“We have way too many leads!” As a marketer at a B2B SaaS company, I thought I’d literally never hear those words. I thought we always needed more leads, no matter what, but now, the VP of Sales is saying we have too many?
After further discussion, I realized he was right. We had way more leads than our sales team could handle coming in from organic search. There were simply not enough hours in a day for our three SDRs to effectively qualify and book demos with the number of leads consistently flowing through our site day in and day out.
So, how did we get to that point? The short answer: iteration. But we’ll get there in a minute.
As I’m sure you’ve experienced too, throughout my career, I’ve seen a handful of content marketing campaigns succeed, while many more completely fail. The worst part? It can be hard to predict which campaigns will land in which bucket.
Early in my career, I was enamored by Don Draper’s greatest career moment – a slogan popped into his head while winging a pitch. No market research, no focus groups, just sheer brilliance out of nowhere. And I think that’s what most marketers wish content marketing was like. That’s why we spend so much time brainstorming. We want to achieve success through expressing our ideas and assume that our audience will be as excited about them as the executives giving Draper the thumbs up.
The problem with that, outside of TV shows, is sometimes no one in our audience cares at all about what we believe is a great idea. It doesn’t mean that idea is worthless, but it does mean it won’t drive revenue for your company. It’s the same reality that Thomas Edison faced when he was inventing the lightbulb. When he came up with the design for the very first version, it was a brilliant idea in theory, but it didn’t work in reality.
I eventually learned that the key difference between success and failure in content marketing is your response in that type of situation. It’s incredibly tempting as a content marketer to simply chalk that failure up to luck and create another piece about something else that your gut says is great, blindly hoping it will perform better.
However, Edison’s approach to his failures was different. It was iterative. He didn’t try the lightbulb once and, upon failing, decide to try a different idea. Instead, he stuck with the goal of creating a lightbulb, made some changes based on data he collected, and failed again. He then took data from the second try, made some changes, and failed again.
He completed this loop thousands of times until he reached the point where it finally worked. And while there were many individuals around the world with very similar ideas, Edison was successful because he took the approach of combining human intuition and data feedback loops, reinforced with a clear goal, discipline, and perseverance, rather than relying solely on creative thought.
Like Edison, I had taken an iterative approach to content marketing that resulted in the, “We have too many leads!” fiasco of 2016. It was a culmination of blood, sweat, and literal tears put into failing, learning, and updating our approach until our content marketing program was so successful.
The idea of iteration is well-known, but until now there hasn’t been a codified, repeatable approach specifically designed for content marketers. So, we created one called PACE, which has been proven over and over again to be the most effective way to shift your content marketing program from random swings and misses to consistent, repeatable growth.
PACE stands for Plan, Attract, Convert, and Evaluate
We’ve proven that a content marketing approach that contains all four of these elements is far more likely to be successful than any approach missing even one of them.
The four elements relate to each other in this way:
- In order to begin successful content marketing, you must first have a plan of how you will attract and convert attention from organic search, including what your desired outcome is and a clear path of what you’ll do to achieve them.
- Once you have your plan, it’s now time to execute and actually attract attention from your audience from organic search by optimizing your website’s Infrastructure, Content, and Endorsements.
- When you’ve gained your audience’s attention, it’s now time to convert that attention by guiding them toward doing what you want them to do on your site more efficiently with the art and science of conversion rate optimization.
- Next, you should evaluate how well you’ve attracted and converted the attention with a real-time insights dashboard that shows you from how well you’re meeting the needs of your audience to how many leads are resulting from your efforts.
- Lastly, use the new insights you’ve gained from #4 to inform the plan for the next iteration and begin again at #1 above.
Similar to Edison’s strategy of creating the lightbulb, we believe that this model for rapid iteration is the secret to success for content marketers. Unlike the Don Draper model of following your gut, an iterative strategy can’t fail. With every iteration cycle, you’re optimizing for things that worked for your audience, getting better and better over time. The faster and more frequently you run through PACE, the higher confidence and repeatability you’ll have.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and if you haven’t heard your sales team say “we have way too many leads!” in a while, we’d love to help you grow the success of your content marketing efforts to that point!