As a B2B marketer (or founder)…
What would $150,000/mo from a single acquisition channel mean for your company? It would mean wonders. You’ll get to:
- humblebrag about it anywhere you want
- have your organization treat you as a key asset
- be invited to speak at novel marketing and B2B events
The list is endless.
And if I told you your B2B content marketing can be that $150k/mo revenue channel, would you believe me? You should.
$150k a month through B2B content marketing
A few days back, I had a brief conversation with Databox’s CEO Peter Caputa, talking about how content marketing has been for his company. Here’s the gist of the convo:
“All of our customers have found us through content. We do not do any paid advertising. We have 1,300 customers. About 15% of our customers are on our business plan (or something higher).”
Databox’s paid plan starts at $49. Multiply that by the 1,300 users they’ve acquired through content marketing: $150,000 in monthly revenue.
Do a bit of calculation further and you’ll realize they drive more than $150k a month – thanks to their strategic content marketing.
And their main marketing strategy looks something like this:
Frankly, B2B buyers can come to you from anywhere — social, search, referrals.
But content marketing is a more cost-effective and subtly powerful way to get their attention. Besides, high-quality content pieces are one key element that ties all your marketing channels together to hit the ultimate goal — revenue.
“We’ve brought in leads like Forbes, Random House Publishing, H&R Block, AT&T, and Trip Advisor all through content marketing efforts,” says Josh Ho, founder at Referral Rock.
Done well, B2B content marketing can help you drive six (even seven) figures in revenue per month. But how do you get there ($150k/mo) from here (few to no results after publishing content)?
This is where strategy comes into play. You need…
“Content marketing doesn’t work.”
“Facebook ads drive better results.”
“Content marketing results aren’t measurable.”
Any of these sound familiar?
Most of these “quotes” come from people who are not doing content marketing well enough to help them drive bottom-line results, or who simply don’t know how to track ROI from content.
To drive measurable content marketing results — awareness, traffic, leads — you need a strategy that hits the nail on the head.
This means a strategy that ensures you’re not dithering about, grinding and striving to “grow an email list” when your #1 goal is to drive more buyers to your business (unless, of course, growing the list moves a needle that immediately drives more buyers to your business).
For example, if you’re a B2B SaaS startup and your goal is to drive awareness, a straight-to-the-point strategy also means that your content strategy should move you closer to that goal, helping you go viral in the midst of relevant people.
Get the drift…
… your B2B content marketing strategy should hit the nail — bottom-line results you need — on the head.
And when you focus your content marketing on achieving specific bottom-line goals, it becomes a growth channel, not something you’re doing because “publishing content is fancy” or because “other businesses are doing it.”
But one thing precedes any result you want to drive through B2B content marketing, and that’s buyer attention — which comes through content that makes an impression on anyone who comes across it.
What about paid ads, you ask? Clearly, they drive attention too — when deployed strategically.
Let’s take a quick look at how ads stack up against an organic acquisition method like content marketing.
The following two formulas have always caused a silent (though, at times, loud) debate in marketing:
1. Paid traffic + amazing product = growth
2. Organic, ongoing customer attention + amazing product = growth
There’s the camp of marketers who believe squarely in driving acquisition by paid ads all day, week, and year-long (i.e. formula #1). And that isn’t a bad thing, of course. Done well, paid ads have single-handedly helped several B2B brands become the household names we know today.
Then there’s the other party of marketers who’ll always swear by organic channels — driving buyers through content marketing and SEO. They prefer to take the trust-building, inbound marketing path to growth (i.e. formula #2).
These different growth methods obviously work and drive results in their own unique ways. But they also beg a critical question: what’s the best path to growth — formula #1 or #2?
Frankly, I do have my opinion about this, but I turned to LinkedIn and polled B2B marketers for answers, asking them to indicate the camp they belong to, formula #1 or #2?
Interestingly, they didn’t choose either.
Instead, they (indirectly) came up with a new formula in response to my question:
This formula is the sweet spot for most companies, mainly because it combines organic and paid forces to drive growth.
In the LinkedIn survey, Gong’s demand generation director Russell Banzon suggests paid traffic should only be a booster — while building a community of raving fans be the priority in the long run:
Gong’s VP of marketing Udi Ledergor recommends a similar approach, suggesting using paid ads to drive initial traction while focusing on organic methods for ongoing customer attention and revenue:
So while paid ads are great, organic and continuous customer attention is way better, and it supersedes the usually short-term results you get from most pay-to-play channels.
