If you want to get more clients through online content marketing, keep reading. This will make a lot of sense for you.
Content marketing, also known as business blogging, is still considered the best medium for attaining and keeping clients online. From significantly boosting your SEO and conversion rates, to making people share and talk about you, it’s like a goldmine for your sales funnel.
Even so, it’s crazy how many businesses do it poorly or not at all. But if we think about it, it actually makes sense.
From our experience, effective content marketing takes up at least 50 hours a month. At least. And that’s when you know exactly what you’re doing, plus you have a clear process to follow that guarantees predictable results.
But if we think of entrepreneurial spirits, they’re already stacked up every week with a hundred other things to do. Ask most high performers today if they have 50 hours a month to do something new and they’ll ignore you completely.
It’s clear they either don’t have the time to do this effectively or don’t know how to do it, or sometimes both. If you’re one of those people, you’re in the perfect place.
Today’s article will tell you exactly what you need to know to either do it yourself or have it done for you. Let’s begin.
Before we go into anything else, we must start by making sure whatever you write about is relevant for the people you’re planning to attract.
This is a crucial step, overlooked by many who just write content for the sake of having more of it. Don’t fall into that trap. You should always start with your audience in mind first. Here are some practical ways you can do that.
A. Knowing your target audience
Do you have detailed buyer personas? I’m not talking about “males in their 30s who live in Boston.” That’s BS, and in most cases, it’s the main reason why most businesses are bad at marketing.
They think they know who their target is, and then wonder why 98 out of every 100 people they talk to (and who apparently are within their target) say “No” to their offer. We don’t consider that good targeting.
In order for you to have a clear image of who your target is and how to attract them, you must have their answer to the following questions:
- What are your thoughts about X?
- E.g.: If you sell blenders, X might be smoothies. If you sell insurance, X might be just that, insurance.
- Important: If they say “It’s great.”, that’s not helpful. Ask them to describe the thoughts that come to mind when thinking about X.
- Have you ever bought a similar product/service before?
- IF NO: Have you ever thought about buying it?
- IF YES: How would you grade your experience from 1-10?
- IF 10: Wow! And why is that?
- IF <10: What did you like about the experience? + What would have had to happen for it to be a 10?
- Where did you buy it from? / Where would you go to buy one?
- “I’d look it up on Google” means you should invest highly in marketing initiatives that boost your SEO.
- “I’d search on Amazon” means you should be there and maximize your product page’s effectiveness.
- “I’d ask a friend where they bought it” means you should focus on community building initiatives, such as effective social media.
- “I’d ask on Reddit/Quora/in a group” means you should invest in thought leadership, also known as public relations.
- What would be some turn-offs for you when deciding to buy?
- Many times, knowing what to take out of a sales letter or call is more important than what to put into it. Don’t give potential clients any reason not to trust you or your product/service.
- What would make the purchase a no-brainer?
- This one has the purpose of finding both your clients’ fears and the solutions for how to eliminate those fears. Implementation of the answers to this question is crucial to the success of your ventures.
- For example, we’ve found the biggest fear our clients had before working with us was generated from past traumas. They invested in similar services before, and their expectations were far from being met.
- The solution was simple: All of our services now have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. And we don’t just say it. It’s in each and every contract we sign. We trust our systems and competence so much we fully stand behind the effectiveness of our services. Be honest: Wouldn’t you hire a firm that’s so confident in their product/service they offer a 100% guarantee?
- That’s exactly the feeling your potential clients should feel if you learn their real fears and find real solutions to those fears.
And those are five questions that can 10x your position within your industry. Of course, there are many more questions to be asked, but if you have the answer to these, you’re already way ahead of your competition.
Again, you cannot come up with the answers. It must come from them, and preferably from dozens of them. It’s something we do when developing a marketing strategy. Yes, it does take a ton of time, but it’s more than worth it, without exception.
It’s easiest to start with the clients you already have, especially those who you have high rapport with. In our experience, they’d gladly give you 30 minutes of their time to answer a few questions.
