How Does Content Marketing Actually Get You More Sales?
There is a big misconception that content marketing doesn’t drive sales. But if it didn’t work well, none of my companies would exist.
To prove to you that content marketing drives sales, I’m going to share with you stats and data points from KISSmetrics to show just how effective content marketing is.
How we generate traffic at KISSmetrics
Ninety-nine percent of our marketing dollars go toward two channels: content marketing and email marketing.
Before I dive into the content side, let me first tell you what we do with email. We don’t spend any money to acquire emails… our only cost is for Pardot, which allows us to send out emails.
We spend a bit under $2,000 a month for Pardot. It allows us to send out an email blast every time we release a blog post. We also use it to announce webinars and send out email drip sequences to users who sign up for a free trial of KISSmetrics.
If you are going to leverage content marketing, you need an email solution. Without it, you won’t see a big ROI. I’ll share the numbers below, which will help you understand why you need to sign up for an email service provider…and you don’t have to pick one that is expensive either.
From a blog perspective, we spent $5,380 for the month of January. That number usually hovers around $5,000 a month on the low end and $6,000 on the high end. It includes:
- Infographics – the cost to do the research and design of infographics. We typically use Odesk to do our research.
- Content writers – most of our writers don’t charge us as they are also gaining publicity from the blog. But there are a few writers whose posts do exceptionally well from a social sharing perspective, and we compensate those writers anywhere from $150 to $400 a post. When we started the blog, we used to pay $100 to $200 per blog post to help get things going.
- Part-time helper – our editor, Sean Work, gets backlogged every once in a while, so he has a part-time helper who may help him moderate blog comments, correct posts for grammar issues, etc.
What the number above doesn’t include is Sean’s salary as it wouldn’t be nice for me to share that number with the world. He runs our blog and is the only person at KISSmetrics who has to deal with it. That’s right… we have only one person dedicated to the blog. He rarely writes posts as managing, editing, and promoting the blog is more than a full time job.
On average, we post one to two articles a day, and we try to publish a few infographics each month.
The end result for January was 727,984 visitors and 921,577 pageviews.
Does the blog convert?
Like most B2B enterprise companies, we don’t just let people buy our product from our website. They have to talk to a sales representative.
The pricing for our product starts at $200 a month and goes up into the thousand range pretty fast. Assuming a sales rep is getting qualified leads, each one is worth a lot as companies will use our product for many years.
For the month of January, we generated 8,144 leads. Can you guess how many of the leads came from the blog?
We received 85 demo requests from the blog. Which isn’t too bad. And we also generated 1,948 webinar leads, which I count under the blog because webinars are promoted through the blog and to the blog email list.
So far, we are at 2,033 leads from the blog.
In addition to that, we let people sign up for a free trial of KISSmetrics from almost every page on the blog.
From that, we generated another 3,024 leads. In total, we generated 5,057 leads in January—all from the blog. That’s not too shabby, considering that the total lead count for the month was 8,144.
That means the blog drove 62% of the leads for that month. Sometimes that percentage is a bit lower, and a few times I’ve seen it in the 80s.
Now, revenue is a bit tricky to map out as it takes longer than 30 days for our sales guys to close a lead. But because I have data from previous months, I know that on a bad month, new sales are always in the 6-figure range.
The leads coming from our blog are almost as qualified as the leads coming from our homepage. What we found is that a reader becomes a lead after reading at least 3 blog posts. Which is why we try to collect emails of our blog readers—by sending our content to their inboxes, we entice them to come back.
We know that if we can get them to read 3 posts, the probability of converting them into leads is over 46%. Hence, we are willing to pay $2,000 a month for email software.
From a financial perspective, when I look back at our 2022 numbers, leads from the blog easily generate 6 figures in new income for us each month, which isn’t bad, considering we only spend $5,000 to $6,000 a month on content plus Sean’s salary for running the blog.
Will blogging help you make sales?
Although blogging does drive sales, it wasn’t always the case for KISSmetrics. When we first started out, we didn’t make a penny from our blog over a course of 12 months.
Well, we didn’t have enough traffic, and we didn’t set up the blog to convert visitors into customers.
So before you go off to the races and start building a blog, make sure you focus on creating exceptionally good content. And once you do that, focus on marketing the content. Once you hit anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 visitors a month, you have enough traffic to start running a few A/B tests to figure out how you can convert visitors into customers.
Here are a few techniques that I’ve found to work almost all of the time:
- Hellobar – it’s a free tool that lets you place a bar at the top of your blog. I use it on Quick Sprout, and it’s a great way to drive visitors to a page that collects leads or signups.
- Banners – by having nicely designed ads that promote your product or service, you’ll also generate more signups. You should be placing these ads within your blog side bar and in-between your blog post and the comments section.
- Collect leads – from services like Bounce Exchange (assuming you have a decent size budget) to Optin Monster, you can collect leads and generate sales when someone is about to leave your blog. You may feel this tactic is tacky, but it works well for almost every industry I have tested it on.
- Email your readers – by offering a free ebook in exchange for your readers’ email addresses, you can increase the number of emails you are collecting. You can then email your subscribers every time you publish a post to get them to come back to your blog. We’ve found this works well to get people to read at least 3 blog posts… which is what we need before a blog reader is willing to convert into a lead.
- Webinars – the best way to build a connection with your readers is to have a face-to-face interaction with them. Offering webinars gives you an opportunity to educate your readers, softly pitch your product, and more importantly help them out with their problems. Just make sure you leave a lot of room for Q&A at the end.
- Respond to comments – if you don’t respond to comments, it will be hard for you to build a bond with your readers. It doesn’t take much time to respond to each comment, so give it a try. If you show your readers that you care about them, they will become your evangelists.
But if you can do the two things above, you’ll find that your blog will not only drive sales but it may also be your most profitable channel.
Why do you think I blog so much? Sure, I’m strapped for time, but blogging is what makes me the majority of my income. It drives leads and sales to my software companies.
Has your blog generated any sales for you yet?
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