Content marketing is a winning strategy — we all know that. We’ve seen the numbers and read the case studies.
There’s a problem, though.
Four million posts are published every day. That’s some stiff competition.
The good news?
If you can be a true leader in content marketing — the marketer offering new and exciting content in varied ways and on various topics — the results can be incredible.
Site traffic growth (year-on-year) is 780 percent better for content marketing leaders when compared to followers.
Using some of the tactics outlined in this post, I launched my blog AdamEnfroy.com just last year and I now have 250,000 monthly readers and make over $40k/month from my blog.
Here are the most impactful ways you can become a leader and make the most of your content marketing strategy and budget.
1. Turn visitors into leads
The #1 way to get more from your content marketing budget is to more effectively tap into the visitors you already have.
Content marketing is about two things: brand awareness and practically understanding your sales funnel.
Let’s put the brand awareness to the side for now (we’ll talk about SEO optimization and quality content in a moment).
Instead, let’s focus on turning existing readers into leads.
Optimize your blog for lead generation
After you start your new blog and have a steady flow of traffic, there are a few best practices when it comes to blog monetization.
Implement tactics like adding a blog sidebar with a CTA prompting a lead-generating promotion or newsletter subscription, or create lead magnets focused on a few different subjects and promote them only on content which is relevant to each.
For example, when people land on your blog, you need to tempt them with content upgrades like so:
Want to make great CTAs? Here are the best tips I can give:
- If you’re going to have in-line CTAs, place them toward the top of your posts. Very few readers get down to the bottom, so a newsletter subscription prompt at the end of a piece will rarely be seen.
- If you’re running a time-restricted promotion (contest, webinar, etc.), add a CTA to the top of your blog with a countdown timer.
- Entry overlays or popups can be effective ways to turn readers into subscribers or leads. However, they need to be tested.
- Use scrolling CTAs. You should be creating content which is at least 1500 words. That means once people get the full value of your messaging (1000 words in, for instance) the CTA to submit lead information is a mile away.
Remember though, these are just best practices. You need to be A/B testing your blog design to see what works and what doesn’t.
Develop landing pages
Landing pages are the bread and butter of conversion. They are critical to driving revenue from a blog.
But landing pages often fall short. They’re set up for quick artificial wins rather than long term success.
To ensure that your landing pages provide a seamless brand experience as well as long-term SEO benefits, publish all your landing pages under your brands’ web domain with the same look and feel of your overall brand.
Design-wise, landing pages need four specific elements to succeed when targeting less-informed traffic from your blog or ads. Here is a stellar example from Zoma Sleep:
1. SEO optimization: This works both to target search engines and reassures visitors they are at the right page: sports mattress. A user needs to know ASAP that the page they are on is exactly what they are looking for.
2. Compelling tagline: Design meets performance for a winning night’s sleep. Does it get any more compelling and valuable than that?
3. Social proof: Social proof is one of the most important factors a landing page can have to build trust in new and weary customers.
Here’s an example of excellent written social proof from Monday.com, one of my favorite platforms for managing projects:
And Philip Hue provides a great example of visual social proof, showcasing user-generated images to demonstrate the many ways their smart light bulbs can create impressive Halloween home experiences.
4. Support: Live-chat on site shows direct and easy customer support
Incorporating live-chat can be as simple as the way FireClay Tile does on their landing page in the bottom right corner:
5. Product Demo: showcasing the product helps customers quickly understand your offer
Create lead magnets
To make the most of your content marketing budget, you should reuse your existing content to create email-gated guides and resources (lead magnets).
Check out this example from Perfect Keto, a keto supplement company, and how they entice users with a free thirty day keto course:
When crafting your lead magnet, the main objective is to identify what it is your audience wants and will value from, which is exactly what Perfect Keto did above.
When crafting your lead magnet, the main objective is to identify what it is your audience wants and will value from.
Another great example of a lead magnet is from Reply. Here, they provide literal volumes of knowledge on outbound sales, for free:
This is extremely valuable to prospective readers, making it something they’d be willing to exchange their email for.
Another great idea for a lead magnet is to offer a free trial of your product or service like Beaconstac does to help users automate the QR code creation process:
After they sign up for a free trial, you should have all the important information you need to close the deal.
2. Give your content the best chance to rank
Before you start writing anything, there’s something you need to know:
Unless your content is ranking in the first few positions on Google, nobody’s going to click on it.
The top-ranked result gets about 33 percent of total clicks. The second gets between 15 and 20 percent; the third gets 10 percent; the fourth around 7 percent, and the fifth and sixth around 5 percent each. By the bottom of the first page, we’re down to 1-2 percent click-through.
