Like most marketers faced with a sometimes overly conservative management, I too had to find a way to pull out every stop to sell the value of content marketing and prove my case for implementing it. This meant I had to get my hands dirty with our website’s analytics and show them why we weren’t doing a good enough job getting visitors to our website and keeping them there; that lack of regular content and a fluid way of delivering it were contributing to the problem. So, if you know you need to get your management team on board but you haven’t yet figured out how, here’s what I did and 5 selling points I used to win over the “suits”. Before we begin, remember to keep it simple and have real data to support your recommendations, keep marketing lingo off to the side.
Unpack your website analytics starting with the traffic. The first thing I really wanted to look at was our website traffic for the last year. At a high level, you see how many visitors were coming to the site directly and how many were referred by search engines. These numbers can help to determine the foundation for your content marketing strategy and what data to concentrate on next. Here’s what I found:
- Selling point 1 – “If 53% of our website traffic is direct and only 24% is organic, we’re obviously not creating enough quality content that would help to grab more prospects from search engines like Google.”
How much of your website traffic bounces? A bounce is defined by Google as the percentage of single page visits; essentially it’s the percentage of visitors who stopped at just one page (ie. homepage, landing page) and left without going further. Marketers have looked at bounces for years and tend to sigh as they brush them off as “acceptable”. Bounces can tell an important story about your website’s structure and if it is or isn’t delivering on your goals. In my case, I needed to find out how much of our website traffic was bouncing and where so that I could begin to put together the why. Measure this data against industry standards and you’ll be sure to get their attention – no one likes competition like your boss. Here’s what I found:
- Selling point 2 – “If of the X visits to our website, 63% leave after only one page visit we can conclude two things: First, our homepage, landing pages, and site structure are not optimized to generate conversions. And second, we aren’t producing enough relevant content to engage site visitors and get them to stay longer.”
Look to the keywords. Since it’s difficult to determine the source of direct traffic (ie. print campaign, trade show, sales interaction), you have to focus on the source of your organic traffic and the keywords and terms that were used by visitors to make their way to your website. Pull a year’s worth of search terms that were used by visitors to your site and sort the results into four categories: Content Searches, Brand Searches, Product Searches, and Miscellaneous Searches. Content Searches are keywords or phrases that were used to get to your website that is or could be related to the content on your website (ie. blog posts), this is the most important data so put a pin in it. Brand Searches are the terms used to get to your website directly related to your brand (ie. company name, company president name, URL). Product Searches are searches for services that your company actually offers, solutions your customers are searching for to purchase. Miscellaneous Searches is made up of anything else that wouldn’t fit into the other categories. To segment everything I recommend exporting into Excel and manually reviewing the data, you’ll need to do this later anyways. Here’s what I came up with:
- Selling point 3 – “Based on the data, 67% of our visitors are finding our website in search engines by searching for something unrelated to our brand or product offerings. The terms our prospects are searching for can help us identify potential opportunities. I recommend implementing a new strategy in which we focus on creating substantially more ad-free content for our website visitors that will closely correlate with their searches and in turn peak their interest enough to get them to stay longer or come back again.”
Utilize real examples of visitor search terms. Now that you’ve got your management team’s attention, hit them between the eyes with real examples of what type of content your prospects are searching for to get to your website. For me, this is what sealed the deal. I was able to compare this to the traffic and bounce data to prove that despite visitors finding us with those search terms, they weren’t easily finding the content they came there for. This supported my recommendation for redesigning our website structure to be more content friendly and then my recommendation to significantly step up our content marketing. Prove to management that prospects aren’t searching for your products and services, prove to them that your prospects are searching for answers to questions that can help them become better at what they do; that your recommended content marketing strategy will directly correlate with their searches. In my case, I work for a marketing services provider that concentrates on helping Service Managers at dealership service departments. Here’s are the examples I found and presented:
- Selling point 4 – “Using these actual examples, we can determine the type of content we should begin to focus on. The more content we create to answer questions like these, the more likely we are to increase the amount of visitors to our website from search engines and substantially reduce our bounce rate. By creating valuable content like this, we will establish ourselves as thought-leaders of our industry and earn trust from prospects that can then turn into lasting revenue.”
What kind of content and when? By now you see how real data presented in a simple and visual format can win management over and support your push for content marketing. But, don’t stop there – back it up by taking the extra steps to show you have a plan of action. I chose to quickly and effectively show what types of content could be delivered and at what times to effectively push prospects through the funnel.
- Selling point 5 – “I’ve outlined a funnel in which we can utilize specific content at the right times to help bring prospects closer to purchase. I recommend putting the content we create based on the data I’ve presented in formats that can best compliment this funnel. For example, we can quickly fill the top of the funnel with blog posts, newsletters, and social media activity. Based on what content generates the most activity, we can then invest in developing more comprehensive offerings like white papers or webinars.”
Congratulations! You’ve successfully sold your management team on content marketing and you’re on your way to bringing more value to your company through the marketing department. To do this you had to first tell a story by way of your website analytics, propose a solution to the problems presented in the data, and back it up with real examples of exactly what you’re prospects are looking for. It’s important to note that a large part of winning over the suits is helping to educate them on what it is you’re proposing, why you’re proposing it, and how you intend on turning that into revenue. You can do this best with facts presented quickly through visuals.
These are the basics to get you started and depending on your individual situation, you may need to include more to support your cause. For my proposal, I included charts from studies made by leading research firms, quotes from industry-experts, and screenshots from the tools I would be using to help pull my strategy together. I had a lot of ground to cover given the nature of the industry I’m in so the extra education proved to be helpful.
Have a question? Disagree? Want to exchange pleasentries? Leave a comment below. As always, you can reach me on Twitter @joshuahays or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org