Are you struggling to get the hang of content marketing? Perhaps you’re sitting on the fence, still deciding whether it’s right for your business?
We know that more and more companies are using content marketing, each with varying degrees of success. So how do you make sure that you’re getting the best return on your content marketing campaigns?
I reached out to five technology brands and asked them to share their content marketing success stories by answering these five questions:
- Why do you use content marketing?
- How do you use content marketing in your business?
- What types of content do you use?
- What content creation, if any, do you outsource?
- What results have you experienced with content marketing?
You’ll find their answers below, but first, let’s meet the panel.
Meet the experts
He’s considered one of the top content marketing professionals and is a regular keynote speaker at premier marketing conferences around the world.
Veronika is a passionate marketer that firmly believes every business can achieve success online.
As Inbound Marketing Manager for Sendible (a social media management software company), she helps craft brilliant resources for marketers all around the world.
Adam is the founder of Blogging Wizard. Previously, he managed the content marketing efforts for brands earning well over 8 figures in annual revenue.
Now he teaches bloggers how to create a blog that thrives in a noisy online world.
Her company offers apps and tools for businesses and agencies of any size to support their online marketing tasks.
With Blog2Social the Adenion team provides a smart social media automation tool for cross-promoting, syndicating, and scheduling marketing content tailored to each social media network.
Ian Anderson Gray
He’s an international speaker, trainer, teacher, web developer, and consultant.
He has a passion for making the techno-babble of live video and social media marketing easy to understand. Ian is also co-founder of Select Performers – a family run web agency.
Why do you use content marketing?
To kick off, let’s find out why these tech brands use content marketing …
Content marketing drives relevant traffic to my website, which helps build my brand, audience, and awareness of what I do, plus generate sales.
One other hidden benefit of content marketing is that I need to learn and develop my skills continuously, so I have something to write about for my audience.
Hard sells don’t work as well as they used to and content marketing helps you gain an edge when you are small. You may not have much market share with thousands to spend on advertising, but you can choose to be helpful and consultative in your chosen niche.
By definition, content marketing is:
…a form of marketing that’s focused on the creation and sharing of online material that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.
Focus on how your product or service helps solve the pain points of your customers, then think about how you can help them with advice without involving your product. Voila.
My first foray into content marketing wasn’t intentional – it was more of a means to an end.
While I was at college, I ran a free online record label (also known as a Netlabel). As part of the process of launching the label, I had to build a website for it. I built several iterations using Dreamweaver, which did the job initially but it soon became apparent that I needed a content management system.
I rebuilt the website using WordPress and used its blogging functionality to announce new releases. Within 6 months we hit 100,000 downloads. We went on to publish 60 releases from artists all over the world. And we racked up close to 3 million downloads.
This experience completely sold me on the power of free content. And I enjoyed the process of putting content out into the world for others to enjoy.
Today, content remains at the core of what we do at Blogging Wizard. It’s how we attract new readers, deliver educational content, and generate revenue.
We have been using content marketing for all our business life – long before content marketing became a buzzword. As a small company, we never had the big bucks to spend on advertising, so content marketing became our core marketing strategy since we had the expertise to do it in-house and on a shoestring budget.
As pioneers in online PR and social media marketing, we used content marketing to help us spread the word about our tools and to strengthen our reputation as experts in the field.
My entrance into the world of content marketing was completely by mistake. When I started blogging on my website, I did it for a bit of fun, and as a way to discuss the world of social media with my friends. I had no thought of monetization or how this could actually help my business.
But, I did believe in writing quality and in-depth articles on what I was passionate about. I also believed in helping people find answers to their questions. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this was the combination that helped my blog grow into something well beyond what I had anticipated.
How do you use content marketing in your business?
There are many ways to use content marketing. Here’s what these five brands do …
Our content marketing strategy consists of creating and publishing valuable articles for our customers and prospects on how to use Online-PR and social media marketing for their business.
For example, how to write engaging press releases and social media posts, how to optimize them for search engines and readers, and how to publish them. And, of course, how our tools can help in the process. But our sales message always comes as an option and not as a bland sales pitch.
