When people who are leveraging content marketing, they always have one of two things: either they can’t figure out how to generate traffic, or they’ve figured out how to generate more traffic. However, the traffic hasn’t turned into any sales or new customers, and they can’t figure out why. Learn how Leveraging Content Marketing to Increase Sales.
There are so many companies that make millions from content marketing that there must be a way to make it work.
It’s not because content marketing is flawed. It’s that most people don’t fully understand it.
Is content marketing work for most businesses?
What most people don’t realize is that all visitors are not the same.
When you land on a web page that ranks on Google because of content marketing, your actions are going to be different than if you clicked on a paid listing.
And it’s not because one is paid and one is organic.
When you do a search on Google for the term “auto insurance,” you’ll see a search results page that looks something like this:
And you’ll either click on a paid listing or an organic one.
Here’s what one of the paid listings looks like:
And here’s what one of the organic listings looks like:
The organic listing contains a lot of content, including information about the city, insurance options, and why you should choose Nationwide.
To some extent, it is educational and sales all at the same time.
The AAA landing page only has 73 words.
In other words, if you land on the AAA landing page, you are going to click on one of the two insurance options.
On the other hand, if you land on the Nationwide site (who leverages content marketing), your eyes focus on the text instead of filling out the auto insurance lead form.
Even though the search “auto insurance,” many are more likely to buy from the AAA site because it’s a more aggressive landing page. The Nationwide site puts in a more educational mindset, in which it will be read, and some do the research versus just getting a quote.
And Nationwide isn’t doing this because they want to educate. They are doing this because it is tough to rank organically without providing tons of content.
Google loves content. Hence the average web page that ranks on page one contains 1,890 words.
If you are going to leverage content marketing, you have to keep in mind that when people land on your site, it will put them in the mood of reading and learning instead of buying.
Content marketing works
Content marketing is amazing, and it does work well. It doesn’t produce as many conversions as paid advertising, but you can also build up massive amounts of traffic without burning a hole in your wallet.
Let’s look at NeilPatel.com and how they leverage content marketing.
Over the last 31 days, the blog has generated 2,510,893 visits, of which 1,609,314 were unique. And those visitors generated 5,890,103 pageviews.
And during that period, it generated 1,942 leads within the United States, of which 262 came from companies who were spending over $5,000 a month on marketing.
Most leads don’t turn into sales within 30 days as our sales cycle is longer, but so far, those leads have generated $972,860 in contract value.
The number shared above is just revenue. That number, of course, will go up as many more of the leads will turn into contracts, but at the same time, the expenses will go up too.
So, can you guess how it generated almost a million dollars in new contracts in just 30 days?
But the lead generation came from content marketing.
In other words, content marketing works.
How should you think about content marketing?
You need traffic before you can do anything else.
How do you build up traffic via content marketing?
Well, you need to write blog posts.
- How to write a blog post in 45 minutes – this post breaks down how you can write amazing content without it taking up too much of your time.
- How to become a better blogger in 30 days – once you’ve committed to blogging, you naturally want to improve your skills. This post will teach you how to do that over the next 30 days.
- Or hire my agency – if you just want someone to do it for you, you can always reach out to us.
- Or hire and manage writers yourself – you can always use the Problogger Job Board to find writers.
If you are going to take the route of hiring other writers, make sure you tell them the following rules:
- You and I – use the words “you” and “I” to make the blog posts seem like a conversation. For example, “Don’t you hate it when people tell you that some things just aren’t possible? I know I do.”
- Three sections – a blog post should be structured with three main parts: Introduction, body, and conclusion. By structuring every one of your posts the same way, your readers will know what to expect, and it will make it easier to skim your content. (The majority of your website visitors will skim and not read.)
- Conclusion – The conclusion should be labeled “Conclusion.” The reason you want to do this is that roughly 8% of your readers will scroll down to the bottom of your blog post to read the conclusion. If they like the conclusion, they will scroll back up and read the rest.
- Subheadings – the body should contain subheadings; that way, it is easier for people to skim. The subheadings should describe what the section is about, and if you can naturally place keywords within it, feel free to do so.
- Short paragraphs – try to keep the paragraphs less than 5 or 6 lines. It’s easier on the eyes, especially on mobile.
