Ever wondered if content Marketing really works? Did you think it’s a back-breaking, nausea-inducing, back-breaking, and thankless endeavor?
Maybe. Maybe not.
If it wasn’t important at all, Michael Brenner of ContentMarektingInstitute would not bother cooking up a formula – and a book titled The Content Formula — for Content Marketing ROI.
Content marketing, if you want to consider that as an industry, is already going to be worth $300 billion by 2019, according to PQMedia’s Global Content Marketing forecast 2015-2019 and with thanks to Marketing Media Mag.
What drove this?
B2B content, software, and consulting.
Here are some of the best examples of content marketing by SaaS companies, tech companies, WordPress Hosting companies, and many others:
Who doesn’t know Zapier, Right? Let’s be honest now. There’s really nothing like Zapier out there and hence they have no virtually no competition. So, they could sit on their ass and wait for the word to spread.
No, they don’t.
Their blog is the best thing that happened for anyone like who is a “web tool addict”, a lifetime learner of productivity, and a passionate evangelist for marketing automation (or automation of anykind).
Each of their blog posts is also an inspiration that can teach everyone else how to provide value in a single post.
Reading their blog is not even a difficult decision, eh?
Who else – apart from just a few – can beat the sheer power of CopyBlogger.com to influence, teach, educate, and inspire an entire world on writing, blogging, marketing, psychology, and influence?
Copyblogger started as just that – a blog. Today, it’s worth billions of dollars with products such as Authority (premium membership), StudioPress (The Genesis framework and WordPress themes), Synthesis (WordPress Specific hosting), The Rainmaker Platform (all-in-one marketing suite), and more.
Allow it to teach you to grab a piece of Independence?
You’d never think that a web hosting company could actually set the bar high when it comes to content marketing. The usual rush of shared hosting companies doesn’t even bother with blogging much (they have highly paid affiliates to do all the work for them).
Flywheel publishes a magazine called The Layout and the style, flair, and volume of high-quality content that the folks at Flywheel put out weekly is astonishing (for a web host).
Flywheel hosting is my favorite and we host both this site and groovywebtools
Learn more about them in my Flywheel Review.
Close on the heels of Flywheel, WPEngine also takes content marketing very seriously. Blog posts, webinars, infographics – you name it and they’ve done it all. While WPengine’s growth also comes from its strong army of affiliates, WP engine doesn’t just sit on its ass. It does what it has to and has taken its own branding and presence to a whole new level.
If you are looking for premium WordPress hosting with staging, daily backups, and WordPress configured environment, consider starting now.
The granddaddy of content marketing. The epitome of what content marketing really is and a shining example of what a company can do with the right commitment to quality and consistency of blogging.
But then, although Moz started with blogging, they have all the goodness that comes with an established online brand – a strong user community, a super suite of content marketing tools, and plenty of goodwill.
It’s a multi-million dollar brand that only grew because of its commitment to excellent content literally standing as the best example of the power of content marketing.
While we are at it, Rand’s WhiteBoard Friday’s are super packed with insights.
Hubspot literally wrote the book on Inbound Marketing – they still do everything right, tick off all the right boxes when it comes to content marketing, and they are the pros at drawing millions of visitors and thousands of email subscribers.
Now, whether or not Hubspot’s readers and subscribers choose to buy Hubspot (which is expensive), the content marketing team at Hubspot just never stops putting out brutally good stuff.
It’s one of the few companies that stay out of my reach(in terms of affordability but well within reach when it comes to learning the best of content marketing and inbound marketing.
Shopify is Shopify because of not just the all-powerful, fully hosted e-commerce solution that it is. Of course, credit does go the solution itself.
I absolutely love Shopify for their hard work over the ages to make an average entrepreneur’s dream come true. Not only do they provide information, tips, insights, and tutorials for e-commerce entrepreneurs but they also have plenty of free online-based tools.
Unbounce leads the game (maybe only on par with Leadpages) as a popular landing page builder. While Unbounce has a great product, you’ll really experience what enlightenment and goodness feels like when you learn from Unbounce blog and a whole lot of goodness you see on their blog along with eBooks, reports, LookBooks, and much else.
As if that wasn’t enough, they give away swag, they are cool on social media, and they also have their popular #CTAconf.
Unbounce also has a passionate community of Unbounce experts, customers, and Unbounce staff as well.
