One of the most effective online marketing strategies for businesses today is to focus on content and content marketing. Developing targeted and relevant content will not only capture leads, but also drive targeted and qualified website traffic, as well as pique interest in prospects that have a genuine interest in the products or services your business offers.
By investing time and energy into creating creative, valuable, SEO-friendly content pieces — such blogging, whitepapers, infographics, case studies and eBooks — your marketing strategy has more chance to succeed and draw the attention of potential customers into your funnel. With powerful content in your marketing strategies arsenals, you can easily build relationships with potential customers which often translate into profitable ROI.
Studies have shown a direct correlation between content, traffic and leads. For example, a 2011 Hubspot study of over 4,000 businesses showed those that published 20+ posts a month saw 5 times more traffic than those that put 4 pieces or less out a month. As well, sites with 401 – 1000 pages have 9 times more traffic than 51 – 100 pages. After 1000 pages, the number skyrockets.
As a business individual, you’d be feverishly searching your Rolodex for content creator’s numbers by the time you finished reading the study. You’d be looking at your 398 pages with longing, because you’re a measly three pages away from lead generating nirvana. You’d be desperately trying to figure out how you could up your blogging output (or your outsourcing budget) to 20+ posts a month.“Both B2B and B2C companies with over 1,000 web pages generated over 8 times more leads than those with only 51 to 100 web pages.” In short, you’d go nuts, because you really aren’t prepared for all that…
Which Came First? It’s a Chicken and Egg Kind of Thing
The study is great; great PDF from it, great takeaways, impressive charts – it’s full of awesome sauce. In reading, you learn that a business website with over 400 pages, 31 landing pages and 20+ blog posts per month are traffic and lead generating machines. Now get out there and generate already! We know what you’re saying… “I can’t afford to create that size of website. Four hundred and thirty-one written pages would be expensive if I had them professionally done. -And who has the time to write twenty-plus blog posts per month? I’d be spending enough to send a copywriter’s kids through college. I’m a small business owner; I’m having problems putting my own kids through college.” Yes, you can Our answer: You can do this. Turn it into a business process. Instead of a side dish, make it a weekly entree. “I don’t know whether the traffic/leads were due to pages or the pages were due to traffic/leads. Hubspot could have been jumping to conclusions, you know. It could be that the businesses were putting up more pages because they saw more traffic and leads. Do we really know which came first?“ Our answer: If you knew for sure, would it make a difference? If there was a possibility that you could increase your site size by ten pages and see twice the returns, would you be willing to try it?
Content Marketing as a Business Process
This is a paradoxical thing. If you’re heavily using content marketing, chances are it’s already a business process. However, if you aren’t already using a content marketing strategy, it’s hard to see it as a business process. For the most part, this is because it isn’t direct marketing. In other words, it doesn’t:
- Directly convert visitors to customers
- Directly generate leads
- Directly increase sales
The Real Value of Content Marketing
In actuality, content marketing strategies provide seemingly less tangible benefits in the short term, such as:
- Awareness, or increased publicity, of your company
- Being viewed as a “company that cares”
- Being a trusted company in your business sector
Rarely does a blog post convert someone. However, an accumulation of blog posts becomes a repository of information, which then becomes a trusted resource. In turn, the business that created the trusted resource becomes the authority, and the ones to turn to when we hapless mortals don’t have the ability to DIY. You’ve heard of residual income, yes? There’s “residual authority”. Think “residual trust building”. Think “residual prospecting”. These are all things the content on your site does; by its presence and quality, the content on your site continues to build authority and trust, as well as pulling people in as prospects. Isn’t that worth turning content creation and marketing strategies into a business process? We think so…
Evaluating Your Content Management Lifecycle
If you’re going to make content creation a business process, the last thing you want to do is add yet another item on an already chaotic “to do” list. While a content management lifecycle should be “tweaked” to fit your business, it should always include:
- Strategy – Developing content strategies isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Well, not once you find a strong, systematic format, that is (to read: Developing Copywriting and Content Strategies Like a Pro).
- Plan – Who’s going to write what and how often? What type of marketing tone will you use – or will you use marketing lingo at all? How much of your content is going to be hard sales vs. soft sales? Now’s the time to figure it out.
- Create – Produce, produce, produce!
- Quality Control – Don’t forget this essential step. Check your content for brand and SEO compliance.
- Maintain – Periodically audit and weed out your live content. Use your analytics to find out where you failed and succeeded.
The Content Audit
It’s going to take awhile to turn a 100-page site into a 400-page site, but first, you’ll need to make sure you know what’s already there. One hundred pages isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it’s enough to lose your message in. (to read: A Content Audit? Why the @#$% Would I Want to Do That?) One of the biggest problems with a content audit (especially when your site gets larger) is how to get a list of all the pages, URLs, titles, meta descriptions, content focus, etc. Two programs are great for this: XENU Link Sleuth – It’s free, and once you point it at a web address, it will keep scanning until it finally pops out a report. You can find a comprehensive “how to use” for XENU on SEOMoz. It’s well worth the download of the program and reading of the tutorial. Screaming Frog SEO Spider – It’s free to use for the first 500 URIs crawled, or £99 per year. The SEO Spider provides more information than XENU, but since it crawls any link it finds, you’ll quickly use up the 500 URI restriction from the free version. You can find a review of the SEO Spider on Search News Central. While both programs would be considered useful for site audits, what is a site made out of but content? Enough said. Whatever program you use, you’ll have a useful report to export into Excel. The content audit will take a bit of work (defining what content covers which topics and so on), but it’ll give you a great starting place.
Creating Great Content, One Month at a Time
All this content creation sounds like a lot. After all, if you have 100 pages, you’re trying to add an additional three hundred! Phew! Consider this, though. If you gave yourself a year to add 300 pages to your site, that’s only 25 a month. It’s an average of 6 per week, or 1 per work day. Too much? Okay… if you’re blogging twice a week, adding one more day will give you an additional 144 pages by the end of a year. –And, by that time, your traffic should be rising (albeit slowly), your prospects should be going up, and you just might be able to afford an occasional writer. PLUS… the more well known you are the more likely you’ll be to have guest posters, which further increases your content offerings without breaking your creativity bank. The point is – pick your pace. Figure out how much you can afford to add each month. Follow your content management lifecycle and get a strategy in place. Then, read these three helpful articles:
- Dominating with Content and the Fight to the Top
- How to Boost the Success of Your Link Bait BEFORE You Hit Publish
- How to Build Content for SEO Without Bombarding Readers
Worst-case scenario, you don’t make content creation and marketing as part of your business processes, and you simply go on the way you’re going. If you’re okay with that sort of thing, more power to you. However, for those of you who look forward to growing your business in leaps and bounds, careful content creation is one of the best ways to make that happen. Happy writing!