How to Pivot Your Content Strategy When Results Don’t Turn Out as Expected
“Pivot” is a word typically used in the literal sense, “The dancers pivoted on their toes and changed direction” or “The quarterback pivoted and threw the ball to the running back.”
So what does it have to do with B2B marketing strategy?
Nothing at all – and basically everything.
If you’re in the business of content marketing, you are, by necessity, comfortable with change. With Google changing its ranking algorithm a whopping 500 – 600 times a year, it’s critical to stay nimble to keep up with your customers – and the competition.
That’s where pivoting comes into play.
Let’s say you’ve got a content marketing strategy in place you’re absolutely sure will result in links, conversions, third-party exposure, etc.
How do you know this? Because you and your brilliant team of colleagues came up with it (duh)!
But then you take a deep dive into Analytics and realize your content assets aren’t performing as expected. Your organic traffic numbers are down month-over-month and year-over-year, your conversion numbers are low, your keywords are slipping in their ranking – and you wonder: Is anyone actually reading the stuff you’re putting out there?
In other words, your content strategy has crashed and burned.
Even the most lifeless content strategy can be resuscitated if you know how to pivot and get it back on track. Here’s a look at how to regroup, refocus, and refine strategy for the future:
Now, it can be pretty alarming to discover the strategy you’ve put so much time and effort into is coming up short. Whether for one of your clients or your own website, you put your heart and soul into that thing and you wanted to see it spread its wings and fly.
But, hey, that bruised ego isn’t going to get you far. And it’s certainly not going to help you improve your content performance.
Take a step back and consider the bigger picture: What were your overall goals for your content strategy in the first place? You had them, right??
Shockingly, research shows just 35 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy in place; roughly half (48 percent) have a strategy, but it isn’t documented.
Neil Patel makes the point in a Content Marketing Institute article that:
“If [a content marketing strategy is] not written down, then it probably doesn’t really exist. Content marketing is a method that takes a team to carry forward. If the organization’s individuals are holding some nebulous strategy in their minds, that’s not really a strategy at all. That’s just some thoughts on content marketing.”
You don’t have to tell me if you didn’t have your goals clearly defined at the outset of your content marketing planning. What’s important is to realize that fact and get them mapped out!
Neil recommends the SMART goal framework, which is a terrific way to remember all of what you should factor into your goal-setting process:
Whether you refined your existing goals (with clear, actionable metrics that you physically documented) or came up with them in the first place, the big question is: What next?
Clearly, goals aren’t enough for getting a content marketing program off the ground. What you need is to put your plan into motion – in other words, determine how you are actually going to execute on your strategy.
Maybe you take a look at each goal individually and outline what you will be doing to see it through (i.e., I’ll be recommending, creating, and implementing CTA banners to improve conversions and tracking which posts are driving the highest conversions on a monthly basis). Or maybe you measure your goals all together when you when you go to do monthly reporting.
The point is to continually check in on your strategy to make sure it’s performing as intended. Research, in fact, shows 61 percent of the most-effective B2B marketers meet daily or weekly with their content marketing team.
At KoMarketing, we meet on a monthly basis as a team to review client initiatives in progress. It’s an opportunity to brainstorm new ideas for what we can be doing – beyond what we’re already doing – to execute on goals and drive optimal results on behalf of our clients.
What I like best about it is it involves the whole team (SEO, social media, content), so we’re getting different perspectives to inform content strategy. For example, for one client, we recently came up with the idea to repurpose high-converting blog posts into SlideShare posts, ultimately benefiting both our content and social media strategies.
Fact: Even the most thoughtfully laid out, successfully executed content marketing strategy will take time to mature. If you’re expecting overnight results with your content efforts, you’re bound to be disappointed.
That doesn’t mean that you need to go on auto-pilot while you wait for your blog traffic to skyrocket. Far from it.
The key is to keep an eye on the SMART goals discussed earlier, evaluating both successes and failures to inform and further refine your content strategy moving forward.
If, for example, you “see your bounce rate rising, then add more SEO elements on the page itself to help direct readers to more posts in which they may be interested,” says Steve Olenski in a Marketing Land article: “If you’re getting a significant bump in referral traffic from another website or blog, then see if you can interact with them on a deeper level to increase that support.”
What happens when your content marketing strategy doesn’t perform as well as expected? You take action.
Rather than seeing subpar results as a failure on the part of your content strategy, instead try viewing it as an opportunity for you to go back to the drawing board and do things differently – and better – the next time.
What have you done to improve your content strategy when it falls short of expectations? Do you agree with the points outlined above?