Our content marketing strategy always aims to help our customers. We try to provide solutions for current issues in PR and social media marketing and to answer frequently asked questions.
Our marketing team is also responsible for our customer service and sales. So, our customer feedback goes directly to our marketing team. This helps tremendously in tailoring our content marketing strategy to the current issues and needs of our customers.
Plus, our customer feedback is also directed to our technical development so they can evolve our tools to meet their needs.
So, you can say, our content marketing strategy is also our business strategy.
I create content targeted at the personas I want to attract to my business and from these visitors I acquire email subscribers.
When people visit your blog, they are not typically people that will buy immediately. However, growing email subscribers from these visitors means I can build the relationship over time, and eventually some of them will buy.
I sell my services through courses, webinars providing consultancy, plus I also get paid speaking gigs because of the influence I’ve built.
Every business can (and should) use content marketing differently to suit its business objectives. For a SaaS company, it could mean driving thought leadership in their specialty and creating a network of promoters.
All the while a luxury bridal designer would create beautiful customer stories and get featured in influential but niche blogs.
As a small business, your time will be scarce, but you will have the temptation to do everything at once – have a blog, active social media accounts, publish videos or even host webinars.
However, you need to prioritize what’s most likely to deliver actual results. For example, your blog subscribers may buy from you one day, but that ‘pretty’ infographic won’t amount to much if you don’t spend time promoting it.
It’s fair to say that content marketing changed my life – it grew my business and launched my international speaking career. It combined my joy of tech, teaching, and music with my live video courses, consultancy and so much more.
Content marketing continues to bring more exposure to me and my brand, help sell my products and services, get booked for speaking at conferences and earn regular income from my affiliate and ambassador relationships.
We like to repurpose our content. We take existing blog posts, and repurpose them into SlideShare presentations, infographics, and simplified infographics. In the process, the content is exposed to a new audience, generates more traffic, and, in the case of infographics, we earn more links.
The larger your audience, the more you’ll be able to seed the promotion of your repurposed content. But what if you don’t have an audience yet? One way to tackle this is to create a unique piece of content on your blog, then partner with a larger website who can publish a repurposed version of your content.
I tried this with a group interview on Blogging Wizard. I partnered with 24Slides to create an infographic version of the post, and with TweakYourBiz who published the article. While the initial article garnered 5,000+ visits and over 2,000 social shares:
The republished version has gone on to generate over 35,000 visitors. (And it’s potentially a lot higher now):
Since this was a group interview with multiple influencers, most of them shared the original post, as well as the infographic version.
What types of content do you use?
Not all businesses use the same type of content. Ebooks and White Papers are more popular with B2B, while Social Media Posts work best for B2C. What type of content is most effective for these brands?
Great question! We have experimented with quite a lot of content types and have found that the most successful content types for us (at the moment) are: downloadable guides/templates, emails, and blogs, but we hope to experiment with video soon.
I do encourage you to forget about content types and frequencies for a minute though and shift your mind towards an outcome-based approach. Instead of thinking you need to write two blogs a week, aim to generate 50 leads with one blog within two months.
Suddenly, you will consider how that blog fits into your lead nurturing campaigns, how discoverable or shareable it is, and if it even has a call-to-action at the end that will generate those leads for you. You wouldn’t want to get more traffic without getting people to sign up, would you?
The rule of thumb is to think what objective you are trying to achieve with your content and what the best format is to fulfill that purpose. All content pieces start with a detailed brief and copy though, so jot those ideas down when they surface and keep asking, “Why is this useful?” or “Why do my prospects care about this?”
My main type of content has been written articles.
I’ve always focused on longer and detailed articles which give people helpful and in-depth answers. I love to create mini-communities around my blog posts – encouraging comments and discussions. Some of my articles have received over 1,000 comments! This can sometimes end up being a challenge – but I love it!