I recently invested in Drip and I can’t stop myself from reading their blog, checking out their tutorials at ConvertedU, and then reading their blog some more. Since I couldn’t get enough of drip, I am also found stalking their Twitter profile. Drip is an advanced email marketing automation tool (and it’s a little more advanced than what you might normally expect, which is a good thing).
When I am not reading their blog posts, I have my head buried deep into their knowledge base.
Drip has the potential to change how you do email marketing. Signup and get yourself a free account.
MailChimp is the king in the universe of email marketing tools (literally, almost with a 54% market share).
Their blog, knowledge base, and an ever-growing collection of eBooks make for a great foundational learning experience for anyone new to the email marketing game. Of course, no one else could still really beat the outrageous “10,000 emails and up 2000 subscribers free. Automation included” offer that Mailchimp still manages to give out.
Another big name in the world of email marketing, Campaign Monitor is one of those few email marketing tools available that really make it easy for you to do email marketing. Drag, drop and done (much like Mailchimp).
Campaign Monitor has a seriously wonderful blog where it teaches you everything you need to know about — well, you guessed it – email marketing.
Campaign Monitors’ efforts with its blog and social media (along with email marketing) work like powerful crankshafts driving users and customers for itself.
In terms of feature sets, it’s really hard to differentiate between this one and Mailchimp since they both score well with ease of use, templates, drag-and-drop features, automation, and much more.
Campaign Monitor also has great features for email marketing agencies that want to provide email marketing services for clients.
While LeadPages did purchase Drip, both of these brands are kept separated and managed that way. Leadpages, for a long time now, has always focused on education, learning, and support when it comes to landing pages.
The LeadPages blog is a goldmine with respect to marketers and businesses using landing pages to drive up profits (case studies), tips, tricks, and more. LeadPages also has a dedicated set of courses, tools, and ongoing webinars to help educate you on the power of landing pages. It’s another thing that they also have courses on Affiliate marketing, Facebook Advertising, and more.
Syed Balkhi is a pro marketer himself and is supported by Thomas Griffin (a genius developer) to help make OptinMonster the power tool it is.
For long now, OptinMonster has been driving the importance of building up an email list of your subscribers, customers, and leads. Well, they are in the business of providing a fantastic tool just for that purpose.
Imagine the power of creating fantastic content that has nothing but value in it for readers or users? All of that driving up users and sales for OptinMonster.
When a SaaS tool helps you managing an editorial calendar with a social media scheduler built-in, you’d better believe that they are pretty good at what they do. Their blog itself is full of information that has a singular purpose: to make your content marketing process a lot easier than it is.
CoSchedule – the tool – sits right into your familiar WordPress while changing how you plan your posts, how you write them, and how you distribute your content (automating some of that drudgery along the way).
Social media is not easy for small business owners to wrap their head around. The new age medium isn’t like newspapers or magazines. It’s interactive. It’s got people all over it. It’s real-time. Also, selling doesn’t happen on social media the way it does in your local marketplace.
Buffer tries to make your job of growing a thriving presence on social media a tad easier. But we aren’t here to discuss Buffer’s features; we are here to talk about their amazing blog.
Buffer’s blog is another shining example of powerful, relevant, and yet easy-to-consume content.
They are also extremely approachable on social media. Next time you are wandering on Twitter, try participating in their #bufferchat.
Hootsuite has been around and it’s a company that’s built purely on the power of getting their content strategy and social media prowess right — a popular blog, an Academy, a powerful social media management tool, a strong community, and their recent acquiring of Adespresso just added another planet to their existing population of awesomeness.
Hootsuite also practices what it preaches. Check out their #HootChat and go Tweet-happy.
HelpScout has been very popular not just for the superlative customer service tool that it actually sells but also for its blog. With everything going in there from customer support to startup insights; from marketing to managing virtual teams; from entrepreneurship to even How to Say Sorry To Your Customers
HelpScout isn’t just a tool to help you serve customers better; it’s your business mentor.
For a tool that helps you spy on your competition, dig deep into your SEO keyword research, or keep a look out for your competition’s content marketing or even PPC efforts, SEMRush has a great presence on the web (with an equally impressive tool that’s a goldmine for bloggers, content marketers, companies, and agencies).
You can’t actually stop reading the SEMrush blog while their social media presence leaves no stone unturned. Their #semrushchat is a vibrant community of like-minded individuals, business owners, agency owners, bloggers, and many other interesting folks.
AdStage has a great product – it allows paid marketers to bring all their otherwise distributed PPC campaign management efforts with various platforms like Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and others to a single dashboard. It also has advanced features such as automatic optimization, one-click campaign management and a lot more.
