Is a content marketing investment a risk or a reward ?
Read on and you’ll discover the business pros and cons of content marketing.
Table of Contents
- I can’t pay that much for content
- Slim chance content will earn traffic
- Time to rank new content in Google
- Difficulty of ranking and keywords
- Organic results versus snack pack and snippets
- Content Promotion
- I just want results
- What is content marketing ?
- Most popular types of content marketing
- Why spend marketing money on content ?
- Simple definition of content marketing
- Content marketing examples.
- 4 business reasons for content marketing
- 4 ways to de-risk your content marketing investment.
- What are customers are looking for ?
- The Keyword Research Boston Matrix
- Stealing competitor traffic ?
- Too much hassle ?
I can’t pay that much for content
I lost out on a client deal recently.
The client said “I can’t pay that much money for content”.
“I’ll take some words out of our brochure or write it myself” the client said.
It is difficult to get some people to understand the important of great content.
Many smaller business owners have never purchased or made great content before.
My content ain’t perfect but I’m gradually improving it to better help other digital professionals and website owners.
Selling products and services to people who haven’t purchased content before is also a hard sell.
It’s like trying to sell a Man City shirt to a Man Utd fan.
Maybe the client is right not to invest in content.
Here’s some of the cons of content marketing.
Slim chance content will earn traffic
I’m a research addict.
When I analyse other websites, I see the same recurring patterns.
A great looking website with pages earning hardly any traffic from Google.
And websites who have invested heavily in content only getting traffic to a few or 20% of their pages.
Time to rank new content in Google
Ahrefs did a study to find out how long it takes a new piece of content to rank in Google.
The results aren’t pretty.
My interpretation is that most website owners don’t promote their pages hence no earned links hence no top 10 rankings.
Then Neil Patel outlined that more authoritative websites can rank their pages quicker than less trusted websites.
Difficulty of ranking and keywords
A few years ago a client wanted to rank in google for terms such as car insurance, home insurance and travel insurance.
I had to tell the client to reset their expectations.
Ranking in industries like insurance and financial services is vicious.
The client simply did not have the budget to compete against billion pound companies with huge marketing investment and resources.
Organic results versus snack pack and snippets
More bad news.
Let’s say you do manage to get to number one in Google you’re not actually number one.
There are usually paid for adverts above or to the right hand side of organic results.
There are Google Map listings above local results, snippets and snack pack results.
And there are Google Shopping ads when you’re looking for products online.
So you’ve published a great piece of content, now you gotta promote it.
Wait, no one told me that !
Yes, 30% of investment and time in creation and 70% in promotion is the rule of thumb.
When you launched content did you:
- Email it ?
- Post it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Instagram ?
- Use it at live events ?
- Use it in person ?
You have to promote the shit out of your content.
Don’t hide behind your keyboard; if it’s useful tell your world.
I just want results
Clients just want results.
They generally don’t care how you achieve those results.
They just want a return on investment.
And they want it fast.
But Mr Client ain’t helping himself.
A manager of a diamond ring company asked me why his traffic from Google had dropped from 50,000 visits a month to 27,000 visits a month.
30% of the links to his website were spammy links.
Analysing their website and reading between the line this company thought they could buy cheap links and it would boost their website traffic.
You don’t buy links, you earn them through your content or proactively promoting yourself online.
What is content marketing ?
“The world moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in while, you might miss it”
Ferris Bueller said something like that.
Look, I’m 51 now; business is Darwin baby; evolve or die.
Content marketing did not feature in any marketing budget I managed between 1990 and 2008.
It was called other things.
Most popular types of content marketing
The Content Marketing Institute did a survey* in 2018 and found the following were the most used types of content are:
- Social Media Posts 91%
- Case Studies 70%
- Video 67%
- Infographics 66%
- Ebook/White Papers 56%
- Illustrations/Photos 54%
- Research Reports 46%
- Intertools Tools (eg: quizzes and calculators) 26%
- Live Stream Video – 13%
- Films, documentaries – 6%
- Virtual/Augmented Reality – 1%
Where is podcasting on that list ?
* Based on the UK respondents of 2190 content marketers surveyed from an aided list with multiple responses allowed.
Why spend marketing money on content ?
I created my own definition of marketing and it goes like this :
Marketing helps to sell the right Product that solves the right Problem to the right People in the right Places at the right time with the right Promotion at the right Price; Profitably.
So if marketing helps to sell therefore content marketing should help to sell.
Simple definition of content marketing
Content Marketing = answering questions to help solve prospects problems before they buy.
Content marketing examples.
I examined the top ranking and top linked EE.co.uk website pages.
Top pages that get traffic from Google
- how can i see my monthly bill
- managing and using my account
- contact us
- my ee app
Only 2 of their top 15 pages are sales or product pages.
