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Like many companies, in the last 12 months the main focus of our marketing strategy at SaleCycle was to produce content. And lots of it.
However, on further inspection it turns out we might have been focusing on the wrong metrics.
So whether you’re a B2C marketer or B2B marketer like myself, you’re probably under a fair amount of pressure to produce content.
Bill Gates famously declared that "Content is King" back in 1996 (yep, 20 years ago!) while more recently, respected marketers like Ann Handley have taught us that the best content is "useful, enjoyable and inspired".
They are sentiments I happen to agree with.
Which is why I tasked our marketing team at SaleCycle with increasing the amount of content we published for our blog ‘The Abandoned Cart’ in 2015.
And the team delivered. We went from an average of one piece of new content per week in 2014 to two or three in 2015.
While we were high fiving each other feeling like we’d done a great job – we missed an important question… who cares?
The number of new blogs, videos and stories we publish is a great vanity metric for us to point at as a marketing team. And yeah, it looks great on a graph...
...but it misses the point of our blog! Our goal has always been to publish content which:
- Educates – using our data and experience in our marketplace;
- Informs – through the use of stories and real client examples;
- and Engages – making people smile with our tone and style.
In focusing so much on increasing our content output, we lost focus on the type of content that delivers on all of those things. More quantity, yes. But less ‘relevant’ quality.
I thought it would be valuable to share the two big lessons we learned from pouring over the data and how we planned to turn it around.
1) Pareto was right. Annoyingly.
It turns out that although we increased our output; a lot of our new content and ideas weren’t resonating with our audience.
They simply weren’t clicking or sharing as much as they had in the past.
Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto famously said that "80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes."
Applied to our content metrics, where ‘effects’ are page views and ‘causes’ are blog posts, we found that his 120 year old principal still rang pretty true.
At the start of 2016, we broke down our last 100 blogs to analyse where our traffic came from. As you can see from the chart above, we found that 10 blogs accounted for over 50% of our blog page views!
In fact, the top 20 accounted for 65% of them. Not quite Pareto’s 80 from 20... but not far off.
When we consider that there is little difference in the time and effort to put together the blogs in our two most successful quadrants, compared to the ones in the least successful ones, this was a pretty frustrating realisation.
Note: We did not include blogs posted within the last three months to ensure a fairer assessment of the data. Naturally, a blog posted yesterday is likely to have fewer views than one of equivalent quality posted a year ago.
2) People want to learn... just not about your new office
Fresh from the dawning realisation that half our content just wasn’t really working, we dusted ourselves down to look at blogs that were working - those 20 blogs that accounted for 65% of our blog’s overall traffic.
We broadly categorise our content into three key areas:
- SaleCycle Academy (facts, stats and best practice advice);
- Ask Our Clients (client stories and examples);
- and Love What You Do (culture and careers stuff).
What we quickly learned looking at the stats was that our audience enjoys reading and sharing our educational stuff; they like the stories; but the culture stuff is perhaps taking up too much of our time.
Whilst we love telling people about the culture at SaleCycle (we eat a lot of cake) and about our new office and job openings; the blog probably isn’t the best place for this kind of stuff.
It’s made us rethink this approach and look at how we can revamp our careers page to do more for us in this regard; and consider other channels such as social media and even press releases for announcing other company news.
Most B2B companies can only dream of getting the kind of blog traffic that genuine publishers like Econsultancy gets.
For companies like us, it’s important to focus less on the number of blogs we’re posting and more on the impact of those blogs themselves.
Whether that’s traffic (page views), email sign-ups, product demos, upsell/cross-sell or of course acquiring new customers.
But that’s something for another blog and another time.