One of the main thing about building a content marketing strategy is finding promotional strategies that actually work to get traffic. However promoting crappy content will get you no results. You need to promote problem-solving content (more on this hereunder).
I’ve been working on how to solve that problem for a bit now and I wanted to share what I found to create a first process for SMA.
After doing some research I found it pretty hard to find real life things that work to get things done. I’m not surprised considering this is such a strategic part of the process of getting customers ; to get any kind of success you need to research that part very well and structure it as a process to measure and improve over time. This is the 80% that will make the difference between success and failure of a business.
Within the next weeks i’m going to automate most of these strategies so I spend time on the business and not in the business. One of my outcomes with SMA is to use resources to scale the business quickly. So I’m going to spend a good amount of time thinking about how we can scale everything quickly. But first things first. First I need strategies that actually work before we can think about automating or outsourcing them. Otherwise scaling bad results will only give more bad results.
So how do we promote things here ? I started doing some research about content promotion strategy, I found a few interesting things. The first thing is to understand the process in itself of building content and promoting. Because we can’t just produce any content. It has to be strategically placed, useful enough and well promoted. Backlinko has an interesting ebook on how to get 25.000 visitors a month. It details these 3 key points to get trafic on a website :
- find competitive keywords
- Create what I call problem-solving content
- Promote the content
That guide has a well structured process, but it’s a little outdated. Nevertheless we’ll use it as a base and we’ll update the strategies as we go. So let’s start by the beginning.
I – Find competitive keywords
We can’t just create any kind of content. A business is there to serve and solve people’s problems. So we have to create content that solve people’s problems ! So we need to know what they are searching for, in order to solve their issues.
The analogy is kind of the same as putting a shop on a street where there is enough traffic of people searching for something (shoe shops). Basically keyword research is all about finding the right street with the right traffic.
What we need to do is find keywords that are searched enough, and get ranked well on these keywords.
Strategy 1 : Get your competitor’s keywords
Using the google keyword planner there’s a good way to do this is, instead of typing keywords, is to add a website’s page. That way Google will show all (or a lot, if not all) the keywords related to this website :
Then google will nicely display all the keywords related to this website :
A good idea would then be to classify these keywords by competition or by monthly searches.
A good way to extend the keywords would be to add ressource pages were massively shared on :
- Facebook groups (if publicly accessible, not sure)
- Linkedin groups related to the keyword
The impact of this strategy
Ok so this is the BIG juice – you’re only getting this if you’re reading the entire article – yes I hide pearls inside my articles for my best readers only 😉 I’m not going give you a lot of explanation but if you make a bit of effort to understand these numbers you should completely jump on the roof and understand why this business can jump to 100K monthly revenues in just 12 month :
So here’s how it works : I calculated for one article how much traffic it’s possible to get. Let’s say 40 people per day, on a 3K monthly visitor with low competition.
Now make the calculation per year how much that makes. And that’s just for one month production, which we have to multiply by 12 to get our yearly numbers. Now if you haven’t jumped on the roof yet, just make a calculation of how many emails you can get per day with that strategy (I calculated around 40 per day for one month production). In 12 month that’s 400 emails per day. Usually we monetize around $10 per email per year. Now, just calculate how much it makes per day… Now we have assumptions that are not yet entirely verified – like how many articles can we really rank and will our ranking strategy will be good enough to get that result. That’s a big one. But I choose pretty conservative data here, so nothing totally unrealistic. Still some work will need to be done to verify that.
Strategy 2 : Automate the process with Ahref
This first approach is good but not very scalable. A much simpler way to do this is to use an automated service that does the job. Ahrefs has a keyword research tool that does exactly that :
It also has exportable Csv functions and allows a basic analysis about keyword competition and search volume. So might as well us that.
Strategy 3 : combine multiple keywords in title
This is a very interesting strategy to actually combine multiple keywords in the article, so one article get ranks for multiple expressions.
So basically instead of writing for one set of keywords we target 2 sets ; the example backlinko uses is this one :
- white hat SEO – higher search volume
- SEO case study – lower search volume
And they wrote an article combining both : “White Hat SEO Case study : how to get a 1 ranking”. Great strategy, provided we can combine 2 search terms. In our case : maybe “12 free business plan sample” could help rank for :
- business plan
- business plan sample
- free business plan
Pretty nice ! Not necessarily doable every time but nice to test. I’m going to try that on a next article just for the fun of it 😉
II – Write problem solving content
The content we write has to be of interest to the audience and solve practical problems. You can use promotional strategies all you want, if your content sucks there’s just no way anyone will promote anything.