AdStage also has an awesome academy that teaches you in a way that you go from a rookie to a pro by the time you are done with it. Guess what? All of that education is available for free, even if you don’t signup for their tool.
First off, you’d love that GrooveHQ’s blog doesn’t look like other blogs (like this one). A simple, timeline style of presentation differentiates these guys already. But it’s blog posts like this one on what 9 successful entrepreneurs wished they had done differently that are pure gold.
GrooveHQ gives a business everything it needs to manage customers better – ticket handling system, live chat, knowledge base, and more.
Most WordPress marketplaces don’t get to the level of value Elegant themes churns out on almost a daily basis. Granted that ElegantThemes has its Crown Jewel – The Divi Theme and the Divi Builder Plugin – and other popular themes like Extra. Yet, it’s their blog that continuously tries to over deliver on the previous blog published.
I use Divi on my blog here but these guys have a way to bring me back to them every day (long after I purchased a lifetime license).
What’s a native advertising traffic source or platform doing on this list? Because it happens to be the only one I know that has some great content strategy going for it.
For perspective, take its immediate competitors like Taboola which does have a blog (but not on the same level that Outbrain is at). Most other paid marketing platforms – native advertising or not (like PocketMath, Mobicow, and many others) have no content marketing strategy to speak of. If there is any, it’s half-hearted.
Which of those swashbuckling SaaS companies and others have I missed out? Let me know.
Have business? You should blog.
If you’ve ever wondered How to Increase Blog Traffic (and hence traffic to your website), you are in the right place.
Most businesses think that blogging is fancy. They do want to hire someone to do SEO though.
A blog gets a business 5X times more leads than a business without a blog.
Content Marketing is King.
Blogs help get traffic, increase exposure, get you leads, help build your email list, create a brand, and build a community around your business.
Heard all of that and you still don’t blog, do you?
I know, since 90% of all my clients absolutely don’t have anything remotely connected to a blog anywhere on their website. Some of them pick a single type of traffic source — like PPC or SEO or Social Media — and focus on that alone.
It’s a shame when any regular business doesn’t blog. Every passing week is a lost opportunity to have slowly grown your brand, get traffic, make conversions happen, build an audience, build a list, and to finally make sales by using email marketing sent to subscribers.
I once wrote what businesses should learn from regular bloggers (those who do only blogging and usually don’t actually represent a business — the blog is the business, so to speak).
This time around, I think we should consider growth stories of individual bloggers just to prove the point that if a blog can grow to a point that it makes revenue for itself, what kind of potential does a regular business have with blogging?
Now, let’s find out how a few relatively new, ordinary bloggers did it:
Mindy of Coco and Ash
Mindy is a stay-at-home mom of 2 and she runs a blog at Coco and Ash. Mindy started her blog in March 2016.
By August, she averaged 70,000 views on her blog. She isn’t technically savvy and she had no clue when she started. She blogged everyday, and then she writes some more. Plus, she pins it up on Pinterest, adds her own photos, generates traffic from groups, follows other bloggers and comments on blogs, engages on Facebook and more.
Ramsay of BlogTyrant
BlogTyrant, at the time of writing this, is already a hugely popular blog. Ramsay — from Adelaide, Australia — is an inspiring story, to say the least.
By the time Ramsay was into his third week of blogging, he managed to get over 11,908 visitors.
How did he do that? Keyword research, writing specific and targeted content, balancing between high value posts but still not giving everything away, guest blogging, working with his existing network, and more.
I want you to read this again: 11,908 visits in 3 weeks of blogging.
If I had a regular business or an online business with that kind of traffic, I’d retire by now.
Ramsay still doesn’t. He continues to blog anyway. Plus, he is one of the best people around if you want to wrap your head around how to create a blog
Nagi from Recipe Tin Eats Blog
Nagi is a food blogger who went from zero to 1 million in 8 months flat.
Nagi is a cook and a photographer and she blogs at RecipeTinEats. Her blog focuses on my love of a lifetime: food.
Nagi started her blog in 2014. About 8 months later, she hits 1 million views. Following that, she started living off her blog (along with other perks that come with her publishing such as photography assignments, recipes, and more).
As on January 2016, she had an audience of 3 million.
It’s 2017 now, what might the number be at?
Jenny of Seasons In Color
Jenny Kakoudakis has an eye for Interior Design. On her blog at Seasons In Color, she is all about seasonal trends in Interior Design, colors, styling, makeovers, and more.
