Content That Converts von Laura Hanly

In ihrem Buch „Content That Converts“ teilt Laura Hanly viele erprobte Strategien zum Thema Content Marketing. Einige Ansätze sind auch für die Offline Welt interessant. Gelesen im Oktober 2016.

Content That Converts: How To Build A Profitable and Predictable B2B Content Marketing Strategy
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The simplest way to become an authority on something is to say the same things about that topic over and over again.

The Six Parts of A Recurring Ecosystem

High-quality front end content

Informative, actionale and interesting. [Solve a problem.]
Clear purpose for you and your customers.
Spell-checked and formatted.
Published on a regular schedule.

An opt-in offer

So you can continue connecting to people once they leave your site.
Examples: white papers, industry reports, educational courses, cheat sheets, checklists, webinars, video courses, coupons or demo/downloads.

An email onboarding sequence

A sequence is usually four to eight emails long, and educates the subscriber about your brand, shares some of your best resources, and invites them to connect with you. Creates engagement on an individual level, increases investment in your brand and sets expectations for future interactions with you.

An initial conversion opportunity

Once you’ve nurtured your leads for a while through your email sequence, providing them with lots of valuable information and sharing your expertise generously, it’s time to make them an offer. Your interactions prior should have led naturally to this point (by highlighting the benefits that come out of doing business with you), so that the prospect is comfortable with the offer and will be open to taking you up on it.

A follow-up sequence

After initial offer you will have two groups: prospects who converted, and those who did not. Follow up with both.
Those that did convert should a) be offered an upsell or upgrade and b) onboarded to make the most of the product or service they’ve purchased.

Those that did not convert should be a) offered a downsell or ‘light’ version to try to get a conversion, and b) put into a new sequence that will give further value and education in preparation for the next offer (whether that’s the same thing offered in a new way, or an offer of a completely different product or service).

Another conversion opportunity (and another, and another…)

Ideally, you’ll make multiple offers over the course of your relationship with each customer.
It’s easier to get a repeat customer than a new one. Build systems that allow you to maximize the lifetime value of each customer.

The Four Parts of An Asset Ecosystem

A high-quality long-form content asset

For example books, web summits, webinar series, or multi-part video courses. For most businesses, books are ideal, because you can use physical copies as real-world calling cards, sending them to potential clients and leveraging them into bigger opportunities for the business (like speaking engagements and interviews). [People are reluctant to throw away books]
There needs to be a specific next step presented to the prospect once they’ve engaged with your asset that creates a one-on-one or real-time interaction with you.

An initial engagement opportunity

Invitation for the prospect to get on a call with you, to participate in a webinar or event, or to get a demo of your product.

An initial conversion opportunity

Make an offer during the initial engagement. Whether you’re on the phone, or talking on a webinar or demo, you should use this moment when you have their undivided attention to invite them to take action on a particular offer.

A follow-up email sequence

Again, you will end up with two groups: the prospects that converted, and those that did not. Both groups need follow-up. Your new customers should be onboarded and upsold through one email sequence, your customers-in-waiting should be downsold and put into a different sequence that will make them more amenable to your next offer.

Onboarding sequence example

  • Email one: Welcome! We’re glad you’ve joined us. Here is the thing you opted in for, and here are few more resources to get you started, with a bit of info about us.
  • Email two: Common problems in the industry, and how some of our customers (who are just like you) have overcome them.
  • Email three: Bonus tips to deal with difficult industry things
  • Email four: What we do and why it’s going to be great for you
  • Email five: Answer FAQs in depth. PS — want to get on a call / book a demo / join a webinar?
  • Email six: Customer success stories and testimonials
  • Email seven: Book in your freecall / demo / webinar today: benefit, benefit, benefit, testimonial
  • Email eight: We noticed you haven’t booked your free thing yet — was it something we said?

General tips for writing good subject lines

  • Keep them short (preferably less than 50 characters).
  • Mix them up and test what works. Avoid using the same style for every email.
  • Ask questions, give hints or make an interesting claim.
  • Don’t go nuts on the hyperbole, exclamation points or promotional phrases (keep in mind that exclamation points can land you in the spam folder, too).
  • Test, test, test. Your email platform should allow you to test headline variations, send times and body content, so make use of this with each campaign until you begin to see patterns emerge.
  • Don’t be misleading. Nothing annoys customers more than a bait and switch.
  • Use urgency carefully. It’s powerful but can wear thin if it’s used too much.
  • Did I mention testing? Test regularly! The results will change over time.

Customer survey

These questions will help you to find out whether your beliefs about your customers are accurate, and whether or not they want what you’re currently offering them:

  • Why did you choose to use [product/service]?
  • How are you using [product/service]?
  • What is the key problem it solves for you?
  • What are some secondary problems it solves?
  • How has it made life easier for you?
  • What’s the best thing about it? What would you change?
  • Did you consider other solutions before choosing ours? What made you choose us?
  • What were your doubts or concerns before choosing us? What questions did you have that weren’t addressed?
  • What else do you think we should know or be doing?
  • If you were telling a friend about this, what would you say to them?

If you don’t have a customer base yet, find people who fit your primary customer avatar and reframe these questions around the hypothetical product or service you’re planning to offer (“Would you use this product? What would you use it for? What would it do for you? What would you want it to feature to serve you best? How much would you pay for it?”).

Six Principles of Influence

[Nach Robert Cialdini]

Reciprocity

When someone does you a favor, it triggers a psychological indebtedness, a desire to „even the score“.
When it comes to persuading your customers you have to go first.
Give something: give information, give free samples, give a positive experience to people and they will want to give you something in reutrn.
Other examples: sample, risk-free trial, free shipping, free training. These offerings create reciprocity.

