Greg Elfrink

October 3, 2016

Finding the leads that turn into sales is the lifeblood for almost every business out there.

Without lead flow, your business will start to shrivel up and eventually die. Empire Flippers is no different, so we are always looking at what we can do to achieve greater lead flow, to generate actual deals for our marketplace.

One thing that has remained constant for us over the years is that content marketing has the best ROI compared to any other marketing channel, hands down. It is often cheap to make, and with the right content, it is evergreen material that can be used again and again.

Each piece of content is like a miniature ad that goes out there and sells people on our business, brand, and credibility.

That is why when I was hired to be the content manager, my first task was to double down on consistently producing content. The blog had languished, with erratic posts being pushed through only occasionally.

The editorial calendar was plagued with inconsistency. The biggest change I made was to ensure that the blog was updated at least two to three times a week. At the time of writing this post, we have more or less achieved this over the last five months.

This amounts to eight to twelve posts a month, which is quite a lot of words.

What did all those words give us, though? What was the benefit? To answer these questions, we’ll need to dig into the stats.

Though the questions seem simple, the answer is more complicated that you might think.

Is Blogging Still Worth It?

Content can be a hard metric to gauge.

What do you use as a solid metric? Is it comments? Social shares? Can we, in fact, correlate social shares with sites being listed or sold on our marketplace?

When considering these questions, examining our traffic stats is the best place to start.

As you can see, our traffic has increased over the last four months. While it’s not a dramatic increase, there is still a notable shift in the number of visits on the site.

 

lead flow

We had 45,421 visitors in March, which improved on the visits seen through January and February. April (the month that I came on as the content manager) had similar numbers, but that was to be expected, since my first blog post didn’t come out until almost the end of that month.

In August we had 56,096 visitors. That is a 19% increase in traffic from just a few months ago, thanks to our little content strategy!

Anyone can implement the strategy we used.

We simply added more content to our site. We weren’t focusing on SEO, keyword density, or anything along those lines. Rather, we wanted to write posts that would intrigue, excite, and engage our audience.

A few months before I came on as a content manager, our website went through a major redesign. Since then, our website has become more of a marketplace that happens to have a blog rather than a blog that happens to have a marketplace. This seriously lowered our conversion rates, but with consistent blogging we have been able to start bringing them back up.

Before the redesign, our blog was a lot more prominent and thus engaged our fans a lot more. This is fine, of course, since our primary goal is to get more people to either visit our marketplace or to list their online businesses with us.

While the blog is less prominent now, we still create  blog content, to further build up our credibility and to attract more people to become our customers.

And, as we saw with the good increase in leads, the blog content did just that.

lead flow

Certainly, there is a lot more work to do in addition to producing more content, but it’s a pretty good start.

In addition to the latest push, our core, long-term content production strategy has steadily improved our leads over the years. Since every lead for our marketplace is potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars for us, we’re pretty happy to see these kinds of results coming in from our content efforts.

The best part is, this kind of strategy is something you can implement within almost any business model – and it is super simple.

bloggingstrategy-1

What Kind of Content Should I Push?

While every niche is different in terms of what makes great content, we found a three-pronged strategy works best for us.

We focused on:

  1. Deep dive articles and podcasts on buying or selling an online business.
  2. Blog post series (our most popular online business models is a good example).
  3. General entrepreneurial articles that could appeal to our audience, which is made up of a very diverse crowd of entrepreneurs.

Outline Content

Every piece of content is outlined beforehand. While I am a fan of writing fast, furiously, and without an outline, I find that the kind of articles that do well on our blog tend to be more meticulously crafted.

That is why I use an outline to keep me on track with each article I write — including this one. The outline contains a few important elements:

  • Title of the Blog Post.
  • Alternative Title (to help get the creative copywriting juices flowing).
  • Target Audience — this had to be deeper than just “people who buy businesses.” Each piece of content has a VERY specific person I am talking to or trying to connect with. If you’re unfamiliar with how to create an avatar of your perfect customer, I recommend deep-diving into the subject via this Digital Marketer article here.
  • Main Idea — what I am hoping to accomplish with each article. For instance, this article’s main idea is to show how we increased our leads by 37%, by breaking down the mechanics of what we did in terms of content.
  • Outline — here I’ll have different sections of the content; usually the titles of these sections will turn into the actual sub-headers I use throughout the article. Below each section are bullet points summarizing the subject matter I want to talk about.

For content creators out there, this might seem like too much to do before writing a 1,000-3,000 word blog post, but, trust me, it helps.

Some of my outlines are close to 500-700 words in and of themselves. These outlines let me put down my ideas, organize them, and create the skeleton for each piece of content.