While I didn’t get to see how much traffic her blog gets, it also called up for an opportunity to go beyond traffic and talk about something else instead: fame and achievement.
Her blog wins the “Content of the year” award from the team at Joh Lewis AffiliateWindow.
Blogging makes bloggers famous.
What can blogging do for your brand, Entrepreneur?
Amelie of AWanderesAdventures
Amelie is from Canada and she helps college students thrive in college and beyond. She started with humble beginnings – as most blogs and bloggers do – and went from 300 views per month to a monthly average of 18,000 page views per month. She achieved all that in 9 months with a 60X increase in page views.
Quality content, a firm eye on analytics, a strong push on social media (especially Pinterest) and a whole lot of hustling was instrumental in getting Amelia where she is today.
If a 20-year old from Quebec can do it, what can your business do?
Chelsie Of HeyThereChelsie
Chelsie runs a blog called HeyThereChelsie on “beauty, style, and the pursuit of vibrant life” as she puts it. By the end of the year 2016, she amassed a total of 140,182 page views (a 33% increase since 2015).
Her major traffic sources have been social media (Pinterest, again?), sponsored posts, and Instagram.
Chelsie made sure she remained consistent with her blogging efforts, focused on growing her email list, utilized video to grow her YouTube Channel, got involved with her local blogging buddies, and more.
Apparently, she isn’t going to compare herself and her spectacular growth anymore. So, even if you start a blog today for your business and do some passionate corporate blogging, she isn’t going to bite you.
She just might come back to say hello when your blog works for your business though.
Kecia of OnlineIncomeMom
Kecia is a mom of 2, a blogger, a writer, and an online entrepreneur. She started OnlineIncomeMom in February of 2016 and started like almost everyone else does – befuddled, lost, skeptical, and with half-assed attempts with new themes, social media, and some writing.
But then, one day, she decided to hold herself accountable. Her best month before the hustle was about 64 page views.
About thirty days later, she pumped up her page views by 7,392 % (Not a typo). Again, consistent blogging with 2 posts per week helped her grow. She also used Pinterest, Content Interlinking, boards on Pinterest, and more.
Carol Byrant Of FidoseofReality
Carol Byrant manages her own blog at Fidose of Reality. I, however, discovered her at BlogPaws.
She grew her blog by a whopping 100% in a span of 365 days. How does she do that, you ask? Conferencing, networking, constantly testing her blog (along with her progress), social media, reciprocating with other bloggers, and using a clearly defined plan for growth.
Her tattoo (and mantra) is “My Heart Beats Dog”
I ask you this: Is your heart beating blogging, eh?
Dominique Of Well, Dominique
After seeing some starts and restarts, Dominique depended a lot on Social Media to get some traffic to his blog. He well understood the risks that come with Google’s mighty algorithms, the dicey nature of SEO, and the low shelf life of Social media.
He wanted to diversify his traffic sources, and boy, did he?
From April to May of 2015, Dominique grew his traffic by 352%. He poured in probably every ounce of juice off the entire spectrum of digital marketing channels available to him.
His secrets (are they even secrets anymore?) include consistently blogging 3 posts per week, focusing on writing the right kind of blog posts, Internal linking, list posts, and also editing old posts (since these posts still get gobs of traffic).
Maryea of HappyHealthyMama
Maryea started her blog in September 2014 and it was already average about 50,000 to 60,000 views every month. In a single year (2015), that number grew to 146,620 views. I suspect that the blog is still growing, as I write this.
Let’s talk about income too (since businesses are almost always in unquestionable love with revenue).
When Maryea started, she averaged about $100 per month from her blog. She doesn’t reveal her present income from the blog but she says “full-time” and we are going to assume it’s more the annual revenue of a regular business, where I come from.
Elna of TwinsMommy
Elna is a millennial mom of two twins. She works from home as a freelancer writer. She started blogging in March 2016. It wasn’t until April that she decided that she’d focus on growing her blog (and hence her business).
Between the end of March to April, and then from end of May to June of 2016, she tripled her traffic to the blog. As on December 2016, she managed to reach 11,641 page views (that’s over 60% increase in page views per month).
Her visitors increased overnight.
How did she do it?
First, she made sure she cached her site using a CDN (Content Delivery Network). Then, her excellent content got her some natural inbound links from other bloggers. She also spent a lot of time with Pinterest Marketing, participating in group boards, growing her email list, doing blogger outreach, etc.
I am impressed.
What Will You Take From Here?
