How many would-be leads do you think you've missed out on over the years? You know, the visitors that slipped through the cracks in your content marketing — the ones that didn't convert?
Take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. So much new content enters their News Feeds every passing minute (tweets, videos, blog posts, SlideShares, and more) whether they’ve opted to see it all or not.
And even when we've managed to gather an audience around the great content we create, only sometimes do they stick around after and far less often do they convert.
So how do we encourage that traffic to convert into leads for our sales funnel? In other words, how do we make our content perform?
It starts by treating your content as a home and your visitors as guests. You need to be the kind of host that can accommodate their stay and all the different actions you want them to take.
But, based on our analysis of the top 100 marketing software blogs, there are a surprising number of lost opportunities in content marketing that we've noticed many sites have neglected to capitalize on even today. In fact, only 15 of the 100 sites we looked at scored an 8/10 or higher from our evaluation.
These gaps are the result of an incomplete content experience.
The full content experience is created with each individual visitor's journey in mind. As hard as it was getting your audience to your content, you also need to work to keep them there and guide them.
As such, the first leak shouldn’t surprise you. You're probably familiar with it if you tend to enjoy your content in the comfort of the palm of your hand.
Responsive Design: one size doesn’t fit all
Your content experience needs to accommodate your audience whether they're on their desktop, tablet, or smartphone. But it's not enough to focus solely on readability across different devices; the entire experience needs to scale for viewers on the go.
A responsive content experience means adapting the experience so that it doesn't create more leaks simply because it's on a smaller screen.
Our audiences shouldn't have to squint their eyes, pinch their screens, and (especially) search for your CTAs. The experience should be intuitive and fast, especially now that multi-screening is becoming increasingly popular.
Consider all the entry points to your content experience and consider them equally.
Don't invite your guests to a messy home
Not only is your content buried under other people's content in any given news feed, it's also buried beneath your own on your site. Consider how much content you've created over the years.
Do your visitors need to sift through everything you’ve ever created to find what they’re looking for? Or do you help them along their journey with organized categories and other signposts to give your audience some direction?
Your content can’t work its best to increase brand awareness and generate leads if you don’t make sure it’s discoverable by category or through a content-wide search feature. Don’t bury these gems under your other content. Keep it organized so it's easy to find for those who are looking for it.
"Great content. Now what?"
What do you usually do when you finish a piece of content? I imagine you share it with others via social media or, at the very least, it whets your appetite to consume more from the source.
When these features are enabled, every instance of a visitor consuming your content becomes a chance to get them to consume another piece or for your content to be shared with a new audience. In other words, they're opportunities to gather more eyeballs and gain more leads.
Capitalize on the spur of the moment that your visitors might feel inclined to take further action by providing them with social sharing options and recommending related content or offering the ability to navigate to the previous/next article.
Calls-to-Action are better with context
While it's important to ask, it's even more important to ask in a way that makes sense within your visitor's experience. Contextual calls-to-action just work better, whether they're around, beside or within your content.
A whole lot of traffic directed to a page without a CTA means a whole lot of leads lost because you never asked for what you wanted in a way that fit the context. Think of it this way: your final goal is to direct your traffic to the CTA within the content that'll convert them into leads.
Having a catch-all generic CTA, such as “Subscribe to our email list” just doesn’t work as effectively as one that’s adapted to the context that the visitor is in.
Beware the scroll wheel
Your mouse's scroll wheel is likely working against this very blog post, making it easier for you to quickly glance over it. But it can also work together with your content experience to help you keep visitors engaged.
What do sites like Buzzfeed, Facebook, Twitter and Mashable have in common? Infinite scroll.
You can try to scroll to the bottom of these content experiences, but either something interesting will eventually catch your eye, or you'll exhaust your index finger before you get to the end.
There's something dissatisfying about reaching the bottom of a stream of content, so you might want to consider leveraging a content feed that doesn't end.
Plug the leaks and generate more leads
Perhaps these holes aren't enough to sink your content marketing ship. But content marketing works better — as a branding strategy, a lead generation tool, and collateral for your sales and success teams — when you put it in a context that facilitates the user's experience at every turn.
Traffic comes and goes. But when you treat your traffic like visitors (or better yet as guests), they might be more inclined to return or recommend the experience to others.
While the truth is that many of your visitors aren’t going to be qualified leads, enough of them perhaps clicked through because they were interested in that piece of content you created. And among those, there’s sure to be some that could use the products or services you have to offer.
Just remember this: in the content experience it’s a one-click exit. You need to do everything you can to make them want to join you on your journey.