Drive revenue with content marketing and not just web traffic
Content is king. Not many companies would have agreed with this merely a decade ago. In contrast, companies today are spending a big part of their marketing budget on content marketing.
Not surprisingly, 82% of marketers surveyed by Hubspot actively use content marketing, with 70% of marketers actively investing in it.
Despite deploying resources to content marketing, many companies are still not seeing their revenues grow from it over 6 months, or even a few years. While metrics such as company branding and market awareness are good to have, revenue generation should be the ultimate goal of content marketing.
These are a few problems companies face when it comes to content marketing
- Not able to measure ROI accurately
- Content does not go viral
- The content goes viral but does not lead to leads or sign-ups
Content marketing when not done effectively can be very costly and take a long time to see results.
We want to tackle these issues head-on with this marketing guide, for your content marketing to start generating more revenue for your business.
In this guide, we will cover how to create content that your audience cares enough about to become a paying customer. In addition, we explore how to better distribute your content, specific to the stage you are at with content marketing. Lastly, we will attempt to offer a solution for (the impossible task of) measuring the ROI of content marketing.
Sounds good? Let’s dive right in!
Creating Content That People Care About
It has become easier than ever to create content and reach your target audience. This also means that content marketing has become more competitive than ever, as many companies vie for the attention of the same target audience.
Why still create content when there are already so many articles, videos, and podcasts already out there covering almost any topic you can think of?
Here’s why you can still add value through your content
- You have experiences that are unique only to you. Even if you are still a novice in your field, you can still add value by documenting your process that beginners find useful
- If all the free content out there on the internet works, why are people still looking for a solution to their problems? There is always a new perspective or angle that you can add that is valuable to someone
- Finding the sweet spot between what you are passionate about and your area of expertise will put you above most content creators out there
Leveraging The Content Marketing Flywheel To Drive Revenue
As mentioned previously, the goal of content marketing is to bring in more revenue. Therefore you need to have the end goal of achieving a flywheel effect.
This means that every new post should lead to more views, cost less to create and bring in more leads.
A content marketing flywheel effect will look like this.
How to come up with an endless list of content ideas
There is no such thing as experiencing writer’s block. What you lack is research. If you want to constantly create engaging content, you will need 10 times as many content ideas.
An artist will have drawn 100 paintings before drawing one piece that brings him fame. A famous singer would have written hundreds of songs that went unpublished before writing the number one hit single.
As a content creator, you will need many more content ideas and drafts before creating an engaging piece of content.
Here are some common ways to research and come up with content ideas
- Speak to customers and prospects to get a complete picture of their day-to-day work and the challenges they face. Furthermore, find out what common lingo and inside jokes professionals in the industry use
- Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and come up with 50 questions they will ask in their line of work. These questions often become great content ideas.
- Read books read by your target audience and come up with your own perspective. Applying concepts from books belonging to another industry is a great way to generate fresh ideas as well.
- Carry out experiments to answer commonly asked questions and document the process. However, this approach requires significant resources and should only be done if you have the capacity.
Content that divides engages the most
Will you buy an iPhone or a phone from an unknown brand? Let’s call the unknown phone “Phone X”. Assuming you can buy both at the same price point, Phone X performs 10% better on most functions, such as photo-taking and processing power.
Will you buy a phone that performs slightly better on all fronts or the iPhone? I am betting on the latter.
A brand that competes by being just slightly more reliable, a little cheaper, or faster by a small margin does not have a competitive advantage. Rather, they are grouped together with similar brands and placed in the middle of a spectrum.
Why will you buy an iPhone over a better-performing phone? Simply because Apple does not compete based on functionality. They position themself as the only brand in the category of intuitive and user-centric devices. No other brand is even in this category and even if they are, they are really far off.
The same concept applies to your content.
If you only publish content sharing the best practices of your industry, your content will only be labeled as one out of the many.
Stand out from the rest by creating content where readers either agree or disagree with you. In other words, there will only be haters or supporters of your content, with no neutral readers.
How does this maximize engagement? Simply put, the people who agree with you will share your content as if it has voiced out their own thoughts. People who vehemently disagree with you will also share your content, voicing their discontent and sharing their reasons why you are wrong.
However, this does not mean that you should intentionally post controversial content just for the sake of chasing eyeballs! That will never give you any form of credibility and prospects will not want to do business with you.
Make a clear stand that goes against conventional advice and back it up with facts instead.
Maximize Content Distribution
You have created engaging content that your target audience cares about. Now it is time to make sure as many people know and read your content. Content not engaged is content wasted, no matter how much value you provide in your content.
Different promotion tactics based on your following
Many marketers have shared that you should just consistently post your content on all social media channels to grow your following. Once you have a big enough following, each post will reach more people, giving your content a lot of reach and engagement.
