164453007I can remember the first time a blog post I published generated over five thousand views. 

Feels like it was only yesterday.

I mean, the endorphin rush makes it pretty hard to forget. It was a post I wrote on Millennials – the cool thing to write about at the time – and people loved it. 

And while my initial reaction was to romanticize, it wasn't until later that I self-evaluated and asked myself, "so what does five thousand views actually mean for this article?"

Turns out, it meant very little. Sure it garnered a lot of attention which is always great, but from a business standpoint it achieved very little. I essentially hijacked a social trend and wrongly equated its performance with business value. 

Poorly defined content is like empty calories – it may look and taste good, but you're not getting your nutrients. 

So how did I know the post wasn't hitting the right audience? Let's explore.

1) Visit to Lead Conversion Rate is Low

Be careful in how you evaluate the traffic your blog posts are driving

There are many companies who are blind to the deficiencies in their content strategy due to the traction their content receives. I like to refer to this as "Blogging for Fool's Gold." 

A better evaluation of your blog's performance is the amount of visitors who actually convert to a lead, or traffic to lead conversion rate, upon visiting a specific post. While success varies depending your industry, a good percentage is around 3-4%. 

If yours is hovering around 1-2%, it's likely that the people you are attracting aren't finding resonance in any of the content you publish.

How to fix it: It's time to revisit your buyer personas. (Get our free buyer persona templates here.) Take a content audit: are you addressing the pain points your prospects experience? Talk with sales. Talk with customer service. Anyone who is in a customer-facing position can help marketing get their content strategy back on track.

2) Sales is "heads down" in Your CRM

Sales productivity is a direct indicator to the success of your blogging efforts.

Just because your sales team is busy doesn’t mean marketing is doing its job. 

When your reps are spending an inordinate amount of time in Salesforceunqualifying leads and making sense of the leads you've generated, it's likely marketing is doing a bad job of attracting and converting the right prospects through the content strategy.

If marketing is casting too wide a net, sales is going to be bogged down with a ton of unqualified leads and spend more time filtering through them in order to identify opportunities. 

How to fix it: When it comes to the topics you blog about, start narrowing your focus. Take from the intel you gather from customer-facing co-workers and start writing about more specific pain points. At first your traffic numbers may take a hit, but you can be sure the traffic you are driving is more targeted and will set sales up for success. 

3) The Sales Cycle is Longer

This is the most costly effect, as a longer sales cycle increases customer acquisition cost (CAC) significantly. As a result, it's a pretty noticeable problem on the executive level.

Problem is, sales will take the blame for this the majority of the time. However, a poorly aligned content strategy can result in sales having to spend more time educating rather than actually selling. This takes time and is a source of great frustration for any salesperson.

"How do these prospects still not know the basics? What is marketing doing?"

How to fix it: Marketing needs to stay closely aligned with sales in order to ensure that the content it's publishing is educational and addressing the common needs of the prospect. If not, sales will have to spend a large portion of their efforts doing the education, which makes for a lengthy – and costly – sales process. 

If you're not sure if your content is hitting the right audience, get your buyer personas in order with the free templates below.

This post originally appeared on the IMPACT Branding & Design Blog. IMPACT is a HubSpot Partner located in Wallingford, CT.

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Originally published Jul 29, 2014 12:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016