Doing content marketing in 2023 can be nightmarish.
Users are tired, fatigated by high volumes of irrelevant, AI-generated content. Qualified buyers don’t know where to turn for sound advice or good solutions. And while the big picture shows that SaaS spending isn’t going down, with the volume of “no, thank you”s that your representatives hear every day, bullish numbers seem hard to believe.
But there’s one change in mindset that can help you reconnect with your potential customers, reposition your brand, and ensure that your content budget doesn’t go to waste.
First step: Ditch that marketing funnel.
Thinking Beyond Marketing Funnel Stages
Let’s not throw the baby with the bathwater: Marketing funnels are useful. But they’re not a good model to guide your content marketing program.
Approaching content marketing through a funnel causes you to split your content assets in an unrealistic way. Your customer’s journey is rarely linear, and it rarely looks like that modelic funnel.
Additionally, a funnel doesn’t give you the tools to filter out bad ideas - which is extremely important in our current landscape. Almost anything can be “awareness” content or “conversion” content, even if its information density and overall quality are low.
In short, your content marketing strategy should be built on a model that:
- Doesn’t assume that product perception will be linear
- Helps you to filter ideas that move the needle vs. ideas that are good but irrelevant
To achieve this, the model should be built on the following ideas:
- Customers are on a journey from point A (an uncomfortable and sometimes unsustainable place) to point B (a far better spot)
- Users will progress in your relationship with your brand if you can alleviate their pain points, at least slightly
- Content + product are part of the same journey towards point B
Enter the Value Continuum
Your potential customers are on a journey from point A to point B. Your brand should be their sage throughout it. And, as the potential customer sees initial impact through your content, they’ll continue to commit to your brand. This commitment will increase until they find a paywall. That’s the moment of truth. The paywall should feel like a blocker in their journey. That blocker is there to prevent them from taking the next step in a growth path they’re already in.
Value creation and pain alleviation begin before the purchase. The purchase is just the next reasonable step.
Mastering the Value Continuum
At this point, you’re probably in one of two camps:
Camp A: This is awesome.
Camp B: D’uh!
I won’t pretend that this idea is super complex. It’s not, and that’s why it’s useful. It’s a highly legible tool for weeding out bad content ideas and remaining user-centric. In short, before green-lighting a content idea, the most important question to ask is: Does it help users move on the value continuum? Will they get closer to Point B after reading this piece?
Not all your content should be life-changing and transformational. But users should leave each piece you post with a little golden nugget that they didn’t have before. Something, however small, that they can use to:
- Move towards their goals
- Alleviate their pain
- Argue for company-wide solutions that alleviate their pain
At this point, you may have a couple of questions. I’ll dedicate the rest of this piece to answering them. Finally, I’ll share something you may be interested in.
How much content should you gate?
Some consultants argue that you shouldn’t gate any content, lead magnets are dead! But that isn’t really true. Boring PDFs that bring nothing new to the table may be dead. But if you put something really valuable and interesting behind a sign-up form, users will sign up.
However, you don’t want to collect emails for emails’ sake. Industry stats may not be worth gating. Consuming them doesn’t signal purchase intent, and at the end of the day, they can be used for reverse link-building. But you should gate interactive tools that will help users move from point A to point B.
What are some examples of content ideas that move the needle?
The interactive tool I alluded to in the previous section is an example of a content idea that helps users progress up the value continuum.
But that’s not the only possible format. Relevant content includes:
- Product-centric content aimed at specific personas and jobs to be done
- Tutorials & best practices that users can apply to start alleviating their pain
- Customer stories that include tangible insights, not just praise for your product
- E-mail courses
- Video courses
- Webinars that aren’t long sales pitches
How to know if a content idea doesn’t fit the value continuum
Ideas that don’t fit the value continuum don’t give your users new tools that will help them evolve on their journey.
These pieces are usually justified because:
- They’re part of a link-building program
- They target keywords that your competitors are ranking for
But you can still produce valuable content within those terms. You just have to spend a little more time ideating your material.
For instance, a post centered around a definition (“What is X”) can turn into a valuable guide if you use it as an opportunity to address misconceptions that may be standing in your users’ way.
How to know if you’re misplacing the paywall
Your killer feature should be behind a paywall. And your blog posts shouldn’t be. But, what about everything in the middle?
A paywall that’s too generous causes low conversions - users are already getting what they need for free.
But if your paywall is too restrictive, you’ll encounter top-of-funnel problems. In short, your most valuable users won’t trust you right away. You’ll need to prove that you’re the right partner. If most of your resources are gated, and most of your brand experience is pay-to-play, you’re requiring too high a commitment, from the get-go. And that can filter out your most conscious and potentially loyal customers.
If I had to choose between having a paywall that’s too permissive and having a paywall that’s too restrictive, I’d err on the side of restrictiveness. Why?
Simple: Putting a price on something that people used to get for free will cause disappointment. But giving away something that used to be paywalled evokes positive feelings. And it can even be a good motif for a campaign.
Impactful Content Marketing Is a Call Away
At Postdigitalist, we work with growing companies from all around the world to help them see an actual ROI from content marketing. We turn wasteful and stressful content marketing programs into sustainable organic growth engines.
Change the course of your content strategy today, book a free consulting call.