Content Testing Before Going ‘All-In’
Whether you’re content magnet is free or paid, or eBook or webinar, it’s important to test the waters before jumping in with both feet.
One of the biggest challenges I hear from clients is determining which “theme” they should choose for an eBook or webinar before investing all of the time, resources and expenses that are involved with writing, production and marketing.
Sometimes, more often than not, just because you think a topic is interesting doesn’t mean it’s something the marketplace will buy into.
Consumers are very savvy these days. There’s so much free content out there, that if you’re asking for their email address (or even more, their credit card) to download an eBook or sign up for a webinar, it better be something mind-blowing … a new perspective … something that gives them that “a-ha” moment.
Clients often feel they have their fingers on the pulse of the market. And maybe they do. But it’s the marketer who needs to help drive the content machine and do some due diligence first before going all-in.
Working in online and print publishing for the last 15-plus years, I have some proven tips and best practices to help you determine the validity of content (i.e., Topic or theme) for your next eBook or webinar.
Of course, there’s no crystal ball to help you see how something will ultimately perform with so many variables that can influence conversions, such as brand recognition, ad copy, creative design of landing page, price point, etc. Ultimately, the market will let you know if it’s interested in your topic or not. But your overall efforts can be a little easier, with some solid pre-requisites …
Look at what you’re competitors are putting out there with eBooks and webinars. You can do some simple competitive analysis to see the types of content topics they’re focusing on. Go to their website. What free reports are they using for organic traffic? Also, check out sites like ispionage.com. This site lets you type in a website URL so you can see competitor’s paid and organic keywords, landing pages, PPC spends and more. The free version is limited. To see full data, you have to subscribe. But this can give you some good ideas.
Sites like Social Mention let you search for keywords, show you how often they’re being used and where they are among the top social media platforms. This is as close as you can get to being a fly on the wall.
Think of your topics in terms of keyword strings of what your target audience would likely search for. Use a keyword search platform, like Google’s keyword planner or Wordtracker. Look for keyword and potential topics that are not too popular (as the market is likely saturated with that content) but also not under-searched … the sweet spot.
Sites like Trends.google.com give you a general view of what’s trending on the Web. You can search by topic and see what people are interested in.
Sites like Clickbank.com and Amazon.com (Kindle eBooks) will show you best-selling digital content. Clickbanks is a marketplace specifically for eBooks. You can search by topic, then sort by popularity and other criteria. The more popular eBooks can be a gauge of hot topics. Kindle eBooks can be searched and sorted by topics and you can see the best-selling topics in various categories from health, self-help and more.
Before going all-out with a 25-page eBook or a 30-minute webinar, test the concept with a 1-pager, quick and dirty digital download. Create a strong PPC text ad or Facebook ad and see what the initial clicks and conversions are. This is a great way to really see how the general marketplace will react to your topic and if it’s got legs. Carve out a small test budget (anywhere from $65 to $250, depending on your marketing medium) and let the ad run for one to two weeks. Keep it simple and remember this is just a test.
Some things you just see over and over again, so you have a good inkling of what gets your target audience excited. Generally speaking, there are a few things I’ve noticed that will, nine out of 10 times, get people to convert. Topics that:
- Tie into a current event or are time sensitive
- Are controversial or a contrarian viewpoint (a “hot button” issue)
- Tap into an emotion (fear, greed, vanity, exclusivity)
- Solve a problem
- Save you time or money
- Help you be healthier, wealthier or wiser in some way
- Reveal something
- A forecast or prediction (this works well in financial newsletter publishing, i.e. Top Stocks of 2018)
- Are sensational or “forbidden” (this tactic is not for the faint of heart)
- Include “Top” lists (such as, “Top 10 Ways to Combat Cancer”)
- Combine two of the above
Remember, the core of direct response marketing is testing.
So view your content testing with an open mind and let the market help dictate your next move.
Being calculated and strategic will help you either hit a home run or, even if your test bombs, save you time and money in the long run.
Often referred to as the "marketing maven" by industry peers, Wendy Montes de Oca, MBA has nearly 20 years of experience in marketing, media, and publishing with expertise in multichannel, direct response, and Web marketing. Wendy has generated more than $150 million in total revenues for Fortune 500 companies, top publishers, consulting clients, and her own firm, Precision Marketing and Media, LLC. She is the creator of the groundbreaking SONAR Content Distribution Model and author of the best-selling book Content Is Cash: Leveraging Great Content and the Web for Increased Traffic, Sales, Leads and Buzz [Que Publishing, Paperback].