- Facts and data – use stats and data to back up your talking points. Feel free to reference other sites and link to them. This will validate your content and also brand you as an authority over time.
- Images – use screenshots and photography to help get your point across. Some people are visual learners, so use images when it makes sense. If you are using someone else’s images, look for copyright information, and make sure you cite your sources.
- 2,000 to 3,000 words – it varies per industry, but if you are in a competitive industry, consider making your blog posts 2,000 or more words. If you are not in a competitive industry, you can write content that is less than 1,000 words. Over time you can go back to the blog posts that are gaining traction and expand them.
- Headlines have to be amazing – 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will click through and read the rest of your article. Before you hit the publish button, check out these stats from Buzzsumo on writing appealing headlines.
- End with a question – wrap up your conclusion with a question. People are more likely to leave a comment when you ask them a question.
Now that you have the writing process down, it’s time to come up with topic ideas. The easiest way to figure out what’s hot is to just type in keywords within your space on Buzzsumo.
You just insert a keyword, and Buzzsumo will show you all of the articles around the web that are popular related to that keyword.
By doing this, you will see what people like in your space. You can use these articles to get some ideas.
In addition to typing in a keyword, you can also type a URL into Buzzsumo. For example, if you typed in Hubspot.com and it shows me all of their top articles.
This will give you an idea of what is working for your competition.
Now that you have some topic ideas, it’s time for you to write a blog post. Just keep in mind your content has to be better than your competition. If it isn’t better than what they have, it will be hard for you to get more social shares or outrank them.
When publishing a blog post, you may ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your blog post more actionable than your competitors?
- Did you write on something unique or provide a different perspective than your competition?
- Would you be embarrassed if a friend or co-worker read your article?
- Would you be willing to ask other people to share your content on social media and link to it?
- Did you come up with ten headline variations? (Don’t settle on your first headline, try to think of better ones.)
Assuming you passed all of the questions, it’s time to publish your content and generate some traffic.
How to generate traffic?
Sadly, there is no quick way to grow your traffic. It’s a slow grind, but over time your traffic will go up.
Well, first off, you need to be patient. Don’t expect the same results yet.
Keep in mind that these tactics work for all types of sites. So here are the four strategies to be used:
Strategy #1: Boosting posts
You must boost posts on your Facebook. It worked even better even if you are still a starter, but it still works well today as it helps generate traction.
Some boosted their last week’s post. And tend to boost all of the posts, which is roughly four times a month.
It cost you to spend $400 per post. You can pick the regions: United Stated States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom when boosting.
You should pick the regions where most of your ideal customers are. And make your boost lasts two weeks as the clicks will be cheaper than if you spent it all in one day.
If you continually do this, your traffic will grow over time, and you will also get more organic Facebook traffic by boosting.
If you aren’t, that means people don’t care for your content.
Strategy #2: Email everyone you linked to
Within your blog post, you should have linked to other sites. As mentioned above, you want to cite your sources and link to places where you are finding data/stats.
Every time you link to a website, it will go to their site and try to find the email of the website owner so you can let them know you linked to them.
But before we share with you an email template to send, keep in mind that you will have to modify it for your website.
You can typically send an email that goes something like this…
Thanks for taking the time to come up with stats around XYZ. I know it’s hard work, but bloggers like me appreciate it. I just borrowed some of your stats for my latest blog post and of course I linked to you and gave you credit.
[insert link to your blog post]
Feel free and check it out and let me know what you think.
PS: If you like the post, feel free and share it on your favorite social network.
PPS: If you ever come up with any other cool research, let me know. I may want to include it in a future post.
You need to customize the email template because the more customized it is, the better it will do.
We’ve found that if you email out 20 people, 4 or 5 usually will email me back saying thanks.
When emailing people, keep in mind that there are GDPR rules. So, you may be better off going through the contact forms on people’s websites versus just sending them a cold email.
If you aren’t sure if you are breaking any GDPR rules, check with a lawyer as they’ll know much more than I will.
Strategy #3: Top sharers
One of the favorite features of Buzzsumo is that it shows you all of the people who shared your competition’s content.
All you have to do is type in the URL of your competition and click on “view sharers.”
From there, you will be presented with a list of people who shared that content.
You’ll want to go to each of their Twitter profiles to see if you can find their email address or website.