Consistency and Commitment

Yes ladder technique in sales. „It’s a nice day, isn’t it?“
[Also consistent creation of content.]

Social Proof

If it’s working well for everyone else, then it should work for me, right?
Referrals and testimonials prove to potential customers that they are in good company before they buy.
Showcase the community that supports you and your company to make your business more appealing to prospects.

Authority

Appeal to authority is one of the more powerful psychological fallacies. Endorsements from experts or celebrities can blow up conversions and sales.
Get a testimonial from a notable person or business in your niche.
Also: when you refer to someone else who has power, you get a halo effect. Your reader thinks of you as being in the same circle as that authority figure. So they also perceive you as being just as influential and trustworthy.

Liking

If people like you, they will cooperate with you. And people like other people who share their interests, values and personality traits.

  • Attractive, functional website
  • Speaking the language of your target market
  • Surprising the prospect with unexpected messages or cool give-aways. Demonstrates high value, helps to build goodwill
  • Overdelivering with bonuses or upgrades

Scarcity

Fear of missing out. Customers will often buy impuslively if they are scared of missing out.
Countdown timers and stock counters.
If used, make sure the pressure is real – people work out fast when you try to manufacture scarcity.

Strategy

For example, the intent behind your marketing might be to establish you as the authority leader in your industry, positioned to work with the top end of the market. Every decision you make, then, can be held up against this metric: Will publishing that in-depth blog post get you closer to that goal? Yes, so go ahead. Will fiddling around with button colors help you get there? No, so don’t bother.

Once your strategy is in place, you need a simple system that allows you to capitalize on the momentum created by your content. For example, your system might look like this:
Blog post or book > opt-in offer > email onboarding sequence + call to action > sales offer > further segmentation.

SEO

Part One: Topic Research

„Is this something people are searching for?“ → existing or new topic.
Existing topic: high SEO potential, but also high SEO competition
New topic: lower SEO potential, but also low SEO competition. No one else is trying to rank for those topics. Best way to create a new topic is to make up a word or term.

Part Two: Keyword Research

Research on variations of keywords (adressable keywords) someone might search for when they are looking for the topic you are covering.
Assess the seasrch volume for each keyword, assess the competition for each one and then finally settle on the keyword to target.
Step One: Adressable Keywords
List out all possible variations someone might be searching for around the topic you want to address. List of 10 to 20 keywords. In the next column, give each keyword a rating on how specific or broad it is. Score of 1 is narrow and score of 2 is broad (subjective). Broad terms require long, in-depth articles.
Tools like SEMRush can provide some early inspiration.
Step Two: Accessing Keyword Volume
Analyze how many people are searching for your selected keywords. Google Keyword Planner
Step Three: Accessing Competition
In the beginning, you want to go after keywords that have low competition. Later on, you can go after higher competition keywords.
They only way to work out the actual search competition is to go and search for the keywords (in an incognito window) and see what turns up.
For keywords that have a lot of content, but not from any really big sites, you can list them as medium competition.
For keywords that have a lot of content and big sites (like Wikipeida, Huffington Post, estabilished news outlets etc) are contributing, the competition is high.
If the results don’t specifically address the question being asked, or there is not much content around the keyowrd, then it’s got low competition.
And if the results show a lot of social media content, it is a great sign that there is very little competition, since Google shows social media content as a last resort.
Step Four: Picking Your Keyword
At the beginning of your SEO strategy:
Choose a keyword that has a monthly search of less than 10.000 and has low competition.
Use a levelling up strategy. Start with an easy keyword and over time adjust you article to adress gradually harder keywords. Once an article is ranking for an easy keyword, you can change the title that will display in Google.

Ideally, choose keyword that are likely to bring you new business. Example: if someone searches for „accountant“ they could be looking for any number of things – what an accountant does, or how to become an accountant. But someone searching for „hire accountant in Chicago“ (longtail keyword) is looking for a very specific service. [Go for longtail keywords, 70% of searches]

Part Three: Writing The Post

Principle One: Answer The Question
[Solve a problem] What are they really looking to find out? What’s driving them to try to find this information?
Provide all information someone would want about this topic.
Break up the formatting of the article so that people can easily find the exact element they are trying to uncover.
Make it easy for them to skim the article and spot the part they are after.
Principle Two: Provide the Best Answer to the Question
Think about how all you competitors are answering this question.
Read the first three articles that show up for the keyword search. Assess what they did well and what they should have done better.
Decide what needs to be included in your article to make it the best of the bunch.
Principle Three: Provide A Complete Answer
You are better off giving all the information in one really valuable article.
Principle Four: Make it Actionable
When someone reads your content, you want them to go away and act on it immediately – not to go back to Google to look for more information.
Provide action items or a process.
Principle Five: Overdeliver
Go above and beyond what the reader was expecting to get.
Addtional resources, further reading, tools, free ungated download.
This helps get the content shared organically.
Structuring the Article
Structure your headline around the specific keyword.
Make sure it is easily readable – line breaks, images and subheadings.
Keyword in title and URL, use it naturally a few times throughout the body.
Include relevant links. Try to link to high-authority sources. Include links to other relevant content on your own site.
At the end of the article, have some action items or a list of steps for people to work through.

Part Four: Promoting the Article

Step One: Promote To Your Audience
E-Mail List, Social Media.
Facebook groups, message boards and forums.
Step Two: Promote To Other Audiences
For example Reddit.
Write an E-Mail to influencers who are mentioned in the piece or who you think would enjoy it. Don’t ask them to share it! Just let them know you think they [and their audience] might get a kick out of it. If they really like it and think it’s valuable, they might share it.
Step Three: Adding To Your Structure
Have specific pages that collect themes on your site. [Cornerstone content]
Update old articles to link to new ones.

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