Back in 2013, venture capitalist Ashley Lee coined the term Unicorn to describe a privately held business with valuation of 1 billion dollars or above. The premise was simple. The statistical rarity of coming across such businesses, which made the ones that qualified so valuable. Since then, hundreds and hundreds of new unicorns have made the cut. Lately the influx of businesses to this coveted status has been so high that now there are even higher classifications available - Decacorn (valuation $10+ billion), and Hectacorn (valuation $100+ billion). But even though there are many more startups entering the unicorn league each year, the unicorn club remains a sought after destination for startups and will continue to do so.
The same principles, the same ideologies is applicable to your content marketing.
Off of all the content pieces you produce for your SaaS business, there would be a handful that will grossly outperform the rest, whether in the traffic they receive, or the conversions they drive for your product.
These incredibly rare and exceedingly valuable content pieces are what can be aptly described as your unicorn content.
What is unicorn content marketing?
Mobilemonkey CEO and content expert Larry Kim first coined the term to describe this premise. That a tiny fraction of your content will have the highest click through rates, and the most engagement amongst your target audience. And that, if businesses leverage this strategy well, they can use it to effectively boost their search rankings, increase conversions, and even lower their CAC for paid acquisition channels.
These content pieces are your unicorns. And the rest? Well, an article I read on the Content Marketing Institute blog calls them donkeys! Bit harsh, I think, but c’est la vie.
What is the right way to leverage unicorn content marketing strategy?
Imagine a scenario where your latest blog post just exploded with traffic, views, click throughs, and even conversions. You are eclectic. What do you do next?
That one simple question is what makes understanding the unicorn content strategy so important.
When most businesses see their content performing, they don’t attribute it to the performance of that specific content. They look at it as performance of their content creation and marketing efforts. As a result, they are hopeful that their next content would perform better than how it would have performed earlier, since they expect the last jump in performance to have lasting residual effects on engagement of their content.
That is what the mistake is.
You have a sports team with 40 good players on your roster, but you can play only 11. How do you choose which 11 to play? You start with your top performers and you play them again and again. They are a part of your lineup as much as possible, and as frequently as possible. It makes sense. That’s a clear strategy to improve the odds of a successful outcome for your team’s next game, and then the next.
So why don’t we do it in content marketing?
Why is it that we don’t even try identifying the winning players in our roster, and even if we do, we continue to form our future lineup exactly as we had been doing before?
Unicorn content strategy has a singular focus. Identify your content unicorns, and then reuse and repurpose them to maximum search results, traffic and conversions. You want to milk their success as much as you can. If a particular blog post has been extremely successful, give it additional exposure by repurposing it for social media. Redress it again as a Twitter thread in a couple of weeks. Maybe even consider bringing them in fold for paid ads. Instead of indiscriminately churning out new content with the hope of it performing, go back to the sure thing. The one content you know to have been performing.
Essentially, figure out who your unicorns are, and then go make more baby unicorns.
Think of any platform. Social media platforms favor content that receive high engagement, so if your content is something that yields a high CTR and engagement, you know it will have a better chance of getting more and more exposure and favorable positions in your audience’s newsfeeds. Even when it comes to paid ads, higher engagement and CTR means you will get better ad placement than your competitors - even at a lower cost per click. All while enjoying more conversions from your super-engaging content.
What are the different kinds of unicorns in your content, and how can you find these out using website analytics?
Your unicorn, or a potential unicorn can be segmented into four categories:
Let us start with the simplest of them all. Your champion content.
These are the pages that attract the best and the most organic traffic. Typically, when you are looking at traffic activity for different pages on your website, you look at the “All Pages” traffic report. Unfortunately, that is set up based on the total traffic any page gets - from different sources, from internal redirects etc.
So, to better identify your champion content, you need to customise your view a little bit so that you are looking at traffic performance that meets two key criteria:
- You are looking at just entry traffic, i.e. how the visitor came to be on your website. Any traffic activity or actions taken by the user once already on your website needs to be excluded.
- You are looking at just one source - organic traffic, ignoring everything else. Traffic driven by paid ads, direct traffic, email traffic - all of it needs to be excluded.
You can look at Acquisition → Search Console → Landing Pages in your Google Analytics dashboard to get a better sense of your champion content.
On the other hand, if you are using a growth focused Analytics solution, you would not need to make any customisations to identify this data. For example, if you use Benne Analytics, your top Champion content is already identified and highlighted for you in your insights reports, along with a list of actions you should take to get the most out of this group.
However, if your Analytics product doesn’t give you suggestions on how you can leverage the power of your champion pages, you can do it on your own too. Some of the actions that will help you get more value out of your champion pages would be:
- examining your top content to add relevant and contextual CTA links, buttons and banners
- including link to targeted and important sections on your website. For example, the product page, feature list, pricing page etc.
- making sure your champion content talks about, and links to other well performing sections on your website, or articles on your blog. A good strategy is to link the champion content to pages with high conversion rates.
