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That Time Unbounce Stopped Posting for 2 Weeks… And Scored 700 New Leads

In my kitchen I have a poster that reads, “SLOW DOWN.”

publishing-hiatus-slow-down

It’s a simple reminder, but one that I need constantly. Walk more slowly. Stop and appreciate the simple things. Take a break and call your mom.

We live in an era of high-speed internet and keyboard shortcuts and push(y) notifications and instant gratification. Even our food is expected to be fast — slap a patty on the bun and get the customer their order as quickly as possible.

Sometimes, content creation can feel a little like that: pump out piece after piece. Slap on a lead gen form. Run the reports. Rinse and repeat until you grow old and gray.

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Of course, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with being a productive content producer! 💪

But it’s problematic if you get so caught up in the daily grind that you never take a step back and look critically at your day-to-day work and processes.

Which is why the Unbounce content team decided to halt publishing for two weeks: so we could slow down, do our research and find opportunities for experimentation and optimization.

The optimization work we did in this two-week period gave us a welcomed break from feeling like we were on a hamster wheel at a content farm. But it also brought us measurable results that exceeded our expectations (and that of our bosses):

  • 274% more conversions from our 17 highest traffic posts
  • More engagement from our readers
  • A better understanding of our audience and what they’d like to see next so we can keep creating relevant, high-converting content
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Mmmmm, results.

We achieved all that by slowing down, taking a step back and finding small areas for improvement and experimentation.

But if we weren’t producing fresh content, what in the heck were we doing (and how can you do it too)?

I’ll tell you right now… if you promise to call your mom later.

Phase I: Optimize high traffic posts (especially for lead gen)

If you do any digging around in Google Analytics, you may notice that the same 5-10 posts consistently bring you the most traffic month after month. Most often, these are posts on high-interest topics that you’re ranking for in search engines.

For us, some of these posts dated as far back as 2012. And while the content was still relevant and actionable, there was always something to optimize — especially in regards to lead generation.

We created a spreadsheet with our 20 highest-traffic posts for the past month. It looked a little something like this:

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Click for larger image.

The blog team (comprised of Helen, Amy and I) took a close look at each post and determined whether it was evergreen and if it still met our editorial standards:

  • Are there any broken links?
  • Is content still up to date?
  • Are all graphics and images still in line with brand guidelines?

Making sure that you can still stand behind older content is key — but for us, the focus of our optimization lay in the calls to action…

Optimize for lead generation

Some of our high-traffic posts linked to outdated assets or had lead gen forms all the way at the bottom, buried under 3,000 words.

What’s worse — we found that some of these posts were dead ends, with no clear “next step” for readers.

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Updating your high-traffic posts for lead generation is when things really get interesting. Ask yourself:

  • Are there recently created conversion carrots (ebook/worksheets/webinar recordings) that are more relevant to article topic? Especially for really old posts, we had a ton of new assets to choose from.
  • Can you create a new high-value, hyper-relevant conversion carrot with minimal effort? In one case, we created an email subject line worksheet that we thought would be valuable to readers.
  • Is your lead gen form placed contextually within the article, rather than all the way at the bottom? It should come as no surprise that we’ve run heat map tests that reveal most people don’t make it to the bottom of the page. Test incorporating forms contextually into the post — we generally place inline forms no lower than 1/3 of the way through the post.
  • Does the conversion carrot require more “selling” or is its value communicated inherently in the article? If it’s a simple asset that has been explained by the post, test an inline form like the one below. If you’re giving away something that requires a bit of explanation (like a breakdown of ebook chapters), test linking to a landing page.

Ready to optimize your high-traffic posts for lead gen?

Here's a blog post optimization checklist to help you get started -- leave no lead... unled?
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All that work seems to have paid off so far.

In total, we optimized 17 posts. In a one-month period before the experiment, organic traffic to these posts brought us a total of 248 conversions (form completions).

One month post-optimization, those same 17 posts brought us 928 conversions — a 274% increase.

Bonus tip: Once you’ve done the legwork of optimizing that monster 5,000 word post from 2012 that search engines love so much, why not share it with new blog subscribers by bumping it to the top of your RSS? During our two-week optimization period, we flagged some of our favorite “oldie but goodie”s to be republished. Then we republished them!

Phase II: Get to know your leads

Okay, phase two sounds less sexy than phase one, which promised you’d “get more leads.”

