The biggest problem with content marketing today is that we downplay its importance. We take things for granted and presume readers will automatically like our articles.
But, more often than not, we don’t write content with the reader in mind. For the professional writer you hire, it could just be a means to an end, i.e., a paycheck. When that’s the case, the core content marketing mantras, things like “this piece of content should address a problem or help the reader out,” seem to fly out the proverbial window.
Articles are mostly used as filler and that’s the reason the ROI of content marketing is often much less than expected.
Want a solid ROI for your content marketing efforts and ultimately be able to use your content to improve your conversion rates?
In this article, I will be talking about what needs to change for that to happen and how to effect those changes.
The blog that earned $73,334.09 in its first year
This first example comes from rockstar content marketer Matthew Woodward.
Identifying the problem:
In Matthew’s own words,
“The blogosphere used to have some really good Internet Marketing & SEO blogs, but over the past few years, these have decayed.
And what popped up in their place? A bunch of sites that resorted to using guest articles, in the wake of the popular, ‘guest post link building gold rush’.
All that seemed to be published, over and over, was posts that were regurgitated and rehashed, of low quality and with no meat on the bone.”
After realizing that a lot of top blogs in the past, had fallen into the trap of publishing rehashed content in the form of guest posts, Matthew saw there was a need for actionable advice.
But what kind of actionable advice?
The content plan:
Matthew realized that most people had no clue how SEO worked. All the advice on blogs and forums warned against any kind of link building, fearing a backlash from Google (and the dreaded sandbox).
He did some research and found lots of people asking questions about SEO.
Forum search engines (like BoardReader and Omgili) and social media discovery tools (like BuzzBundle) helped him find what people needed.
When planning content, there are a couple of things you need to do:
1. You need to establish the goal behind the content. That’s right. A goal. As a CRO, all your tactics should start with a goal. Begin by asking what you want your readers to do. Possibilities include: subscribe to your blog or newsletter, buy from you, or share the post on Facebook or Twitter.
For example, when I discovered Matthew’s blog, I could see that his first objective was for me to become a subscriber so I wouldn’t miss anything. Once that objective was met, he could have another goal, which might be a product sale, scheduling a consultation, or something else.
2. The blog content needs to persuade the reader to trust and like you.
Matthew spent hundreds of hours planning and then making videos dealing with tiered link building. No one ever packaged SEO information in such a beautiful manner prior to this. It was pretty refreshing.
With content marketing, you should be able to reduce the steps involved in solving the problem you solve for your readers.
Matthew created video tutorials so blog visitors wouldn’t have to go through tons of written material in order to receive the desired information. The content was digestible, presented in bite-size pieces, thus providing the best solution for the readers.
Here is another example
In a post about social media strategy, Tommy Walker takes readers through the process of building a social media marketing database. The same steps can be applied when you formulate a content strategy.
Let’s say you want to start a site in the ‘horror niche.’ Based on the strategy discussed above, you’d start browsing forums and social media sites for active groups in and around this niche.
Here you can see a few of the forums my Google search turned up.
But don’t forget other searches. Tumbler is a good resource (above). You can also use TWUBS (below) to follow hashtags and find conversations.
Add these forums to your datasheet. You should organize your list by the names of the groups. Include a link to each group, and be sure to note the profile links of influential members within each group.
You can use these lists to partner with influential members, get ideas for content creation, and then share the content you create.
I have used this for my own site, with positive results
Being a writer, I am well aware of the biggest problem that writers face — finding paying clients. Writers are usually lousy marketers and often find it difficult to break out of their shell to seek opportunities.
I decided to write a piece of content listing the top 120 sites that pay extremely well for guest posts (up to $150).
Due to its usefulness to my readers, the blog post took off, which resulted in natural inbound links and affiliate sales. (I had recommended a product in the article).
Finding a recipe for Success
A couple of months ago, Matt Barby decided to start his new food blog, “Pescetarian Kitchen.”
In just 7 months, the blog has gone from nowhere to spectacular growth and readership.
He also attained page-1 rankings for search terms such as pescetarian, pescetarian blog, pescetarian recipes and pescetarian meals.
There has been huge engagement on posts shared on the Facebook page. On average, each post nets 100 likes, 5-15 comments, 20-50 shares and 100-300 clicks to his website. His stats are pretty impressive.
- 850+ Twitter followers
- 500+ Pinterest followers
- 550 double opt-in email subscribers
- Over 15000+ unique visits from social media
- 65,000+ backlinks without ever having to build (or buy) them
How did he achieve this?
