How to Use Content Marketing to Get More Traffic and Conversions
June 13, 2016 |
When they’re just starting out many entrepreneurs mistakenly believe "if you build it, they will come.”
Unfortunately back here in the real world it simply doesn’t happen that way.
Sure, the Internet has made it incredibly easy to set up a website quickly and start offering your services to the world.
But it’s competitive out there. You’re probably up against thousands of competitors in your niche, so the chances of your business taking off without any legwork on your part are slim at best.
However, by using the following guide, you’ll increase your chances of growing your business over time. Of course it’s going to take time to see any results. But if you’re persistent in your pursuit of success and you pursue it strategically you’ll reap the rewards.
Defining Your Customer Base
With several billion people on earth, there is no one single product or service that will appeal to everyone. It just won’t happen. The point is, your product won’t have universal appeal and that’s fine. You can’t market your product to everyone - and you shouldn’t try.
Instead, you need to define exactly who your product will benefit most. What gender are they? Where do they live? What age range do they fall in? What are their hobbies and interests?
Most importantly, what are their goals? What are their fears? How will your product help them alleviate their fears, or achieve their goals - or both?
When you know these things, you can be much more strategic in your approach to marketing. Rather than casting a wide net by marketing to "everyone,” you’ll figure out the best ways to get the attention of those who will be most interested in your product.
Targeted, focused advertising makes it seem as if you’re speaking directly to specific individuals rather than the huddled masses. When a customer feels as if you’re speaking directly to them, it makes them more likely to take action.
What Stage Are They at in Terms Of Purchasing?
As a product or service provider, you always want to know where your customers are in relation to what you’re selling.
There are three steps they’ll take along the path to purchasing your products and services and that influences the type of content you create:
- Awareness of your product or service
- Consideration of whether or not to engage
- Decision to engage (or not)
Though you don’t want to prod them, you do
want to be there every step of the way to gently nudge them toward a conversion.
You do this by prompting an action during each of these phases.
First, you need to get their attention and make them aware of what you’re offering. These attention-grabbers are usually empathetic and intriguing. They immediately hit on the pain point your product or service aims to alleviate. This is a tried-and-true method of infomercials: "Tired of (blank)? Now there’s a new way to (blank) without having to (blank)!”
Once they start paying attention, you need to keep their attention and, again, gently nudge them toward a purchase. You do this by consistently reminding them of the benefits and value of your product or service.
When you truly understand your customer and the path they follow when engaging with your brand, you’ll stand a much better chance of making a sale.
Traffic vs. Conversions
Depending on whether your goal is to increase the amount of traffic your website gets or the amount of sales made from these visits, you’ll take two different paths. Ultimately, these paths will converge but for now let’s focus on each individually.
Getting More Traffic
Before you can make a sale people need to know you exist. Sure there are loads of behind the scenes tasks you need to do to optimize your website, but if you’re going to get traffic you’re going to need some help with the heavy lifting.
Isaac Newton once famously said, "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
No matter your niche, there are undoubtedly dozens of "giants” within the industry that have been in the game since way before you even decided to give this business venture a shot.
Don’t let this discourage you. On the contrary, use it to your advantage.
Identify the top performers and bloggers in your niche. Use tools like Buzzstream, Buzzsumo, and Ninja Outreach to figure out who in your industry gets the most traffic and has the most fans on social media.
These are the people you’ll bow down to while simultaneously working your butt off to connect with.
Establish Relationships with These Influencers
One of the amazing things about the internet is how it allows us to connect with one another.
Nowadays you can make connections with people who would have been out of reach before.
The first step is simply following them on social media. Of course, these industry giants got where they are by producing top-quality content. Take the time to read through the articles they post on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and share it with your followers. Even the big-shots in your niche will appreciate a retweet every once in a while.
You can take this a step further by commenting directly on their blog posts. This is really where the action is. Most successful bloggers gained an audience in the first place because they learned the importance of replying to their readers whenever they commented.
Your comments can be simple kudos on a job well done - and even then the blogger is likely to at least say "Thank you.” But the most effective comments are those which dive deep into a specific part of the blog post. You might choose to discuss your experiences with using the blogger’s advice, or talk about what you wish they spoke about in more detail. You might even throw caution to the wind and disagree with something they said.
However you choose to interact with the top performers in your niche (as well as the other members of the community), as long as you’re respectful and insightful, your dedication to your industry will shine through.
Discover Popular Content in Your Niche and Decide on Content Type
Whatever niche you’re working in, it’s safe to say it is constantly evolving. If you rely on creating cookie-cutter content that has been done to death, your website is not going to gain any traction.
Instead, you need to find out which topics are trending within your niche, and you need to know the best way to present them.
Use tools like those found on ahrefs
and Rank Ranger to discover the hot topics in your industry. Research these topics heavily. Remember: You need to create content that hasn’t already been done. If you just rehash a topic that an industry giant has already covered in great detail, you’re just wasting your time.
Once you’ve done the research, you need to figure out the best way to present your findings. Some of the most popular and successful mediums are:
- Definitive Guides
- Guest Posts on Popular Blogs
- List-Based Content
- Curated Roundups
When creating content, it’s fine to stick with the one or two mediums you work best with, but don’t become too predictable by overusing them, either. Keep your website fresh by trying something new every once in a while. Even if it doesn’t end up being the absolute best content you’ve ever created, you’ll still have the experience of learning what it takes to create it - and you’ll be able to do a better job the next time you give it a shot.
