How Does Content Marketing Help Generate Leads?

On any day given day I typically find myself fielding questions that start something like this:

“I have just started my own business. I have created a website, but I am having trouble getting traffic to my website. Does anyone have any tips or ideas?”

I answer this question more times than I’d like to admit but in all honesty many online businesses are struggling big time.

Ask yourself “What have I done to deserve more traffic this month?

Be very honest with your answer because lying to yourself won’t help drive your success.

Does content marketing work?

It’s true, online business is immature when compared with offline business but at the same time so can be our mindset and expectations. Most business owners have become obsessed with rankings and traffic when what they actually need is a greater number of leads and sales.

Rankings and traffic are simply vanity metrics you use to boost your ego and waste more time.

We live in a world where we’re use to instantaneous gratification and it’s making us all perpetually impatient. The demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives, and not just virtually.

Online business requires a long-term mindset with a focus on hard work, value and consistency in all areas such as SEO, social media, blogging, networking, strategic partnerships and more.

While it can be advantageous to gain more traffic, our focus should always be on converting the traffic we already have and at the highest rate possible.

Truth be told, most businesses struggle to see the big picture. We shouldnt’ be trying to rank for a handful of terms, if you think that then you’re failing to see the big picture. What we really want to do is provide content that will attract the audience we want to sell to and especially with search engines means be visible on as many phrases and terms that audience might use to find a product like ours.

Is content really king?

Personally I’m so over hearing that content is king because for most online businesses it gives the impression that producing mediocre content will have an impact, it won’t!

I am however still a big believer that content is one of the fastest and cheapest ways businesses can attract their target customer and build traffic and sales online. But how do we make great content?

It’s pretty simple in theory, before you ask for something from your customers’ first think about what you can give to them. If you can consistently provide value in your content you’ll be rewarded with business in return.

The biggest mistake you can make as a business owner is not being involved with your content. You have the knowledge, the industry experience, and the passion but more importantly you know what your customers want. All of the above, when combined, creates value and content can’t be king if it’s not providing something valuable.

You’ll also find that outsourced content without business input is unlikely to have any significant impact. It will likely read like an essay I wrote in high school and trust me when I say that you don’t want that. I’m not saying outsourced content can’t have an impact, but it’s rare and works best when built as a partnership between the business owners knowledge and the content builders creative skills and time.

Note the time component of that sentence. Something business owners typically use as an excuse for not creating content and something they typically have very little of is time.

How you can win with content?

If you want to win with content then you’ll need to implement a longterm mindset and use a consistent strategy that increases your reach by using a combination of relevance, syndicated broadcasting and 1:1 style promotion and outreach.

Here are a few strategies your business might want to consider.

Content Syndication and the be everywhere approach

Content syndication is simply the process of publishing content from your site to third party sites, i.e. social media, either as a link or modifying content to suit the usage of the target platform.

With syndication we have the ability to pull visitors from high traffic platforms back to our own website as long as we serve it to them in a context that is native to the platform.

For example I love video but I’m the first to admit that I often shy away from it.

What’s great about video is its ability to be syndicated in many different forms. Imagine you’re an online store owner and for each product you sell you create a video review highlighting the benefits and its best features.

This video can now be converted into:

  • Content for your sales page making it unique and more in-depth than others selling the same products.
  • Distributed to video platforms such YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook (using Timeline autoplay)
  • Use the audio and posting it to sites like Sound Cloud, iTunes, Stitcher and many more as part of a podcast or something more.
  • Transcribed into text for blog posts or written platforms such as Medium.

With a single piece of content you’ve now spread yourself across numerous platforms using unique content which in return can generate a much greater amount of traffic. It’s not uncommon to see both your YouTube and blog post rank on the first page for a specific term.

This type of syndication and investment in content gives visitors reasons to visit and Google a reason to rank. It’s a win win.

Simply posting a link to your website, from Facebook, which basically says “buy from me” is like an unknown person calling you bang on dinner time and asking for your money.

Content Relevance – Understanding diversity in the way people search

It’s easy to want more traffic but what you’re better off asking yourself is “what traffic am I missing out on?

There are two forms of content relevance that I believe are fundamentals:

  • Structure – is my site designed to target the way my customers search?
    • i.e. searching for “Nike running shoes” versus searching for “Nike Stefan Janofski”.
    • Targeting top of the funnel, bottom and middle of the funnel searches.
    • Am I using human readable urls?
  • On Page Relevance – is my page relevant to many search terms?
    • i.e. search for “Nike running shoes online” and “Nike running shoes Australia” – Does your site show for both?
    • Optimising a single page of content to appear on as many relevant terms

When you build a website and add your content I term this as “version 1.0”. Pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for getting this far but realise that this is just the start. From that point it becomes a cycle of constantly reviewing current content and adding more to it based on the results you are measuring, you are measuring right?

For example:

  • Does content appear on the terms I’d expect it to in Google?
  • Can I create new content to target new terms and phrases?
  • Is my current content converting traffic? Can it be improved?
  • If my content isn’t converting then why? Is it the content or am I targeting traffic with the wrong intent?

Just because you created content doesn’t it mean it can’t be improved. It’s the small daily improvements that will have the largest impact for the long term.

Content Promotion – Creating bait and fishing for quality referrals

If you have the mindset of “if I build it they will come” I’m afraid that you’ll be bitterly disappointed. If content is King then promotion is God. Even the best content in the world sometime needs a gentle push.

The great thing about creating high value content is that it gives you bait to fish for high quality traffic. Ask yourself “why would someone link to my content?” and if you can’t find a reason you’ll need to create one.

It’s about your hustle and using outreach to create promotional networks and build partnerships with quality and relevant websites in your industry. Many of the offline principles of marketing still apply in the online. We can no longer be naive enough to think that simply building an online store from the beach in our board shorts will get results.

You will need to talk and communicate with others in some form. For introverts this likely sounds like a nightmare but you have so many options in the current digital world.

For example send an email:

“I created this great content and I think your audience would love it, It would mean the world for you to link to me or publish it to your audience”

I’d also encourage everybody to visitor and sign-up. Recently this site has gained my business opportunities for promotion on a variety of sites including major news outlets such as The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

Finishing up

In a world of instant gratification and results I’m asking for your patience and long-term consistency.  I want you to seek an attitude that is non-accepting of mediocrity and desires to be better than the best. I want you to hustle, period. Spend less time counting your Likes, reviewing your rankings and traffic and spend more on actually doing something that creates change.

Procrastination is a curse and the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. We all know that right?

This kind of attitude will be the difference in driving traffic to your site and building your online business. You’ve got to outwork your competitors, it’s that simple. Play harder and smarter.

To summarise, it’s a simple recurring process:

  • Constantly build new content and review the old.
  • Focus on relevance to target the widest amount of similar search terms from a single page.
  • Syndication, repurpose and use outreach to gain to diversify traffic and increase reach of pull.
  • Continuously work with the traffic you have to optimise for conversions.
  • Build networks, find PR, build relationships and conduct outreach to help market and promote your best content.

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