All of these lovely moms, work from home freelancers, fashionistas, marketers, online entrepreneurs, and regular bloggers grew traffic to their respective blogs, focused on consistent blogging, and some of them even make a full-time income out of their blogs.
I’ll say it again: Their blogs make money. At least, they are on the right path to make some money.
Why can’t your business – with resources, teams, marketers, venture capitalists, and even monkeys – on your team do what these spectacular individuals do?
“We founded our startup last year. We are developing the prototype”
“We are trying to get into YCombinator”
“We have a website. A cool looking one we spent 6 years developing on Ruby”
If you’ve been anywhere near a startup founder a regular business owner or most entrepreneurs, they are usually fixated on “products”, “prototypes”, and what have you.
There’s nothing wrong with focusing on products because that’s what you’ll finally sell and make a mark in this world.
The trouble is that with the “product first” approach is this: you don’t focus enough on marketing.
You can do what you want: slog away for hours, go on hackathons, drown yourself in code, or spend millions on setting up plants and factories.
None of that is going to move that product off the shelf.
All this is going to do is to make you feel busy, proud, and give you something to talk about in your next startup meet up.
Start with marketing even before you build products because it’s going to take an awful amount of time (and that too assuming you are doing it just right)
To get digital marketing right, there are a million things you’d need to do. Chances are that you won’t be able to, especially “after” your product is launched.
Because by then, you’d have a hungry pool of team members that you have to feed, fancy offices you have to pay for, and even regular pizza and beer parties that you’d have to pay for.
All this while, there’s no revenue. Granted that you’d want to raise funds, but you really have nothing to show, do you?
That’s why you ought to pick a few lessons from everyday bloggers:
Network from Day # [- 365]
Question for you; What’s common between these bloggers?
They network. They go out their way to comment on other blogs, create a little community of their own, and help each other with their blogging efforts.
Some of them have nothing to sell. They have no fancy A, B, C round funding, and they certainly have no million dollars lying around to pay for offices, teams, and meaningless parties.
They are just doing what they can.
From a relationship standpoint, they are digging for gold. It’s another thing that they get trickling traffic and quite a name among the community.
When was the last time you went out and left a comment somewhere? Who do you know?
It’s about passion; not chasing cash
Most bloggers might start with the intent of making money, just like small businesses do. Blogging has been around and that only a few people ever managed to make a full-time income off their blogs.
Every blogger knows this. Yet, they start blogs on topics they are passionate about. Often, for them, money follows that passion. Look at Jon Morrow’s blog, for instance. There’s not a single ad.
But it’s not just passion for topics; they are also passionate about the act of blogging itself.
Small businesses — most of them — don’t have passion. They just want ROI.
For businesses, it’s always about “show me the cash, honey.”
Bloggers Invest Where Needed
It’s a shame that small businesses don’t half the things bloggers do when it comes to investing in the right stuff for a sustainable and thriving presence on the web.
Bloggers who are blogging for business (theirs) invest in all kinds of things like:
— Worldclass hosting
— Blazing fast speeds for their blogs and/or websites
— A couple of premium themes and plugins.
— They often reach out for help for website customization, redesign, and for website security.
— They invest time, resources, money, and tremendous effort to make their blogs work for their own goals
I’ll challenge you to this: go ahead, type in for “some local service provider” and check out a few websites of small businesses.
Websites don’t load or don’t exist. There’s just “me me me “ written about on every page (if you can read it), and many businesses don’t even think beyond a website.
Blogging For Business: Built for purpose
Look at Carrie at Carriedils.com: She is a WordPress expert and now she’s positioning herself to train, coach, and educate other business owners or developers to make their WordPress websites work for them.
You’ll know why her blog exists and what she intends to do.
Every serious blogger has a sidebar with a giveaway, in-line calls to action, and many opt-in forms strategically placed to get visitors signup and become a part of their own funnel.
Many small business websites, meanwhile, just harp about themselves with corporate gobbledegook.
No calls to actions. No smart opt-in forms. No exit-intent. No pop-ups. No in-line content upgrades.
Bloggers get Serious Relevant Traffic
Because bloggers “blog”, organic marketing is already on.
Traffic comes naturally.
Since their blogs are purpose-built, they are on their way to collect subscribers (who all signup intentionally).
Bloggers setup persistent, dedicated, and often punishing schedules to make sure they blog consistently. They are, although they don’t seem like it, blogging for business.
Plus, they work on security, optimizing site speed, and a ton of things (including nerdy stuff like fixing Crawl errors).
