Our Head of Audience Engagement, Damien Cross, talks us through this critical but often misunderstood part of content marketing.
“My blog reached two million eyes last year.” would often be an opening line from a keen and eager content writer.
“So, a million people, then…” I’d reply with a wink.
“Yeah,” they’d continue, “loads, isn’t it?”
“For sure, mind-blowing really! A million hits, wow.”
“Yeah, it’s all about great content” they would say, “if people enjoy what you post on your site, they will visit it, like it, share it all for you on social.”
Me: “Absolutely. How many of them became a customer?”
At that point, their smile tends to wilt a little…. “Er, I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure loads of them did.”
Me: “Oh, yeah of course – any idea how many?”
Me: “So, er, you know, did you convert the visitors into email signups?”
Me: “Or remarket to them on social? Or…”
Them: “So yeah – a million people visited the blog. I’m really chuffed!”
Of course, this wasn’t a real conversation. You can tell that because I haven’t gone off on a dozen tangents, which is what I usually do in these situations.
But it IS a summary of a load of informal chats I’ve had over the past year or so.
The phrase ‘Content is King’ has been around a while and is a sure fire way to get marketers talking about how great content works. Nowadays everyone knows engaging content gets people drooling over your brand, and that’s amazing for building up your site’s Domain Authority for SEO, plus brand awareness etc – but it can be very hard to put ‘website visits’ and ‘social media impressions’ into quantifiable ‘sales’.
It’s always stumbling block for agencies’ new business staff because you need clients who already have faith in content working for brand awareness and SEO. If they don’t, it’s hard to get them to trust you with their marketing moolah. Personally, I find it much easier to talk about social marketing directly, or even influencer marketing, rather than content and how that puts money in the bank.
But, if you could show that increasing your website visits actually makes a positive difference to a company’s bank balance, their decision becomes much easier.
This is why it surprises me (or used to, before it happened all the time) when people happily tell me how many visits they’ve managed to get to an online blog or across their social media channels but then go no further into how they could use all that momentum to convert these people into customers.
After a conversation like the one above I tend to tell the content creator they need my team on board to make sure they’re maximising the audience they’ve worked so hard to inform, entertain, and entice to their blog.
What they’ve managed to do is get a lot of interested users’ data at their disposal – even if they can’t see it. Google can, and Facebook etc. too. Those huge brands know those people well. You don’t have to know them at all if you can get Google and Facebook to do the work for you.
The power of tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions, of visitors to a web page is not all for search engines to enjoy – you can utilise your Facebook Pixel to generate audiences of those people (along with lookalike audiences, because let’s face it Facebookstagram knows everything about everyone, so the lookalikes are pretty watertight) and then serve them relevant ads. Similar thing with Google ads, too.
How do you make those ads relevant? Simply bear in mind the content they viewed and what drove them there. You can use UTM parameters to keep an eye on the source, plus of course, you know what content they’ve enjoyed.
Do you have a blog post about a recipe or a set of recipes? Chances are visitors to that blog/page are keen on cookery and food.
Maybe you’ve got a blog post about motorhomes? They probably like – and own – a motorhome.
Has someone been looking at your blog to find out what size skip they need to throw away a three-piece suite? They’re probably throwing away a three-piece suite.
When you’ve used the tricks of the trade to get your audience together you can now go for a slightly less-soft sell. When you promote a post/ad to them on Insta or Facebook, or Google ads, make sure the ad’s content is tailored to that audience.
As they’ve visited your site or clicked your emails etc then they’ll already be aware of your brand, and you’ll know which network they’d visited you from in the past and now you’re serving them an ad which is tailored to what they like, too. This means if they’re ready to buy then you’re right there, ready, and at the top of their list.
As well as that, you could make sure visitors to your blog have an opportunity to follow you on social media, and to sign up to a newsletter. You can do this in an unobtrusive way using software such as OptinMonster, which you should set to pop up when someone’s viewed a huge chunk of your blog post or is just about to leave the blog, giving you more chances to serve them great content and see what they’re really into.
You can generate audiences from a large email list of course, too. Simply upload a subscriber list to Facebook or, to be even more targeted, collect all the email addresses of people who clicked on a particular link in your email and shove that list into Facebook’s Business Manager. Don’t forget to make a lookalike audience while you’re there, too.
Or, like so many content writers right now, you could just get a million hits on your blog and cross your fingers, hoping a potential customer’s favourite search engine wants to show your product or service at the top of page one when that previously-engaged person has searched for your speciality.
You’d better hope nobody else has served them a highly-relevant post on social media before they do, though, or you’ll have thrown all your blog writing efforts away like an old three-piece suite.