6 Steps to Content Marketing Success

Content Marketing has become one of the hottest topics in marketing, for good reason: it works. Here are just a few statistics to explain why:

“Two-thirds to 90% of the buying cycle is completed before a B2B buyer ever speaks with a sales rep.” – Forrester

“Business buyers spend just 21% of buying cycle in conversations with salespeople, instead spending 23% of the time in conversations with peers and colleagues and 56% of the buying cycle searching for and engaging with content” – IDG Connect

Here’s a quick definition of content marketing via searchengineland.com:

content marketing definition

But even more than simply building “reputation and visibility”, content marketing can generate leads and drive them through your marketing funnel until you can convert them into sales. Who doesn’t want more sales?

Here is the five step process you can use to create your own successful content marketing initiative:

1. Create Your Content Marketing Strategy

Before you type a single word you need to define who your target audience is. Without that golden nugget of information, you’ll be wasting a huge amount of time creating content that won’t help you attract potential customers. In fact, this is one of the biggest mistakes companies make in their content marketing efforts. So before you go any further ask yourself the question: who am I trying to attract and engage. Once you answer that question you’ll be able to create the type of content that will speak to your target customers.

Check out this article via Conversioner for an in-depth look at how to create a marketing persona.

2. Find Out What Your Target Audience is Searching For

Even though the primary purpose of content marketing is not SEO, is still plays a significant role on your SEO strategy. In order to attract some of the billions of daily searches to your content, you need to include the keywords that they are searching for. That’s where keyword research comes into play.

Open up the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool and type in the words that you think your potential customers are searching for. Then use those keywords in your content title and occasionally in your content. Don’t “stuff” your content with the keywords — that’ll just get you penalized. It also will be apparent to your readers that you’re just trying to game the system and they’ll leave and bounce over to your competitors.

Here’s the bottom line: if you write informative and engaging original content, you don’t have to focus specifically on keywords. That’s because you’ll already be using them naturally, and Google is smart enough to figure out what your content is about without seeing the same keywords repeated multiply times in each paragraph.

3. Create Your Content

Now that you’ve identified your audience and your keywords, it’s time to start creating your content masterpiece. If you’re a good (or competent) writer, then writing an effective page or post is the way to go. If writing isn’t your forte, you can shoot a video, record a podcast or create an infographic. Whatever works best for informing and engaging your particular target audience. Successful content marketers use a combination of many different formats to deliver their message (check out the video at the end of this post!).

4. Distribute Your Content

You’ve heard the one about the tree falling in the forest without anyone watching? Well, if you create an awesome piece of content but no one sees it — not very productive. You can organically distribute your content to your target audience directly via an email list (which you hopefully have been building) and social media. Just be sure to identify the social media platform that your target audience uses before spending time sharing. Read this post for how to do that.

Getting influencers to share your content is amazing, if you can make that happen. How to do that is a whole other topic beyond the scope of this little old post. Here’s an article to get you started on influencer marketing.

5. Don’t Forget Your Call to Action

People are finally reading your content. Now what? That’s exactly what they’re probably asking. “Now that I’ve read you’re content and like what you’ve said, what should I do about it?” Given no other options, the reader will most likely leave your site, move on with life, and probably never return. What a waste that would be.

You must provide your reader with a call to action (CTA) tell them exactly what it is you want them to do next. Ideally you’d probably want them to buy your product or contact you to set up a consultation. Most readers won’t be ready to that. They need more time to research and decide. What you want to do at this point is to get their email address so that you can remain in contact and continue to educate and engage with them until they are ready to engage in a purchase or sales conversation.

Every piece of content you create should have a call to action directing the reader to take the action you want them to take.

You usually have to offer the reader something of value in exchange for their email address. That could be a free trial, ebook, tips or whatever you feel will do the trick. Read this post for more insight into this.

Without a call to action, you’re leaving money on the table.

6. Marketing Automation in Action

Once you’ve got your readers email, you should add it to a leads list in your email marketing program. The goal now is to nurture that lead down through your funnel until he or she is ready to become a customer. This nurturing process can be automated — yes, that’s what they call marketing automation. To do this you’ll need to create a series of emails that will be automatically sent at regular intervals. Most email marketing providers make it easy for you to set up a series of automated emails.

Each of these automated emails will be more content that you need to create. You might also decide to link to other pieces of your content within the emails. You can read more about these emails in our free ebook – The Digital Marketing Blueprint.