And this is where your B2B content marketing comes in.
Do it well and it will fuel all your organic marketing efforts and spur growth. When I asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much impact has content had on Gong’s organic growth?” Udi says:
Ryan Abrams of InfiniGrow has a similar experience. When also asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much impact has content had on InfiniGrow’s organic growth?”
He said “11.”
But while these marketers have all shared that content has been a key aspect of their growth, they have content strategies they follow intently to get those results.
Essentially, you want a content strategy that helps to drive growth for your particular type of business and its specific goals.
Your ideal content strategy can’t be built from popular opinion.
You must understand the unique strategy that will drive optimal results for your business, the one that will rocket you towards your primary goals.
And there’s no general answer to the “What’s the best content (or growth or marketing) strategy for my business?” question. It’s different for every business — depending on your market, product, and goals. Or as Drift’s VP of Marketing Dave Gerhardt puts it in a response to my LinkedIn survey:
“[The strategy for growth] will be different for every company. Different products. Different people. Different markets. And there’s no one cookie-cutter approach to growth or else everyone would be doing it.”
The same way there’s no universal strategy for growth for all brands, content marketing too has no one-size-fits-all approach. Your company needs its own unique, custom content strategy tailored to achieving your unique goals.
Regardless of whatever shape your content strategy takes, it must thoroughly cover these three key factors:
- Big-enough (problem-solution) topics
- Foolproof content promotion strategies
- Solution-focused offers (for conversions)
Let’s break these three content strategy key factors down, one by one.
“We stick to themes (topics) that attract the right prospects for us (at Databox),” says Peter.
“Our product integrates with 70+ of the most popular marketing and sales software tools including Google Analytics, SEMRush, Ahrefs, HubSpot, MailChimp, Drift, Facebook Ads, YouTube, etc, etc.
“Our articles are always about how to improve performance using those tools. We have articles about increasing your video play rate using Wistia and ways to do off-page SEO, which can be measured using Google Search Console, SEMRush or Ahrefs.”
But besides creating content pieces that address the challenges your prospects face every day (like off-page SEO and video play rates in Databox’s case), you need to create content on problems or topics they consider “big enough” to pay attention to; I like to call these types of topics “big-enough problem-solution topics” or just “big-enough topics.”
A quick example:
If marketing managers, for instance, were your target buyers, here are three big vs big-enough topics for them:
Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes for a minute.
If you were scrolling through your LinkedIn feed and found these topics, which ones would you click first? Chances are high you’d pay closer attention to and click the topics on the right than those on the left side of the table above.
Does this mean “less-serious topics” don’t count?
No, they aren’t entirely useless. They do get some level of attention too. You may even need them here and there in your overall content strategy.
But “big-enough topics” drive way more attention, links, traffic, and even leads/revenue. They take much more research and resources to create, so you might not be able to publish them more than once a month — depending on the number of resources and connections at your disposal. But they help solidify your strategy and establish your leadership faster in any industry.
Now, how do you find these “big-enough topics”?
It always comes down to one question…
Depending on how much you know about your buyers and industry, answering this question can take hours, days, or months. But you should take all the time you need to answer it.
And how do you do that?
Talk to existing buyers.
Review your site analytics (heatmaps, screen recordings, and so on) and see how your prospects respond to different topics on your site.
Use Facebook groups (or any other platform) where your prospects hang around as a buyer research tool. I use this one while doing research for our content here at Premium Content Shop. And it works:
From your research, you’re going to find answers — big and small.
You want to focus on the big ones.
Here’s what to look out for during your research:
- your buyer’s deepest fears (about the problem your product or service solves)
- their most desired goals (which your product can help them achieve)
Discover as many things (i.e. data) as you can about your buyer’s biggest needs or topics of interest (as they relate to your product). Then start creating content on those topics.
Aside: An in-depth buyer research strategy will help you:
- understand your prospect’s exact needs and interests
- get them knocking on your door, literally by themselves
If you need help with research and everything else involved in executing an ROI-driven content strategy, get that help here (and don’t worry, you’ll remain on this page after clicking).
Map out your content strategy…
… around big-enough (problem-solution) topics, and you’ll see how much easier it is to attract your prospect’s attention.