Slowly, over time, their blogs grow in audience size and they pull in all the relevant traffic that comes in from search or social inbound links or both.
On top of all this, they often get linked to by other bloggers (remember the community thing?). This forces Google to deem them as authorities in their own niches.
Most regular businesses meanwhile stalk in the halls of Fiverr, Up work, and other places trying to drive cheap traffic from Vanuatu and Tuvalu.
Blogging: One-person with a team’s worth of work
Most blogs are one-person entities.
Only a few are multi-author blogs (and this usually happens after people like Rand Fishkin of Moz , Oil Gardner of Unbounce blog to death bringing their respective companies to fame).
Bloggers end up doing:
— Blogging at an established frequency (1 to 3 to 5 blog posts per week or more).
— Amplifying their content on social media and promoting their content, along with others’ content
— Planning, managing and deploying email campaigns (including RSS to email feeds) for their subscribers
— Networking with others
— Managing their blogs
— Dealing with web hosts
— Trying to come up with more ways to make their blog better, bring in more traffic, etc.
— Creating products of their own (eBooks, webinars, reports, paid digital products, podcasts, videos, and membership libraries).
Maybe you forgot, but it’s just one person doing all this. At best, they’ll hire a VA to help them out. Or maybe a WordPress expert.
No full-time staff and No offices (only kitchen tables).
It’s sad to see so many businesses losing out on the opportunity to make the web work for their benefit and give a serious thought to blogging for business, for content marketing, and for digital marketing.
Don’t get stuck in your own ways.
With entrepreneurs with ego the size of a Brachiosaurus altithorax weighing at 62 tons and is the largest ever dinosaur known, businesses are forever at risk.
Image Credit: Seeker.com [http://www.seeker.com/top-10-largest-dinosaurs-1769041759.html]
What do you learn from bloggers?
We’ve always believed that there’s no more authenticity and credibility to digital advertising or marketing if you do it the way you are inclined to do.
Assuming you are not doing it the right way, all that hustling and pushing is making your customers wary.
In fact, a lot of people don’t trust digital advertising. Steve Olenski, a contributor of forbes.com, refers to a bunch of stats and an infographic by Lab42 reveals the incredible resistance customers have for ads.
- 76% of respondents said that ads in general were either “very exaggerated” or “somewhat exaggerated”
- 87% think half or more cleaning ads are photoshopped
- 96% think half or more weight loss ads are photoshopped
Only 3% would describe claims in ads as very accurate, and only 21% would describe ads as somewhat accurate.
A clean, blunt message to all businesses out there: stop peddling all that stuff. Get real. Build trust. Pour out some love. Show some respect.
Adding to all of that prevalent distrust, a new army of non-marketers disguising as marketers now broken the barricades of sensibility and entered into a long, cavernous hall of meaningless buzzwords like “content marketing” and “Inbound marketing”
Do marketing with content and Inbound marketing beats outbound marketing anyway, but no one had to make these buzzwords and rally off to earn retainers and bullshit clients.
On HBR, Greg Satell writes:
We never call anything that’s good “content.” Nobody walks out of a movie they loved and says, “Wow! What great content!” Nobody listens to “content” on their way to work in the morning. Do you think anybody ever called Ernest Hemingway a “content creator”? If they did, I bet he would punch ‘em in the nose.
Samuel Scott on Techcrunch then wrote on why everything the tech world says about marketing is wrong.
It’s all for a reason: we just don’t give up on the “marketing” crap.
Earlier, we pushed flyers and newspaper ads on customers’ faces; today, we do that with megatons of crappy content that now plagues the web.
By its very definition, “content marketing” is:
Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers.
This just has to stop. When you do digital marketing for your own gain, it won’t get you anywhere.
Here’s what you should be doing instead:
Stick to Marketing basics, Please
Direct marketing, publicity, indirect marketing, referrals, offline advertising, online advertising, and anything else you do has its own place in the big “marketing” mix.
No one channel is bigger, greater, faster, more reliable, or less reliable than another.
Different channels; varying results. Stop leaning towards any one channel or method or model.
On Warrior Forum, for instance, you get a lot of crap:
“Tap into native advertising; it’s still new”
“Facebook ads are the best. Nothing else works”
“I know this secret to push 56,876 subscribers to your opt-in list in less than a month”
“It’s SEO, baby. It’s always SEO. It just works”
Can you imagine the bad neighborhood your business can get into?