While this sounds good in theory, it is difficult to gain traction from the start by only posting more on social media. Adjust your focus based on your current stage of content marketing.
Starting From Scratch
When you have a small following and only a few owned content, you should focus on reposting content from others. This means retweeting interesting Twitter threads, sharing LinkedIn posts with your own commentary and commenting on relevant forums with your two cents on the topic.
At this stage, you are only interested in two things. First, you want to receive as much feedback as possible from others on your commentary. Did you really add value and share something different? Or has this been mentioned by others before?
After all, your commentary is a summarized version of your content. If you find that your content leads to a lot of discussions, you are on to something.
Secondly, you want to build relationships with thought leaders and community members in your industry. If they know you and find your content valuable, any content you post will be shared by them. Provided you consistently add value and do not aggressively sell to them.
Sharing content with customers and leads
Another method to generate more revenue from content marketing is to share your content with customers and leads directly. By reading your content, customers are not only reminded of your solution. You bring them on the same journey as you, to solve the problems your company was set up to do.
Instead of sending a newsletter to all your customers using only one template, customize your messaging and personally share the content with each customer and prospect. Share how the content adds value to them specifically.
Of course, this sounds like a lot of manual work and it is. However, as you are just starting out with only a few customers, this is the most effective way to get your content where it really matters, in front of your customers.
Depending on your priorities, consider directly sharing your content with customers and leads.
Repurpose your content for quick wins
As mentioned previously, at this stage you should focus on sharing the content of other thought leaders, with your own perspective. Therefore each piece of original content you create should be distributed as much as possible.
A content distribution checklist I use for repurposing a blog post is as follows
- Break down blog posts into bite-sized content and post on all social media channels
- Post diagrams used in my article (highlighting concepts) to relevant groups
- Answer relevant questions on Reddit, Quora and other forums using content from the blog post
Adjust your content distribution checklist according to the time and resources you have. Repurpose each content based on the channels you are posting it on.
Content Distribution After Getting Some Traction
Congratulations! You now have 1,000 monthly visitors to your website and a few inbound leads each month. Now is the time to scale your content distribution efforts and generate more inbound leads.
Buy ads for your best content
Select the most popular blog post or video and direct traffic to it via ads. Alternatively, select the highest converting content i.e. the blog post or video that leads to the most inquiries.
Driving traffic to your content via paid ads should lead to more inbound leads. Or it should at least lead to more likes, shares and comments. Ideally, it will be both.
Why buy ads for your content and not make a sale directly? Sending ad traffic to your content is more effective in generating leads, as compared to sending prospects to a landing page.
While this may sound counter-intuitive, it is quite true. No matter how good a landing page you build, prospects will always want to do more research on your offering before contacting you.
By reading your content first, prospects will have a better idea of your product offering and how you can solve their problems. Even if you see fewer leads directly from paid ads, you should see an overall increase in leads generated over the medium to long term.
Open up guest posting and pitch to guest writers
Now that you have some website traffic, guest writers and bloggers will be more open to writing a guest post on your website for a backlink.
By accepting quality guest posts on your website, you start to scale your content generation efforts. As these writers promote the guest posts and their post gets indexed on Google, your website will receive more traffic. This leads to more traffic to other content as well.
Not big enough for writers to approach you for a guest post? Consider reaching out to thought leaders and writers in your field. Pitch to them for a guest post contribution on your blog in exchange for something you can offer. Guest posting is a great way to include more diverse voices in your content and increase organic traffic.
Another way to include other thought leaders in your content is by interviewing them. Ask them for their thoughts on a topic that is not easy to solve in your industry. Compile all the responses into a long blog post or video and ask each thought leader to share the content on their channels.
Thought leaders are always happy to be mentioned together with other thought leaders, as it elevates their social status. Use this to your advantage when asking for an interview opportunity.
Pitching for backlinks to mid-top tier websites
At this stage, acquiring backlinks from the top-tier publications with high domain authority requires a lot of resources. You have to either pay for a sponsored post or network your way into posting a guest post.
It makes more sense to pitch mid-tier websites for a backlink or guest post right now, as you have something to offer that the other party values. This can be an exchange of backlinks or publishing a guest post on each other’s websites.
Building on your momentum
After starting from scratch, you managed to get some consistent traffic levels to your website. You then increased traffic using paid ads, guest posting and pitching for backlinks.
Suffice to say, you have content marketing traction! Here are some ideas to build your momentum.
Diversify your content format
Previously, to gain traction you focused on only one form of content – written, video or audio. Now is the time to diversify into different content formats.
For example, if you initially focused on writing long “how-to” guides, creating video content such as explainer videos may be a good way to diversify your content.