Similar to the previous strategy, you’ll want to email them something that goes like this:
Hope you are doing well.
I noticed that you tweeted out [insert the title of the article they tweeted] by author [insert author name].
It’s a good article, but it doesn’t discuss [insert what the article is missing].
Because of that, I wrote a similar article that’s more complete and up-to-date.
Let me know if you would like to check it out.
You’ll notice that it didn’t link to the article. First, you have to wait for their reply as it has found it to produce better results.
Typically, they will email back with something like:
Sure, I would like to see it.
And then you’ll respond with:
Here you go:
Feel free and share it if you like it 🙂
PS: Let me know if I can share anything for you.
It ranges depending on which industry you are in, but typically 9% to 30% of the people you email will share your article out as well.
If you are getting a percentage that is lower than that, it means that your content isn’t that great or the people you are emailing tweeted the original article out years ago instead of recently (people forget what they tweeted over time).
Again, make sure you follow GDPR rules with this tactic (feel free and consult a lawyer). You can always message people through their website contact form as well.
Strategy #4: Ask for links
The last thing to do within Buzzsumo is to see who linked to my competitors. You can click on “view backlinks” to see who links to similar articles from your competitors.
From there you will see a list of backlinks pointing to your competition:
And just like the previous strategies, you can do some manual outreach and send them an email that goes something like:
Hope you are doing well.
I was reading [insert URL of the page on their site that is linking out to your competition] and I noticed you mentioned [competition’s name].
The problem with the link is that you are pointing your readers to an article that isn’t complete. It doesn’t discuss [talk about why the competition’s article isn’t as useful and thorough].
If you want to fix this, check out my article below as it addresses everything I mentioned above.
[insert link to your article]
PS: If you want to provide more value to your readers, feel free and link to my article.
PPS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.
The email template is a bit generic, but if you modify it, personalize it, and adapt it to your business, you’ll see decent results.
If you email out 100 people, you should get at least 4 to 6 links.
Again, make sure you check in with a lawyer about GDPR rules as you don’t want to get in trouble for sending off cold emails to people that you shouldn’t be.
You can also send the message using the contact forms on peoples’ websites.
Now that your traffic is growing let’s focus on building up a community.
How to build a community
A blog without a loyal fan base is tough to monetize. This is the big reason that most companies never do well with their content marketing.
This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to monetize if you don’t have a community.
But before going into building a community, you’ll want to leverage social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. Just remember that as they continually adjust their algorithms, it will be harder to rely on them.
For that reason, let’s focus on the tactics below.
Tactic #1: Subscribers
You may notice that when a new blog post published, you get a browser notification telling you about it.
Just through browser notifications, also known as push notifications, you can generate an extra 42,316 visitors per month.
The way to do this is through a free tool called Subscribers.
Subscribers allow your blog readers to subscribe to your blog through their web browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.).
The way it does this is by asking people if they want to receive “notifications” from your website (aka subscribe).
It’s the same strategy as Facebook and YouTube use.
The best part about it is that it is easy for your readers to subscribe because all they have to do is click “allow.” They don’t have to enter their name, email address, or any personal information.
And over time, your subscriber count will continually increase. Here’s a screenshot of a dashboard with a subscriber count:
As you send out push notifications, you’ll see that people will “unsubscribe” themselves, similar to email, which is fine. But in general, it is the most effective way to boost your traffic.
All you have to do is hit the “send a notification” button within your Subscribers dashboard if you want to notify your subscribers of a new blog post.
You can even add UTM codes, which will give you tracking within your Google Analytics.
You can pick what image you want to include with the push notification, and you can schedule it if you want it to go out at a later time or day.
Once you hit send, your subscribers will get a notification in their browser:
Whether you decided to use UTMs or not, you can always see your stats for each push within your Subscribers dashboard.
Even though you don’t talk about push notifications much, it is the easiest way to build a community and get people to come back to your site.
There is only one issue when you use tools like Subscribers. You won’t have a big list of subscribers from day one. It will take months before you see it kicking in.
Tactic #2: Collect emails
Similar to tactic number 1, a lot of you are on an email list. we’ve received 37,726 visitors from emailing out blog posts over the last 31 days.
Although that number may not seem high, emails make up one of the most loyal segments. By doing an email blast selling a product or service, it can instantly generate $100,000.