I’ve combined a few articles with YouTube videos, and I’d love to do more of this. One of my highest social referrals is from YouTube, and so I need to do more of this. I like the way I can be very detailed in my articles but give a quick and easy walkthrough in a video – especially for those who prefer to watch over reading.
In the last two years, I’ve really been focusing on live video a lot more. This makes sense, of course, because I’m a live video coach! But it’s also because it’s a great way to share high-quality content much more frequently and consistently.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and so it takes a huge amount of work to put a blog post together. However, with live video, once I’ve got my live video set up and done some research – I can just hit the “go live” button and I’m away! It’s also great to repurpose into other types of content such as a blog post.
I mainly publish long-form blog posts and articles. Some of the long-form content I publish is in the form of eBooks and Guides for my email subscribers. I also occasionally use infographics and SlideShare presentations.
Infographics can work great for earning backlinks, providing you seed publication with blogger outreach. SlideShare presentations allow you to tap into the built-in audience of SlideShare, and they’re easy to embed within your content, so there’s scope for increased reach too.
And recently, we’ve started adding simplified infographics to Blogging Wizard posts to encourage sharing on Pinterest.
What we do is take content from one of our blog posts, and incorporate that information into an eye-catching graphic. We either take subheadings directly, or distill sections down into key takeaways – this makes it a lot quicker than a regular infographic, but the end result is still a highly shareable image:
It’s still early days yet, and we’ve mostly added these to existing posts, but Pinterest shares and traffic are up across the board.
The best part is that all of these image designs have been outsourced and work out extremely cheap. We use Design Pickle who offer a flat rate image design service.
They can’t technically do infographics as part of their service, but with a very detailed brief, they were able to make a lot of infographic styled images. Learn more about our image design process in my Design Pickle review.
The content hub for creating and publishing our marketing content is our company blog, or, to be more precise, company blogs since we have five corporate blogs for our company and our products. Whenever we create content, we publish it on our blogs and then republish it in multiple formats and channels.
Each piece of content is recycled and repurposed into multiple formats, such as blog posts, articles, white papers, ebooks, infographics, videos, and online press releases. Then each content format is published and seeded across multiple content channels, to create as many touch points as possible.
- Blog posts are shared on Twitter, Facebook, XING, LinkedIn, Medium, Tumblr, Torial, Bloglovin‘, and Reddit.
- Images are shared on Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr, and also as image posts on other social sites.
- White papers and ebooks are published on sites such as SlideShare, Scribd, LinkedIn, and Issuu.
We publish our online press releases on news sites, articles and as guest posts on industry sites and in special interest magazines. We engage on sites such as Quora, Growth Hackers, and many more sites to republish content and answer questions.
We always try to find as many outlets as possible to publish and re-publish our content to make the most of it economically and to reach as many prospects as possible.
I typically create long-form articles that are over 2,000 words long. Within these articles, I often have many images, including infographics.
I also run webinars that provide free training on marketing topics. For example: How to use Email Outbound Marketing to Get More Leads, Sales, Website Traffic and PR for Your Business.
What content creation, if any, do you outsource?
In the annual CMI research, around half of the respondents said they have a small or one-person marketing team serving their entire organization. Consequently, around half of them outsource content creation. What do our five brands outsource?
Initially, I wrote everything. Over time, I’d built revenue to a point where I could leave my job. Soon after, revenue had increased enough that I could start outsourcing content to free up my time.
At the moment, I mainly outsource blog posts and graphic design work. I also have an editor that assists with proofreading content and loading it into WordPress. Occasionally, my editor will help with the design of e-books and SlideShare presentations.
If you can justify the cost of outsourcing, it’s well worth it. Particularly the tasks that take you a long time, or you don’t enjoy.
For example, I used to create featured images and graphics myself for Pinterest. This wasn’t a good use of my time – sometimes I could take 30-60 minutes to create an image that didn’t look good.
Now, the images we publish look far better, get more traction on social, and generate plenty of positive feedback.
We currently outsource blog writing to a handful trusted freelancers who are experts in the field. And we’ve also outsourced some design work for lead generation projects.
