Content optimization is a tricky process. It demands patience, experimentation, insight, and a lot of elbow grease. There are those times when we’re just putting content out there and hoping for the best, and times when we’ve crunched the numbers, studied the feedback, and developed “the perfect plan” to reach our prospects and convert views into clicks into sales.
And then we launch our perfect plan, and nothing happens. Sales stay about the same, our bounce rate remains just as high, and all that data turns out to have been about as effective as a little bit of guesswork would have been.
Here are two major points worth memorizing when it comes to content optimization:
There are no guarantees
Marketing data, SEO, analytics—none of it guarantees positive results. It’s all incredibly valuable, but what it does is reduce risk. If there was a way to eliminate risk entirely, everyone would be an entrepreneur.
Things change, quickly
The market is not a controlled environment. It’s not a swimming pool, it’s an ocean. The tide rises and falls, entire eco-systems change overnight. What was relevant yesterday might not be relevant tomorrow. Analytics can help to map trends, but they’re not a crystal ball.
Disappointment is part of the process, it’s what helps us to determine what works by figuring out what does not work. The irony is that even once we’ve adjusted our output based on that disappointment, disappointment is still within the realm of possibility, no matter how much time we spend tweaking our content. We always need to be prepared for disappointment, here’s how:
Allow for “pleasant surprise”
If you’re a pessimist, you’ll never get anything done, because why bother? If you’re an optimist, you’ll be upset when things don’t go well. But, if you can develop an emotionally neutral approach to producing content, you open up the possibility of being pleasantly surprised by positive results, but not heartbroken over a campaign that fails to perform as you’d hoped.
Prioritize good writing
Sometimes, what closes the deal is not a perfect understanding of analytics or a repeatable formula, but whatever magic ingredient it is that a good content writer brings to the table. Something in their voice, something that the reader responds to. It’s not always easy to identify, it’s not always easy to pin down whatever it is about a writer that appeals to your prospects, but if you manage to connect with a writer (or web designer, or graphic artist, or anyone else) who just seems to, for some reason, bring your bounce rate down every time you publish one of their pieces, hold onto them.
Take small bites
A good rule of thumb: don’t spend more on a single campaign than you can afford to lose. Commit to a process of experimentation, of trial and error, and don’t think you’re going to get around the “error” part.
To put all of this into one sentence: Never kid yourself that you’ve developed a “sure thing.” There’s always risk—but that’s okay. You can afford to take a risk.
Gilbert S‘s interests outside of writing lie in marketing, film, and advanced technology.