How Does Content Marketing Generate Revenue?

CS-Moneybag

Businesses are quickly adopting content marketing as a way to drive brand awareness and increase sales leads, but how exactly does content marketing generate revenue? Marketers and business leaders alike are struggling to tie their content marketing efforts to their bottom line – which is a huge problem. In order to understand exactly how revenue is being generated, you’ll need to understand the two major components of successful content marketing; quality and tracking.

I can’t stress to you enough how important it is to produce quality content. If you provide material that is genuinely good, people will talk about it and share it with their networks – all of which contributes to generating brand awareness, directing traffic, and ultimately increasing sales. Now – I should mention that it’s also very important to promote your content, but promotion is ineffective unless you have something valuable to offer your audience and convert them from visitors to customers. This bring me to the second major component; tracking. Once you’ve created great content, you’ll need to monitor and track everything in order to understand how your content is being received and consumed by your target audience.

The analytics derived from tracking and monitoring will allow you to see how many more visitors your site is attracting, the number of email subscriptions you’re collecting from your blog or website, as well as the number of leads or conversion points you’re getting. Almost any analytics tool will allow you to track conversions based on entry sources. You’ll also be able to view which pieces of content they consumed during their buyer journey – giving your sales team extra intel on what that prospect might be looking for (aka – a qualified lead).

But it all starts with good content. Attracting your target audience and generating word of mouth is important for increasing traffic and sales. Marketing Charts conducted a survey that found 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know, so creating “word of mouth” buzz is very effective. Once you’ve attracted readers to your site with quality content, you can begin tracking their consumption, maybe even obtain their email address, and start nurturing them through the funnel.

This is how content marketing generates revenue — through a continuous cycle of creating quality content and tracking. By building a foundation of quality content, you give your audience a reason to engage with your brand. Meanwhile, monitoring and tracking will give you insights on which content your audience is consuming along their journey to becoming a customer. Having those two major components in place will enable you to drive revenue through content marketing.

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Hiring a Content Marketer: Setting Expectations

what is content marketing

With the popularity of content marketing, it’s hard to believe that there are still several companies out there who are getting it wrong. But I assure you, this problem exists. However, it’s hard to put a finger on where this “problem” is originating from – the company or the content marketer? Or both?

Reviewing some of the content marketing positions posted online, I found that several of them included a sales material support component or content management. A majority of the time, the role was 50/50 – which meant that almost half the time would be dedicated to creating sales materials, like collateral, product sheets, brochures, and so on. This isn’t to say that providing sales with materials isn’t important – it’s just not content marketing.

For the record, content marketing is defined as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content; content that attracts and retains a clearly defined audience – to ultimately drive profitable customer action, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). I feel that the key phrase in that definition is “strategic marketing approach” – meaning that content marketers aren’t just production houses — there’s a method to the madness.

This could be where the rift is occurring – companies are lumping all content under content marketing instead focusing on creating and distributing content strategically. A study conducted by CMI found that 60% of content marketers who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of effectiveness, compared to 32% of those who only have a verbal strategy. Documenting your strategy makes it more tangible for senior team members and gives you the opportunity to clearly define your role and set expectations.

But before you even accept a content marketing job, make sure you have a full understanding of what the expectations are for your role. If half your time is dedicated to creating materials that don’t support your content marketing initiatives, then it may not be the role for you. Having a clear understanding of what you’re looking for and what a company expects is the best way to make sure everyone is happy.

Be a Networking Ninja and Boost Your Content Marketing

Consumers have access to an increasing amount of content, making it more difficult for companies to stand out from the crowd. You may spend hours crafting the perfect blog article to engage your target audience, but how can you be certain that they’ll actually see it? Instead of utilizing a variety of content dissemination platforms to “spray and pray”, marketers need to start building relationships and trust with their audience.

What’s the best way to build trust? By aligning with the experts and thought leaders in your industry. It’s been found that 85% of consumers seek out trusted expert content when considering a purchase. Combining content with industry influencers can help increase your content’s exposure, grow your social media communities, and increase your brand’s influence.

But how do you identify and connect with influencers? By becoming a networking ninja:

1. Infiltrate the community: You can’t just burst onto the scene and start blasting the community Infultratewith content and invites to connect — you need to ease into it. Start making your presence known by commenting on influencer blogs posts, engaging with their social messages, or joining relevant groups. Influencers are more likely to collaborate with you if you’re already on their radar.

2. Spy on the community: Monitor the community as well as the influencers – observe how the two groups engage each other, take note of the type of language they use, and network ninja
document what topics they discuss. All this information will allow you to “talk the talk” and “walk the walk” when you start reaching out to experts and creating relevant content.