Following these 6 steps should help you get your content marketing campaign up and running, and generated new leads. If you have any questions or need help developing your own content marketing strategy or campaign, please let us know and we’ll be glad to answer your questions and assist.

For more about our content marketing process, check out this video:

Blogging is NOT Just About the Writing

I recently came across a question on Quora which got me thinking about what content marketing, specifically blogging, really consists of. The question was something like, “how much will it cost me to hire a writer to write a blog post for my business?”

There were a few responses with answers containing prices ranging from $20 up to the low 4 digits. In my opinion none of the answers were correct because the question was fundamentally flawed.

When you write a blog post, or hire someone to do it for you, the actually writing of the words is only part of the task. You can get someone to write words for pretty cheap, even if those words are well formed. But business blogging isn’t just about the words. It’s about fulfilling a specific strategic objective. Your blog post is the tool to achieve that objective.

Here are some of the things that need to be included in the creation of a blog post:

1. Content Marketing Strategy

Before you write a single word, you need to have a content marketing strategy and understand what role your blog post will play in it.

One of the main reasons for blogging is to display expertise and thought leadership. If that’s the case then you’ll either have to write your post on your own or provide a hired gun with a lot of information that they can integrate and mold into a well written post. In either case you’ll have to invest a decent sized chunk of time, which you need to include in your total cost of blog post. Paying someone a petty sum to write something that you’ll use to reflect your expertise is a very bad idea (don’t you think?).

You also need to make sure you understand who your target audience is and write your post in a voice that speaks to them. Depending on your audience and subject matter, this can be quite challenging and require a higher caliber of writer.

Hiring a bog writer without having your content marketing strategy (at least for that post) clearly in place is like throwing money at a problem without having a solution. You’ll have a lighter wallet but few results.

2. Call To Action

Every blog post you create should have a call to action directing the reader to take the action you want them to take. While you can always append a CTA to the end of a post, the ideal is when the entire blog post pushes the reader towards that CTA. Crafting a blog post that does that isn’t so easy. I doubt the $40 posts will make that happen.

3. SEO

Every piece of content should take SEO into account. Keyword research and usage and titles need to be included. Even if the strategic goal of the blog post isn’t about driving search engine traffic, you never know when you’ll rank at the top for long tailed keywords.

Take Away

If you’re object is to market your products or services to real life people (as opposed to appealing solely to search engine), the quality of your blog posts need to be superior. This is especially so for B2B companies. People can tell the difference between well written original expert content and the stuff banged out by amateurs writing for bus fare. When I see that type of low quality content I do 2 things: lose respect for the company posting it and bounce as fast as I can.

There’s a good reason why professional consultants and agencies charge a relatively heft sum for creating blog posts: they provide a lot more than just the writing (which hopefully is superior). They include a content marketing strategy, CTA’s, SEO and a high level of expertise.

The only way that I believe you can use lower priced blog writers is if you need a rough draft of words to work off of to save time. But you still need to do the heavy lifting of strategy, SEO, CTA’s, sharing your expertise and editing and polishing before you can share your post with the world. Or you can pay a fair price for someone else to do all of that for you.

3 HUGE Lessons I Learned From a Noah Kagan Webinar

This article was originally published as a guest post on inbound.org.

I recently attended a webinar given by Noah Kagan, founder of SumoMe, and I learned 3 huge lessons that I was able to implement immediately and that I felt I simply had to share so that you can benefit from them too.

First off, special thanks to Noah for offering a free webinar! Unlike most webinars that are really big sales pitches for a particular product or service, this one was about 95% useful information and 5% soft selling, primarily at the end. Sure he mentioned the sumo tools, but you can use them all for free (which I do) without ever paying for the pro versions if you don’t need the extra features. So free information + free tools = pretty darn good deal!

Getting back on topic, the webinar consisted of Noah looking at websites and giving his recommendations of what could be improved to make each more effective in communicating its message and achieving its desired objective. There were lots of good tips, but these 3 really resonated with me so much so that I’ve chosen to call them lessons instead of just tips.

Lesson 1: Clearly communicate what you do or sell above the fold.

Sounds pretty simple, and it is. Unfortunately many people don’t do it. Instead they try to be witty, mysterious, coy or just plain confusing, resulting in the visitor having no idea what they actually do and probably bouncing.

