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Recently, my business did a purge of contact records we had collected over the years that were never going to convert into clients. A whopping 220,000 records were clogging up our CRM – and continuing to get content from us that they likely ignored.

Clearly this is a sign that these people certainly didn’t intend to buy from us at any point in time.

location-based-marketingThis kind of purge is an eye-opening exercise, and one I suggest every business undertakes. The results say a lot about the state of your content, and should make you take a hard look at what you’re putting out — and who it’s attracting.

The popularity of marketing automation systems means it’s never been easier to push out content. Unfortunately, if you don’t begin from a strong strategic foundation or make adjustments to your strategy along the way, you might find that you’re simply collecting leads. That can be a problem since raw lead numbers mean nothing if they don’t convert. Having a larger database of contact records than your competitor isn’t a competitive advantage.

In fact, you’re just sabotaging your own conversion rates every time you push out new content to them.

If you find that you’re merely stockpiling leads that do nothing more than take up space in your CRM, it’s time to reevaluate your content strategy.

Revisit (or create) your personas

Every content strategy should begin with the research and development of target personas, profiles of the “typical” type of person who needs your content and will engage with it. If you developed personas at some point, you may need to revisit them to ensure they are still accurate. Take an objective look and decide if they are specific enough to guide your content moving forward. Perhaps you have new data that can help you flesh them out more and add deeper insights.

If you haven’t created personas, that’s your first step.

  • Who are your ideal customers?
  • What are their likes and dislikes?
  • What kind of content do they tend to engage with?
  • What is their lifestyle like?
  • For B2B companies:
    • What are their work demands?
    • What is the buying cycle like?
    • What are the decision-making triggers?

This information is gold for the modern marketer and should be gleaned using a combination of current customer interviews and existing research.

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Once you have that data, build individual profiles of your ideal customers, using as many specifics as possible. While there’s no set number of personas you should have, generally between three and five is a good range. With your personas set, you’ll find it easier to develop your content strategy because you know exactly whom you’re trying to reach and what information is most likely to help them.

Evaluate your existing content

With your personas updated, it’s time to measure your existing content against them. The idea here is to ensure your work is speaking to at least one persona. Odds are you’ll find some content that isn’t speaking to anyone, so go ahead and remove or modify it – and don’t forget to also remove anything that promotes it, like landing pages and email blasts.

Make no mistake – this can be a laborious process. But it’s essential.

Tightly-targeted messaging will help weed out those junky, unqualified leads and attract more people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say and offer. Yes, your overall lead numbers may go down, but I’ll bet the quality of those leads – and consequent conversion rates – go up, which makes both marketing and sales people happy.

Shift your thinking

Having a “more is better” mindset will never get you the conversions and revenue numbers you want. More content is not necessarily better than less content, especially if you’re trying to reach a wide, untargeted swath of people. Instead you need to assess the relevance of your content.

Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails (source: Jupiter Research), and personalized emails improve conversion rates by 10 percent (source: Aberdeen Group).

If you’re a manager or director, make sure you’re not measuring your employees against raw numbers either. Marketing should be measured by the value and revenue potential of its results. An e-book with 5,000 downloads means nothing if not a single lead converts into a customer.

Prune your contacts regularly

You don’t have to do this often, but take a good, hard look at your contacts maybe a couple times a year (depending on the size of your business). Some industries have federal regulations about how long they must keep certain data, so make sure you take these into account when creating the parameters for your purge.

Consider things like how long the contact has been in your system without purchasing anything, how often they engage with your content, the date of their last response to a communication from you, and other criteria. The specifics are really whatever make the most sense for your business. Your metrics will highlight who still has some life in them and who’s a dead end.

Let’s all say it together: marketing is definitely a numbers game.

But it’s critical to pay attention to the right numbers, or you’ll miss the real story driving your bottom line. Adjust your content, evaluate, then adjust some more. It’s a never-ending process, but as long as you make it part of your strategy, you’ll get the best results – content that attracts leads that turn into customers.

Justin Gray

Above: Justin Gray

And that’s always a good use of your time.

Justin Gray is CEO & chief marketing evangelist of LeadMD. A frequent speaker and award winner, Justin has been published over 250 times in industry publications. Find more about Justin at, @jgraymatter and @myleadmd.

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