3. Select your targets: Every industry has it’s leading experts, or thought leaders, that have the targetability to influence their community. By aligning your brand with these expert individuals, you’re using their influence to increase awareness – and ultimately increase sales. Learn who’s the most active, who has the widest reach, who has the most impact on their audience, how often people engage with them, and how active they are in engaging with others. This will help you determine which influencers you should direct your efforts on.

4. Make your move: It’s time to reach out and say hi – or hiya – to the identified influencers. Send them a private message that’s creative and succinct, ensuring that you include details on how their participation will benefit them. Whether it’s promoting their personal brand or sharing their opinion knifeon a topic they’re passionate about, you need to make sure you “bait the hook” – or should I say, “set the trap”.

5. Be a master: Learn from your networking – what worked and what didn’t work? What
kick itbarriers did you encounter, and how did you overcome them? And how was the experience for the influencer? You want your experts to have a positive experience so that you can build a relationship. That way, you can team up with them again in the future on a variety of projects.

Now go forth, my networking ninjas – and give your content marketing a kick.

What Content Marketers Need to be Successful in 2015

In 2015, content marketers need to ask themselves one question above all else: who cares? Because if the answer to that question is anything other than “my target audience” – then stop what you’re doing, because it’s a waste of your time and efforts.

Content Marketing Cat

The success of content marketing is heavily reliant upon the engagement of your target audience or market. No matter how you do it – whether it’s with whitepapers, infographics, videos, podcasts, memes, or any other form of content – getting your target to read, watch, share, comment on, like, or click on what you’ve created is the name of the game.

Content marketers must listen to their target audience, because creating content with the sole intent of making a sale instead of answering a question or helping in some way isn’t engaging. In order to be in touch with your audience, you need to do a few things:

  1. Form a strong relationship with your Sales team: The members of your company’s sales team are your “boots on the ground” – especially in the B2B market where the sales cycle is typically longer and requires a more consultative approach with prospects. Since the sales team is in constant contact with a variety of prospects, they can offer the greatest insights on the problems, requirements, and interests of your target markets.
  2. Get Comfortable with Alerts: Whether you use Google, Hootsuite, Twitter Counter, LinkedIn, or newsletter subscriptions – you need to stay on top of the latest topics and trends in your industry. Relevance and timeliness contribute to establishing your company as a thought leader, which builds trust with your prospects and customers. You don’t need to read every single email that enters your inbox, but even reviewing the subject lines can give you a good indication of what’s trending and what your target audience might be buzzing about.
  3. Ask Questions: Don’t be afraid to talk to your customers! Sure, they may not be interested in having a 20 minute conversation – but they likely wouldn’t mind asking a few questions about the challenges their currently facing or what trends they’re excited about. Keep it cool and casual, and I bet you’ll learn more than you expect! Not only will this help you in creating content that your target audience wants, but it will increase the satisfaction of your customers. I mean, who doesn’t like venting about their latest frustrations or gabbing about an exciting new product or trend.
  4. Learn to Write — Or Hire a Writer: Nothing will kill your credibility more quickly than spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, awkward sentences, and plain old boring storytelling. Be honest with yourself; if you’re not a good writer, hire one. There are multiple websites, such as Kayak, Skyword, NewsCred, and Elance, that provide content creation services or allow you to connect with freelance writers. With so many resources at your disposal, there’s no excuse for poorly written content.

Once you’ve mastered the tactics listed above, you’ll have the tools and information to create content that truly engages your target market and audience.

Applying “Great by Choice” to Content Marketing

Great by Choice
I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading Great by Choice, written by the notable Jim Collins, after Stewart Lyons, CEO at TeraGo Networks, recommended the book. Full of amazing information, this book holds a great deal of practical advice that one could apply to their career and life. After finishing the book, I found that there were three core concepts that greatly contributed to success; discipline, consistency, and preparation. I then considered how these concepts – or characteristics – could be applied to content marketing, and this is what I came up with:

1. Discipline: Establishing and adhering to a schedule can be difficult – especially if you work in an industry that is constantly evolving – but it’s very important for success. When you follow a schedule, such as an editorial calendar or content agenda, you have the ability to prepare, plan, and track your content. This allows you to build anticipation for your upcoming content pieces (ex. “check back next week when we cover part 2 of…”) and plan any SEO keyword changes.

2. Consistency: Communicating the same underlying values or traits throughout your content is essential when building or promoting your brand. Whether you’re creating content for a large business or small e-commerce site online, maintaining a consistent message is key to building trust. If your blog says one thing – like “we’re vegetarian” – and your recently published whitepaper says another – like “here’s why pork is important” – your prospects and customers won’t know which message to believe.