- expanding on them to include product videos, customer testimonials and usecases, or creating a relevant follow-through article related to the topic at hand.
The intent is simple. To leverage the popularity and engagement of your champion content to guide your visitors deeper into your website and get them more engaged.
2/ Potential champions
Potential champions are a poor man’s champions.
Essentially, these content pieces enjoy good rankings, but are falling short on the search traffic they receive. Their rankings are an indicator of the potential to rank higher for relevant searches.
Figuring content pieces that belong to this category needs a bit of work, but it is well worth it. With some small improvements, your content from this category can rank higher up in search results and drive much more traffic to your business.
Once again, your top potential champions are listed out for you in your insight reports, if you use Benne Analytics. However, if you’re using another analytics tool you can find these at the same place as your top entry pages. For example, in case of Google Analytics, head over to Acquisition → Search Console → Landing Pages and look for search terms for which your content has an average position of 11 and above in search results.
If you do a quick Google search using these search terms, you will find the pages that are ranking lower, but with some quick fixes can go up.
Now that you have a fair idea of the search queries for which these pages are ranking, it is time to improve the content of those pages. Since Google is ranking these pages for these search terms, contextual relevance of your content with respect to the search query exists. So, we do not need to worry about that.
What we can do:
Check if the search term exists within your content or not. Sometimes, pages are indexed because of the contextual relevance of the content, even though the search term doesn’t exist on the page. So, doing something as simple as adding these search terms at relevant places automatically gives a boost to your rankings.
Pay special attention to the presence of the search terms in section headings, title of the page, even captions for images.
If needed and relevant, add a small section dedicated to a topic aligned with the search term.
The only thing you need to be careful about is not injecting any of this forcefully. Whatever changes you make need to be contextually relevant, and aligned with the existing content of the page. Otherwise, these changes will do your rankings harm instead of bringing them up.
3/ Falling stars
This will be biggest chunk of your overall analysis.
These are pieces of content that once performed phenomenally, but are on a decline now. The biggest reason for this behavior is old, outdated content. Google, in an effort to give searchers the best search experience, always makes an effort to rank up results that are not just contextually relevant, but also recent.
I have seen articles from my Medium account rank #1 and then slip down to #3, #4 and now #7 just because they are years old.
Irrespective of how good and engaging your content is, as time passes by Google will start giving priority to content that’s both good and engaging, as well as recent - even if they are slightly less engaging as compared to your content.
The best way to counter this trend is to act on it before the performance of this content drops down too drastically.
Rewrite the content, make additions to it, tweak it in its shape and form, add new contextual links to it, add a few more product screenshots and examples, embed social media posts in it.
Basically, freshen it up.
You should also link to these articles in new articles you create, either on your website or elsewhere.
4/ Better Mousetraps
We have primarily been focused on getting more and more traffic so far. From champions to falling stars, it has all been about leveraging your audience’s search behavior to make sure you are ranking higher and higher in relevant searches so that you get as much traffic to your content as possible.
Mousetraps are, just as the name suggests, mousetraps!
They are focused on what happens once the traffic is in. They are focused primarily on converting this traffic.
This category is most aligned to your business objectives and goals. So, it makes sense that you would like these to be linked to the pages that are receiving the most traffic.
To get the most out of this category, setting up Goals in your analytics dashboard becomes extremely important. You want to identify the pages that witness the most engagement, and help visitors convert and complete the goals you have set up.
Benne Analytics insight reports identify the best performing pages for conversion so that you know exactly which pages you want to promote as they are doing a better job of connecting with your audience and getting them to convert. The more traffic you are able to send to these pages, the more conversions you would get.
It is a lot of work. But it’s worth it.
The whole purpose of this exercise is to maximise conversions for your business. We are not looking at ways to just increase traffic to your website or your content. Instead, we are looking at ways to increase traffic in a way that drives more conversions and helps you achieve the goals you have set up for your business.
Benne Analytics helps make this whole exercise easier by doing a lot of heavy lifting for you. Our insight reports identifies your most valuable assets and helps you strategise and execute on it better. That means faster turnaround time, and more conversions.
But, even if you are using Google Analytics for your website traffic, I would strongly recommend following through with this exercise once a month. Sure, the data in your Google Analytics dashboard and the fragmented, chaotic nature of it can quickly get overwhelming. But once you wade through all that noise and stay focused on finding your best performing content, you will be able to streamline your content development efforts and deliver better conversions for your business.
I do focus a lot on content marketing. The best example to illustrate that fact is here - our blog - itself. I produce a piece of content every single day. You don’t necessarily need to do the same. Remember, you do not need thousands of articles to get the most out of your content marketing efforts, you just need 100 (maybe even less) really great articles. And this whole exercise will help you identify those articles.
If you are not finding many articles that are driving as much traffic to your website as they should, well - then that is a strong indicator that you need to produce more content. Content that is contextual, relevant, and overall adds immense value to your audience.
Thoughts and feedback? Talk to me.
That’s it for today, see you tomorrow.
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