Over the last 20 years, we have relentlessly studied how written content and marketing automation impact conversion rates.
And what we have discovered is that one the most critical elements to your content strategy is not only creating great messaging, but doing it through a compelling and engaging story.
And this is where we go back to the idea of building a “Story Brand.”
In the Story Brand approach, we break down the critical components that are required to create a great story.
- How to reduce noise
- How to develop frictionless messaging
- How to speak to your ideal audience’s pain points
- How to use verbiage that’s STICKY
By the way, “sticky” is a way of describing that your products and services stay top of mind for your potential clients.
But let’s face it, even if you told the best story in the world, if it is not optimized for search engines, it simply won’t be found.
That’s why our approach takes your story a step further by optimizing your content for specifically targeted keywords, and then nurturing those visitors down the funnel. In this way, we are able to turn cold leads into warm or even hot prospects.
Ultimately, qualified prospects will end up at a landing page like the one that you see in the image below.
On a landing page, we present the opportunity to download a content upgrade. Essentially, prospective clients will trade their contact information in exchange for:
- Exclusive video content
- Any other materials/resources they are looking to acquire
When they provide their content information and select submit, they are opting into our automation system that places a tracking code (called a cookie) on their computer or mobile device.
That cookie allows us to track every engagement they have with our marketing!
Let’s walk through what that looks like.
This is our Hubspot Marketing Platform. And here is one of our prospects, Jim Halpert.
Jim is an avid cyclist, living in Philadelphia, PA.
He has been having nagging back pain for over six months, and he finally wants to do something about it.
Jim found this orthopedic practice through the keyword: spine specialist in Philadelphia.
From there, he went to the Spine Speciality web page. On the spine speciality page, he downloaded the Back Pain ebook for cyclists.
In downloading the ebook, Jim got a cookie or tracking code on his computer. Our system automatically began to drip market to him. The process went like this:
- The first email was called “5 Back Stretches That Relieve Back Pain,” which he opened.
- The second was “Non Surgical Options for Back Pain,” which was delivered, but not opened.
- And the third one was, “Understanding a Spinal Assessment,” which was opened.
- Finally, our system put him on a list to receive a back pain newsletter.
And that is how he went from a lead score of zero…to an 80.
Now, we can’t talk about drip marketing and lead scores without also talking about something we call the “Buyer’s Journey.”
Remember when we talked about buyer personas? The ultimate goal of those exercises is to get the right message to the right potential client at the right time.
And we do this by recognizing that not everyone is currently in the position to buy your products and services. (I know, I know…it’s hard to believe!)
There are, in fact, countless reasons why a prospect may choose one product over another…or choose to wait on purchasing altogether at a given time.
Buyers Journey: Why People Buy
So, let’s walk through the psychology of not only WHY people buy, but WHEN people buy.
The Buyer’s Journey is traditionally broken down into three stages:
To best illustrate this, let’s use the analogy of buying a car.
When you go to buy a car, you never just buy the first car on the first car lot that you see… it is (obviously) more involved than that.
Usually the journey begins for a particular reason. Maybe your current car broke down or you’ve decided it’s time for something new. That is the awareness stage.
In the consideration stage, you are asking yourself what kind of vehicle you’re looking for.
Am I going to get a sedan?
Or maybe even a sports car?
Then maybe by the decision stage you’ve determined what type of vehicle you’re going to get—let’s say it’s an SUV. Now, you just need to figure out some specifics.
What make, model, color, dealership, etc. will you go with?
So in the Buyer’s Journey, all of this goes on in your subliminal and that is how you ultimately choose the car you are going to buy.
Now, that’s not exactly rocket science.
As marketers, we use these psychological techniques all the time—whether we’re trying to sell a new car, or in our previous example, trying to give people information about spine surgery.
Buyers Journey Example
So now let’s look at the buyer journey specifically for orthopedics.
In the awareness stage, you have developed nagging back pain that won’t go away and you’ve finally decided to do something about it.
Next you research your options online and you find out which provider accepts your insurance.
Then, in the decision stage, you choose one provider over another.
So you are probably thinking… yeah, this is Marketing 101.
And you’re right. It’s pretty basic.
The problem is that most companies end up building their website without taking into account the basics of the buyer’s journey. Most sites contain a limited amount of awareness content and maybe one or two decision level pages, such as a Contact Us page.
We talk all the time about pushing clients “down the funnel,” but we rarely create content that nurtures prospects through that process.
How can you push them down a funnel that doesn’t even have a middle?
The answer is: you can’t.
But that’s how average companies build websites.
How Great Companies Create Funnels
But great companies commit to developing an editorial plan that builds out awareness, consideration, and decision level content.
Now, here’s where it gets really exciting! (Remember, I gave you fair warning up front that we’re just a bunch of marketing nerds.)