And you can forget about any traffic at all if you’re on the second page.
And that means utilizing either yourself, an in-house SEO manager or outsourced SEO agency.
The challenge is that SEO is complicated and intimidating.
Most great content creators aren’t developers; they’re creatives. And a lot of SEO seems to be nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes coding (it’s not, but that’s the perception).
But it’s an essential part of making the most of your content marketing budget.
So, grab your web developer and hunker down.
Here’s a checklist for essential SEO elements:
- Page title optimization: Be seen when people search
- Meta data/description optimization: Tell Google what your page is about
- Index pages: Ensure your pages are visible to search crawlers and Google bots
- Create shareable content: Write content which is built to be shared on social media
- Tell quality, data-driven stories: Original research and statistics which other content marketers will link to.
- Write with SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) features in mind: Question/answer format, etc.
- Consider page speed: About 40 percent of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. This includes image optimization for the content creator and code cleaning for the developer.
- Leverage headers: Know how to format your headings (H2s and H3s) to obtain featured snippets.
- Get backlinks: Have a link building strategy for your content.
Beyond on-page factors and creating wonderful content, you also need to build high-quality links that point to your newly created content.
Content without links is like a boat without a paddle.
According to link building experts at Loganix, “One of the most successful ways to generate long-lasting and impactful links from highly relevant and authoritative sources is by attracting them with great content. People will always share and link to content that is unique, interesting, and useful.”
Loganix hits the nail on the head here. The first step in any good link strategy is having good content. From there, you can start aggressively building links via:
- Guest content
- Relationship building
- Sponsoring local events
Once you have great content, it’s time to push for links to take that content to the next level.
In 2018, 52.2 percent of all traffic worldwide was conducted on mobile devices:
For the first time, the majority of people reading online were doing so from their phones. The future will be no different.
As a result, it’s essential you format your articles for mobile readers:
- Write short paragraphs which don’t take up the entire screen.
- Don’t add popups or overlays (this is a big SEO no-no) on mobile view.
- Check that your images look good both on desktop and mobile (this may be a dev thing).
- Ensure your pages are Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
There are dozens of marketing tools to help you optimize your site for both SEO and lead generation (or whatever bottom-of-funnel objective you need). It can be intimidating to find the right one, but you can utilize review sites such as G2, Capterra (or yours truly) to find the best marketing automation software for managing your blog.
3. Write less but better content
We talked just now about how important it was to rank in the top few positions on Google.
If you don’t rank, your content won’t be seen. And if your content isn’t seen, you’re wasting content marketing budget.
It’s that simple.
There are two approaches to this in your keyword research process:
- Only write for long-tail, low-volume keywords, but write prolifically.
- Only write for high-volume keywords, with amazing content — better than what’s currently there.
I recommend the second of those two choices.
- Amazing content gets you to the top of the SERP. That means brand awareness and traffic.
- Amazing content builds a more respectable brand reputation than a lot of not-amazing content.
- There’s nothing more wasteful than creating content nobody reads (and we’re talking about better-utilizing your budget, remember).
According to SiriusDecisions, up to 70 percent of content goes unused.
We’re creating a lot of content, but it’s not the content that our prospective customers want to read. We’re guessing and stabbing in the dark.
And that’s a waste of money.
What should we be doing instead?
We should be doing our research. We need to write only content our prospective customers want.
This means content that fulfills a DIRECT niche beyond generalizations. For instance, don’t be a travel blog. Be a blog specifically about reviewing excursions.
Don’t be a marketing blog, be a blog about eCommerce marketing.
Don’t be a restaurant blog, be a blog about online security and password managers for restaurants.
In other words, the more niche, the better.
As someone who frequently travels, one blog I personally like to follow that you could consider very niche is Cooltechzone:
Anyone who travels internationally has probably ran into the issue where certain websites or apps don’t work in other countries — e.g., WhatsApp in China. Even Netflix is different. That’s why I go to Cooltechzone to read all of the best VPN reviews before a big trip.
How to create better, rarer, content
Before writing any piece, consider what keyword combination you’re targeting, then head to the relevant SERP.
For instance, let’s say we want to rank for “benefits of content marketing” on Google. We do a quick search and check out the results:
Can we create something better than these results? If not, we should look into other keyword targets.
What does amazing content look like:
- It’s longer. The average word-count for Page 1 results is around 1,900 words.
- It has more images. Content that includes an image at every 100 words (at least) gets twice as many social media shares as articles with fewer images.