Sometimes they’ll make you scroll down the page before revealing what they do or sell. The problem with that is that it assumes that people will be interested enough to scroll. While there are different opinions as to the importance of “the fold”,  I think everyone would agree that if a visitor isn’t interested in what they initially see on their screen, they probably won’t spend more time on the site.

Here’s how I applied this lesson to our own website. The first screenshot is of our original homepage. The second one is post update.


digital marketing homepage


digital marketing homepage after

Onrush Digital is a digital marketing agency. Our core areas of expertise are content marketing, seo, social media and marketing automation (and we also build websites). So that’s pretty much what we do, and we did state that (pretty much) on the original page. But even though we list all the things we do, is that really what our target customer is looking for?

Our target persona is either a CEO/Owner or a CMO/Marketing Director of a business doing at least $1m in revenue that does not have an inhouse marketing department or staff. When that owner or CMO goes online to get marketing help, is he or she looking for content marketing or social media, or any other specific skill; or are they looking for help in getting specific results, like driving traffic, increasing their exposure and generating leads?

I think they’re looking for results. When they scroll down they’ll find out what disciplines we use to get them those results (i.e. content marketing, seo, etc.). They might not even know what exactly content marketing is. But they do know they want more exposure, more traffic and more leads. That’s what they’re buying.

On the second homepage version we give them exactly what they’re searching for in their face. Results. That should get them interested enough to watch the video and scroll down to learn more.

Lesson 2: Focus on 1 action you want your visitors to take.

If you could pick one action that you’d want your visitor to take, what would it be?

You might want them to purchase a product or give you their contact info. Or you might want them to read a blog post or watch a video. Whatever it is you choose, make it so crystal clear to your visitor that he practically is drawn to that action.

Studies have shown that if you tell someone what you’d like them to do, there’s a good chance that they’ll do it. The technical term is “call to action”, and every piece of content you create should have one. If you don’t include a CTA, you’re leaving the decision of what to do entirely to the visitor, in which case he might do something other than what you want, or nothing at all.

On the first version of our homepage (not including the top nav bar) there are a bunch of things the visitor can do: download an ebook, schedule a consultation, watch a video, click on the links (in yellow). There’s nothing wrong with the visitor taking any of those actions. But there’s also an old Talmudic saying that teaches, “if you try to grab everything you end up with nothing.” Too many choices could result in overwhelming the visitor and cause them to run. (Personally, when I’m overwhelmed with information, my brain tends to shut down.)

You need to decide what the one most important action is that you want your visitors to take. In our case we felt that while it would be great if they’d schedule their free consultations, if someone has just landed on your homepage they probably won’t be ready to meet with you just yet. They’ll need to learn more about you and what you do first.

On our revised homepage we chose to drive visitors to watch a short video that introduces them to who we are and what we do. We felt that the video would build rapport and make them feel like, “hey, we can work with these guys”. At the end of the video we included a CTA link to schedule a free consultation.

Lesson 3: Offer a personal challenge to get emails

For the majority of visitors who will NOT be ready to contact you when they first visit your website, the goal is to get their email address in order to be able to contact them or nurture them until they are ready to become a customer. The accepted way of doing that is to offer them something of value in exchange for their email address (and name). The initial offer is usually a piece of contact like a whitepaper or ebook.

The ideal offer with the highest conversion rate will be something that the recipient can implement immediately and see positive results. Noah suggested offering something that personally challenges you, which should in turn impress the heck out of the user and greatly increase the chances of conversion.

The offer that we’ve implemented (which I think was the example that Noah, although I honestly don’t remember) is that we’ll review your website and send you 3 specific tips that will improve your site and help you generate more leads. And we’ll send it to you within 24hrs.

We use the sumome list builder and scroll box (free versions) to present the offers. Here’s a screenshot of the scroll box:

lead magnet


It’s a lot more work than just creating a report or ebook, because we’ll have to look at each website and provide good tips for each one. But would you rather get 3 personalized tips or an ebook? We obviously think you’ll go for the personalized tips.

Providing personalized tips also gives us the opportunity to form a relationship with each individual visitor and potentially explore the option of working together by asking followup questions. We’ve already given you actionable advice and proven that we care about YOU. That’s a great way to start a relationship!

Why not see for yourself? Fill out one of our forms and we’ll send you your free tips within 24 hrs!

PS — Thanks again to Noah Kagan for an awesome webinar!