Content marketing is changing. People discover and consume content in new ways compared to just a few years ago.
They quickly move from one piece of content to the next, have even higher expectations, and demand a seamless viewing experience, yet marketers haven't fully adjusted to this change.
This disconnect is obvious from 2 key statistics, only 57% of B2B marketers can demonstrate that content marketing increases sales and only 44% can actually measure content marketing ROI at the bottom of the funnel.
Marketers must be able to measure their efforts and need to change how they approach their content marketing to do so.
Howver, even without being able to prove a positive ROI, or draw lines from content to top-line, marketers are investing more and more in content marketing.
70% of B2B marketers expect their organization to increase content production in 2017.
If hundreds, thousands, of companys are expanding in this way then that's a lot of content to compete with, making it harder to deliver a unique experience.
To exceed growing expectations marketers have to focus more on consistent research, testingm, and iteration,to ensure they're always one step ahead.
A remarkable experience starts with knowing what your audience is expecting so you can fulfill those wants and needs.
For this article, I want to show you how to utilize website pages as an ungated content offer - a sort-of home base for a specific area of expertise.
For example, if you sold analytic software, and one of your areas of expertise was KPI dashboards, then you might create a guide on developing KPI dashboards.
This will serve as your "hub" for each major topic. The idea is to create an ungated content page for each core topic, then cover each one broadly and in detail.
Why not just create an eBook
One of the most popular forms of content today comes in the form of a downloadable eBook. You can find them across hundreds of thousands of websites, usually gated behind a landing page.
You might see a call-to-action on a website like:
Which, when clicked on, leads to a landing page like:
After the form is filled out you are directed to a thank you page like:
On the thank you page there should be a way to access the offer you just paid for with your information. In this case we see a link that says click here.
To get the eBook you just downloaded, click on the link to open/download the file. In chrome PDF's will open in your browser like:
eBooks have played, and still do play, a key role in successful content marketing efforts because they work.
But eBooks fall short in one important area, data.
eBooks come up short in analyzing how a contact behaves while viewing the guide since they are static. You can't get critical data about how your audience is viewing your content.
With downloadable guides and ebooks, you miss out on all the real-time marketing data that web analytics today allow you to collect. Page views, bounce rate, events, traffic, revisits, and more are all crucial in positioning content.
And if you don't know how you audience is engaging with your content, and someone else does, you'll fail to meet their expectations and struggle to retain their company.
Let's take a look at an example to illustrate on page content offers.
Zapier has a content library and all their educational guides are webpages (with the option of downloading the PDF version). If you enter into one of their guides, like this one on forms, you'll notice the page layout looks very similar to a blog post but with this major addition into the top navigation bar. The navigation menu on the page is a chapter directory.
Now the user can navigate around a single guide right on your website and you get the data associated with their behavior so you can make better decisions to make their next visit even more enjoyable.
Ungated website pages to the rescue
Your content offer is going to be a comprehensive, educational and inspiring piece of content. Broadly covering every corner of a topic or theme, it will include multiple sub-sections and elements, making it easy for users to consume an entire topic.
Producing your content offer involves defining a core topic or theme and developing branches of subtopics that will be relevant to your audience.
From this mind-map you will outline your content offer, then research each subtopic and write a blog post on it.
Start by choosing a buyer persona to focus on
Putting a "face" behind your content can help you remain relevant and focused. Without a deep understanding of who your buyer personas are you're going to struggle with reaching them specifically.
I am not going to cover how to create a buyer persona in this article, you can dive into personas here, just remember that buyer personas help you to internalize and prioritize your most probable customer so you can connect with them in a natural way.
Research potential topics
Perform research across your industry to determine what content is already available to your market. Explore and discover topics to dive into that will add lasting value to your audience.
Begin with Google. Perform a series of searches to find what your personas are looking for and interesting in learning more about. Use the auto complete function to generate more ideas.
Another good source of information is Buzzsumo, one of my favorites. Once you have a few keywords/topics that you know your audience is interested in, head over to Buzzsumo and type them in.
You're looking for the most popular content relevant to your search. Gather a few articles that have the most social shares and determine the topics.
Now that you have a good idea how popular different topics are among your audience and the volume of content surrounding different topics, select a topic to focus on for your content page.
You want your topic to something you can cover with expertise and thought leadership but you also need to make sure your audience is actually interested in it.
