Ok, I’ll stay away from the absolute, but one of the biggest missteps I see in content marketing is people trying to make the hard sell way too early in the sales process.
I’m all for sales. I think salespeople might be the most important people in business.
But if you observe the best salespeople they’re often not pushing. They might be making calls, sending emails and setting up meetings, but in those conversations they’re usually doing more listening than talking.
And if you’ve worked with salespeople you know that they get irritated when they get a lead, usually from the Marketing Dept., that isn’t ready to buy. The salespeople can tell when someone isn’t ready almost instantly and if that’s the case they’ll push the person back to where they belong in the sales cycle.
It makes total sense. Let’s not sell to anybody that isn’t ready to buy.
So what does this have to do with content marketing?
“This content needs to convert…”
I’m a believer that it’s almost never good to be halfway in on something. In business, that means halfway in on a strategy.
Either you’re on the outskirts just doing a little testing or you’re fully engaged and following the best practices of the strategy.
With content marketing there are a lot of brands that are halfway in.
You’ve probably seen content marketing work really well:
Heck, people send me links to Neil’s articles all the time. If I were to ask most people what Neil was selling they probably wouldn’t even be able to answer.
Brands see this type of content getting lots of attention. The content is either educating or entertaining vast audiences and usually it’s doing both of those things.
So businesspeople see this content and they want to give it a try. But they don’t buy in on the education and entertainment fully. They go halfway in and keep the other half in the sales world.
We need this content to convert…
The reality is that content won’t convert…not the way most think it should. Content like a blog post or video or podcast or whatever won’t convert directly to a sale.
Take Whiteboard Friday as an example. This content helps Moz rank for all kinds of SEO-related terms. It raises awareness for the Moz brand. I bet the number of direct conversions from watching a video to using the Moz software is less than 1%.
Raising awareness for your brand and building authority by using content does bring in conversions, but not direct conversions.
Here is a great quote from Andy Crestodina:
The content drives the links, which drive the authority, which drive the rankings, which drive qualified visitors who searched for a “commercial intent” keyphrase …and now you have a visitor who is highly likely to convert, unlike your typical blog reader.
Sales Content Belongs On Sales Pages
There are lots of ways that brands try to work sales content into their content marketing.
With the call to action they’ll ask directly for a sale, “Need a better toothbrush? Buy our toothbrush…”
They’ll write about their own products and services with a blog post or with a video. That’s totally fine, but that’s not content marketing. That’s creating sales content that belongs on the sales pages on your website.
Most people that want to start a blog want organic search traffic. SEO. But some also only want to write about their brand and their products and their services.
But all the organic search traffic is not for their brand or their products or their services. The traffic is about questions people have and struggles they’re dealing with and entertainment they’re looking for.
If you’re a dentist you’re not going to get much traffic for a blog post that you write about your specific dentistry service. But you might get traffic if you write a great blog post answer for a question like, “how to tell if you have a cavity at home“.
Remove the image of sales from your brain when it comes to content marketing. Look at the brands you admire that do content marketing very well. Odds are very high that they do zero selling with their content marketing.
What they’re doing is providing education and entertainment. They’re helping people. They’re earning links. They’re building authority. They’re building awareness for their brand.
And in the long run that brings more potential customers to the brand that are ready to buy. Neil Patel doesn’t sell his services on his blog posts. But he definitely sells to people searching for “digital marketing consultant“.
Identify your important sales keywords. Build your homepage and sales content around those keywords. Then create content marketing aimed at education and entertainment. Don’t add sales requests to your marketing. Focus on the long-term. Build awareness for your brand.
There is an opportunity here because most don’t have the patience for this approach, but if you do you can win.