All of the content I create has 2 specific characteristics,” says expert marketer, Matthew Woodward.
“First, I only create content that helps people. Connecting people’s problems to solutions will create long-lasting relationships with your readers who will keep coming back for more.
“Secondly, I keep things simple. I don’t use any fluff or try to pad out my content for word count. I write direct and straight to the point so people can digest as much useful information in as little time as possible.”
Strange things catch people’s attention.
It’s only natural for us as humans, and pro content marketers use this to their advantage. When I asked VP of SEO and content at G2 Kevin Indig to share his tips for creating high-performing content, he mirrored the same notion:
“Stand out. Find ways to differentiate. If you can’t offer something unique, don’t even try. There’s way too much content out there. Unique values are credibility, data, and experience.”
Next, you need to address the elephant in the room — content promotion.
You know how it works:
- create great content,
- promote it on social media and to your email list,
- And reach hundreds/thousands of eyeballs.
This content promotion rationale genuinely works — but only for the HubSpots, Salesforces, and Neil Patels. If you don’t already have an engaged audience like these influencers and top industry brands, you need a more strategic approach to content distribution.
More specifically, you need a foolproof content promotion plan.
What’s that? It’s simply a strategy that MAKES SURE your prospects get to see your content. In other words, it’s not spray and pray. It’s a promotion plan that leverages channels that are sure to get relevant eyeballs on your content.
- engaged email subscribers
- active groups and online communities
These channels are far from what you’d describe as spray and pray. To use any of them, it’s pay-to-play (for ads) or you must have solid connections (as in influencer outreach, email lists, and communities).
But if you’re going the influencer outreach route, please…
They’ve run their course.
And you might agree that people are tired of seeing them.
I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t include expert contributions in your content and ask them to share your content once it’s published; you should. But not in the same way you (or some other expert you know) did it years ago.
Things change fast in marketing and this one, roundup posts, have changed too. Instead of collecting expert contributions/opinions to create something like “17 experts share their best XYZ secrets,” make the title about a big-enough topic (as explained above).
Put nothing like “17 experts share…” in the topic.
If you do, prospects will think it’s the same old stuff they’ve seen before.
Instead, focus your topics on the problem the content solves or the benefits it provides, like How to Increase Revenue by $200,000 Per Month Through SEO.
In fact, this way, industry experts and influencers you’ve mentioned in your piece will more readily share your content because it actually provides value. For the same reason, it will have more impact on prospects.
Peter shared how they collect expert suggestions for their content at Databox and drive social media shares:
“We solicit advice from 4,000+ experts in order to write the most thorough articles. Once we pick a topic, we then try to build the most authoritative article on the web for that topic. We do this by asking experts to contribute to the articles we write.”
He added that most of their posts feature 50 to 200 experts. And for many of their posts, they tag the experts they’ve mentioned on social media, encouraging them to engage and amplify the content:
76 likes and 14 comments may not seem like much, but that’s usually what it takes to reach several thousands of viewers (potential buyers) with a post on LinkedIn — and keep in mind that many (if not most) people who click through links on social don’t publicly like or comment on the content in your post.
Moreover, this example is only one of the many articles that Databox publishes per month. They get this level of attention and engagement for every post they put out, thanks to their foolproof content promotion approach.
Glen Allsopp of Detailed follows the same promotion strategy:
“I think one key aspect (of content marketing) is to write your content with specific amplification channels in mind. For example, getting specific influencers involved in its creation can make them far more likely to share it on later.”
But besides engaging experts and influencers to share your content…
If your prospects are on Facebook, why not?
Steve Rayson of Buzzsumo once shared the results they got from the ads they ran to promote a content piece on Facebook:
“…we spent $648.00 on Facebook ads that drove over 2,000 clicks and which also resulted in 3 new paying customers.”
Leaving SEO out of your content promotion channels is a major mistake. Period.
Many sites (if not most) get more than 50% of their traffic from search. So while you should focus on creating quality content your target buyers want to spend their valuable time consuming, make sure it’s optimized to rank on search engines — or more specifically, the first page of Google.
Ryan Stewart of From the Future shares his most important keys for optimizing content to rank on search engines for target keywords:
“The most important SEO elements to me are pretty simple:
“1. Making sure the content is targeting the right keywords and written with the proper contextual targeting to rank for those keywords. This is really just a matter of putting yourself in the shoes of the searcher and writing what they’re searching for.
