February is here (this year is already flying). Your numbers are down, not by a seasonally acceptable margin, but by a large panic-inducing percentage. What should you do?
First, be careful of a wild shift in your content strategy that may sink your ship faster. It’s natural to lurch the strategic pendulum in the wrong direction, over-correcting causing more damage. Instead, take a series of smaller, precise steps, to edge your content program back on course. Here’s where I would look.
Most blogs rely heavily on Google for traffic. Most traffic dips can be traced to Google lowering the visibility of your site. Review a year’s worth of blog posts in Google Analytics. You’ll probably see, your posts are aligned in a classic power curve with a small number of posts contributing almost all of your traffic.
Drill down to your top posts and see if their ranking has dropped in the last 30 days. Ranking drops could be due to competitors publishing stronger content, usurping your post’s position. In some cases, changes in Google’s ranking algorithm can move you down a few steps. In most cases, your older content has been replaced by someone with fresher, more in-depth, and better-shared content.
After Google, content marketers rely on their email updates (or newsletters – God help me) to invite repeat readers back to the blog mothership.
I believe in email. It still works very well for careful and methodical marketers. But, you may have been lured into putting your blog updates on autopilot with slick autoresponders that flick out an update when you publish a new blog. Unfortunately, this nice automation hack can crater your email’s performance. Email readers, especially GMAIL, can sniff out an auto-generated email like a hound dog tracking bacon. Your email is probably getting shoveled off to a “promo” folder which is a kinder way of saying “Your email just got kicked to the curb.”
It’s time to switch to a man-to-man defense. Pause your automated RSS-driven email campaign and write an update notice to your readers. Make it interesting, personal, and relevant. Tell readers why they should pause and read your latest strategic salvo. Remember to craft an equally compelling subject like and let ’em fly. Yes, it takes you an extra 30 minutes but that time can easily reverse the slip in your visits.
Shiny Content Types
I’m head-over-heels in love with podcasting and video. I wish that my entire blog could be delivered as an ongoing TV show – something like The Social Files. But, I know that my visits would head south faster than a snowbird in January. My audience sees a blog post as a quick, low commitment way to get their content marketing fix. A video requires active watching. An audio requires a quite 30 minutes to take in high-bandwidth content. So, if my editorial calendar shifted toward exclusively multimedia content, most of my readers would make a note to listen to me later (translation: never).
So before you kick your blog writing team to the curb, look for ways to supplement your current written content with audio or video. Better yet, create full-stack content that satisfied your entire audience-base.
Intuition over Data
For years, I would build editorial calendars based on what I wanted to say. I successfully ran two blogs into the ground with this strategy. Here’s the deal, marketers love to think that their intuition is better than science. We believe that our Mad-Manesque tingly feeling can guide our strategies to the promised land.
Yea – nope.
Here’s a better plan; survey your readers. Ask them what they are wrestling with. Make a few phone calls to long-time readers and ask them if they are happy with your latest content. If they aren’t happy offer to buy them lunch to talk about your editorial schedule. Consider adding a chat app to your site (temporarily) to ask questions of visitors while they are on your site (Intercom.io works great for this). Simply, turn off your Svengali act and replace it with hard data.
Now use your data to create content that your audience will love. Rinse and repeat 2x a year to stay on track.
Find a New Watercooler
Blogging isn’t sexy anymore. Like a black cocktail dress, blogging needs some well-placed accessories to get a second look. I alluded to this back when I used the term full-stack content. I love adding audio narrations, Slideshare presentations, infographics, original photography, and video to posts because each of these content types draw visitors from completely new audiences. You may need to make a drastic change in your content development strategy to find completely new audiences in new places.
For example, did you know that the Amazon Echo can play podcasts? Yep, you can ask Alexa to spin the latest episode of The Marketing Huddle while you are work on your latest dish from Plated. This means that a whole new audience of logophobes can still learn the latest without reading a word. It’s not just about avoiding reading. Audio and video can be more convenient. I know someone who sits in traffic so much that she streams Netflix and YouTube to take the edge off her 40-minute commute. But don’t go overboard, anchor your new content with well-written long-form content to add substance to the sizzle.
That’s It. Comment?
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