was too specific to attract their attention. It was not filling the top of the funnel. We still believed that the buyer personas did care (or would care) about the topics we were writing about but perhaps the timing was wrong. They weren’t aware they had those problems yet…we were ahead of them in the journey.
Based on this new assumption, we decided to take a step back and identify topics we felt were more top-of-mind for the personas. Instead of writing specifically about topics related to our client’s solution, we selected topics that were more “big picture” with our audience and then added a slight twist to tie it back to the types of solutions our client provides.
It is still very early on in our adjusted approach but results so far are trending in the right direction. Remember, buyer personas are not meant to be a completed document that sits on a shelf. The best buyer personas are always being adjusted based on what we learn as we try different approaches or the market changes. If your content isn’t generating leads, it is always a good idea to go back to the buyer persona drawing board and figure out why your content isn’t adding value.
2. Evaluate your website structure and design
When someone searches for an answer to a problem they are experiencing, chances are they will land on a website. When someone lands on yours, is it easy to navigate to that answer? What kind of user experience does your visitor have?
Your website plays a critical role in helping position your content to generate leads. If it is difficult to navigate or organized poorly, your visitors will give up before they ever find the awesome content you have created.
Naturally, we evaluated our client’s site as we tweaked our approach. Since we were involved in redesigning the site just a few months earlier, we were curious about how visitors were engaging with the site. We used Hotjar to help us identify where they were going and how far down they were scrolling. Our review led us to keep things organized as they were for now. We will continue to monitor moving forward.
3. Provide fresh content
Another area we reviewed as we tackled this issue was the content itself. Were there already dozens of whitepapers and ebooks solving the same problems we were trying to solve? Was our approach too “cookie cutter” for the industry and our audience?
As you evaluate your content, search for it. Are you overloaded with options that solve the identified problem? If you are, come up with a unique perspective or spin that will differentiate your piece. Or if there are tons of whitepapers, try another content type. Create an infographic or SlideShare. Or simplify the topic and try a checklist. Give your audience something that they haven’t already seen many times.
For our client, we are identifying content types we haven’t tried and working them into our editorial plans.
4. Review your calls-to-action
Calls-to-action or CTAs are what provide your audience the opportunity to engage with your content. It doesn’t matter how great your content is if the CTAs are ineffective or non-existent.
Part of our process in identifying why our content didn’t seem to be working included an evaluation of our CTAs. With HubSpot, we are able to evaluate the number of clicks each CTA received per page it appears on. Additionally, using HotJar, we were able to map whether or not the CTAs were placed appropriately on the page. We could see whether or not visitors were even scrolling to the area of the site where the CTAs were placed.
Even though we identified through our buyer persona evaluation that a different content approach was appropriate, we did not abandon the premium content we had already created. Instead, we are using A/B testing to try different CTAs as well as different page placement. The key here is to always be testing. Today’s technology allows us to cost-effectively make tweaks – big and small – that can have a significant impact on success.
5. Promote your content
We’ve talked before in our blog about the inbound marketing “Field of Dreams” myth. There are those out there who believed if they created the content, leads would come. Unfortunately, that’s not really how it works. There are several pieces of the inbound marketing puzzle that need to work together to generate leads.
One of them is social media. Social media is a great way to promote your content. Part of developing your buyer personas should include identifying where they are active on social media. From there, promote, promote, promote.
During the 4th quarter, we worked with our client to adjust their social media approach. We identified LinkedIn groups where their prospects are active and created more specific promotion plans for each type of content that was produced. Sharing content and exposing it to a larger audience can have an impact on traction and lead generation.
The beauty of inbound marketing is that results are easily measured and when you find that something isn’t working as well as you need it to, it’s just as easy to adjust. If you find yourself in a situation where your content isn’t generating leads, all is not lost. In fact, chances are a few tweaks will get you back on track in no time.