Instead of writing “good content” which just means nothing, I propose a different approach : write problem solving content. And build a problem solving content strategy.
For that we need to get as close to people’s demands as possible.
Strategy 1 : Research amazon bad comments
I’ve already used that strategy previously and I think it’s really effective. The bottom line is to check for every content written the best books on the subject on Amazon and read the bad comments about these books.
This actually is a BIG help when it comes to market research because bad comments give a really good view of what people expect about one problem (one book) :
Here we can see people want new, specific and actionable strategies. Doing that research is really helpful, I’ve integrated this strategy in pretty all the article i’m writing now.
Strategy 2 : Analyze ads
I also got this strategy from Backlinko, even though it’s not the first time I saw that one. I think it’s really good because it helps to get in a very short amount of time the biggest customer’s pain points and address a solution in a title.
The title of an article is probably the most important thing you need to think about ; Neil Patel explains in detail why and how to maximize the search CTR (click through rate).
Here’s basically how it works and why you need take an in-depth look at it :
- People type a keyword on Google.
- Then they read the titles of pages.
- Depending on the title of the page they decide if they click or not and visit your website (which gives the CTR)
- Hence if your title is not appealing, people will click less, which will give you less trafic (less visitors, less conversions, less money).
- Because people consume less your content, Google will penalize it over time. Better CTR, better position on Google rankings.
So in order to change that horrible cycle we need to come up with a really good title. How do we know we have a good title ? Because the CTR is over 5% !
You can see that in your Google Search Console :
Now you see that on this website (sorry, had to hide the search terms) some of them generate very good CTR – over 45%, and some are not so good – under 5%. So ideally for this website I would need to change the crappy titles, which would increase the CTR over time and bring more traffic through. That’s actually a quick hack to increase your search traffic if you haven’t already done this before.
So now that we know we need good titles, and we’re on a problem-solving path enough ? And how do we create good titles ? One simple solution is to check the adds !
Let’s search for our theme on google and see who runs ads :
When you advertise, Google give you very precise indications of CTR and usually, because you’re paying, you want the best results to drive people on to your website and convert them. So advertisers tend to spend lots of time and efforts crafting good titles. So it can help us get some good ideas.
So research a few things like “business plan template”, “business plan software”… and note good ideas. Here are a few I got :
- Business plan – fill in the blanks business forms
- Free business plan samples
With enough research we now can build a great title. I hope you start to notice that behind this strategy, in reality we’re doing more market research. Like what are our readers’s pain points : they want to do less work as possible and get as fast results. Writing a business plan is bring and painful and they want to avoid that. Hence the “fill in the blanks” titles. Using that information we can now come up with something really good :
- 12 free business plan samples
- 12 free “fill the blank” business plan samples that will save you time
- 12 business plan samples that easy to fill up
- 12 free business plans sample that will guide you step by step
Here we adresse much better the customer’s pain points and propose practical solution through an article ! Much better approach. We also understand much better the problem we need to solve here.
III – Only no can you promote the content !
As I pointed out, promoting crap will give no results. That’s why we had to do some work before. Now let’s set up our promotional strategies and get the job done !
1 – Promotional strategies classic – Outreach bloggers
This is probably the most known strategy of all : write a piece of content, and then reach someone to tell him about it in the hope of getting a link back, which will help your article to rank better on search engines.
Here’s how it works :
Step 1 : type your keyword on google
Step 2 : get the first pages that already rank well for that keyword
Here we have Hubspot who’s ranking first :
Step 3 : find all the pages that are already linking to them
Now let’s see how’s already linking to them :
We can get the same pages doing a Google search using the “link:” parameter :
But I just prefer using specific tools for that.
Now we’re 80% done, we just have to manually take a look at pages that can be interesting and contact the webmasters to tell them about our resource !
Step 4 : contact the webmaster
Here’s an email template :
I’m contacting you because I was looking at your site and I saw the article you wrote : (THEIR ARTICLE’s TITLE).
You mention (OUTDATED CONTENT) on that page, which i’ve read.
I thought I’d write an updated version on my blog to add even more value.
Here’s the article : URL
I’d be honored if you considered referencing it to your page, because it can bring more value to your readers, so they have the updated version on the matter.
Outreach works around 5% of the time, so it’s a bit of work to get a few links. In the next month i’m going to try to automate as much as I can this strategy. I’ve already spent my Sunday trying to write code for that but it’s a bit complex to extract Google or Bing’s results. So still in the process of working things out here.