But it’ll pay off in the long run.

Because the end goal of any business usually isn’t to “generate leads.” It’s to make money.

And if you want to generate more of the right type of leads who are more likely to fall in love with you and your solution and eventually become customers, then you need to get to know who you’re talking to.

Because a billion blog subscribers are useless to you if none of them are dealing with a problem your product solves.

We dedicated about half our time during the two-week experiment to learning more about our dear readers to better understand their pains and goals so we could serve them up more of what they want.

Ask your readers what they want

Generating leads gives you quantitative feedback about whether your content is desirable, but sometimes all you need to do to determine what readers want is to… just ask.

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This powerful question can teach you about the person you are dating (for better or for worse) and is equally as effective in a business context.

During our hiatus, we did two things to better get to know our prospects.

1. Survey says…

2-week-hiatus-post

In our blog post giving readers a heads up that we were going to cool it for two weeks to optimize some stuff, we sent readers to a Typeform survey.

You can take the survey and steal the questions we used here.

2. Encourage engagement on blog welcome emails

We also wanted to be able to engage with readers in a more personal way — potentially even start a discussion — to show that there are living, breathing humans behind our blog.

Plus, we knew we could do better than our old welcome email:

blog-experiment-old-welcome-email

We updated this welcome email to sound more like it was coming from a human rather than a business. Most importantly, though, we prompted new subscribers to reply to the email with a marketing problem that is currently baffling them:

blog-experiment-new-blog-email

Before this email, I rarely received replies to the welcome email. I honestly can’t think of a single reply.

As I’m writing this post, the new welcome series has been live for a week, and I’ve received a handful of really thoughtful replies to this email. I anticipate many, many more.

It allows me to get to know our readers in a super personal way, while over-delivering in value by offering advice when I can. Bonus? If I get the same question again and again, I can answer it with a blog post. :)

Would we do it all again?

Our blog publishing hiatus allowed us to meet business goals in a way that will keep on giving — by organically bringing in more leads every month.

It allowed us to take the time to treat our readers like humans and really listen to what they want more of (so we can continue to #dobetter on the blog).

But the hiatus had unintended results too — we had more time and perspective to discuss the structure of the blog team and who should own what (the subject of its own post, perhaps?).

It allowed us to meet our personal goals of feeling excited about our work by stepping back and experimenting with new things.

Maybe you’ve heard us say this (about 51 times) before…

always-be-testing-unbounce-blog-search

I think we’d be fools not to do it again!

About Amanda Durepos
Amanda Durepos is Unbounce’s Blog Editor and an aspiring dog owner. Former gallery director and freelance blogger, she has a love for curating great content. Find her on Twitter: @amandadurepos
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  • I agree about slowing down when it comes to content production sometimes. It’s a good idea to revisit and reoptimize old content that brings in the most traffic. Love the suggestions, definitely sharing this piece :)

    • Amanda Durepos

      Thanks for stopping by Shamaila!

  • Thanks for sharing all of these results! We’re currently taking a video content hiatus at Thinkific to do something similar (starting the brainstorming tonight). I’d love to know some of the answers to the “What do you want” questions you asked—or are those secret for us to find out in the content later on? Going to call my mom now… ;)

    • Amanda Durepos

      Hey Tia! Would love to hear more about your video content hiatus.

      We still have to sift through all these answers (especially the long form ones) but I can tell you that 37% of our audience was requesting video as a medium. :) I’d imagine that every audience is different though… you should survey the Thinkific audience too!

  • Awesome Post!
    I’m wondering which font you’re using for your headings and paragraphs.
    It looks great.

    Best Regards,
    Luis

    • Amanda Durepos

      Hey Luis!

      Our headings use Gotham, our paragraphs use Whitney :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • I concur about backing off with regards to substance creation now and then. It’s a smart thought to return to and reoptimize old substance that acquires the most activity. Love the recommendations, unquestionably sharing this piece.

  • Great information. You really have a awesome article. Thank you for such an informative blog post.

  • Jason Quach

    This is gold for any marketing team – great takeaways. So common for smaller (and larger) marketing teams to forget to optimize. Making your best posts better seems obvious, but I’m guilty of not doing so.

    Mama is coming to Montreal – definitely need to call today!

    • Amanda Durepos

      Thanks for reading Jason :) Hope you’re taking your mom to Schwartz’s ;)

  • Great information. You really have a awesome article. Thank you!

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