You can also ask people who you believe are within your target audience but have yet to work with you. In that case it’s best to offer some kind of reward for their time. The only issue with random people is you don’t know how honest their answers will be. Whereas people you already have a good relationship with will, in most cases, be more open and helpful.
B. Industry insight
What if I’d write about the benefits of having a toilet for the people in Manhattan. You know, that typically white chair you sit on and do… stuff. Do you think that would be relevant? Of course not.
If I sold toilets or similar products and I wanted to attract and add value to potential clients, then I’d have to go deeper into the industry. I'd have to become knowledgeable, do my research, talk to influencers, and so on.
For example, the guys at Squatty Potty do an impeccable job with their content marketing initiatives. They teach people, amongst other things, how to correctly sit on a toilet. And yes, you’re probably doing it wrong, but see how a thought leader is easily on top of their competitors?
Seriously, just search for “how to correctly sit on a toilet” and their article will probably be on the first page of Google. (Depending on your geographical location, of course)
Here are some things you can do to make sure your own thoughts are always at the forefront of your industry:
- Follow industry-recognized influencers on Twitter
- Subscribe to relevant blogs and other publications
- Join groups on LinkedIn and Facebook
- Participate in events tangent to the industry
C. Keyword research
If your website is optimized correctly, every word on each page, and especially in the titles and headers, is used by Google to figure out whether or not to send people to your site.
Though Squatty Potty’s website isn’t optimized in terms of UX and design, this specific article is great because it’s strategically filled with a dozen very searched for keywords. Just these three terms, hemorrhoids, constipation, and colon diseases, average almost ten million searches every month.
Off-topic: I just had a fast chat with one of my colleagues and didn’t know why they were looking at my screen so intensely. I had the Squatty Potty article open… Hope they didn’t draw any rushed conclusions.
Coming back, it’s important you know exactly what people search for. A great tool that can help you with this is Google’s Keyword Planner. It helps you challenge and correct the assumptions you have regarding what your target audience is actually searching for and interested in.
It also helps you find trends and adapt your content as per the fluctuation of people’s real-time searches. This helps you maximize the efforts of your content marketing strategy, and this is also why we suggest you regularly engage in such research.
I don’t think there’s a better word in the English language to describe this step other than: Epic.
Your content has to make people go through strong emotions. Some examples are:
- Awe: when you open their minds to something they didn’t know before
- Euphoria: when you give them a solution they’ve been searching for
- Sadness: when you present stories that move them on a deeper level
- Anger: when you want people to take action and do something about the topic
- Trust: when they feel you’re authentic and don’t want to trick them in any way
Making sure every article you write takes your reader through such emotions will make people want to share your content. You won’t even have to ask them. This is what will help you go viral.
Of course, this is quite hard to achieve, especially if you haven’t written at least a million words worth of content before. To help you out, here are some things you can do to make your content epic:
- Avoid fluff. People are too busy to read endless lines of crap. Get to the point. Don’t write 3000-word articles for the sake of SEO. If you can transmit the same value through 1000, then do that. Your readers will appreciate you for it, share your content, and that will be 10x more beneficial for you.
- Do your homework. Please avoid writing about things you have close to no clue about. Today’s world is filled with people who have opinions about everything, but real knowledge about nothing. The rule is this: For every 1 word you write, you should have read at least 50 on that topic, preferably 500. And it’s also great to read contrary materials. This helps you open your mind to everyone’s point of view.
- Give it all you’ve got. Don’t hold back thinking people won’t buy from you if you write about it. In most cases, people don’t buy services because they don’t know or couldn’t find out how to do it themselves. They buy them because they want someone to help them. Be a giver. People will start talking. I guarantee it.
- Spread it up into sections. The first thing I, and most other people, do is we skim through an article fast to see if it has any points of interest. If the article is just one giant sausage of text, we close the tab and wait for someone with a bit more order in his mind to write about the same subject. Use headings, numbers, and lists to create order.
- Focus on one subject. Many times it’s tempting to drift into tangent topics. Please avoid it. You can, instead, link out to such topics and let the reader decide whether he wants to read up on the other subject.
