The TL;DR version is this: what you set for your goal conversion rate probably isn’t perfect.
Even if you did some base research and followed smart goal-setting principles, this is a moving target that should be slightly different for every piece of your funnel, and most content marketers don’t delve quite that deep. First, because math. Second, because time. And third, because they think they have it covered with a realistic but challenging traffic or revenue goal.
Goals that “feel right” aren’t necessarily great goals — and a single overarching business goal is great, but that doesn’t always help you get your content ducklings in the right rows. Here’s a three-step overview of how to get from the vague (we need content that works) to the actionable and specific (this is exactly what our content should be doing).
Never create a goal just to create it. Make sure it’s important to your strategy. #contentmarketing
1. Start with the why and choose the goals that matter.
Here’s a great brainstorming game to play with your content marketing staff (whether that’s an entire corporate team or just you and your Twitter feed). Put on the hat of a curious 4-year-old and start asking why.
Let’s look at a hypothetical.
- We need some content on our website. Why?
- Because it will drive traffic. Why do we want to drive traffic?
- Because we want more awareness for our brand. Why?
- Because we’re trying to build a brand culture. Why?
- To become a leader in the space. Why?
- So people will purchase our services and maybe promote them too.
Typically, it takes three to five Why? questions to get to the heart of the matter, and in the hypothetical above, you can see at least three areas for goal setting:
- Goal 1: Traffic on the site
- Goal 2: Cultural/audience buy-in for brand loyalty
- Goal 3: Signing up new customers for the service
Never create goals just to create them, but ask yourself: Is reaching this goal important to the next stage in my funnel? Is the activity related to this goal already covered by another goal?
In the example above, getting enough traffic to the site is foundational for signing up new customers. At the same time, you could meet goal 1 without ever converting customers, and the content marketing strategies that draw people to your site are not the same strategies that create brand loyalty and drive sales. You need multiple goals so you can develop plans to reach each of them (remember that those plans should always work together in an integrated approach).
2. Do your homework for data-backed goal conversion rates
Strong goals have three parts: the thing you want to do, the time line and the number that lets you know you did it. The Why? exercise above helps you come up with the first part of the goal. Research helps you come up with the third.
One of the easiest ways to create data-backed goal conversion rates is to start with the end game and work backwards, applying your own data, best practices and industry trends along the way. Let’s look at the hypothetical from above to see how this works.
The end game was to sign up new customers. How many? Perhaps the business goal is to increase revenue 10 percent this quarter. You can turn to your in-house data — costs, attrition rates, pricing and last quarter’s profits — to learn that an increase of 10 percent in revenue requires 25 new customer sign ups.
Goal 3 complete: To sign up 25 new customers within the quarter.
That goal, along with other research and data, lets you back into other goals. How much traffic do you need to drive to your site to make goal 3 possible? If previous conversion rates on your pages were only 3 percent, then you need at least 833 visitors to best ensure you meet your conversion goal.
Goal 1 complete: Attract 833 new quality visitors to the page within the quarter.
Strong goals have three parts: the thing you want to do, the time line and the number that lets you know you did it.
3. Engage in continuous process (and goal) improvement
Great content marketers never stop with decent data-backed goals, though. They constantly look for ways they can improve their processes and their goals. Ask your team questions such as: Can we boost revenue even more by converting 40 customers next quarter? Is our content converting at the highest possible level? What can we do to drive even more traffic?
Don’t just make your improvements about quantity. Consider the quality of all your goals and processes. Looking at goals 1 and 3 above: what if you could improve conversion rates from 3 percent to 8 percent? You’d only need to attract 312 users to get 25 new conversions. If you improved content on page to convert at a higher percent and you improved SEO and inbound marketing to drive more traffic, then you can easily raise your revenue goals.
Your goal conversion rate is probably an important goal, but it’s flanked by supporting goals. Take time to ask the questions, do the homework and conduct the tests to keep your goals and performance continuously improving.