“Men make plans, and God laughs.”
Ever hear that quote?
2016 was a fun ride, and chances are that not every goal you had went as planned.
But as the year winds down, now is the time to reflect on your progress.
At AutoGrow a lot has changed. We recently launched our new service and it’s growing nicely! More on that in a future Growth Report. . . .
But I digress. This article is focused on content marketing and sharing what we’ve learned going into the new year.
We’re about to cross the 20,000 visit per month threshold after 3 years of consistently practicing content marketing.
So this is a good time to reflect and share some stories on how content marketing has helped get us to this point.
Here are the 7 most important lessons we’ve learned on the journey to twenty thousand visits over the past year.
#1—Succeeding with Content Marketing is Difficult, and That’s a Good Thing
An uber successful entrepreneur in his 50s once told me that as long as you’re willing to do what others are not, you’ll make money and succeed in life.
Content marketing is like that. Most people aren’t willing to do it.
Fewer do it consistently.
And even fewer do it consistently and well.
There’s your opportunity. Climb that mountain, and you’ll succeed.
I think it’s why we’ve steadily grown our audience month after month.
For instance, I’m not trying to do 50 different marketing tactics.
I’m not taking every single case study and blog post I read about online marketing and working with our team to implement it.
Instead, when it comes to our efforts to grow our audience, we’re just doing this one thing and getting better and better at it over time.
It’s simple, repeatable, and challenging. Rinse and repeat.
#2—Your Content Marketing Must Fit into your Sales Funnel
In other words, as you grow your business, think of each piece of content as a brick going into a giant wall you are building.
If it doesn’t work as part of the overall structure of your wall (your sales funnel) to move people toward converting, you’re gambling with your time.
And creating great content takes a lot of time.
Here’s an example of a mistake I learned to stop making in 2016.
I used to only focus on publishing a blog post that gives value to our readers.
That’s nice, and it certainly works to get attention.
But if I’m not crafting the content to be a stepping stone toward a relationship where a sales opportunity might occur, it’s a disservice to my business.
So it’s important to balance those two interests to always make it win-win.
And here’s how you do that.
Think of your blog post as a landing page.
Well, every landing page needs a Call To Action (CTA), or a next step.
So be sure to conclude with that. It can be a CTA for people to join your email list. Or you could offer some kind of lead magnet.
Or you can make a direct pitch for your product or service as long as it ties in with the topic of the post.
To review, here’s the key takeaway: make sure your content is aligned with the needs of the readers and your business—which is to grow relationships with potential customers.
#3—Consistency in Publishing Content is Key. Frequency is Another Story. . . .
Consistently publishing is the gift that keeps on giving.
This is a lesson I’m reminded every single week.
Why? Every time we hit publish, our newsletter goes out, along with other channels we promote on, and leads go up, like clockwork.
The cause and effect relationship is very clear.
But there’s more evidence to support this.
As SEO expert Aaron Agius wrote, “New content is indexed quickly, ranks better in SERPs, and is given priority over older content, especially if your site is high-authority.”
So creating new content regularly has a number of benefits.
What about publishing more frequently? This was something else I’ve learned recently.
A couple of months ago we decide to crank up our publishing frequency to 2 times per week, then 3 times per week.
It worked at first, and traffic jumped. However, it settled down after our couple of weeks and the click rate on our newsletter also dropped.
I think we were burning out our email list (sorry, guys!).
I also think we hadn’t primed people to expect this change so that was probably an issue, too.
For now, we’re back to one article per week, but I plan to move us back to two in the future.
#4—Evergreen Content Pays the Best Dividends
The top three blog articles on our website make up ~40% of all pageviews on our site.
And most of that traffic is continuously coming in from Google searches.
This is what is meant by “evergreen content.” It’s content that is relevant and valuable to readers who might be searching for it at any extended period in time after you published the content.
You can find some of the best ideas for evergreen content by doing keyword research.
Do this by using Google Trends to spot new search phrases that are rising in popularity, or by using Google’s Keywords Idea tool (you’ll need an Adwords account for this).
#5—Write for One Person
This is more difficult than it seems.
Experts are always saying we need to pick a niche, then craft your message for the perfect specimen of said niche.
They’re right, and that’s why I’m advising you to write for one person, not a group of people.
You can’t picture a whole group of people and how they might react to your content. But you can picture one person reading over your shoulder as you type.
And it doesn’t have to be the same person every time either.
Don’t feel limited just because you “picked a niche.”
This is something I plan to put more emphasis on in 2017.
When I’ve practiced this technique, I’ve noticed that the article is so much better. It gives it more bite!
#6—Guest Blog with the Right Partners
Guest blogging, I’ve learned, is worth its weight in gold.
There are so many benefits. Where do I begin?
- Gain goodwill in your industry
- Boost traffic and awareness
- Position yourself as a thought leader
- Increase sales (no joke—every guest blog I’ve written has lead to sales without fail)
- Grow your email list
And on, and on.
The key is to find the right partners to write for. For instance, you should aim for websites with more traffic than yours and an audience that overlaps with whom you want to reach.
Oh, and make sure your content is really good! You want to make an impression.
Here’s my most recent guest blog on Kissmetrics.
#7—Spend More Time Promoting
Derek Halpern has been yelling about this for a while.
“Create content 20% of the time. Spend the other 80% of the time promoting what you created.”
And I couldn’t agree more.
Content promotion is underrated and few people invest time into it.
So few do it, because it is time consuming and [GASP] requires interacting with other humans to be effective.
Some of the best ways to promote your content include:
- Sending out a newsletter (duh, but some people still don’t do it)
- Posting on your social media channels
- Recruiting a friend to submit it to third party community sites and vote for it
- Emailing people mentioned in the post to let them know
- Building backlinks pointing back to the post
- Networking with influencers and asking to share it (but in a cool way, i.e., build a real relationship first)
Remember, as I told you in lesson #1, if you’re willing to do what most people are not, you will be successful.
- Content marketing—doing it well and consistently—is a challenge. But that’s where your opportunity lies.
- Make sure your content fits into your online marketing funnel, otherwise you’re just wasting your time. Make it a win-win for your readers and your business!
- Consistency in publishing is key.
- Focus on evergreen content for the best long term results.
- Give your article more bite by writing for one person. Picture them reading over your shoulder.
- Guest blogging works on so many levels. Do it.
- Finally, you put in the effort to create content, but if you want it to help grow your business, promote it!
Want to turn your content into a stepping stone to profitable relationships with your audience?
And let me ask you this—
What are some content marketing lessons you’ve learned in 2016?
What will you be doing different to grow your traffic in 2017?
Leave a comment below.
Keep Hustlin’, Stay Focused,