6 Easy Hacks for When Your Content Marketing is in a Rut

11 May 2016 | by Ian Blake

A solid content marketing strategy is crucial. But no amount of preparation can guarantee success.

We’ve said it again, and again, and again: a solid content marketing strategy is crucial. But no amount of preparation can guarantee success.

Even the best laid plans can go awry, and when consumer behaviour is evolving all the time, there’s no sense in sticking to your guns if things start to drift off course. It’s a brave new world out there, folks, and just because something worked seamlessly last week doesn’t mean it will always work the next. Sometimes, you have to take a step back, have a good hard look at your content marketing… and say, okay, let’s try something new.

I’m definitely not saying that you should give up, change direction or throw the map of the window the minute you hit a road block. But you do have to willing to stick it to the SatNav now and again and take a little detour to get where you want.

Don’t know where to begin? Here are six great hacks to get you back up to speed – fast.

1. Mix Up Where You Place It

Content not getting the download figures you hoped for? It might be as simple as its placement on the page. Perhaps few people scroll down far enough to see it. Perhaps there are too many call-to-actions on the page and it’s getting lost in the chaos. Perhaps you’re using a pop-up that appears way too quickly, before the site visitor has had time to read what they were looking for or figure out what they think of you, and they close it instinctively.

Try asking a couple of people from outside your company or department to open up your website, and watch over their shoulder to see what they instinctively do next. If their attention doesn’t move naturally towards your download links, it’s time to rethink your placement.  

2. Experiment With Headlines

This is one of the single most important things you should be doing to improve the performance of your content. Only around a fifth of people actually read past the headline, so making sure it grabs their attention (and for the right reasons) is essential.

There are specialist tools and formulas out there you can use that have a great success rate, but ultimately it boils down to this: your headline has to offer a compelling enough promise, or create enough curiosity, to entice the reader onto the next line.

Don’t get lazy, or you’ll be throwing great content away.

3. Refine Your Call-to-Action

You could have created the most engaging piece of content with the most magnetic headline and had an incredible response across social media – and still fail to achieve your goals if you don’t have this step nailed.

The most effective calls-to-action are those that lead on naturally from the content, that ask for something very specific, that that make it very easy for the person to perform with a simple click. Getting it right can be a process of trial and error, but keep playing around with it until you get it right.

4. Make Sure It’s Scannable

People are immediately put off by big chunks of text, especially when they’re reading on a small screen like a smartphone. In fact, most people – especially busy B2B prospects looking for an solution to a problem – look for content they can skim rapidly to assess whether it has the information they need.

Don’t make it hard for them. Ensure you’re using things like short paragraphs, uncluttered sentence structures, numbered lists and plenty of white space. It makes a world of difference.

5. Do Plenty of A/B Testing

Whether it’s headlines, site design, email subject lines or calls-to action, nothing will give you a better insight into where the problems are cropping up than creating two versions with a single difference between them and tracking which one performs best.

What’s more, it’s a self correcting test. A/B or split testing typically means that, to begin with, half of your visitors or recipients see one version of your content, site or email and half see the other. But, as one version starts to look like it’s more successful, everything who views the content from then on is switched over to the better one. What’s to lose?

6. Recycle Great Content

Made something that was a massive hit in the past? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Why not repurpose all that hard work in another format – say a video, or a podcast? Or could you break down bigger pieces of content into smaller, snackable pieces – for example, publishing chapters of your eBook as individual articles, or releasing taster clips of key quotes from a long video interview? This helps you get maximum traction from the same content.

Another smart approach is to release “updated” content. Had a lot of success with a B2B industry report or other publication last year? Bring the information up to date, give the design a spruce up and email out a link to the free latest edition to everyone who downloaded it last time. You get to look thoughtful and stay relevant, without repeating the hard slog all over again. Perfect!

Want more great tips where they came from? Click here to download The B2B Content Creation Masterclass below.

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