Matt started off by analyzing the industry, then getting in touch with other food bloggers. He noted how many times each of his competitors posted content on their website, the number of social shares they obtained and the channels that were driving growth.
He noted that one of the biggest sources of referral traffic for his competitors was Buzzfeed. So, he made his way to the Buzzfeed homepage.
Almost anyone can publish a post on Buzzfeed, but to get it featured on the homepage isn’t exactly what you’d call a piece of cake. You must first get a ‘community’ feature, and the post must then gain enough traction to be pushed into a ‘category’ feature, where it can finally be pushed to the front page.
So, Matt decided to use the free tool, Screaming Frog SEO Spider to get the list of URLs on Buzzfeed.
He gathered backlink data, social share totals, word counts, post titles, etc., from each post. URL Profiler is a tool that you can use for this.
Once he found all the data, he started analyzing common trends for posts featured on the homepage. This tactic paid off, in that he was able to get his posts featured two times on the front page and drive tons of inbound traffic.
His post on the front page of Buzzfeed
Stats on one of his Buzzfeed articles (Image Source)
How GrooveHq uses emotions in marketing
The guys over at Groovehq attribute their success to emotions.
“A lot of people trust us, not because of our authority in the space, but because they relate with the vulnerability in our blog: the emotions, the stories, the wins and the failures.”
Trust is what makes people buy from you.
Groovehq receives a lot of blog-driven signups, not because of their marketing prominence, but because they always share the personal journey with their readers. Their blog brings them lots of subscribers and, while it’s true that a subscriber is not a customer, they are patently more likely to become one.
What’s more, in most cases, one of your top-of-funnel conversion goals is likely for visitors to subscribe. Once there, you can use other CRO tactics to drive other, more profitable conversion goals (including a purchase).
See the image below.
Now check out these numbers. As you can see, a subscriber is worth more than 3.6 times the value of a non-subscribing visitor.
This approach, making a reader or a visitor an integral part of your company’s journey, can often lead to a sale, thus increasing your ROI from blogging.
To get people talking on your blog, do something new!
In this digital age, we have access to new forms of technology that can easily by incorporated into blogging. There’s multimedia content, videos — animated or otherwise – and I’ve heard there are opt-in forms that let people play games and engage with your content. Let me share a few examples…
Thirty days before Halloween, Ford invited around 30 people for a test drive. The only condition? They had to get their car washed on the way.
This turned out to be a scary ordeal for those who’d been invited, because the car wash had been turned into a haunted villa, replete with goblins and ghosts.
The car washes were recorded, and Ford’s Spooky Halloween car wash prank has garnered over 1,535,789 views since the day it went live, along with the Ford brand being covered by several media houses.
During the run-up to Halloween, Adobe put up several PSD files, containing clues to an interactive murder mystery game, which they were running on their Facebook page.
Each image clue would lead you on the path to solving the mystery of “Who Killed Professor Photoheim?”
Here’s what’s interesting about their mystery game: A search for “adobe halloween murder” on Google yields 410,000 results, which I think you’ll agree, sounds pretty good for brand Adobe.
So, am I suggesting that you put on your monkey hat and dance? (You may not own a monkey hat.)
No, but try to think of something that hasn’t been done previously.
When Matthew Woodward started to produce quality video tutorials, no one had done it before, certainly not with such levels of dexterity. Nobody (unless you’re Matthew) starts a food blog after poring over pages of data on Excel. But weren’t the end results of his research mind blowing?
City Index, a financial services company, launched a trading academy and then ran a competition to see which trader would win £100,000. While the competitors battled it out in front of a live audience in the City Hall, each week ended with the elimination of one trader. This competition was organized as part of a content marketing plan, so that wannabe traders would open an account and thereafter start trading.
- 20m impressions generated by the #TradingAcademy Twitter feed
- 1m views across all content channels
- 67,000 clicks generated by the #TradingAcademy
- 1443% increase in social referral visits
- 81% increase in unique site visitors
Content marketing is more than just writing blog posts. It is touching the heart and soul of your audience, whilst allowing them to get to know you through the inspiring content you share.
Content can come in any form — multimedia, written, or maybe something entirely different, something I haven’t thought of but perhaps you have!
The key is to find what works for your audience and what they would respond to the most, then to tie it to your conversion goals, so it directly impacts your conversion rates.
Read more Crazy Egg articles by George Mathew.