Don’t chase influencers; become one instead
Influencer marketing? What’s That? It’s strange that we tell ourselves that we need to find someone else to vet what we publish or piggyback on an influencers’ hard-earned reputation.
Yes, there are amazing people out there. That includes authors, entrepreneurs, executives, self-employed powerhouses, social media moguls.
They all have opinions, and they have followers who listen and engage.
None of that means that you should chase them on FollowerWonk and start another line of selfish emails to have them endorse your product, review your app, or share news about you.
That’s begging. There are better ways to do business than to beg.
There’s a better of doing this with influencers: work hard to become an influencer yourself.
Let other marketers chase you and put you up on a pedestal.
Optimize for Honest-to-God results; not metrics
Everyone is desperate for metric-bases reporting, KPIs, and a truckload of nonsensical numbers on charts. Publishers keep optimizing for page views and Google Adsense. Business work to bring conversions on pages, eCommerce owners worry about shopping abandonment.
You are not focusing on you should: results.
Not just any result, though. You’d need a growing sense of confidence that comes from a raging, passionate, and dedicated community of potential or existing customers.
When a sale happens, it should have been a “happy sale” and not a manipulated one.
Your social shares, page views, time on page, bounce rate, events, and behavioral flow — none of this actually tells you how well you are communicating on your website, how honest you are, and how your customers perceive you.
There’s no analytics tool in the world to tell you if your business is really the best fit for your customer, and then explain that clearly.
You need something like “I-am-so-thrilled-that-you-are-thrilled-Ms.Customer”.
Go count that.
Do marketing to build trust
Most businesses want to do digital advertising to get sales. Everything screams “spam” when that happens.
Turn it around. Don’t push; pulling is better.
Use information as currency for your marketing. Publish to gain trust. Amplify on social media to expand your network, so that you have more potential to get the trust you need. Use email nurturing to really “nurture” your potential leads.
When you nurture, you’d have to remember that email isn’t just another medium for you to peddle your wares.
Your email subscribers are equivalent to paid customers. Treat them well, pamper them with more information, products, or services that they really benefit from.
Do that with everything from web content to web design; from blog posts to infographics; from social updates to email pieces.
Why take all the trouble? The numbers will tell you a story. According to Nielsen, the most credible form of advertising comes straight from people we know and trust.
Your customers are going to love you. They’ll then share what they know about you with people they know.
More than 83% of people all over the world trust recommendations from friends and family. Another 66% trust other customers’ reviews online.
In short, earned and owned media remain the most trustworthy channels.
Your business owes it to you to make the right decisions. Your customers depend on you to help solve their problems. If you’d never manipulate friends and family; you’d never want to manipulate your customers either.
How do you work on building trust?
So, they said marketing is tough. They also told you that it’s hard to do marketing. It’s impossible to get customers’ attention. Oh, the predictions they make!
Just like they thought franchising was a scam and just as they predict social media wouldn’t work for businesses. People – as always – will make their predictions. But you aren’t “people”; you have a business to run.
If you were like me, you’d probably spend days and months (or even years) agonizing on how to make the Internet work for your business. If I assume correctly, you are on most popular social networks, you are posting on your blog, and you are trying to do everything else you can to gain, nurture, and manage your customers.
Here are ways to do it:
Inbound Marketing is the key
Look at any business that rocks it up and you’ll see a pattern. HubSpot never stops producing more relevant content. Unbounce, Kissmetrics, Moz, and many others just don’t stop with content creation, ever.
No matter how you look at it, producing content relentlessly is much cheaper and more effective than spending on any other kind of marketing you’d want to.
According to data from WebDAM Solutions, Inbound marketing delivers a whopping 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing can.
It’s not about “this or that”; it’s “everything that works”
For modern day marketing, your choices are measured. You cannot choose not to be on Twitter when your business brings up more than 1745 mentions on Twitter per day, can you?
Really then, it’s not about choosing one platform over the other. It’s not even sticking to your favorites — no one (especially your customers) won’t care if you like Twitter more than Facebook.
Marketing 101: you go where your customers are.
Instead of wasting time with choices, strategically pick your platforms depending on what works for you. If you’ve noticed plenty of traffic coming from Facebook but most conversations and engagement happen on Twitter, you’ll be on both of those platforms. If you were in B2B, you’d be on LinkedIn even if the engagement weren’t anything like it is elsewhere.
It also makes sense to look out for more social platforms such as Google+, Instagram, and others.
Similarly, a few content types might work better for you than others. A few marketing channels seem to be giving you more sales and marketing mojo.
