As 2022 begins, many leaders are looking back at 2021 and wondering how they can drive more leads and revenue. Content marketing is often suggested as a free way to drive more web traffic and leads. Google provides over 420,000,000 suggestions on content marketing. Content marketing is the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services. Content marketing is often considered to be ‘free’ in comparison to other demand generation tactics like Google ads, Facebook ads, webinars, and email campaigns. While many firms use content marketing, how can a CEO know how effective their content marketing efforts are? There are several techniques they can use that are free and can be done in less than ten minutes.
Content Marketing Can Work
Content marketing can work. I have been blogging about enterprise product management and mergers/acquisitions for over 10 years. I’m not a content management or SEO expert, but I’ve been able to achieve some good results:
The short answer to how I grew my web traffic from 2,000 views a year to over 43,000 is content marketing.
B2B Demand Generation is Complex. And Expensive
The ugly truth is that B2B SaaS demand generation is hard and complex. In 2021 FirstPageSage, a B2B SEO agency published an excellent report on B2B SaaS Funnel Conversion Benchmarks. In this analysis, SEO refers to content marketing.
B2B SaaS Funnel Conversion Benchmarks:
For example, if your SaaS product had an annual cost of $24,000 and you wanted to grow revenues by $20 million in one year, you would have to feed 1.4 million suspects into the top of your sales funnel:
Using tactics like Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn ads is expensive. In 2021 the average Google Cost Per Action for technology companies was $132. Cost Per Action is the cost for someone to click on an ad and then take the action you want – complete a lead form, download a PDF, or view a video.
Many firms eschew paid demand generation techniques like Google ads and webinars in favor of ‘free options’ like content marketing. How can a CEO know how effective these content marketing efforts are?
Google Search Console
Google provides great free tools for website owners to understand how well they are performing. Your marketing team should have access to these tools. If they don’t you have bigger problems than a blog post can solve. Google Sear Console analyzes how users find your website and content. Here’s a snapshot of my website’s Google Search Console report:
This chart shows the total number of impressions (times my website showed up in a Google search result), the number of times it was clicked, the overall click-thru percentage, and the average position (rank) of where my content showed up. There are 10 organic search results on a Google search page. Positions 1 through 10 are on page 1 of the Google search results, 11 to 20 on page 2, 21 to 30 on page 3, etc. Getting on page 1 or 2 is the goal. When you look at the chart you can also see the impact of changes to the Google search algorithm. Google updates their search algorithm 500 to 600 times a year.
SearchConsole offers a lot more information. Here is a snapshot of its analysis of keywords for my website. It shows what search terms resulted in the most clicks:
You can see what search terms generated the most impressions:
Sometimes you find interesting results. I wrote an article about SEMrush, an SEO optimization platform that recently went public – Did You Know That SEMrush Was a $160 Million Public Company?. While I thought it was an interesting article and it generated a ton of impressions, it had no clicks and was showing up on pages 4 to 8 of the Google Search results.
You can also look at the stats for specific web pages on your site:
You can even look at the keywords a specific page ranks for. In the past three months, my article entitled The Ugly Truth of B2B SaaS Customer Acquisition Costs, has generated over 17,000 impressions. It ranks for over 200 keywords:
You can download the entire Search Console analysis as an Excel file.
This lets you do all kinds of analysis very quickly. For example, my website ranks for over 1,000 keywords. For 235 keywords, my website shows up on page1 of the Google search results: When my content ranks number 1, it has a click-thru rate of over 33%
A CEO or other leader can have their marketing team produce this type of report in less than ten minutes. What can they do with the data once they have it?
How to Improve Your Content Marketing in 2022?
There are many ways you can improve your firm’s content marketing efforts in 2022. Here are three good strategies.
Focus on Google E-A-T
Google E-A-T is a concept that is prevalent in the Google search algorithm. E-A-T is short for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Google describes E-A-T as:
- Expertise: This refers to the creator of the main content on the page. Are they an expert on the topic? Do they have the credentials, if necessary, to back that up, and is this information available to read on the website?
- Authoritativeness. “Authoritativeness” means having generally recognized authority. People know you, know your background, and look to you as a leader in your industry. They accept you as a good source of information.
- Trustworthiness. Being a trustworthy expert and source means people can trust you to provide honest, true information that is accurate.
Google strives to serve up the best search results to satisfy the user’s search intent. Content that has good E-A-T ranks best on Google.
Tap Into Your Employees Deep Knowledge of Customer Problems and Pains
Your company’s employees are the best source of knowledge that can be turned into credible, effective web content. Product Managers, Account Executives, and Customer Success personnel deal with customers every day. They are experts in how your products solve these market problems. This expertise can be turned into content that in turn drives new leads to the top of your sales funnel.
Not everyone is a natural writer, but your product marketing team usually has seasoned writing experts. You can pair a subject matter expert with a marketing professional to jointly produce the quality content your organization needs. The marketing folks can ensure that the copy is well written and optimized for search engines.
Many firms are tempted to hire marketing agencies to execute content marketing campaigns. These firms can charge $5,000 to $25,000 a month for their services. You can quickly spot articles produced by marketing agencies. Any time you see an article like The 7 Best Knowledge Base Software for 2022. It will be well written, over 4,000 words in length, have a Flesch-Kincaid reading level score of 8th grade or below, have 3 to 5 images, and be highly SEO optimized. While many of these agency pieces have strong technical SEO, they lack the credibility that search engines are looking for when it comes to Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
Measure, Learn, Act
You should adopt time-proven techniques like the Shrewart cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act) to continually assess how your content marketing efforts are doing, identifying improvements, implementing the changes, and seeing how the changes have worked. The Agile approach to iterative development can be effectively applied to content marketing.
As 2022 begins, many leaders are looking back at 2021 and wondering how they can drive more leads and revenue. Content marketing is often suggested as a free way to drive more web traffic and leads. How can a CEO know how effective their content marketing efforts are? Google Search Console can answer that question in a matter of minutes. Armed with that information, companies can leverage their own employees’’ knowledge to create web content that displays what Google calls Expertise-Authority, & Trustworthiness (E-A-T). Content with high E-A-T tends to rank very well on Google.
Also published on Medium.