How can you do that? Pull out key statistics or points to include as text in your explainer video and summarize your blog content into a script. Using software such as Lumen5 that converts blog posts into video content is a good way to get started!
Hosting a podcast is also a great way to move into creating audio and video content. Invite thought leaders who published a guest post on your website to be a guest on your podcast. In essence, any of the resources you have can be used when moving into different content formats.
Focus on user-generated content
Once you have generated traction for content marketing, your content goes beyond your marketing team. It starts to belong to the community and scaling starts from them as well.
The idea is for the community to generate engaging content that encourages discussion amongst each other. From there, people outside the community will start to notice these discussions and join the community. New members generate even more engaging content, which becomes a reinforcing loop.
While there are no hard and fast rules to engage a community, these are some ideas to facilitate engagement for user content.
- Organizing offline or online events to connect community members with each other, especially members who have a shared interest
- Suggest topics that the community can discuss
- Put the spotlight on a particular community member each week to foster a sense of belonging. This can be in the form of a newsletter section or an interview with the member
Keep your community happy and they will give you the best content marketing.
Measuring The ROI Of Content Marketing
Every marketing activity should contribute to revenue, or at least be done with the intention of bringing in revenue. However, this does not mean that each piece of content should be measured only by the leads or sign-ups it directly brings.
Rather, content marketing needs to be measured as a whole, over a long enough period of time. As a general rule of thumb, you should measure the return of content marketing over 6 months to 1 year.
This is because it takes time to distribute your content and build backlinks, especially when you are just starting out. Furthermore, prospects will take additional time to discover your content and do further research before enquiring about your offerings.
Start by calculating the costs involved in creating and distributing the content. Content marketing will typically involve these costs
- Freelancers to write, edit and design graphics for both written and video content
- Software used to do keyword research, backlink research and acquire backlinks
- The budget used for paid ads
- Time spent creating content in general (attribute a generic monetary cost to time)
Deduct this cost from the total revenue you made over a one-year period to get the returns. Divide the returns with the total cost to get your return on investment. The formula will look like this
If your ROI is 1 and above, it means that for every $1 spent on content marketing you earn an additional $1!
Accounting for other marketing metrics
While revenue should be the number one indicator of your content marketing performance, you should measure other indicators as well to find out which part of your marketing is performing or underperforming.
Consider including these metrics as part of your revenue. For example, a newsletter subscription may be considered 30% of a sign-up, if 30% of your new subscribers become paying customers. Assuming one paying customer brings in $100 in revenue each year, one new subscriber from content marketing can be counted as $30 in revenue.
Metrics measuring the bottom of the funnel performance should be assigned greater weightage. For example, if an inbound lead is considered to be 50% of a paying customer, a newsletter subscription should have a lower weightage. By that rule of thumb, the number of new social media followers will have a smaller revenue weightage, since it is at the top of the funnel.
Add these “potential revenue” in your calculations to get a more complete evaluation of your content marketing ROI. By including other marketing metrics in your revenue calculation, you have a clearer picture of which part of the marketing funnel you need to work on.
Which content is crucial to conversion?
After measuring the ROI of your content marketing, do a deep dive into which piece of content generates the most sign-ups or leads.
This may not necessarily be the blog post where more users submit a contact form. Rather, it is the content that most users have read before making an inquiry.
For example, if you are a real estate agent looking to sell real estate through your content, one of your most popular post may be “Evaluating a property 101”. While few prospects submit a contact form from this blog post, the majority of inbound leads have read this post at least once, before reaching out.
This blog post is definitely important for conversion.
By identifying which content most leads or sign-ups read before reaching out, you have a clearer idea of what prospects look for when in the consideration phase. Make the popular post easier to find by making it more prominent, such as placing it under a “Start Here” menu button
Your conversion rate will improve and help you get more revenue out of your content marketing.
Wrapping It Up
Content marketing or any marketing activity should be carried out with the main goal of generating more revenue for your business.
In this article, we have covered how you can create a content marketing flywheel by creating engaging content, distributing it to your target audience and generating leads from your content. In the long run, each new piece of content should bring in more leads, reach more people and cost less.
We then went into detail on what you should be doing at each stage of your content marketing journey. From just starting out to maintaining momentum, your focus at each stage of content marketing is very different.
Lastly, what gets measured gets improved. Assess your content marketing’s performance in terms of generating revenue and include potential revenue in your calculations, such as the value of a newsletter subscription.
Identify which content prospects engage with the most, before reaching out to you. Make this content prominent to get the most conversions from your content.
If you can do this and more, content marketing will be the biggest revenue generator for your business.
Looking to generate more revenue with your content?
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