3. Preparation: One of the examples in the book that really resonated with me was about Bill Gates and his inability to stop working – even when his company, Microsoft, had achieved great success. The fear of facing an unknown obstacle drove Gates to continue working, because you never know when things might change. Since content marketing is changing every day, keeping up to date on all the latest tactics and trends can help you stay on step ahead – and one step closer to being a great content marketer.

This is the perfect time of year to begin incorporating these three concepts into your content marketing career since everyone is shifting into 2015 planning mode. Now, would I recommend this book to everyone? No. This book would only resonate with those who have a passion for the work they’re doing. If you’re not somewhat motivated to grow and develop your skills, then don’t even bother. This isn’t a passive read – it’s meant to provide you with the tools you need to build your own success.

The Economical Impacts of the 2013 Toronto Ice Storm

While the citizens of Toronto and surrounding area continue to clean up after the epic ice storm that occurred in December, many businesses have crunched their numbers for 2013. There were some significant losses as a result of the storm – in both lost sales and discarded products. However, there seemed to be three distinct “groups” that emerged from this economic sucker punch; the winners, the losers, and the referees. How cliche, I know – using a sports analogy to illustrate my point – but stay with me here.

The winners – or economic benefactors of the storm – includes a variety of businesses. There are some businesses who were able to add to their (already significant) holiday revenues. In other words, the rich got richer. Many hotels who still had power sprang into action – taking to the “twitter-verse” to promote special “#blackto” discount prices to local area residents who were without power and not wanting to go sleep at the Red Cross warming stations.

hotel ad

 

hotel promo

Some of the unexpected winners included local business owners. Since many GTA residents didn’t want to venture out onto the icy, debris-filled roads – they shopped locally. Many of the larger malls also fell victim to the mass power outages – like Yorkdale Mall – so even if you made it to the mall, there was no guarantee that you would be able to shop. Local businesses who had power saw a much needed spike in their revenue as a result.

Yorkdale Mall

Yorkdale Mall

On the other end of the spectrum is the losers – those businesses who did lose power and weren’t able to operate during this lucrative time of year. For some companies, it meant ending the year in the red rather than in the black. Not only did they lose any potential sales – but they lost money on discarding any spoiled produce or paying employee wages. In some cases, businesses had to pay the employees who reported for work and waited for the power to return – while other businesses, such as Toronto Hydro, had to pay for additional staff as well as any holiday or overtime rates.

food chain

Any food establishments who served spoiled produce, any hotels who jacked up their prices to get more money out of desperate and cold GTA residents, or any hydro crew members who “appeared to be slacking” were dragged through the hypothetical mud. The moral witch hunt was on – and members of the public participated by pointing their finger at anyone displaying questionable behaviour.

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That brings us to the referees – or as I like to think of them, the “moral conduct keepers”. This category holds the whistleblowers – the ones who put businesses, as well as members of the public, back in their place. They remind us to consider others during this time and to help in any way we – even if it’s as simple as turning off your christmas lights to “conserve power” during the outage. Anyone who disobeyed these unwritten rules became the subject of public shaming. This has left some businesses struggling to survive amongst the negative press.

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The ice storm certainly impacted our economy, and many of our lives, in a variety of ways. No one seems to have been spared by the force of this weather event. As the clean-up lingers, the long term impacts of this storm have remained to be seen.

clean up from ice storm

Why is my band-aid talking to me?

Alright. That’s enough. When companies like Band-Aid start using technology to differentiate their product, things have taken a bit of a turn towards the extreme. Now, I’m not denying the fact that an entertaining band-aid is cool – cause it is – but was it really necessary? I understand that it’s likely that there are millions of parents out there who see this product as a godsend – it’s another way to keep their children entertained and occupied so they don’t pitch that fit in the grocery store when they refuse to buy their children fruit snacks. It’s a great distraction. — but that’s about it.

(To watch the product commercial, click here)

This product does not have the capability to heal the wound any faster than a standard Band-aid brand bandage. Nor does it hold the ability to alleviate pain. It sticks really well and buys the parents some stress free time. As you can see below, this product’s feature is so effective, your children will forget that they’ve been hurt. Why? Because they’ll be too busy with the technological equivalent of jingling keys.

bandaid

Does this bother anyone else? or am I alone here? Nevermind the fact that Band-Aid is obviously in a partnership with Apple for this product, because the commercial instructs the consumer to use an “iPone or iPad” to scan the band-aid. What about the children who have parents with Androids? or BlackBerries? Or better yet, what about the parents who can’t afford a smart phone? Though I’m sure that’s less of a concern these days.

Apparently technology is so accessible, even a band-aid can use it.