There’s a huge problem in modern-day content marketing.
It’s not in how many adopters there are.
Not at all.
(In fact, 93% of B2Bs are doing content marketing.)
It’s not in the conversion rates – organic content marketing is at an all-time high, if you compare it to what’s happening in advertising.
Ads have plummeted in ROA from 11.8x back in 2016 to .6x today (study from December 2018 by the Ad Strategist), while organic, inbound content marketing traffic is converting at 11-20%, depending on the industry (Marketing Sherpa).
The problem in content marketing?
It’s that there are only a sliver (4% of content marketers!) that rate themselves extremely successful at pulling off content marketing as a whole (2019 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report).
This is terrifying.
Why is only a small minority confidently excelling in the content marketing industry?
We already know content marketing has worked tremendously well for many companies. So why isn’t it working for us?
Maybe because not enough of us know how to cut to growth faster, smarter, and better.
Maybe because most of us are unsure how to differentiate in a crowded space.
And maybe, most all, most of us are too focused on “everything we could be doing” versus “what we SHOULD be doing.”
How do you cut to that realization (understanding “should” versus “could”)?
How do you focus, block out the noise, and actually matter to your audience for real results?
The answer: You need to think like a content hacker, a title I foresee becoming a go-to definition when brands and businesses look for successful content marketing hires.
Content Hacker: (n.) A Growth-Focused Content Marketer
Garrett Moon of CoSchedule first coined the term growth hacker a few years ago. Essentially, he brought together the concept of growth hacking and the role of a content marketer.
It’s a growth-focused content marketer.
Now, this isn’t growth at the expense of quality or principles. It’s not overnight growth, either.
Instead, content hacking is a way to cut to sustainable content marketing growth by:
- Learning quickly
- Testing tactics and strategies
- Tracking and measuring results
- Pivoting to try something else if results don’t happen
- Staying audience-focused
Ultimately, content hackers aim to make amazing, beautiful content that enriches the internet and all who use it. They help brands build audience loyalty so those same users will pay it forward. It’s about making content marketing better, using tactics that matter.
The 5 Traits and Skills You Need to Be a Content Hacker
To be known as a content hacker, you need these essential skills and characteristics – especially if you want to be a successful one.
1. Tactical and Strategic
A content hacker always thinks in terms of strategy. They understand content marketing’s inner-workings and look at long-term goals when planning for results and ROI.
2. Well-Versed in Research
A smart content hacker knows their work is useless without data:
- They need to be able to find good sources and leverage studies/statistics, not to mention conduct original research.
- They must delve deep into audience research, keyword research, and topic research to create utterly useful content.
- They need the ability to measure and analyze various sets of data to track whether their content is serving its purpose.
A content hacker’s content is data-backed, and so are their processes.
3. Storytelling Ability
Writing is an important skill for a content hacker, but even more vital is the ability to tell a compelling story through the medium of content. Ultimately, stories draw people in despite themselves, and every content hacker understands their power.
4. Patience and Determination
On average, any content marketing initiative will take 12-24 months to start generating ROI, according to Joe Pulizzi.
That means a content hacker needs to understand the long game of content. They can’t be too antsy for results, because otherwise, they’ll quit before their content marketing ever gets a chance to gain sea legs. True content hackers have the patience to see their strategies through to ROI.
5. Strong, Smart Communication
Above all, content hackers are effective communicators. They can use any channel to get their point across and speak to their audiences. More than that, they’re smart about which online channels they use (you’ll generally find them wherever their audience lives).
5 Pivotal Goals and KPIs Content Hackers Prioritize
Beyond skillsets, content hackers look to achieve certain goals in their marketing endeavors. They don’t care about vanity metrics – instead, they’re looking for the KPIs which show real humans are using, benefitting from, and connecting with the content (and, by extension, the brand).
1. Traffic Conversions
Traffic means nothing unless you can turn those visitors into leads. Even a site with 1 million visitors/day won’t earn ROI without a way to convert that traffic. That’s why content hackers are bent on welcoming visitors into the fold and nurturing trust.
2. Engagement that Symbolizes the Trust Built
Again, content hackers don’t care about vanity metrics such as likes or page views. Instead, they want to see the type of engagement that symbolizes the trust built with the audience.
One big KPI for this: When the content sparks real conversations. When they authentically engage (far beyond the rote “great post!”), you know something’s working.
Examples of authentic engagement:
- A visitor reads your blog, then sends an email gushing about how much it helped or influenced them.
- A lead reads your blog, leaves a comment with thought-provoking questions, and shares the post.
- A lead reads your content and is so impressed, they start a chat with the sales team.
- A visitor reads your content and immediately follows you on social media.
In all of these cases, the reader has connected with the content and feels inspired to do something about it.
3. Email Subscribe Rate
If your content gives people the confidence to sign up for your email list, that’s a great indicator you’re doing content marketing right. If your subscribe rate is higher than your unsubscribe rate, even better.
4. Search Engine Rankings, Spotlights, and Featured Snippets
When Google ranks your content, they try their darnedest to think like a user would to present the most relevant, useful search results. When your content ranks in the top 5 (or earns a coveted spotlight or featured snippet), you’re getting two huge thumbs-up: One from search engines, one from readers.
5. Time on Page and Bounce Rate
The length of time visitors spend on your content pages is telling. The logic goes, the longer the time spent, the more engaging, interesting, or useful the content.
The same is true for bounce rate. If a user clicks your link in the SERP, but only stays on the page for seconds before bouncing, that’s an indicator they didn’t find what they were looking for. That means:
- You might be targeting the wrong keywords.
- Your content doesn’t answer the user’s questions or address their information need thoroughly.
Either way, the problem is most likely your content. In direct contrast, content hackers want visitors to stay longer and find what they read to be compelling and relevant.
My editorial team and I recently published this infographic analysis of a ‘content hacker,’ after studying the top traits of growth-focused content marketers:
See full infographic
The next question is, with this unique purpose and emphasis, what skills and traits are in a content hacker’s toolbelt?
The Content Hacker Endgame: Audience-Centric Content That Performs
Creating content that speaks to an audience, moves them, and connects with them is the growth-focused content marketer’s bread-and-butter.
They’re constantly looking for ways to make content better, more targeted, higher quality, and conversion-friendly.
Most of all, they understand the power of content to nurture trust – which leads to mutually beneficial relationships between brand and consumer. Now that’s a win-win.
Stay tuned for my all-new brand Content Hacker, launching this summer.