- It includes new ideas. Don’t just regurgitate old content you’ve read. Take a new stance. Be controversial. Be the first to analyze an industry change. Be original.
4. Create other content types
If you have $100 in marketing budget, spend $75 on the proven techniques (above) and $25 on something new.
We mentioned above that content leaders have 7.8X better traffic than content followers. Nothing says “leader” more than trying content formats.
Podcasts, webinars, and videos can set you apart from everyone else.
But they’re tricky.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to how you can succeed (on a budget) with podcasting, hosting webinars and creating videos.
Step 1: Identify your angle
Everybody and their mother is podcasting these days. If you’re in the marketing space, their grandmother probably is as well.
Our recommendation is to figure out an angle on whatever subject you’re going to talk about.
With the popularity of podcasts like Serial and blogs like Groove’s “Journey to 100k,” try a “journey to” series of podcast episodes in which you discuss a business goal you’re looking to achieve. Then break down the exact strategies you’re using to do it week-by-week.
If you have any existing content on the subject, reuse it (get the most out of your content marketing budget) when making your podcast:
Looking for inspiration? Here are 20 of the best marketing podcasts out there right now.
Step 2: Get the equipment
For the podcaster on a budget, Iwe recommend the following:
- Headset: Audio-Technica ATH-M20X Headset ($50)
- Microphone: Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB ($70) or the Blue Yeti ($129)
That’s it. And both those pieces of hardware are crucial for running a webinar and creating a great video as well.
Webinars can be the best return on content marketing investment out there. They’re lead gen monsters.
The challenge is getting people to register, attend, then respond positively to your post-webinar lead nurturing campaign.
Step 1: Identify your angle
We recommend the interview-style webinar.
- Everybody you interview has an incentive to share your webinar with their networks.
- You build your network of contacts. One guest refers another.
- They’re new and different every time you run one.
Step 2: Get the technical side right (software and hardware)
You don’t need anything more than the podcasting equipment recommended above, but it’s even more essential you get the webinar software part right.
Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” more than a badly-managed webinar. If your registrants can’t get into the webinar on the day (or can’t register in the first place), your sound doesn’t come through, or the screencast doesn’t appear, you’re done.
Our recommendation is a good landing page tool (which you probably already have) alongside a tool like WebinarJam.
Step 3: Create the funnel
There’s no point in putting the work into a webinar if you don’t have a strategy for turning registrants into customers.
We’re talking about how to make the most of your content marketing budget, right? So let’s turn registrants into customers.
- Create the landing page, drive traffic to it
- Optimize the page so the highest percentage of visitors register
- Develop email marketing strategies and create a post-registration email blast which reminds registrants to 1) share the promotion with their network and 2) attend on the day. Send multiple reminders. Just be sure to have their correct email address, or else you’ll suffer a high bounce rate.
- Create a post-webinar flow sent to both registrants and attendees. Create a sales process map and send a video recording of the webinar as an opportunity to send promotional emails. Create multiple follow up emails breaking down how your product or service can help achieve the objectives discussed in the webinar.
Step 1: Identify your angle
If everybody and their mother is podcasting, their entire family is doing video.
The difference between you and them, though?
You’re going to do it well.
Nothing communicates professionalism more than quality video.
Step 2: Get the technical side right
Quality video is about three things:
- Resolution: Use high-quality smartphone cameras like Apple iPhone Xs, the Google Pixel 3 or the Samsung Galaxy S10. You can also use a DSLR.
- Audio: Nobody likes low-quality audio, and it’s the #1 differentiator between a bad video and a good one. Use a lapel mic (I recommend the Movo WMIC50 wireless).
- Poise and Purpose: Besides the hardware, it’s crucial to be clear and compellingly communicate the purpose of your video. Why should people care to watch and share it? These little nuanced elements make up the difference between a stilted video and a good one.
Take the above with a grain of salt, though. It’s equally essential to film quickly and on-the-fly when something in your industry changes. Getting video content out quickly (with your phone while waiting for the bus, perhaps) can result in bigger numbers than waiting for the completely professional look.
Test it yourself and see which style works for you and your business.
There are many easy to use and easy to use free video editors for creating high-quality videos. For a guide to creating great videos, check out Wistia’s walkthroughs.
Hopefully implementing these content marketing strategies will help you make the most of your budget.
They’re simple ideas. But when executed well, they can be the difference between a profitable content team and one which costs your business money.
Return on investment is everything in running a successful business.
So focus on these strategies — the “get $50 from $5” tips you can take to the bank every time.