Content Marketing for Conversions: Q&A with Ashley Tate


Last week, my colleague Joanna Lord and I gave a Unwebinar on leveraging content for conversions.

The webinar covered how marketers can create a customer journey map, identify areas for conversion improvements and then leverage different types of content to do just that.

We had a ton of fun, and wanted to answer some follow-up questions from the audience (seven to be exact). Enjoy!

1. Have you found that video and audio converts better than text-based content?

Asked by: Bruce Dickson

Video and audio content are great ways to provide your audience with interesting, engaging information, but I don’t see one form of content trumping the rest when it comes to conversion.

It all depends on the goals and KPIs you’ve set for your content strategy when looking at content at the top of your discovery funnel, and what you consider “conversion” when it comes to content consumers.

Is your content driving consumers to fill out lead forms? Are they subscribing to a newsletter? Are you pushing them to a free trial of your product or service? Make sure you know exactly what “conversion” means for you before integrating it with your content strategy.

Once you’ve nailed down conversion, it’s time to formulate a plan for your content creation process. The best way to test out which type of content converts new readers to customers is to try them all out. Start with traditional blog and downloadable content, and move through other types of content like video and audio until you find the best mix for your unique audience.

The sky’s the limit here, so get creative in what you offer!

2. How do you leverage “thought leadership” pieces and turn them into sales?

Asked by: Carrie Estrada

Repurposing content is one of my favorite ways to put limited time and resources to good use. There are so many ways to leverage an idea by publishing it in multiple formats; it’s usually the number one tip I have for content strategists who are serving multiple teams with the content they create.

At BigDoor, we typically publish most of our thought leadership pieces on our blog. We then take themes that resonate well through the posts and turn them into bite-size pieces of content our sales team can use at different stages of our sales cycle.

For example, we’ve recently coined the term “reciprocal loyalty” which is a new way to think about brand loyalty in our industry. It’s based on the concept that brands need to be as loyal to customers as they hope customers are to them. This includes brands prioritizing customer experience, investing in customers in new ways, and reallocating their investment to make sure the customer is happy. We lean on this term to help explain our software when we talk with potential clients.

Rather than pointing clients directly to the blog post to read our thoughts, we took the theme of the blog post and used it in sales decks, presentations, and even one-page leave behinds that our sales team can use when they meet in person with clients.

3. What about content that is not online – like in the physical location of a business?

Asked by: Dana Simonsen

Absolutely! Like I mentioned in our webinar, I consider content to be any word you use to help explain your company or sell your product, including online written content, videos, speaking engagements, and even printed content that your company creates for its lobby.

Many of the principles we covered can be used for creating physical content like one-pagers, sales sheets, magazines, and more.

You will still need buy-in from key players to get approval for the project, a content champion to drive and create the content, an editorial plan to bring it to life, a plan to distribute it, and a report on how the piece does once it’s in front of your audience.

Although your KPIs and results may look a bit different for physical content, the same principles still apply.

4. What suggestions do you have for small teams trying to create beautifully-designed content without big brand resources?

Asked by: Amanda Willard

While it’s true that large brands tend to have more design resources, creating beautifully designed content with a small team is absolutely doable.

We’re a team of 20 at BigDoor and have two designers on our staff that split their time between client work and designing marketing assets, which includes our content.

Although our client work always takes priority (as it always will and should), having a design team with an eye for beautiful UX makes our content truly stand out. We tend to use their services only for our bigger pieces of content, but they dabble in the day-to-day pieces whenever their schedules allow.

If you’re working at an even leaner shop – say it’s just you who is creating and publishing content – you need to make two best friends when it comes to design: a stellar contract designer and Photoshop.

Dribble is a saving grace when it comes to finding contract designers for one-off-projects as it allows you to browse design style and select someone who matches your brand’s flow.

99Designs and oDesk are a bit cheaper than Dribble, and also offer fantastic contractors. As for you, the content creator, don’t underestimate the power of your own abilities to fully create gorgeous pieces that you see in your head.

A quick lesson in Photoshop or Illustrator will open the doors for what you can do with your content, and you might even enjoy breaking up the writing and learning a new skill :)

5. How do you manage all the data of your KPIs?

Asked by: Brendan Burnett

Joanna and I report on our KPIs on a weekly and monthly basis, which makes tracking them regularly essential for our success. We keep tabs on our KPIs through Google Analytics, Moz, and good ol’ fashioned spreadsheets where we manually enter data.

Our content is tied back directly to our overall marketing success metrics, which provides easy benchmarks for success.

As for content-specific KPIs, there are many different content analytics tools that you can use to report on a variety of metrics, including social shares, comments, downloads, and more. My favorite are Contently and Kapost.

6. How do you make the case for content that doesn’t contribute directly to revenue, but that tackles much less tangible KPIs like brand awareness?

Asked by: Devin Asaro

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question :)

As content marketers, our work is sometimes the most ambiguous out of all our company’s marketing endeavors. That means we have to get creative in how we present and formulate ideas, which is actually quite fun if you allow yourself to think outside the box.

The most important thing to remember is that every piece of content you create should be able to be mapped back to a company KPI – I actually mean always, no matter what, no excuses.

If you can’t map a piece of content back to your overall goals, you have no business creating it on your company’s dime. Even soft KPIs like increasing brand awareness can be mapped back to a broad, company-wide goal.

Once you nail down what broad KPI your content piece will support, follow the trail of breadcrumbs back down to the actual content piece itself, using success benchmarks and smaller KPIs along the way to decipher how you can tell if the piece hits its goal or not.

If you don’t remember anything else from this article, remember this one point: The closer you can tie your work back to revenue, the more value it will hold.

This is true across every org, and content is no different.

7. What is the one key factor to make content stand out?

Asked by: Manuel Sauceda

Only one!? I suppose I’ll try :)

Above all, the key factor to a stand-out piece of content is the topic and its relevance to the audience it was intended for.

If you create a piece of content that doesn’t line up with what your audience is interested in learning, expect your bounce rate to be through the roof and your share rate to be sadder than me when I order tea and accidentally end up with hot water. For reals.

Before you even create one teeny tiny piece of content, spend some time thinking about who will read it. What are their interests? How did they get to where your content is published? Are they likely to share their thoughts after they’re done reading?

Your audience is key to your content’s ability to rise above the crowd. Write it for them; they are the most important piece.

— Ashley Tate

In case you missed it, here’s Ashley and Joanna’s webinar in full:

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About Ashley Tate
Ashley Tate is the Content Manager at BigDoor, a customer loyalty technology startup out of Seattle. As a content marketing and strategy specialist, she also focuses on social media marketing, customer loyalty, and inbound marketing practices. You can find Ashley sharing her insights on the BigDoor blog and around the inbound marketing space
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