When we connect your buyer’s journey to your marketing automation, that’s where you really start to build momentum.
Target Page Functionality
Let’s say a prospective client is interested in your products or services and they visit a consideration level page on your website.
Assuming they have a cookie on their computer from previous efforts, when they leave your site, a marketing automation email is sent out to their inbox.
That email would contain more in depth content. For example, it might include an opportunity to download a decision-level ebook or maybe watch a bite-sized video.
Essentially, the automated follow up pushes them down the funnel from awareness, through consideration, to decision. And all of this is possible—as long as you have the right kind of content developed.
Proactive vs. Reactive Marketing
So how do you keep track of what kind of content to create and how, when, and where to publish it?
Well, the single most important part of a content strategy comes down to developing an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar allows our clients to go from being reactive marketers to being proactive marketers.
When Henry Thoreau said that we live lives of quiet desperation, he must have known a CMO or two.
We all know how easy it is to fall into the sprint-break-spring-break marketing game.
Maybe you have a trade show coming up, so you sprint to get ready for that. Then after the trade show, you sort of go back to your regular responsibilities and take your foot off the gas.
Then a few months later, Christmas season comes around and you go right back to sprinting again. Then after the season, you might relax again for a bit.
This is textbook reactive marketing…and it doesn’t work.
Our goal is to be as proactive as possible.
As a proactive marketer, you will be able to plan what content is going to be published in the next month, quarter, or possibly even the next year.
We design our editorial calendars to be about 80% structured and about 20% nimble, so that some flexibility is maintained for inevitable changes and unexpected needs that arise.
The calendar is customized to meet your company’s content needs, but often it includes:
- the content type
- what mediums it will be used in
- what keywords we will be optimizing for
- where it fits in the buyer’s journey
Maintaining a calendar also helps identify over time what kinds of content and what sort of publishing schedule it’s going to take to reach your goals.
When you communicate consistently with quality content your results compound. We have seen this play out countless times with our clients.
Your editorial calendar will be connected to collaborative documents such as the Google Document shown above.
In this document, you can see that our content writing team has written content that is designed to rank on major search engines.
What you’ll also notice is that we optimized this piece for certain keywords. In this instance, it was for the longtail phrase “back, neck and spine problems.“
Once the content has run through an internal audit, the technology we use also allows us to do some pre-publishing assessments.
Our software is able to analyze what companies are in the top 10 results on the first page of Google for the keywords we are trying to target.
In the example above, it shows that we have a very poor chance of beating your competition with the content as is.
It scored our content as a 3.7 out of 10.
So, we know that we have to go back in and make adjustments to improve the content before we publish.
This software also assesses readability (in relation to your competitors’ content) and provides a gauge for recommended length/word count.
Then finally, it looks at the keywords that we’re trying to optimize for. In this case, the score indicates that we need to improve the keywords usage and metadata, etc.
Once our software does the analysis, the content piece gets sent back to our writing team to make the required revisions.
Then we send it to you, the client, to give it one last look and bless it for publishing.
Once it’s been approved, we publish the content on its schedule date, and update the editorial calendar accordingly.
So when it comes to content writing, we want to share a question we commonly hear from our prospects. It goes something like this:
“How can I know that the Farotech team can write according to the sophistication or to the technical level that my particular industry requires?”
And that is a very good question.
There are two major ways that we ensure our team is prepared to deliver great content for our clients.
- During the Gap Assessment and onboarding process, we take a tremendous amount of notes and add them to our Case Notes file for your company. Our writers constantly refer back to the case notes to understand all of the critical details about your company, from industry specifics down to essential buzzwords.
- We also spend time interviewing the subject matter experts from your company on a recorded line. The average 1 hour phone call can result in about 60 to 90 days worth of content when our writer’s put it that information use within the schedule of an editorial calendar.
Focus on Low Hanging Fruit: Conversion
Before we wrap up on content strategy, we need to make one more important point about conversion.
We’re going to do a little math here, so just hang on.
Let’s say you have a website that gets 10,000 visitors per month and you have a 2% conversion rate. This would equal 200 leads.
But let’s say your goal is 300 leads per month. Your knee jerk reaction might be to crank up the lead generation and bring in 15,000 visitors to your site.
But in actuality, that’s more difficult, significantly MORE expensive, and will likely take more time than we have allocated within the scope of your project.
But you know what makes even MORE sense and is significantly LESS expensive?
If we look at improving your conversion rate.
The #1 way to do that is to go back and rewrite your existing content in a way that is more engaging.
With this approach, increasing your conversion rate by a mere 1%, will allow you to hit your sales goal of 300 leads with the same amount of traffic.
Pretty cool, huh?
That’s why killer content is so important.