By Poornima Vijayashanker
This post is based on my latest book: How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products
Too often when a marketing channel doesn’t immediately produce the results we’re expecting, like email signups or conversions, we judge its efficacy harshly. Instead of understanding if it’s really the channel that’s producing poor results or if it’s our approach, we decide to abandon the channel altogether. The sheer abundance of online marketing channels makes the decision to jump ship attractive and easy.
If you’ve done this, then after a while you probably noticed that the new marketing channel isn’t working either. It leaves us asking ourselves: should I change the channel yet again?
If we know that our potential customers are hanging out on the channel, then the problem isn’t actually the channel, it’s our messaging. More specifically, how we craft our message and how a prospective customer perceives it.
This common mistake often happens when people try content marketing for the first time. I’ve come across many folks who want to use content marketing to promote a product. But too often, they think that just cranking out blog posts will lead to signups and conversions. When they don’t see the results they want, they often abandon it for something “easier,” like paid acquisition.
I’m certainly guilty of doing this as well!
Crafting a clear message
Back in February I attended Nathan Barry’s ConvertKit Academy to learn how to launch and sell a book. During the program, Nathan talked about creating epic blog posts as a way to provide readers with a teaser of your content and then convince them to sign up to hear about the book.
By August, I had produced a couple of blog posts that I thought were “epics.” Here are two examples:
After spending a fair amount of time creating these two posts, I was thoroughly disappointed with their results. I saw a trickle of signups and wasn’t sure what to do next. I didn’t want to take the time to write more worthless posts.
Instead of abandoning the channel, I followed up with Nathan and had him review both the posts. After reading through them he told me that I actually hadn’t followed his instructions. Uh oh…
Nathan told me that an epic blog post should be comparable to a chapter in a book, which means it should do the following:
Have a relatable hook, like starting with a clear story that will draw the readers in.
Address a general problem, not one that only the writer would have experienced.
Provide a step-by-step approach that the reader can repeat.
Leave the reader with a clear understanding of what they should do differently.
Have a clear ASK at the end, like signing up to be on a mailing list. If you’ve provided enough value in the post then they will be more likely to sign up.
Unfortunately, my two posts didn’t meet any of this criteria. The reason people weren’t signing up for my mailing list was because:
I didn’t provide a relatable hook.
I wasn’t providing a step-by-step approach. In fact, in one of them I explicitly said I wouldn’t and that the reader needed to sign up to get it, which means that they had to take a leap of faith when giving me their email address.
I had a rather weak ASK at the end. It went something like, “If you’re ready to start your journey…then sign up!” What does that even mean?!
The posts were also pretty short; clearly not a standalone chapter.
The section titles were also pretty pithy and didn’t convey what the section was going to be about.
Keep the channel, change the message
Had I not talked to Nathan, then I would have just assumed that blogging was a waste of time and switched to some other channel.
But I decided to go back and refine my post. Here’s an example of one of them:
The title itself is much clearer and lets readers know what I’m going to talk about. I also followed Nathan’s advice and started out with a simple story about baking a cake versus buying one to provide a relatable but fun analogy to software.
Then instead of immediately launching into steps, I decided to provide a little more context for readers and talk about what happens when you decide NOT to invest and build everything yourself!
I made the section titles read like questions the readers would be asking themselves when thinking about the topic, like: “How much cheaper is it really?” “How long does it take to integrate?”
I added a section called “What to watch out for.” This is what really makes this post valuable: I’m saving people from mistakes that will cost them a lot of time and money!
The end result was an epic blog post that read like a step-by-step guide and provided clear value to the reader.
The CTA at the end wasn’t wishy-washy. It was clear, and it actually converted a substantial number of readers!
So the next time you decide that content marketing isn’t working for you, and you want to abandon it altogether, start by:
Asking yourself, “Are my customers hanging out on this channel?” If so, then it’s your message that needs work.
Show the message to someone else and ask them, “What isn’t clear? Is the ASK strong and warranted? Or is it wishy-washy? Have I jumped to the ASK without adding value?”
Content marketing can be a powerful channel when it comes to selling products, but it’s all in how you craft the message!
Learn more about content marketing and methods to attract early customers to your SaaS product in my book How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products. Check it out here!