If you’re after better conversions then that assumes you’re already getting traffic to your site, but you want to increase the number of people who make a purchase.
The following are examples of content you can provide your prospective customers that will leave them more informed about your product or service, and help guide them to buy what you’re selling.
- How-To Guides: How many people do you know were intimidated when they first laid eyes on the iPhone? Whenever any new product comes out, there will almost certainly be those of us who choose not to buy it simply because they believe they won’t know how to use it. Offering user guides to customers before they purchase a product can alleviate the fears they hold that they’re going to spend money on something and have no idea how it works.
- Product Videos: Similar to how-to guides, product videos will give potential buyers a sneak peek at the product they’re thinking of buying. They’ll see the many ways in which it can be used, as well as the positive results that come of it. Seeing regular people use the product with ease may be just enough to make your potential customers decide to buy it themselves.
- Case Studies: Case studies dive deep into a single customer’s experience with a service or product. They discuss the problems the user faced before purchasing the product, their reasoning behind purchasing that specific product (as opposed to a competitor’s), and the positive outcome of utilizing the product. These are individualized stories that humanize the issue faced by thousands of other customers, and provide evidence that your product helped one of them solve the problem at hand. Case studies also give insight as to what customers can expect - in terms of customer service, troubleshooting, etc. - when they do business with your company.
- Product Reviews and Testimonials: What better way to know if a product is worth buying than to hear it from someone who has faced the same issue you’re currently facing? Unlike case studies, which are usually penned by professionals who have interviewed the satisfied customer, testimonials are actually written by satisfied customers themselves. Product reviews and testimonials are authentic assessments of a product’s quality, which - if overwhelmingly positive - will lead to higher sales numbers.
Content Planning and Distribution
Now that you know what content you need to create to either increase traffic or conversions, you need to know how to strategically implement this content.
Create a Content Calendar
Creating content isn’t something you do whenever you feel like it, or whenever the mood strikes you. You should always be thinking of new material to provide your customer base to keep your product or service fresh in their minds.
But you don’t need to think of content creation as a race against the clock, either. Instead, plan ahead and make time work for you.
Create content that corresponds to major events in your industry ahead of time - but hold back on releasing them until the focus of said content becomes a hot topic.
For an incredibly simplified example, you wouldn’t release your winter catalog in the dog days of July, would you? But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a general idea of what material will be included in that catalog. Be prepared, but also be timely.
Keep track of content ideas and formats, where you plan to publish your new content, and how you plan on getting it noticed. Use tools such as CoSchedule to lay out a plan that ensures your content is released when it will be most valuable to your audience.
Remember, variety is key when it comes to content creation. Even if you specialize in creating top-notch infographics, your audience will soon become bored of them if it’s all
you give them.
Outreach, Distribution, and Promotion
Early on in this article, we discussed the importance of ditching the "If you build it, they will come” mindset. You could put together some of the most incredible content to have ever been created, but if you don’t properly promote it, your efforts will have gone to waste.
Tools of the Trade
Use the following tools to maximize the potential of your content being seen and, quite hopefully, going viral.
- Email Subscriptions: There are loads of easy to use, off the shelf email tools to streamline the process of creating a mailing list, making it much easier to notify your customers of updates to your content, products, or services. You might even choose to create content specifically for the people on your mailing list just to keep in touch - and keep your brand on the top of their mind.
- SEO: Optimize every aspect of your content. It’s a mistake to just think that your content will get found on the strength of how good it is. You need to optimize metatags, headings, URLs, images - everything as if it was the homepage of your website.
Methods of Distribution and Promotion
The following strategies will also increase your chances of getting noticed on the Web:
- Outreach: As mentioned before, you need to reach out to others in your community if you truly want to be a part of it. You might comment on their blog, retweet them, or even ask if they wouldn’t mind checking out your page. Of course, you don’t want to be selfish - make sure you give even more than you get from them. The more "in” you are with the community, the more likely others are to lend a helping hand.
- Social Sharing: Social media is your friend. With strategic planning - and a little bit of luck - a single tweet can lead to hundreds, possibly thousands, of leads. But don’t simply focus on one or two social media services; use as many as you possibly can to maximize your reach. For example, even though Instagram is a simple picture-sharing service, you can re-purpose a quote from your latest blog post as a caption, and include a link back to your site. When it comes to social media, do whatever you can to draw a bigger audience to your page.
- Paid Promotions: Sure, you can go the "organic publicity” route on social media, but it doesn’t hurt to get a little paid promotion in as well. You’ve probably seen such sponsored posts on your personal Twitter or Facebook feed. It’s also likely this content appealed to you in some way or another - as it is meant to. When you create sponsored posts on social media, it automatically gets posted to the feeds of people who are most likely to be interested by it. It’s targeted advertising without you having to do much of the legwork. Can’t beat that, right?
If you want to get found these days you need to create better content than your competitors. You can create content for more traffic as well as content for higher conversions.
But don’t think you are on your own. You can identify influencers who will help to promote your content.
Also, there are several proven types of content formats that you can use to hit the deck running and the more content you create the better you’ll get at it.
As long as you remain diligent and focused in your content marketing, your content will serve you well for years to come.