Selecting a piece of content to focus on is as much of an art as it is a science. Use these quick tips:
- Elaborate on a specific topic or subtopic
- Deliver higher quality content compared to what's available (and popular)
- Deliver updated content if existing content is outdated/old
- Deliver a better reading experience by making your content easy to skim and navigate
- Deliver a new solution to an old problem
Identify a series of subtopics surrounding your topic
Think of each subtopic as a child to the parent topic, they're going to provide strong support and bring clarity to your message.
Typically, in an eBook, the meat of the information is typically broken into sections/chapters. Think of your subtopics in the same way. Each subtopic can be viewed as its own entity, delivering value by itself but as part of the larger picture, they help to tell a deeper story.
Start by taking stock of your current content assets. Is there any content that you've already published that will align with a sub-topic? Make sure it adds value and doesn't distract from the main purpose. Leverage as much of what you already have.
List out as many subtopics that you can think of then begin to combine them together until you have 4-8 strong subtopics that complete a story when put together.
Create a blog article (or a few) for each sub-topic
Blogging is going to serve two major purposes in the context of building a content page. It's already a key player on the current content marketing field, as it's one of the strongest in it's ability to attract new website visitors.
First, blogging is essential to efficiently producing content pages. Reverse engineering your content production by writing blog posts for each of your subtopics will increase your productivity.
Second, by writing blog posts to piece together a more comprehensive content offer, you are arming yourself with articles for promoting your content which can be repurposed over and over again.
Start by turning each subtopic into a working title. I like to use Buzzsumo, to get an idea of which titles are working for what, HubSpot's Blog Topic Generator is great for fueling inspiration and Coschedule's Headline Analyzer is indispensable for nailing down a great title.
Determine the most appropriate organization for your blog article. Depending on the content itself, choose whether you're going to write a list post, a how-to post, multiple sections or how-ever gets the information across to the reader that isn't too overwhelming.
Once you know how you are going to organize your post, outline the main points you want to make.
Expand on each of the major points from your outline and compile the post one section at a time.
Create a template for your content page
The goal of a template is to provide a jumping off point to build from. There is nothing worse then opening up a blank document only to stare at nothing. Templates do a good job of getting the inspiration flowing. A few major benefits of content templates are:
- Brand consistency
- Seamless experience
- Everything included
Determine which website modules to use
Start by thinking about which modules should be present on every one of your guides.
Here is a list to get you started:
- Table of contents module
- Author module
- Call-to-action module
- User research module
- Conversion module
Repurpose and combine your blog articles
You've now written your blog articles for your sub-topic content. In other words, you've practically already written your full guide. Start to comb through your articles to determine how you begin to piece them together.
Start by making adjustments to each of your articles. Think about what you add in to support certain points or take out to simplify certain points. Starting with makes these individual changes will help you from getting overwhelmed trying to make all this separate content work together.
Once you've done that, then begin to combine your ideas and concepts. Don't try to combine full posts at once because the may be structured differently and it won't necessarily be obvious how they come together just yet. Instead, look for common themes, sections that relate to each other but don't forget about the sections that are unrelated as this will help you with organization later.
Finally, you want get some meat on it's bones. Look for areas that you can elaborate on, or provide more supporting information around certain details.
Using ungated website pages in your content marketing strategy will not only help you deliver a better experience for your user but it also helps with SEO and contributes greatly to organic traffic.
There is a growing need for entertaining and educational content, but quality content that provides lastly value to an audience is harder and harder to come by.
Because more marketers are deploying content marketing then ever before people are overwhelmed with choices. Making that much more important to consistently exceed their expectations so they stick around.
With so many options, marketers are consistently trying to get one more piece of content out the door to hit their lead goals for the month.
To stay away from wasting resources on producing more under performing content to make up for the current content that's under performing, focus on iterating content for your users rather then guessing what they may want next.
Ungated webpage content sets you up to match your future content with your audiences behavior. Stay focused on improving the content that you know your audience likes rather than producing one-off, static content that everyone forgets about by the start of the next month.
Want to start repurposing your inbound marketing content as web guides on your website? We can help. Use the button below to request a free assessment of your website.
Note: we use HubSpot to manage our website, but many of the processes described above are transferable to Wordpress as well. If you would like to learn more about using HubSpot's software for creating a template like this, book time on my calendar.