Best linked to pages
- close your account
- mobile coverage
A huge brand like EE get most of their traffic and most of their top links to non sales pages.
They earn traffic from useful pages.
3 questions for you
- Do you have useful pages ?
- Do you just have sales pages on your website ?
- Are you missing out on traffic and earning valuable links from useful content ?
Another content marketing example
You search for a mortgage.
You then want to know is how much you can borrow ?
So the content would be a mortgage calculator.
Same goes for people searching “how much does a website cost ?”
The top results contain calculators; ie: content marketing.
Should I buy this product or that product ?
In the UK, old people buy a magazine called Which ?
It’s basically expert reviews and product comparisons.
And they are very useful and helpful in solving people’s purchase decisions.
An example of content marketing in fashion
I helped a fashion brand selling clothing online.
Some of my keyword research showed a lot of people searched for things like :
- Black Shoes + grey suit
- Dark Grey Suit + Brown Shoes
- Navy Suit + Brown Shoes
- Blue Suit + Black Shoes
To quote Sumo.com – “focus on creating content that helps your customer, not on content that tries to get social shares”.
How could you, as a fashion brand, help people with content after they make search queries like these ?
I do think content marketing is almost bordering on being a product, a tool or an app.
4 business reasons for content marketing
Since 1990 people have hired me to use marketing to help sell their stuff.
So I make no apologies for my commercial inclination here; in my experience there are 4 reasons to use content marketing.
Acquire new customers
There are searches online made by people looking for ways to advertise their business.
You would think a business would know how to advert; most don’t.
I wrote a guide on how I used to advertise a business in Glasgow.
Now I need to turn that guide into something people can actually use for themselves.
In turn I hope people find my page, subscribe to my email list and eventually use my services.
Upsell existing customers
Let’s circle back to EE, the mobile phone company example mentioned earlier.
EE provide a lot of useful content for customers such as how to see your bill and manage your account.
I’ve logged into my account; which I do frequently to check my account and when I can replace my son’s broken iPhone.
Ps: don’t let a teenage skater skate with a brand new iPhone !
Look at all the upsell messages and offer.
When you’re a huge big brand like EE with millions of customers in a cut throat price driven commodity market like mobile and broadband you lose customers.
I’m trying to think back to my ntl telecom days; I think we lost about 10% of our customer base a year.
A friend used to run 15 health clubs and he had the same problem; customers who churn and burn.
Churn was costing his business nearly £900,000 a year in revenue.
Try filling up your sales pipeline to replace that income.
Comparative guides can combat churn and retain customers
My broadband supplier, Virgin Media, just bumped up the price of my monthly broadband.
I’m not happy.
OK it’s only going up 10%; but still.
According to this website, Virgin have over 5 million cable broadband customers in the UK.
Let’s do some basic maths.
5 million x £30 a month = £150 million revenue per month or £ One billion, eight hundred million in annual revenue.
If they lost just 5% of customers in a year; that’s £90 million lost revenue.
£90 million; say that out loud.
Look at the back of my price increase letter.
Virgin have produced a great guide to compare their service with their nearest competitor; BT.
I was thinking of looking around at different suppliers.
And writing his post prompted me to test my broadband speed.
OK, cool, 68 Meg download speed.
So I’m better off than the alternatives.
But hey Virgin, you could better leverage this comparison guide.
Do a google search for ‘virgin v bt broadband” or ‘virgin v sky broadband” or even ‘virgin v ee broadband”.
No page from these brands appear in the top 10 results.
Virgin could rank to retain customers.
BT, Sky, EE could rank to try and switch people considering their options.
It’s not like don’t have a business case for this content marketing; there’s £90 million a year in lost revenue at stake.
Build brand authority through backlinks
I work with a client in a really boring, low search volume but competitive market.
Most of the search terms they rank for are not on page one.
They don’t have many links to their website.
So, I’ve created two pieces of content, somewhat relates to their industry, and I’ll be promoting this country.
What’s my pitch to get links ?
We’ll provide you with a custom designed infographic of data I created.
You should be creating content to earn links to your website so you build your brand authority and overall keyword rankings.
4 ways to de-risk your content marketing investment.
I once spent £90,000 of a marketing budget re-decorating a room.
I used to be the sponsorship manager of a telecoms company that sponsored two big football teams.
As part of the contract we had the use of 2 corporate hospitality boxes.
We invited clients to match games and had the use of the boxes for meeting, presentations, demonstrations and client interactions.
So we refurbished both boxes, installed computer pods, large screen digital tv’s and set up an online booking system for our corporate sales people to leverage.
£12 million in annual recurring income in 8 months and these boxes attributed to this return.
Look how big Google search is
Google ain’t going anywhere for the next 20 years.
I’m sure they will try to maximise their real estate and put a squeeze on organic search listings.
