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Marketers: Please Don’t Cannibalize Your Content

It’s time we have a talk about content cannibalization.

Disclaimer: You might be offended but this is a conversation that needs to be had.

Okay, ready? Better metrics aren’t always good for your business.

What the heck does that mean? Let me explain.

Marketers often cannibalize their content by putting the carriage in front of the horse. In content marketing speak, putting the conversion in front of the reader.

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Here’s what happens. You write a good blog post, and people come to check it out. Many of them are new to your site. They read a single paragraph, then … BAM … “SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER” or “GET A FREE E-BOOK”. The call to action (CTA) covers the entire page. It forces readers to squint as they search for that tiny “x” to close it. They aren’t ready to convert. In fact, sometimes they will close the tab rather look for a way around your CTA. All they want is to read the dang article.

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The real temptation, of course, is that CTAs do work for readers who are ready. A prominent CTA will show an upward trend in conversions. Our marketing strategy is working, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Baiting a few readers now could cannibalize the new readers who just aren’t ready yet.

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The brilliant Andy Beaumont, creator of Tab Closed; Didn’t Read, brought this to my attention in an excellent Medium article, The Value of Content.

The web has seemingly evolved into something that actively antagonises people — why would anyone in their right mind hide the content that visitors are there to see?

This is what happens when analytics make decisions for you.

Beaumont’s position is extreme but he has a point. In the race to convert readers into leads, we forget that people are actually interested in the content. So, instead of letting the data rule your conversion strategy, put yourself in your readers’ shoes. There’s a time and place for CTAs but a more strategic approach — one with careful human oversight — could produce even better longterm results.

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Over the next few years, all marketers will be talking a lot about readership, audience and community. Let’s stay ahead of the curve by sharing ideas about the most effective ways to use content marketing to grow.

Check out Beaumont’s Medium article to read more and let us know what you think in the comments.

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