When I go to actually write that blog post, I add meat to the skeleton, fleshing out the ideas from outline into a full-blown piece of content.

Regular Posting

While outlines are really important to our process, the most important part was and is consistency. You can write outlines all day long, but if you don’t have a good pipeline of content coming out on a consistent basis, then you are not going to get anywhere.

After the content is published, we promote all of our content via our email list and social channels as mentioned above.

When your brand already has an audience, you want to leverage that as much as possible. Many of your fans are going to be your best evangelists; these are the people who are sharing, commenting, or telling others about your brand.

Our email list announces our new listings when they hit the marketplace. Creating a content wrap-up email and becoming more proactive with our social media have become two vital parts of our strategy to reach those who will share our content with new potential audiences.

The Key Takeaways to Create Similar Results in Your Business

Consistency and Promotion

If you boil this entire strategy down, it really just comes down to the most important rule in classic blogging: be consistent.

Prove to your audience that your new content will always go out on a certain day. You might do this with your email list by priming them to look forward to a regularly appearing email that contains new information or links to new content.

By the way, we also promoted the pieces of content we did OFF our website, too (such as our Shopify blog post here, or the post we did for Matthew Woodward here).

Treat every piece of content you put out there in the same way; promote it on your email list and on social media.

You might be afraid to do this because it might feel like you are giving away part of your audience to other marketers’ lists. While this is true, it is far more powerful than damaging because you should be posting in places that your audience already goes, respects, and likes.

What does this kind of consistency do for your credibility?

It shoots way up. Suddenly, every piece of content you post will be more interesting.

Start with the End in Mind

Write every piece of content with a goal built into it. What do you want your audience to do after reading your content? Should they click a link? Should they opt in to a newsletter of yours?

Make sure to define who your audience is as well. Not every piece of content is going to speak to 100% of your audience. We write content for people just starting out (see our 6 Month Guide to Earning $3,000 a Month), but we also write content for people looking to take their website to the next level, such as The 80/20 Approach to Growing Your AdSense and Amazon Affiliate Sites.

That’s only two audiences!

Our array of audiences also includes people who only buy businesses, people that buy and flip businesses, and investors who have operators handling the day-to-day work on their investment.

You likely have several different audiences within your broader audience. You should be creating content that serves each of these niche audiences within your broader audience, on top of content that speaks to a general audience.

Play the Long Game for Organic Traffic

Developing our content strategy didn’t happen overnight. It took five months to fully implement — and we’re still improving it.

It is important to remember that, if you want content marketing to work for you, it is not something you can just turn on like paid traffic. Content takes time.

It takes time to research, write, rank, get traffic, and convert that traffic into leads and customers. Create enough content and you will reap the rewards. You will have so many good, high-quality pieces that you will be gaining leads from everywhere.

For instance, we have one piece of content still gaining us leads that was written years ago. This piece has generated around 91 leads — pretty good for the one hour it took to actually create the post.

When you have dozens upon dozens of pieces like this, the lead flow can really add up.

Unfortunately, you have to just keep plugging away in order for this snowball effect to actually happen. So stick with it!

Get into the Rhythm and Tweak the Tune

Once you have a solid and consistent way of pumping out high-quality content, it is time to measure your efforts.

Our efforts in the last five months have been good, but we want them to get better. We know that what we are currently doing is working well, so that gives us some room to do some exciting conversion rate optimization.

This is something we will be implementing across our content as time goes on to improve our blog opt ins even further.

You can do the same. Once you are on a good, consistent schedule, you can start tweaking little things like throwing up a sidebar with an opt in box, creating content upgrade lockers, or conducting other potentially fruitful experiments.

Simple Actions You Can Take Today

For blog owners or content site owners with a brand and audience, you can create more pieces of content for your site. As you can see, that has been our main strategy. By using these little SEO-backed techniques, we increased our lead flow on our blog by a significant amount.

While it is not as sexy as turning on a huge Facebook ad campaign or a gargantuan Google Adwords campaign, content has its own appeal that beats both of those marketing channels.

Once you hit the sweet spot of the content snowball, you will start picking up leads all over the place, and these leads are going to convert at a rate that is potentially six times higher than any other form of marketing currently out there.

We literally have people stoked that they get to talk to Joe on a buyer-seller conference call and send a six-figure wire to buy a business, because of our podcast and blog content.

That kind of credibility is really hard to create through a small Facebook ad or through a team of cold callers.

Whether you have a huge Amazon affiliate site or a thriving ecommerce business, content marketing — when used in the long haul — can increase your sales significantly.

You’ll experience the content snowball effect and, if you keep at it, it might just become an avalanche.


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