Editor's note: This piece originally appeared on MarketingProfs on May 6, 2014.
As a content marketer, you've always relied on your trusty three-wheeler to get your job done. Oh, you didn't realize you owned a tricycle? Well, analogically, you certainly do.
Wheel 1: The Authoring Wheel
Like a spinning wheel, you continuously write, produce, or curate content. This wheel keeps churning out content, whether blog articles, videos, or whitepapers, with a distinct purpose for each piece. You know content is king, so this wheel gets the most oil to keep it from rusting.
Wheel 2: The Distribution Wheel
What's great content without an audience to consume it? This wheel works just as hard to continuously broadcast your shiny new (and evergreen) content on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. You send emails to your subscribers, maybe dabble with sponsored ads on LinkedIn, whatever method works for you. It's a no-brainer that your content will only convert if it has a healthy audience.
Wheel 3: The Track and Measure Wheel
This is probably your front wheel—the one that does the steering (with your hands on the handlebars, of course).
You use this wheel to measure how you're doing—which content is resonating and converting or getting more shares.
Without using this wheel, you're basically throwing money at content with zero insight. (Picture falling on your face.) It's like shooting from the hip.
For those of you who are absolutely crushing it, then you can stop reading. Your tricycle is just fine... or you're not ready for a car.
Why You Need to Upgrade to a Four-Wheeler
The reality is most of us content marketers are never satisfied with our conversion rates. There's always, always room for improvement. But the problem is—if our track-and-measure wheel tells us things aren't working, what's to blame? It could definitely be the content. Bad, unfocused, or simply unenjoyable content is just not going to convert.
But what if your content is great? Then maybe it's your distribution channels. Have you not targeted or focused enough on your personas perhaps? It's possible, but it should be fairly obvious if this is the case. So if your rear wheels are fine... what gives?
Maybe it's time to park your tricycle in the garage. It can only get you so far. You see, you're missing a fourth wheel that can no longer be ignored.
Wheel 4: The Experience Wheel
Why do we as marketers ignore the need for a great content experience? It's so integral to conversion but somehow we spend the least amount of time on it.
How many times have you clicked on an article within Twitter on your phone, only to land on a non-mobile-optimized, completely unreadable article? And, of course, when that happens, you quickly abort because it would be insane to zoom and pan around the page. That's just a crappy experience that will never convert anyone; I don't care how good your content is.
As marketers, we need to delight, engage, and entrench our audience within our content experience.
It's more than just mobile optimization; it's about an immersive experience that takes users on a journey. I have news for you, one piece of great content is not going to convert everyone. Sending a visitor to a PDF not only doesn't give you any insight into how engaged they were, but they also have no way to discover more content. Sending a user to a video on YouTube may get them watching, but how do you get them to watch another one of your videos?
It's not rocket science. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have figured out how to keep you on their site or app for longer. They've introduced infinite scrolls, lots of imagery, and discoverability features to keep you there as long as possible. The more you stick around, the more likely you are to see or click on an ad—which, in their world, is a conversion. I'm sorry, but WordPress and a handful of plugins aren't going to cut it anymore. In today's world, users expect a better experience everywhere.
Here's a short checklist of engagement tactics to see if you're spending enough time on experience:
- Discoverability: Can visitors easily find what they're looking for, or are your resources and assets buried deep in navigation hell?
- Responsive design: Does your interface suit users on ALL screen sizes from mobile phones, to tablets, to large desktop monitors?
- Customized paths: Do you have a way of creating content stories for specific personas or topics, with contextual call-to-actions?
Whether you've got an internal development team, or you're using a content marketing platform to manage the experience, all that hard work that goes into wheels one, two, and three deserves nothing less than a killer content experience. It takes a lot of work to get a visitor in the door, you know that.
Let's face it: Your one-seat tricycle is not equipped to take each visitor on a journey to Conversion City. You'll need a four-wheeler to drive them there.