We got some help on this post from Josh Spilker, Director of Content at Range. (We’re big fans of Josh’s playbook for scaling traffic in one quarter.)
Content marketers pride themselves on being useful, rather than pushy. Educational instead of sales-y.
That doesn’t mean we’re supposed to sound like Wikipedia, though. We’re all still marketing a product. And if you lean into this fact, your content becomes more useful to readers and more effective for your brand.
At the end of any blog post, we should be able to complete the phrase: “Here’s how we can help…”
Every blog post can (and should) complete that phrase at least once – and, ideally, a few times:
- Through the content itself, with a product-led approach
- In the calls to action, each tailored to the reader’s journey
This works for every stage of the funnel. Yes, even the very top.
Let’s look at why the “helpful” test works, and how to wield it with your existing content.
🦮 The helpful test
The helpful test is not an anti-sales approach. We lean into it because it’s a very effective sales approach.
If you’re crafting a top-funnel post about “How small businesses use accounting software,” the topic itself is pretty broad – until you ask: How can our product help?
By answering that question, you’ll identify common customer pain points, which lead to a targeted discussion of your product’s features.
Including those product details in a post can be as simple as adding a subhead toward the end entitled, simply, ‘How our product helps.’
The helpful test comes in handy with CTAs as well. If your top-funnel reader has only started to read up on accounting software, then you can probably help by linking to similar educational posts on your blog.
You could push a product demo link in the CTA, but it probably won’t be very helpful to that top-funnel buyer. You risk losing their attention altogether.
🏄🏼 What you can do
You can use the helpful test to improve conversion rates on your existing content.
(We recommend starting off with your highest-traffic posts.)
For each piece of content, you’ll focus on:
- Product-led content integration
- Call-to-action optimization
Before you can add product-led content to an existing post, you need to decide what sort of content would be relevant to the reader.
Different points in the journey require you to answer different questions:
- Top-funnel: How does my product connect with this topic?
- Mid-funnel: How does my product help with this topic?
- Bottom-funnel: How does my product compare with others?
Once you’ve answered that question, you’ll know what sort of product-led material to include.
After you’ve added it, you can tailor the existing material. For example: with a mid-funnel post, this might mean adding a bit about pain points that your product helps relieve.
Calls to action
When it comes to revising CTAs, the helpful test requires a few considerations:
- Where this piece fits in the buyer’s journey
- What subjects are being discussed
- Which existing assets connect to those subjects
If the buyer is still in the top-funnel awareness stage… you might help by linking to a related, top-funnel blog post.
If they’re farther down, evaluating different software capabilities… you might help them by suggesting a white paper. Or direct them to a chatbot that can answer questions.
If they’re definitely going to choose a software… you can help with some docs pages from your product, and maybe a comparison page, or at long last, the product demo.
Later on down the line, you might talk with your web dev about different design elements that can help improve conversion rates. (We’re big fans of persistent/sticky CTAs, for example.)
But the helpful test comes before all.