Creating content can seem, for many, like playing darts in the dark – without even knowing for sure where the board is. You write something, publish it, and hope that someone clicks the “request a consultation” button or the “set a meeting” button – or at least the “subscribe to blog” button when they read it – right? Or hope they call you, or email, or visit your website and click one of those aforementioned buttons.

How else would you know that your content is having an impact?

In a perfect world, your content will go wildly into the interwebs, shared by followers and fans, all bringing more visitors to your website which you then have the opportunity to capture. In a less perfect world – the one that most of us live in – content still does all that but less “wildly.” You can track the traffic to your various pages, like your blog posts, using analytics, but actually CAPTURING PEOPLE – getting their name and email address – is what is critical.

And it doesn’t always happen. Someone who reads your latest blog post might not be ready to contact you or buy something from you – at least not today.

Measuring the ROI of your content is not a simple task. but there are some things we know.

According to a study by IDC:

  • 22% of the buying process is wasted with ineffective content
  • Less than half of digital content is found useful by its intended audience
  • Missing the mark with content is reducing your potential sales by 40% and damaging your reputation in your market.

Let’s focus on just that first bullet for a moment. It’s critical to embrace this one fact right now: 80-90% of a buyer’s journey is done before they are ever ready to engage with a seller.

Read that again. 80-90% of a buyer’s journey is done before they are ever ready to engage with a seller.

What does that mean for you? It means you need CONTENT. You need content that guides people along their journey. Content that allows people to get to know you, to trust in your authority. You need content that people will find when they are, without talking to you, researching their problem, trying to fix a frustration or address a challenge. Content that confirms their pain and indicates there’s a way to solve it.

If you’re not out there, providing that sort of content, the buyers who are looking for you will not find you. If your content is ineffective – too promotional or salesy is typical, or you try to explain too much in one piece – your perfect potential customers will read one thing and write you off as not being a good fit for them – thus reducing your potential sales.

You’ll find yourself working harder to reach your perfect potential customers – falling for shiny objects like the funnel philosophy that teaches “attract them / show a sales page / get them to buy” (which will have you working even harder to keep bringing in fresh leads), or the Facebook ad strategy that entices you with “money coming in while you sleep.” With good content, you won’t be so tempted by the shiny objects.

To increase the ROI of your content, follow these simple steps:

  1. Create it. If you’re not blogging, start blogging. Create blog posts in your authentic voice. Tell stories. Allow your perfect potential customers to relate to you, to see themselves in what you write, to think “this person gets me.” Don’t write posts that are pitches or promos for your latest product or service. That’s ineffective and will lose your audience.
  2. Don’t boil the ocean. A single blog post does not have to solve every issue, address every nuance, or take someone from the beginning to the very end. Each post takes the reader one step and one step only. Open their thinking. Confirm a pain. Indicate there’s hope – but don’t try to go from the start to the finish line in one fell swoop.
  3. Track results and continuously refine your content plan. If you create a blog post and it proves to be unpopular, go in a different direction with the next one and see how it does. The very best marketing is a series of tests and corrections. Not everything will be perfect and hit the mark. That’s okay. Learn from it and adapt.
  4. Don’t leave your readers hanging. When someone is reading a blog post, what could you offer them that will deepen the conversation? Create an attractor (aka lead magnet or free gift) that you could offer within a post that people will opt-in to receive. You’ll know they’re interested – and you’ll have an opportunity to nurture that person with additional content about that topic.

If you could capture 40% MORE BUSINESS by producing effective content for your perfect potential customers, would that entice you to create a content plan and execute on it? It doesn’t have to be a big fancy content plan; just take what you know about your perfect potential customers and write content that helps them with the problem that you solve for them. Read this prior post for more info on that process.

The real secret to content is to create what will be relevant and valuable to your audience – what they need and want to hear, not what you want to say. We’ve said that before, I know.

But there’s a bigger secret about content.

Content isn’t meant to sell people. It’s meant to ENGAGE people. People don’t like to be sold – but they will buy when they are ready to buy. The job of your content is to keep them engaged, to captivate them, to lead them along their journey – and to position YOU as the authority they’ll buy from when they are ready.