How do you develop a content strategy? What is the value of a blog post? Is blogging even right for our business? These are questions we get a lot when discussing marketing goals with potential clients. To help answer these questions, we’d like to highlight a case study of a single blog post on our site that will illustrate the value of a good content strategy as well as the process it takes to get there.
As you can see from the screenshot above, this single blog post delivers us nearly 600 visitors every day to our site. This is extremely valuable traffic to our agency, and this is all from just one blog post.
Within this blog post we have a call to action for a relevant download which as of writing this has given us over 1,300 new leads. Imagine if your company produced a post like this every week. The cumulative effect of that traffic and leads would drastically change your sales pipeline as it would be full of relevant prospects who all view you as an expert in your industry.
This type of content marketing strategy consists of three steps:
- Developing content to attract targeted visitors to your site
- Developing content to capture those visitors and turn them into leads
- Developing content to nurture those leads into becoming customers.
Content marketing is ideal for industries with longer sales cycles, larger purchases, or purchases where there is an education process required and your company needs to be positioned as the expert. That said, good content that drives relevant customers to your site can work for any industry.
Content Marketing mistakes
These screenshots and data in this example all pertain to a single blog post on our website. That’s an important fact to point out because it addresses two mistakes most businesses make with content marketing. The first is that they view a blog as a daily journal and wonder, “Why would anybody come back on a regular basis to read our blog? We’re not that kind of business or in an interesting industry.” The second is that they put the value of a single blog post very low because they view it as something that gets old and is only relevant when it’s the latest post – so they need a lot of them and need them to be cheap.
To address the first issue, we always point out that for most businesses, a blog isn’t about having regular readers who come back to your site regularly. Many blogs have that goal, but that’s generally not the goal of a business blog and content strategy. I hesitate to even use the word blog because I think it gives the wrong idea and sounds like a teenage girl’s personal blog. Instead, the goal is to create posts that someone who is currently unaware of your company finds via Google in search for information or a solution. That also addresses the second mistake mentioned above. When you create a post that is indexed by a search engine, it’s there until you take it down. So it doesn’t matter if the post was written five years ago. That drastically changes the value of a blog post. Many companies will hire an intern or freelancer to write blog posts at the absolute lowest rate possible. That’s because they don’t understand the long-term value of a post that will continuously drive traffic to their site.
It’s also important to note the timeline of traffic of this example post. It took several months for the post to climb Google search results and really take off. Many business would have given up on blogging in that amount of time. It’s all about the long term cumulative effect. If you’re looking for SEO tricks and instant results you’re looking in the wrong place. It’s like researching weight loss tips online instead of just getting out there and running. Invest in creating good content that answers what your audience is looking for.
A business owner may think that $1,000 is way too much for a single blog post, but what if that post sent them over 500 prospects a day to their website for years? Depending on the business, the value of that one post alone could easily be worth $10,000/year – maybe even more. All from one post.
We start every content strategy by first developing buyer personas. In developing these personas, we interview our clients, their customers, and do research to discover and learn about who their best customers are – or who they want their customers to be. We even give these personas names like Manager Mike, Engineer Erik, or Marketing Mary. We think about that persona’s goals, struggles, and objectives. One thing we all do no matter how much we know or what our job title is – we all turn to Google to help answer our questions.
Therefore, simply creating a blog post that directly answers a question you think one of your buyer personas may search on Google is the first step toward getting those people to your site. Think of the top twenty-five questions each persona may search for and write a blog post for each one – you’re halfway there on your content strategy.
In this example, our target is Marketing Mary. Mary is our fictitious persona who represents our target customer. Marketing Mary is the marketing director at a company that has between 15 – 50 employees. She and the VP pretty much make up the entire marketing department. Marketing Mary currently works with a web development agency who built their site three years ago, a freelance graphic designer who helps with print design work, and an SEO company who manages their PPC and does some onsite optimization. She also works with and manages various printers and vendors. Marketing Mary is our target client because she and her company are a perfect fit for our agency as she is likely stressed by managing multiple vendors and the brand suffers because things aren’t as consistent across everything as they could be.
Developing content that attracts
As Marketing Mary works with those different agencies and vendors, one of the things she will always be asked to provide is a vector file of her company’s logo. Most people don’t know what a vector file is and don’t really understand the difference between all the different image file types out there. Therefore, we identified that as something Marketing Mary would simply turn to Google to answer. She may type in “Vector File” or “What’s a vector file?“. Anticipating this, we spent a good amount of time creating a blog post that would answer that and many other image file type questions.
By writing an informative post that is search engine optimized, we are now getting nearly 600 Marketing Marys coming to our site everyday who never would have otherwise visited our site. When Mary found our blog post, she was simply looking for information – an answer to her question. She’s not looking to hire a marketing agency. However, if we can capture her email address and continue to send her helpful and valuable information, over time we will become a respected resource for her and when it comes time to redesign their company site or they decide to switch agencies, there is a good chance our company will be on her mind because we’ve built that relationship with her.
Developing content that captures
To start that process and turn her from an anonymous visitor on our site into a real contact, we need to capture her email address. A general contact form only works for those who are ready to buy. Therefore, we need to place an additional content offer surrounding the blog topic that would provide even more information in exchange for her email. In this case, we created an Images Cheat Sheet. If she enjoyed the blog post she’d likely appreciate being able to download the cheat sheet and have it on file for future reference. This “offer” isn’t about our company or our services, it’s just relevant and helpful information. As you saw above, this has led to 1,300 new leads.
Developing content that nurtures
Now that we have Marketing Mary’s email we can start sending her additional emails spaced out over time. This series of emails is often referred to as a drip campaign or marketing automation. The mistake companies make here is they immediately go into sales mode and start selling and spamming. That leads to unsubscribes. Instead, we want to continue to focus on giving Mary expert information that positions us as experts in our industry. As that relationship develops, we will introduce other offers. The more offers Mary downloads, the more likely it is that she is shifting from mere consumer of our information to possibly considering hiring our agency.
We do this for our own marketing and specialize in doing this for our clients across a number of different industries. For many clients, we help develop the personas and content strategy and set up the marketing automation system and then the client takes it from there to create the actual content. For other clients, we work with them to continue to develop and optimize that content for them. It all depends on their in-house capabilities, time and resources available.
To successfully implement a content marketing strategy takes time and the ability to understand and develop solid personas, the ability to write content that those personas are looking for; the ability to optimize that content so that it gets found, the ability to create downloadable content to capture leads, and the ability to develop content for marketing automation emails to nurture those leads. Additionally, the understanding and use of marketing automation software like Hubspot, Pardot, or Marketo helps in tracking everything, sending the automated emails and measuring effectiveness.
Let’s get started developing personas relevant to your industry and creating a content strategy.