You breathe in deeply, trying to slow your heartbeat.

You’ve prepared your speech. You’re being introduced. It’s the final moment before stepping up onto the stage, standing under the bright lights and facing the audience — a full house.

The passion and emotion behind your conviction shines. You’re there to save puppies from kill shelters. You’ve come up with a brilliant plan that will save man’s best friend and uplift the community.

You get off stage, adrenaline rushing through you. Wow. You delivered the speech perfectly in front of a packed room!

Your friends asked how it went.

“Three hundred people! Not an empty chair in the place.”

But months later, nothing more was accomplished.

This is the painful lesson I learned as a content marketing leader.

It’s not how many people you reach. It’s how many of the right people you reach.

In the example above, if you could redo that speech, wouldn’t you rather have spoken to just 15 people, all of whom were local leaders, generous donors or hands-on volunteers for your cause?

Marketing to those 15 people is much more powerful than attracting 300 people with a sign that says, “Love dogs? Come for a speech and free pizza.”

Do You Mostly Attract “Free Pizza People” With Your Content Marketing?

Sure, some of those pizza-seeking folks will become fans of your publication. But you can be more efficient — and more profitable — by focusing on the people who are already in the right frame of mind to consume your content.

These are the people who are very near to making their decision. And they’re ready for transactional content that targets people with the strongest intent to act.

Here are a few examples of transactional articles:

Consider the mindset difference between someone asking a search engine “What are the different mattress sizes” versus someone typing in “Best mattresses for back pain.”

If your goal is to sell mattresses, you know the first question is asked by someone who is likely in the beginning stages of their research. The second search is specific and indicates the person is ready to make a purchasing decision.

In SEO parlance, the first search query is called, “informational,” while the second is labeled, “transactional.” You want to attract more people asking transactional questions.

How to Get More Buyers (Transactors) to Your Site

Be sure to develop content for all of those transactional questions. If you’re writing about fragrances, for example, you might organize articles around such phrases as:

  • Best perfumes for nighttime
  • Best perfumes for daytime
  • Review of “Calvin Klein Obsession” by Calvin Klein
  • “Calvin Klein Obsession” vs “Chanel Bleu”

All of these could be articles worth publishing depending on your site and audience. Even if you write all of those, however, you’ll still want informational articles structured around keywords or ideas such as:

  • Are expensive perfumes worth it?
  • How to properly apply perfume or cologne
  • Fragrance statistics

Both articles serve important purposes. You attract people through informational articles and funnel them to transactional articles.

This is the playbook we used at The RideShare Guy. We pivoted from trying to reach everyone to aligning our efforts to connect with the right people, at the right time, with the right offer.

Our site traffic declined 10%, but the number of visitors to our transactional articles increased.

Specifically, th​e site lost 35,000 visits to what was previously the most-viewed article.

How Did We Double Profits?

Despite this surface-level traffic loss, we were also greatly increasing the number of people coming in for buying decisions.

In our case, that meant visitors were one step away from signing up for an affiliate product or service on our site.

All of the most-viewed articles were now transactional articles around themes like “Best of (a category) Ranked,” “XYZ Review,” “ABC vs, XYZ,” and so on.

Increasing your audience by thousands of people ready to take action is greatly preferred to bringing in the same number of people who are just starting their research.

This approach works for nearly any type of content.

For instance, a lifestyle site might take this dual approach:

  • What is veganism? (informational, start of the journey)
  • How to become vegan step by step (transactional, this person wants to do it)

Meanwhile, a real estate site might write based on these search questions:

  • Is Hawaii an affordable place to live? (informational and broad)
  • Most affordable and safe neighborhoods in Honolulu (transactional; this person has already done research and selected a specific city)

You might be wondering at this point, “Why should I write informational articles at all?”

How Informational Articles Help Your Content Marketing Strategy

While informational articles aren’t expected to have immediate ROI in terms of revenue, you still need them to:

  • Generate links from other websites (this helps you rank on Google).
  • Show up at the top of search engines like Google to boost your brand reputation.
  • Funnel leads to your transactional articles.

You want reputable websites to link to your articles. A proven method for attracting those backlinks is to create useful informational content.

News sites and other publishers want to provide their audience with high-level data or analysis. Infuse your informational articles with proprietary surveys and your insightful thought leadership.

For instance, a journalist writing about dating is less likely to link to your “Best Fragrances for Nighttime” article and more likely to link to your article containing data about the percentage of single people who wear fragrances.

Having both articles on your site establishes you as an expert. Journalists love to quote experts. Getting quoted adds more backlinks and builds brand reputation, which helps your reputation and your ranking in search engines.

Determine High-Interest Topics to Write About

Another way to build your search ranking is to write informational articles on less-covered topics. One of the easiest ways to rank at the top of Google search results is to score highly for a topic or keyword phrase that fewer competitors are writing on.

As you might imagine, every site in your industry wants to be No. 1 for those high-paying transactional articles. But fewer editors and writers are taking the time to research all of the questions that people want answered on their topic.

That’s where you can sneak past your competition.

There are tools, tips and tricks for this research! One of the best features of Semrush, for example, is helping you generate content ideas based on real-world data. You enter a phrase for which you think your audience is searching. Then the software gives you an estimate of how many people are actually searching for that phrase each month. You can also get recommendations for similar search phrases and a wealth of other guidance.

Great content requires smart, useful writing, but Semrush and other tools can take much of the guesswork out of your content planning. From experience, I can tell you that the biggest sites in each industry use software to assist them. So if you’re serious about SEO content marketing, you’ll want a tool such as this.

Encourage Your Audience With Informational Articles

Folks buy from who they know, like and trust. You build trust by teaching someone what they want to know. You build likability by genuinely helping without selling. Then, later on, that person is more likely to buy from you.

To be clear, the vast majority of people who find and consume your free information will not buy. This is why our main focus is on transactional articles. Still, we don’t want to neglect the role of informational articles.

When publishing informational content, set clear key performance indicators. While informational content may not directly earn money, it should:

  • Earns links from reputable websites.
  • Bring new visitors to your website.
  • Bring in repeat visitors you can sell to later (these visitors sign up for your email newsletter, follow you on social media, etc.).

Turn Your Traffic Into Profits

As content leader for The RideShare Guy, we evolved to become less concerned with how many people visited the site overall and more focused on reaching people who were ready to make a buying decision. Our approach was simple in that we:

  • Wrote all of the transactional content in our niche.
  • Promoted the heck out of it.
  • Linked to these articles from our informational articles.

We did this, and you can, too!