Content Marketing: Why I don’t focus on SEO
When it comes to content marketing, most freelancers and agencies will throw a magical acronym in your face, and wait till you start breathing heavily – the SEO.
“We’ll get you on top search results on Google (SERP) for high search volume and low difficulty keywords. With this you’ll get x-times more visitors and consequently more leads.”
This is true, but is your business goal more visitors? A top ranking place in Google results? Is it more leads?
That’s what you probably think it is. But I am willing to bet my kneecaps that you’re #1 goal at your business is sales.
No matter how many blog articles, webinars and your “thought-leadership” posts on LinkedIn you post, if it doesn’t lead to sales, what’s the point?
Now, there are businesses like Buzzfeed, Wired, and Media Publisher websites where traffic is the ultimate goal because they earn money through the number of users. I’m assuming that’s not your case.
How I usually approach the content strategy is by researching exactly who the audience is, what are the biggest pain points, knowledge gaps, and their secret naughty desires. Well not really, but still.
To come up with a content strategy, I like to imagine and work backwards.
I’ll ask myself questions like:
- What does a person need to know before making a buying action?
- How can I earn visitors trust?
- What answers do I need to satisfy in each phase of a buyer’s journey?
- What’s the best way I can do all of that without being annoying?
The ICP first
It’s no secret that before you tackle anything in marketing & sales, you need to know who you’re selling to. I’m not going to cover ideal customer persona (ICP) here, but I’ll just mention that instead of coming up with an imaginable avatar I would prefer to pick an actual real-life person. One glance in a CRM or a call with the sales department, and you’ll have a few names. If you’re in the B2B industry, you’ll have multiple personas from multiple departments.
Every person needs to have their own values that needs to be satisfied before giving it a nod and a ✅ so the sale can continue. That’s why the first thing is to research all you can gather online. Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, review sites, competition websites, comparison articles, content comparisons with the competition, email sequences and so on.
In the next step, I’ll verify those research findings with sales, customer support and marketing teams. With that information and general data from web analytics (most popular content, bounce rates and conversions per URL, I’m confident in coming up with a content strategy.
It’s Sales Enablement first, not SEO first
Answering the questions and resolving objections sales people have with objection-crushing content assets is the real and first antidote to cure the disease of lethargic sales. If sales don’t have proper answers for their leads, the sale ends right there. Why even bother with the top funnel if there’s a leaky bucket at the bottom?
And that’s the beauty of painful deep research. The first delivery I give to clients are ICPs, verified value propositions based on research, and one-pagers or so-called battle cards for the sales department.
Battle cards are basically nicely designed decks, with messaging, and objection-disarming prompts a sales representative can rely on while she or he is on the call.
While waiting on the experiment results, then we can tackle the content strategy with educational content, thought leadership and showing expertise. It’s still important to set a foundation and build trust through demonstrating your project and explaining how it feeds into your customer pain point.
And before that, yes, it’s smart to make sure the top funnel content is growing in parallel but hey first principles first.
Here’s some mathematic:
2,000 monthly organic traffic converts at 2% to a sale. That’s 40 customers.
If you solve the sales conversion with battle cards, one-pagers, and competitive intelligence assets, your sales team will learn how to sell and convert better.
Let’s say that they can double the conversions at 4%.
4% at 2,000 comes to 80 customers. Double revenue.
What an SEO agency is going to tell you is that more organic traffic is going to lead to more sales. They’ll say that 4,000 more visitors will also double the revenue.
Firstly, it’s going to take months to double the traffic and secondly, if they invest purely in top funnel keywords the conversion rate isn’t going to grow linearly with the traffic growth. Why? Because the content is at the top funnel, and most users aren’t ready to trust you with a contact info or an opt-in.
Correct me if I’m wrong but your goal is attracting customers and not readers, right?
What’s my recommendation. Do the Best of both worlds. Increase sales conversions by giving sales dept assets that helps with closing, while also writing about pain points and creating top of the funnel content (with keyword research, valuable content and contextual call-to-actions for each piece of content).
But what if the lead count is dry?
In case when sales aren’t getting enough leads, the best idea is to come up with a demand generation asset piece. This is usually a nicely produced and valuable piece of content in the form of an ebook, widget, or a webinar.
To quickly test the new sales approach, you’d have to distribute the asset – paid channels come in handy, but you can also distribute it with pop-ups or banners on websites, shared through company social media and email campaigns (big fan of the last one). It doesn’t matter how, we’re trying to get leads as fast as possible to sales and it’s way faster to build a lead gen asset, and nurture those leads towards sales than wait for months for SEO to take effect.
This article isn’t SEO optimized, I haven’t checked for keywords and opportunities but I bet that if you read this you’re more likely to get in touch in case you have issues mentioned throughout the article.