Strategy 2 : Answering forum questions
There are many forums or website on the web where people ask questions. One way to build authority and buzz around a project is to answer these questions in order to provide value. I’m going to one website called Quora for this example but it’s totally possible to extend the search to far bigger reach.
Step 1 : research questions related to the keyword inside Quora
Once we found a question that fits the content of the article we can take a look at it more in-depth
Step 2 : Answer to the question asked
Ok we have a good question, now let’s start writing something that brings value, here’s what I wrote :
The most important thing is to understand how you acquire customers. This is the n°1 problem for most businesses. So unless you’re very clear on that you need to put your strategy on the table (or paper, better !).
See the business plan as the place where you write down the solutions you found about solving tough problems, like : how am I going to get new customers on a regular basis for my product ? What are my customer’s biggest pain points () ? What process I follow to sell ? Deliver ?
I suggest you use different business plans templates because they all serve different purposes.
For example :
- One/two page business plans : excellent to get a global vision on how the business works – but poor when it comes to understanding how you execute
- 10–15 pages business plans : good to present to an investor ! For example. That’s it… 15 powerpoint slides (they funded Airbnb, Cisco based on that process…). But you better know your numbers and prove your business model can scale.
- 20 pages+ : are very good tools to go down to strategy level. They will help you to solve hard questions like : how do I find customers on a regular basis ? How much a new customer will cost (in terms of time / cash), etc., i totally suggest you take a look at all of them.
You have to realize that 80% of business fail within the first 18 month because they don’t solve the hard questions first (and people loose most of their money in the process because they didn’t just put their ideas down enough).
Again it’s not about writing bring stuff, it’s all about finding solution to you business’s problems ! Tough questions will come weather you like it or not. If you’re unprepared they will destroy your business. If you’re well prepared you will know what to do to overcome obstacles.
I wrote an article, check it out, I hope it’ll help you to build your business ! . Hopefully it’ll inspire you and show you what’s the main thing you should work on (getting new customers).
Business are create to serve people and bring value to the world, so get to it and get things done !
We’ll see how this goes with time, if it can bring traffic and authority to SMA.
Some comments on the scalability of these promotional strategies
At this point I started writing 2 answers, one long and one short, I’m going to see what are the results over time. I’m thinking this could be a scalable strategy, like asking someone to pre-write a set of answers. Or maybe just spend 5mn per day writing stuff, not sure yet what’s the best time saving.
One thing though, is that this strategy has been used already a lot by marketers and fishing in the same fish tank as everyone else is not necessarily a good idea. I’m going to do some research on how to attract people from completely different words than marketing on the website.
TODO : research other websites to glue to.
Strategy 3 : Asking to be added on a ressource page
The main idea of this strategy is that some people spend time creating resource pages where they gather everything that is to be known of on a specific matter. A list of interesting blogs for example, or a list of good links to visit to solve a specific problem.
The strategy is very well known and works in 3 steps…
Step 1 : Find resource pages that deal with your article
Here’s a google query I found that works to find resource pages to promote an article :
keyword intitle:”other resources”
Now we can add also :
keyword intitle:”other resources” -inurl:pdf -unurl:ppt -inurl:doc
To remove some some useless results from the SERPS.
Step 2 : find good candidates
Out of these results there are some pages that reference articles of interest just like that one :
Ok, now time to contact the webmaster !
Step 3 : contact the webmaster
So now we found something interesting, we can contact the website owner and point to our resource
I’m contacting you because I was looking at this page where your link good resources to write a business plan.
I wrote an article that mention in detail how to write a business plan, using for a base 12 really good business plan templates.
I’m pretty sure this could help your readers to get a good idea of how a real-life business plan is written.
I’d be honored if you considered adding it to your page, i’m convinced it can bring a lot or practical advice on the mistakes to avoid when doing this exercice.
And wait for their response. Again target around 5% response rate.
Conclusion on promotional strategies
I’m leaving this article with a much better vision on how to promote this blog. I think we have a set of 3 good promotional strategies there that will leverage the content written. I also think I also need to start making good statistics on SEO and continue the Excel sheet I started. I also targeted to write one article per day, but since these articles are pretty long i’m a bit late on my schedule, more around 3 articles per week or so, which is not that good. Probably I need to get a bit of help around that one.
To make my own critics I think i need to write a bit more structured also but this will be clearer and clearer as time passes. Anyway I kind of think these articles bring some value to the readers (please leave a comment about it). Also I’m discovering somme good concepts there : the concept of problem solving article is much better than “write good content” which is the worst advice anyone can give. Content that’s too generic and not specific enough is definitely a killer.
Tell me what’s your take on this article ? How did it helped you ?