Last week, we announced to our email list that we are launching our next challenge.
The challenge is to create one blog post for a B2B company on our email list and promote it for them. The goal being to drive more traffic to this blog post, in a 30-day period, than they get on average to their other existing blog posts.
But getting more traffic is just the fun and easy way to track a goal that will make this challenge entertaining for all of us.
So what’s the real reason behind this challenge?
In working with companies in our Grow and Convert Live workshops over the last five months, we’ve realized that companies are suffering from two specific problems that are holding them back from driving customers from content marketing.
The two biggest problems we see over and over again are:
- Companies struggle with content promotion: “Our content is good, we aren’t driving traffic from it.”
- Companies are publishing content that attracts the wrong audience: “We get some traffic and leads, but they aren’t qualified leads. Sales has been complaining about it.”
The underlying issue with both of these problems is that companies aren’t spending enough time doing user research (i.e., getting a thorough understanding who they’re marketing to).
Our hope with this challenge is that you’ll be able to see how user research will help you create better content for your company and drive more targeted traffic to your site – which in turn will help you drive paying customers from your content marketing.
Goal 1: Why your first goal with content marketing should be to get 10,000 monthly visitors
We asked the 86 applicants of our contest to tell us how much traffic they’re getting to their blog on a monthly basis. 72.1% of the applicants said they’re getting under 10,000 monthly visitors. Over half (57% of those), get under 5,000 visitors per month.
We then asked the applicants what is the average amount of traffic they get per blog post per month. 75.6% said they get under 300 visitors per post. In fact, 42% of applicants get under 100 visitors to each blog post on average.
Let me be perfectly clear: If you’re getting less than 100 visitors to each blog post on average consistently, your content marketing operation is not helping grow the business.
Here’s why (and how to figure out how much traffic you need to get a positive ROI on content marketing spend).
Why Low Traffic Ensures Negative Content Marketing ROI
Getting positive ROI is simple: Make more money than you put in. To compute this for content marketing, you need to calculate your customer acquisition cost (CAC) from content marketing.
Several months ago, we googled around to find a content marketing CAC calculator and came up empty, so we built our own. Here’s the full article explaining it.
In the model we have a section where we keep everything else fixed but vary the average monthly traffic number. That produces a pretty graph of CAC as a function of average traffic to your entire company blog.
Obviously your CAC depends on how much you’re spending on content, which we outline in the full article), but doing this with over a dozen companies in the past year, we’ve found that:
If your blog gets under 10,000 monthly visitors, you won’t generate enough leads per month or have a low enough CAC for it to be worth it.
You can see in the graph that the CAC decreases sharply with initial traffic, that’s clear.
But why did I also say “you won’t generate enough leads”?
Because most B2B blogs can convert a fraction of a fraction of a percent of blog traffic into closed deals. Typical conversion numbers are in the range of: 0.5% of blog traffic to lead, 5% of leads to a sale. So that’s 0.025% of all blog traffic to a sale. At 10,000 monthly visitors, that’s 2 – 3 sales.
For many smaller B2B companies that have a high LTV product or service (agencies, solo B2B service providers, etc.) 2-3 closed deals per month from their blog would be cause to do this:
But the stats from our applications above showed that 10,000/month isn’t happening for most B2B companies (that applied). The vast majority get less than 300 visitors per post. If you get 5000 visitors a month to the entire blog, that’s only 1 deal a month. Less than that and you’re getting one deal every few months.
And for larger companies, even 10,000 visitors a month to their blog isn’t going to cut it. The ones we’ve worked with often have 20+ person sales teams generating dozens of deals a month, so adding 2 – 3 closed deals per month isn’t exactly their wildest dream for content marketing. They want more.
So, if you want more leads, you need more traffic.
That’s why the first and foremost goal of this challenge is to get more traffic than the company we’re creating a blog post for gets on average.
We’ll do this using our community content promotion strategy – finding where your audience target audience already hangs online and then getting your content in front of them.
Speaking of targeted traffic, let’s discuss the second goal.
Goal 2: Beyond traffic, you need to create content that strategically attracts your customers
This sounds like a no-brainer, but when we’ve worked with companies, and when we analyzed sites for our challenge, we realized few companies are creating content their audience is interested in.
The problem stems from companies not understanding their audience well enough to create content that relates to their customers pain points, questions or interests. So you end up getting traffic, but not from your target customers.
Most of the time, companies jump right into creating content without doing the proper user research. What happens when you do this is, you have content that looks like it would be interesting to your customers, but slightly misses the mark.
For example, for the company we ended up choosing as the winner, the most popular article on their blog (1,300 unique visitors a month from organic traffic) is an ultimate guide to video production contracts.
Being they’re a video production company, this guide to contracts seems like it would be a good topic. But the problem with this article is that it attracts other video production companies instead of companies that need video production. (We’ve already spoken to the founder and asked him about this article specifically and confirmed that indeed this attracts competitors, not customers.)
During the challenge, we’re going to share how we approach doing user research to solve this problem, and we’ll walk through how we end up identifying an article topic that would strategically attract their intended customer base.
How did we pick a winner for our challenge? And what will the challenge entail?
We had 86 different B2B companies enter into our challenge through our email list in the last week. We then narrowed down the 86 companies to 5 finalists, and we picked one winner.
What was the criteria from which we picked a winner?
We thought it was important that we didn’t have an unfair advantage with any company that we worked with.
- We ruled out any company that we had a prior relationship with – either a personal connection within the company or a company that we’ve had past conversations with.
- We ruled out any companies that either Devesh or I had past experience in – this means we ruled out HR software, certain types of SaaS software, software development agencies, business management companies, and companies providing marketing services.
We also were looking for companies that were more or less reflective of the general applicant pool. That is, their average posts traffic was in line with the group’s average and their business model was typical B2B. This would let this challenge be more useful to more readers and more companies.
Finally, we thought it was important that the company shared the same values as us in being transparent so that we don’t have to hold anything back. We’ll be able to share this company’s analytics, behind the scenes work we did with them, etc. so that you’ll be able to get maximum learning from this challenge.
The company we picked is TAR Productions.
TAR Productions is a video production company based in San Diego, California that helps purpose-driven companies tell their story.
They met our criteria. First, Devesh and I don’t know much about video production (as you can tell from the Oscar worthy cinematography in our Mirage Content video), and also because TAR’s traffic is in line with the majority of the other applicants (0-5000 overall site traffic; 600-999 average traffic per post).
Going forward, we’ll conduct user research with them, tear down what they’re currently doing on their blog, how we’re going to approach coming up with a blog post idea for them (adjusting their content strategy), and then actively promote the post we create for them – we’ll share our journey along the way so that you can learn from the experience.
Any questions or requests for what we should cover? Hit us up in the comments.
Or follow along by joining our email list on our homepage.
This article was drafted, collaborated on, and edited in Google Docs. Then it was imported into WordPress in one click using Wordable, with images, headers, and formatting all included.
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