Your work is to find out what works and hang on to it.
Keep those old customers, no matter what
It’s easier to keep old customers than to gain new ones. In fact, according to an infographic from Flowtown – thanks to the folks at Spoken.com for sharing it – it’s at least 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a customer than it is to retain an existing one. Just by boosting customer retention rate as much as 5%, increased profits translate to anywhere from 5 – 95%. Further, existing customers are more likely to buy from you while being less sensitive to price increases.
So keep those old customers engaged using Email Marketing (make sure you have their permission first). Connect with them on social media. Support them (even if they aren’t doing business with you anymore).
Do what you have to. That reminds me: what exactly are you going to do for marketing your business?
Img Credits: William Murphy on Flickr
It’s a sad situation, if you think about it: Traditional media is dead. Online media is now popular. Yet, businesses are clueless about it. Some brands do get it right. Most businesses “try” to get online. A few will rise and shine. Most others will bite the dust.
It’s not like there’s dearth of ideas. It’s not because there isn’t enough creativity or writing smarts out there. It’s not even because small businesses cannot afford continuous content production.
It’s because businesses don’t find a compelling reason to produce content. They just don’t have that fire burning in the belly.
Passion is dead, for most businesses. Here’s why marketers get content marketing wrong, always:
We aren’t as smart as you think
It’s funny that you and I aren’t as smart as we should be, given that there’s information about everything, everywhere. It first stuck me about how dumb some people are when I had this client who had to get that one single blog post right. So, he wastes about 6 weeks on revisions. Can you imagine the sheer waste of opportunity here?
As marketers, we are extortionists – we tend to make use of opportunities to milk people off their money so that we can sell our wares. Capitalism teaches us that, so it’s all right.
While I don’t have a problem with capitalism, I do have a problem with dumb marketers, super egoists who become entrepreneurs, one-time authors who think they’ve attained nirvana, and average bloggers who think they can beat the Huffington Post or the NYTimes.
Worse still: I hate marketers and business owners who think they are smart enough to fool customers. You have no idea how smart customers are today. Go figure.
Customers don’t care about you
Seth Godin, in his book Purple Cow swears by the reality of the situation today. Over the years dominated by the TV-Industrial complex, customers did learn to ignore marketing messages. Billions of dollars are wasted on trying to get a customer’s attention and hoping that she’d walk to the store and buy.
The truth is that customers buy when they want to. They don’t buy because you opened shop. For marketers then:
- There ought to be a way to keep customers engaged until they are ready to buy.
- The method of engagement has to be cost-effective and not expensive like mass media is, for instance.
Thankfully, content marketing comes to the rescue. ChiefMarketer.com maintains that more than 90% of customers skip marketing pitches altogether and prefer conducting online research before they buy. Over 50% of customers read user reviews before finalizing their buy. Martin Zwilling – a contributor for Forbes — points to a book titled Roadmap To Revenue by Kristin Zhivago where she points out some of those crucial steps marketers must do even if they have no control on customers’ buying decision. Some of her ideas include:
- Find out what customers want using real customer interviews when you are actually selling them your products.
- Adjust your offerings and match them with what your customers say they want.
- If necessary, work on your entire business model and/or processes to get in line with customer expectations.
Use content to give customers what they want, to communicate your offerings, to gain their trust, and to influence them.
Learn from the best
Red Bull – the popular energy drink — is a good example. James O’Brien — a contributor to The Content Strategist by Contently – says it best while alluding to Red Bull’s Content Marketing Strategy on his post at Mashable.com.
“Red Bull is a publishing empire that also happens to sell a beverage”
Moz is a company that makes SEO software but it’s known for its popular blog that’s now the ultimate source for information on Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing. Every customer who buys subscription access tools and information for SEO does so because they “trust” SEOmoz – thanks to the incredibly well written blog.
Wistia is an Online Video Hosting Provider but is currently an authority on making videos for business, using videos for business promotions, and on hosting video for marketing. Their videos are great examples of “videos” are produced. Each piece of content on their blog works to build trust and hence their own sales.
HubSpot sells a CMS and a marketing system for businesses but it’s well known for its Content Carpet Bombing and is one of the leading resources for online marketing.
There are also a few companies such as Wix, Instagram, EventBrite, and KISSmetrics that get their content marketing strategy right, according to Sivan Cohen, head of content marketing at Conduit.
If you need more inspiration, The Content Marketing Institute has the Ultimate Ebook on 100 real content marketing examples that you can draw your inspiration from.