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In this episode of Metrics & Chill podcast, John Bonini talked with Ben Sailer, Inbound Marketing Director at CoSchedule, about how the team at CoSchedule refocused their content strategy on driving trials and product signups, instead of just traffic.
Best known for their content calendar software, CoSchedule also offers two other products: a headline testing tool called Headline Studio and CoSchedule Academy, a subscription-based educational resource for marketers.
Even before their product line expanded, the team never had a clear link between the content they were producing and the products they offered. Ben set out to change that.
Read on for more details, or listen to the full episode here:
When Ben and team decided to refocus their content strategy on driving sales, they were faced with a really common problem in the content industry: how?
The team had already built a lot of great content. They were getting tons of traffic. Their email list was huge. But those numbers weren’t translating into actual sales the way CoSchedule needed them to.
Ben had to shift the team’s mindset from letting sales worry about getting trials and signups to taking a more active role in turning content readers into signups.
“For a long time at CoSchedule,” Ben said, “the goal of inbound and organic marketing—SEO, social, email—was just to increase traffic and build our email list. And then we’d figure out how to monetize that list later.”
Up until a few years ago, that was a common sentiment in the content marketing sphere. Success was gauged based on traffic and email signups—for CoSchedule and thousands of other content marketing programs.
Then, Ben noticed an important disconnect. “We got really, really successful with SEO, we got really good at building a very large email list—but sales didn’t seem to be tracking with the growth of that list in the way that you would expect,” Ben told us.
And at the end of the day, “traffic doesn’t pay the bills. An email list, by itself, doesn’t pay the bills.” Ben knew they needed to take more accountability for driving sales, for bringing in the right leads, and for helping those leads get from the blog to a product page.
In the beginning, Ben knew changing things would require the right data—and they weren’t looking at it: “At the top of the funnel, we weren’t looking at enough data, we weren’t looking at the right data, we weren’t tracking the right things.”
“We weren’t taking accountability for the right things,” Ben added. “We had to get more sophisticated and mature in our approach.”
According to Ben that opened up a whole lot of questions and testing. They needed to rethink everything from the type of content they create to the topics they cover to how they move readers through the funnel to a product page, trial, or demo.
“First, we needed to identify, of the hundred of blog posts that we published, which are the ones that actually have a close connection to a product?” Ben explained.
For CoSchedule, that meant content about:
“We already had a lot of the content created,” Ben found, but “we needed to change the way that we thought about it and we needed to change what we considered to be a good conversion on those pages.”
With the right content already in place for the most part, Ben and team refocused their efforts on mapping that content within the funnel and operationalizing how they could pass those readers onto the next stage.
“Instead of just trying to get people on the email list and then throwing hail mary’s, how can we shorten the path between identifying users that have shown us they’re highly likely to be interested in the product and just getting them to a product page?” Ben wondered.
Since refocusing their content strategy on driving conversions, trials, and signups, Ben and CoSchedule have seen a ton of success. The biggest change? “The calls-to-action are better designed, they’re better written, and they’re better tracked,” Ben told John. “It’s helped us begin to answer what we’re really doing to drive sales.”
As Ben noted, they were essentially starting from zero, with no data on how well (or poorly) their content was driving sales previously.
“How many people got from the blog to the page we wanted them to? If I can get people to look at that page, as far as we’re concerned, my team has done its job,” Ben explained, adding, “Since we started tracking this, we’ve seen extremely high conversion rates. It’s double digits—probably around 30 percent.”
Related: How to Set Up & Use Google Analytics Conversion Tracking
Beyond that, Ben and team now have a much better way to justify their investment in content—something that’s long been a handicap for content marketers jockeying for resources. “It’s helped us have a better answer to, ‘What is this blog post doing to drive sales?’” Ben said.
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