Their mantra has always been to provide the best, relevant answers for search queries; that won’t change.
Your content should be on Google as well as your chosen social channels.
Look at the organic traffic the top pages earn
Here’s how I started a conversation with a client this morning.
There’s 28k searches a month for “laundry basket”.
There’s over 2400 other keyword queries that include “laundry basket”.
So a nice big search topic.
And the keyword difficulty is 1; easy to rank for with the right content and links.
The top 10 pages get on average 6376 visits a month.
Visits from Google are a tangible way to demonstrate content value.
If you want that traffic, you have to pay Google for it with advertising.
Here’s the equivalent advertising value of a top 10 ranking for 12 months
If you want that traffic now, today, you have to pay Google for it with advertising.
6376 x £0.50 a click is £3188 a month or £38,256 a year.
There is an equivalent advertising monetary value associated with content.
The conversation goes like this; we researched and created this, if it gets into the top 10 search results, it gets 6376 a month that would be worth £38,256 in ads if you paid for that traffic.
Now what’s the return on investment of on being on page 1 ?
Another way to de-risk your content marketing investment is to estimate the revenue a top page ranking can bring to you business.
- 6376 visits a month
- x 2% conversion rate
- x £40 average order value
- £5100 revenue a month or £60,000 revenue a year.
There’s a real tangible business reason for content marketing; it can deliver more than you spend.
You are buying an investment
Did you question yourself buying a Mac ?
Do you question when you bought Macs, software, tables and chairs for your staff ?
No, because you were investing in productivity that delivers a business output.
Ps: my iMac is probably the best investment I’ve ever made and it was 3 times more expensive any pc I’ve purchased before.
Investments grow over time
The greatest value an advert, Facebook post or tweet has is right after you post it then it’s value declined to zero.
With a Google post repurposed in different channels the value increases over time and its value will last years if created and promoted.
Circle back in 2 years and decorate and repromote your investment
Graph of organic growth vs ppc
Anchor pricing – compare with your other spend
Client was spending £1000 a month plus £200 to a guy to run ads to promote his services.
It wasn’t working.
He got clicks but not enquiries.
And the ones he got were domestic not commercial enquiries.
So £1200 a month was a cost not an investment.
I pitched him £600 a month for one piece of content creation and promotion.
This “sales technique” above is called Anchor Pricing – you pitch a value or alternative cost against your pricing so the prospect appears to be getting a good deal.
Ah, but content does not convert said the doubting Thomas.
Typical PPC conversion rates ?
According to WordStream the average per per click advertising conversion rates are 2.35%.
However the top 25% of advertisers do get a 5.31% conversion rate on average.
That makes sense as the bigger companies will advertise more often, made more mistakes and thus have more experience.
Blog conversion rates
I don’t advertise but here’s my content conversion rates by channel.
- Direct 3.87%
- Organic 2.66%
On average my website converts 3.45% of visitors into subscribers.
If I look deeper into the organic conversion rate, I have a few pages that convert well.
- Website Structure page – 11.5% conversion
- Link Building – 17.54% conversion
- SEO – 14.29% conversion
OK these are some outlier results.
The end result is that you CAN convert content.
What are customers are looking for ?
You have no idea with your prospects and customers are looking for.
If you did you wouldn’t be reading this.
Yes I’m being arrogant but truthful.
Unless you are doing extensive research into what people are searching for, why they search, who’s in the top 10 and how much traffic they get, you are hosed.
You got no chance of competing without research and analysis.
The dialogue in Million Dollar Baby is like business today
Maggie: She’s tough, I can’t go inside, I can’t get close enough to hit her.
Frankie: You know why that is?
Frankie: Cause she’s a better fighter than you are, that’s why. She’s younger, she’s stronger, and she’s more experienced. Now, what are you gonna do about it?
Your competitors are younger and stronger; what you gonna do about it ?
The Keyword Research Boston Matrix
There are basically 4 types of searches that I’ve illustrated in this diagram.
You have to identify the high volume, low competition search queries in order to stand any chance of ranking and earning traffic for your content in Google.
Here are lots of keyword ideas I discovered here.
Stealing competitor traffic ?
Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that’s a straw, you see? Watch it. Now, my straw reaches acroooooooss the room and starts to drink your milkshake. I… drink… your… milkshake !
Daniel Day-Lewis in Let There Be Blood.
I don’t apologise for stealing ideas and rankings from competitors.
It’s business, it’s not personal.
These competing pages have proven topics content that rank and earn traffic.
Why reinvent the wheel when I can reverse engineer what works ?
Too much hassle ?
If you only want to promote and sell your products, that’s fine by me, go advertise with Google Advertising or Facebook Advertising.
It’s quick, it’s instant.
If you’re open to solve your customers problems or answering their questions with answers and content marketing, you’ll be in a good place.
Drop me a line.