“2. Making sure the article’s UX is on point, breaking up text so it’s readable, using eye-catching imagery and building articles for skimmers (I like to use simple forms for conversion elements as well).
“3. Getting links to the article consistently, updating it every 18 months or so to keep it fresh and relevant.”
Besides all the traffic from search, social media, online communities, and email, you want to drive conversions from your content…
As a B2B business, you’re ultimately looking to drive conversions.
“After implementing exit popups on our blog, we’ve had a 25% conversion boost. Clearly, not all exit popups are made equal. I’ve developed certain best practices over time that are results of numerous tests. The image, size, background, message – they all matter,” says Olga Mykhoparkina — CMO at Chanty.
Create solution-focused offers to drive relevant conversions through your blog posts that help you reach your goals.
That is, create offers that promise to solve a nagging problem in strategic positions in your blog posts — in a nonintrusive, non-spammy way.
For example, see how Databox does it:
Peter shared how his team drives direct sign-ups through their blog posts:
“We promote our free product contextually with free 1-click dashboards embedded in the articles.
“Lastly, we provide a way for readers to instantly measure the metrics we are referencing in the article.
“For example, if we talk about how to increase your sales team’s activity, we have links to free dashboards that track sales activity from HubSpot, Salesforce or Pipedrive, embedded right in the article.
“All the reader has to do is quickly sign up for our free product and connect their customer relationship management (CRM) software account. Sometimes, even the point of the article is just to provide free dashboards to people looking for them, like this article on Google Analytics Dashboards.”
This way, the Databox team creates blog posts that are fully optimized to drive conversions.
When I asked Larry Kim of Mobile Monkey to share his best CRO advice, he suggested a similar approach like Peter’s for all conversion-focused pages (blog posts or not):
Larry suggests a similar conversion optimization approach to Peter’s — optimizing an entire page (blog post, in this case) for conversions, as opposed to changing a few buttons, words, or any other elements on the page.
“Most of the literature you read about Conversion Rate Optimization is kind of silly.
“Typically, some “CRO guru” gives design tips based on gut feeling which, maybe, if they’re right, might increase conversion rates from say, 2.0% to 2.4%, which is an increase of +20%. Of course, this helps a little bit but what it really means is you had an ugly or dumb landing page (or content) and shame on you — meaning on-page design tweaks mostly work if your initial design sucked badly.
“I much prefer growth marketing hacks that fundamentally change the conversion characteristics by changing the entire funnel.“
In other words, optimize your entire content piece for conversions. If you’re in B2B SaaS, for example, optimize each of your blog posts to drive the primary conversions your business needs right now.
So from topic to body to conclusion, optimize every bit of your content piece for conversions — if that’s the goal you’re trying to achieve.
“Here’s an example of what I’m talking about (on engineering each content piece to drive relevant conversions),” Larry continues:
“Many people send out links to slides via Slideshare links with the hope that people view the slides and end up becoming a fan of the person or organization that created the slide deck. That is a hopelessly ineffective funnel.
“I prefer to distribute my presentation slides via messenger bots. Last month I did a presentation on how to grow your marketing agency and included a link to the slides. Notice how the slides are sent to you directly as a PDF file via messenger. The benefit of doing this is that I get the contact information of everyone who clicks on the link, as well as permission to message them back.
“Using that newly obtained messaging permission, I then create a short messenger drip-campaign to send out 5 follow-up messages, asking them to try out my chatbot tools, and they get added to my chat distribution list where I chat blast weekly updates.
“Basically, this funnel guarantees these people won’t forget about me! It’s 100x more effective than dropping a link to Slideshare.
“In summary: ask yourself. Is this Big CRO or Little CRO?
- Little CRO = small tweaks = small impact (2-20%)
- Big CRO = fundamentally flip the funnel = enormous impact (10-100x)
Everyone focuses on the little CRO stuff but big CRO is what really makes a difference!”
Evidently, it can. And if I’m being honest, it’s not rocket science.
But the reasoning and process involved in mapping out content strategy, creating exceptional content that targets specific buyer journeys, and converting those prospects are the tedious tasks that marketers face.
If you have an appetite for trial and error, you can do it alone, and with time, you’ll get the hang of it.