We’ve seen it time and time again, with other businesses and with our own. Your content engine is as good as (1) the quality of its output and (2) the time it runs without pause.
We’ve tried content marketing in Wesrom for around 20 consecutive months, and it proved incredibly valuable. We got to a point in which there were thousands of people would come to our site every month. And we’re not a news or an eCommerce site — we’re a services business.
We actually got so many opportunities from that initiative we couldn’t continue it. All our new clients wanted us to write content for them, so our writers were busy developing a content strategy and executing on it for them.
Now that’s what we call great ROI. Acquiring so many new clients you don’t even have time to continue marketing yourself.
At the same time, the moment we stopped our content engine, traffic to our site started dropping. Looking back, we probably should have paid someone to help us keep the engine going, but we were so caught up with the new demands we had on our time that we forgot about it.
It’s also important to note how our initiative started paying off huge dividends only after many months in, but if I consider how Wesrom grew 800% year-over-year, from 2015 to 2016, I can honestly say it was more than worth it.
The easiest and most surefire way to remain consistent is to hire someone to do it for you. That way, no matter what changes in your own agenda, you know the person or team you delegated this to has to keep the engine going, month after month, week after week.
If that’s not an option, the next best thing is to block out parts of your week for this specific purpose and be very stubborn in not allowing anything to interfere with those blocked times. Our digital marketing managers dedicate approximately 10-15 hours every week for this specific purpose.
The effectiveness of content is largely dependent on how many people actually get to read it. Sounds obvious, I know, but I can’t tell you how many businesses out there believe if they just keep pumping out content every week they’ll eventually get enough traction.
Though that might be true (because someone will eventually see their work), do you want to start passively getting more and more clients from content marketing in 2-3 years, or 6-12 months?
If executed on correctly, a content promotion strategy will aid you in maximizing the value of every content piece you have.
Be warned though, that simply sharing the content is not enough. More so, it’s almost useless. In order for content promotion to get the desired outcome you want (i.e. more leads), you’ll have to focus two aspects:
A. Target Audience
We’ve already talked about clearly defining your target before, so we won’t go in deep again. Just note that in the same interview in which you ask them the above questions, you should also ask questions like:
- How do you prefer to stay informed?
- What blogs or other publications do you read?
- How do you normally share content with others?
The answers to such questions will help you find out where your content should be promoted, and then focus 80% of your efforts on those channels.
Again, the goal of promotion isn’t to share content, it’s to bring in more leads. In order to do that, you must engage your audience with every single message (also known as touch point). Here are some ways you can engage your audience:
- Instead of just sharing an article on your social media platforms, be sure to use relevant hashtags and mention people. Some of our social media messages have been shared by industry giants, such as Richard Branson. Such engagement increases your reach 10-100x.
- Instead of just sending notification emails of new articles, add clear, explicit calls to action within each email. Some of our emails have been forwarded and/or replied to by people like Joe Polish, Guy Kawasaki, and Nick Vujicic.
- Instead of selfishly self-promoting your content in online groups, be part of the conversation and use your content as answers to other members’ queries. It’s not every day someone like Noah Kagan likes your post, but when it happens, you know it’ll get attention.
The best way to measure the effectiveness of both your digital content strategy and promotional efforts is to set clear KPIs in place and keep track of how you’re doing on a daily basis. If your posts get 0 likes, or if your emails get 0 responses, you know you’re doing something wrong.
There’s no silver bullet, but constantly testing, tweaking, and improving your approach will definitely yield high returns. And this is true for each of the four steps outlined in this piece.
Across all of our initiatives so far, we’ve written millions of words and managed to engage and convert thousands of people, for ourselves, but mostly for our clients. We’re now confident to have one of the best content marketing services within our industry.
And we’re still learning, becoming better every year.
I hope this article proved valuable for you. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or send me an email: [email protected].
I’d also highly appreciate it if you’d share this article with at least one other person you think would benefit from adding content marketing to their business or venture.
To your continued success,
Edit: This content piece helped us get two meetings with potential clients on the calendar, in the first 24 hours after it was published. Gotta love effective marketing.