And similar to Subscribers, you can use a free email collection tool called Hello Bar to collect emails and build a community.
Once you are up and running, you must create an exit popup.
Most of you don’t like exit popups, but they are effective. You can collect over 1,000 emails a day from an exit popup.
As long as you are providing value and giving away something people will love, then they won’t mind entering their email address.
There are two new parts about Hello Bar:
- It’s GDPR compliant – they have GDPR settings in there.
- It has custom targeting settings – you can pick who sees your option and when they see it. For example, you only show it to people once and only when they are leaving the site.
Once you log into Hello Bar, you’ll see a wizard that looks something like this:
You can choose from tons of different templates and designs. You can even upload a custom background image if you want.
And once you pick a template you like, you can easily modify the design or image using the WYSIWYG editor.
If you also have traffic from different sources (mobile, tablet, desktop), you can pick different layout types and designs for each device type.
You can also create different popups for different regions. For example, here is Hello Bar exit popup for Brazil:
Out of all the methods that we’ve tested for email collection, exit popups work the best.
But if you don’t want to use them, you can create sliders, bars, and other forms of email collection boxes using Hello Bar that isn’t as aggressive.
Now that you have an email list going, you’ll want to send out an email blast to your list every time you publish a blog.
Generate more comments and social shares from push notification and email lists than any other channel.
Let’s take, for instance, over the last 31 days, push notifications made up 38.5% of blog comments, and email has made up 32.3% of comments.
Well, assuming you are growing your traffic, collecting more subscribers and emails. You should be building an excellent solid user base to monetize.
You have a few ways you can monetize.
The first is just to sell more products. A great example of this is Legion Athletics. It’s an 8-figure business that started with content marketing.
When you go to Legion’s blog, you’ll notice that they do a few things.
First, they try and push you into taking their quiz as it is an excellent way for them to make product recommendations based on your needs.
Once you start taking the quiz, they’ll ask you personalized questions so they can direct you towards the right supplements for you.
It’s one of the best ways to convert blog readers into customers. And if you don’t know how to create a quiz, just check out Lead Quizzes. It’s a software that does it for you.
In other words, quizzes work well for both B2B and B2C sites. It doesn’t matter if you are selling a product, service, or info product, quizzes work.
At one point may able to grow your lead count by 500% through quizzes.
Now going back to Legion, they also do a few other things well.
They notify you every time there is a new purchase made on their site.
And they have different types of exit popups depending where you are on their site.
Some of them sell products:
And some focus on collecting emails (they do something smart, which is they ask you a question before asking for your email):
By showcasing all of these examples from Legion, it shows you that content marketing does convert if you focus on the conversion aspect.
Remember earlier, we’ve mentioned how if people go to websites with content, they are there to read and learn?
That doesn’t mean you can’t convert them into customers. You just have to put in a bit more work than just telling them to buy your product.
Legion grew to 8 figures a year using these tactics, which means it works. The Legion team isn’t made up of marketers, and it is made up of fitness fanatics.
Even Timothy Sykes, he generates 61% of his sales from content marketing. That’s a business that makes well into the millions of dollars per month.
What’s the secret sauce?
So how Legion monetizes their blog, now let see how to monetize the blog.
Using five main channels to convert my content marketing traffic into leads, and then my sales team converts those leads into revenue.
Tactic #1: Exit popups
#2: Lead flow funnel
#4: Thank you pages
#5: Blog mentions
The agency had an all-time high of 970 visitors in one day. That’s not too shabby.
Sometimes it generates qualified leads and other times it doesn’t.
It’s much easier to grow traffic to a blog than it is to monetize.
Content marketing is effective as long as you can drive qualified traffic, and you can convert those visitors into customers.
Before you do any form of content marketing, make sure you are going after an audience that will buy your products and services.
Once you’ve got the targeting down, then start cranking out content, promoting it, and building a community.
In general, it will take you a year to see decent results in traffic.
And it is recommended that you avoid monetizing within the first 12 months. You could try to monetize earlier, but we’ve found it to slow down traffic growth.
So, we prefer investing in pure traffic growth during the first year and then slowly transitioning into monetization in year two. And don’t slow down on traffic growth and marketing. Instead, focus on both traffic and conversions. Leveraging Content Marketing to Increase Sales