Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last half-decade or so, you’ve heard talk about how inbound marketing - and the strong role that content creation plays in it – have become an increasingly important part of the marketing and business mix. Inbound leads cost less, convert at a higher rate, and have higher average customer values – so why would businesses not invest in generating more of them?
As someone who’s consulted with hundreds of companies about their marketing programs, the most common roadblock that I’ve seen is the ability to create a high velocity of keyword-rich and persona-oriented content. Just saying that sentence hurts my head! The latest research indicates that producing enough content marketing is the biggest challenge for North American marketers.
The Three Components of Success
- A high velocity of content keeps the site fresh and keeps both readers and search engines coming back to look for new content. It also gives you the chance to pursue multiple keyword phrases and value propositions.
- Keyword-rich content allows search engines (and real people) to extrapolate the context that defines your website and your business, and improves your ability to drive relevant traffic from search engines.
- Orienting your content around buyer personas allows you to attract the types of website visitors you want and influence them to become leads.
That’s no picnic!
What We Know for Sure
There are a few things I’m willing to say with absolute certainty: One of them is that companies that don’t create a high velocity of keyword-rich and persona-oriented content will fail to be competitive in coming years. Since blogs are really the only feasible method of creating such a diversity and velocity of content, companies that don’t heavily and effectively invest in blogging are going to fail. The pure, naked unit economics of inbound marketing make it so that – even if large organizations can make revenue without blogging – organizations that invest in blogging are going to be more profitable and competitive. They will eventually overcome even the largest firms by being more profitable and therefore will be able to invest more heavily in their marketing.
It’s Freaking Hard
There’s a lot more to it, and I can (and have) tens of thousands of words on the topic, but here’s the rub: It’s freaking hard. Creating that much content is really hard. Which is – partially – why it’s so effective. Google and the other search engines are focusing on content partially because it is so hard. It’s difficult to game, and it does an excellent job of separating companies into tiers of expertise and quality results – which is improving the usefulness of search engines themselves.
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Blogging is Like Jogging
I frequently say that blogging is like jogging: It has to be done frequently, consistently, and it takes a little time to see the results. Also, most companies don’t blog for the same reasons that most people don’t jog! Fortunately, unlike jogging, blogging can be outsourced to expert marketing agencies (*coughcough shameless-self-promotion coughcough*). Although, how cool would it be to outsource jogging? I’d totally pay someone to go jogging for me if it meant that I got healthier and lost weight.
But I digress. Because it’s so hard, writers are becoming a more and more significant part of major marketing teams. In fact, it’s my prediction that writers may soon become the highest paid members of modern marketing teams. Which is great for them because – let’s face it – for the last few decades there have been a massive surplus of writers and a shortage of decent paying careers for them.
Writers are just so incredibly valuable! Let’s walk through some basic math here: Let’s say you get 200 readers for each of your blog articles because you’ve been writing consistently and doing a decent-but-not-awesome job. Let’s say you have a 5% visit-to-lead conversion rate which is – again – decent but not astounding, so you’re getting 10 leads per blog article. Then let’s say you have a 5% close rate so you get one customer from every two articles. Let’s continue pulling random numbers out of the air to illustrate my train of thought and say you have an average customer life-time-value (A.K.A. LTV) of, oh, $500. My fuzzy math says you make roughly $250 revenue per article! (don’t bother trolling the comments arguing about the math – I just wanted to illustrate how we calculate the ROI of blogging).
Nowadays you can expect to pay about $30-$40 for a pretty good blog article. That’s a pretty amazing ROI! Way higher than most people see with PPC and unfathomably higher than most people see with outbound marketing such as direct mail. You can see why I think that that price will self-regulate itself upwards as more sophisticated companies invest in blogging and a higher quality of blogger emerges.
Right now, though, there’s a shortage of really great writers who can take often ambiguous customer specifications and create a high velocity of educational, valuable, persona-oriented content that generates leads for customers.