This is, unquestionably, a great time to look for a freelancer to help you out, but don’t feel like you have to. You will need a clear idea of what you want to achieve with the said piece of content and have a detailed brief – without it, it’s likely that the result won’t meet your expectations.
I’ve tended to be a bit of a control freak, but I’ve recently discovered the joys of outsourcing. Sometimes I use a service such as Rev to transcribe my live videos into captions or into blog post transcriptions.
I hired my first virtual assistant recently, and I’m looking at ways for her to help me with research and formatting my blog posts. I’ve also outsourced blog post and social media images and had a designer produce a series of graphic templates in Canva.
We create most of our original marketing content in-house. We do work with native content writers for our international marketing activities to adapt our content to foreign languages and cultural specifics. And we also invite guest bloggers to get more content diversity on our blogs.
I have an editor. I’m good at creating the initial content, but I need an editor to help with the final version.
What results have you experienced with content marketing?
For the final question, I was keen to know how effective content marketing has been for our five technology brands…
Not all my blog posts or live videos have done well, but some have exceeded all my expectations.
The first to do that was an article called 7 Reasons NOT to use Hootsuite. It was a balanced, yet controversial, article that quickly received tens of thousands of visitors per month. This was definitely a factor that helped me speak at conferences.
A couple of years ago, my article on Facebook Live not only broke my website but changed my main focus and launched my first courses:
It’s had over 4.2 million page views and almost 1,500 comments. From that one blog post I was able to sell my first course to over 200 participants.
Varied. We have had some major successes like doubling our blog traffic and generating qualified sales leads as well as lows like creating content that hasn’t been seen by as many people as it should.
After six years of advocating for creating marketing that helps, I have gathered that the key to your success with content marketing lies in:
- Understanding your product and/or service, your USP, and mission.
- Knowing your buyer personas, including their pain points and challenges, common objections and also how your product and/or service helps solve them.
- Working out what the marketing funnel looks like to you (lead, qualified lead (MQL/SQL), opportunity, customer) and creating content for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Analysing the performance of your content based on past successes and industry benchmarks.
- Speaking with actual customers and getting real feedback that you can use in the future.
Content marketing has enabled me to grow a business that allowed me to leave my full-time job at a marketing agency. Content marketing enabled me to develop a new service at that agency into a 6-figure/month business in just over 4 months (with a tiny budget and only working a few days/month on the marketing).
When I was 12 years old, trying to build websites in Dreamweaver, I never imagined I’d have a finished site, let alone sites visited by millions of people each year.
And while some content has performed exceptionally well – other pieces have failed. And that’s always a risk. Typically, the content that performs best is where content promotion is planned before a post is finished.
Our content marketing and content seeding strategies help us create awareness and acknowledgment as well as visibility for our products across multiple channels on the internet.
Our clients and prospects appreciate the many white papers with checklists, tutorials, and other valuable content we create. This also helps us to build and establish trust in our company products and services. We generate most of our leads with our inbound strategy.
Our content marketing strategy also helps us with our PR-strategy, as industry sites and magazines highly value our content. By publishing our content as expert articles, we get even more publicity.
I have had paid speaking gigs in many countries around the world, sold a monthly subscription training program, worked with global brands on consultancy projects, and made good affiliate revenue from the tools mentioned on my blog.
Because of the skills I’ve learned I’ve also launched a SaaS startup – OutreachPlus – which is driving monthly subscription revenue. Without content marketing, I would not have built up the influence and audience that allows me to promote my latest startup successfully!
Thanks to Ian C, Melanie, Adam, Veronika, and Ian AG for taking the time to share their content marketing success stories.
Here’s a quick summary if you want to increase your web traffic, build your audience and influence, and generate leads and revenue:
- You don’t need a big budget to use content marketing in your business.
- You can (and should) use content marketing in a way that suits your business.
- Use the appropriate content format to meet your business objectives.
- Repurpose and promote your content to reach a wider audience.
- Outsource the tasks that take you a long time, or you don’t enjoy.