Today content marketing is a significant part of all marketing. Modern buyers recognize an advertisement, and more often than not, they’re refusing from hearing a sales pitch. Content solves this problem by creating value for customers before they make a purchase – sometimes before they’ve even considered making a purchase.
How content marketing can boost your sales? Are you looking for actionable tips to improve your marketing strategy and dramatically increase sales? You’re in the right place! In this article, I’ll share with you my experience at Alpha Serve, which began four years ago, when I started working with marketing and exactly with content marketing. I hope that some of the tips which I’ve found out would be helpful also for you and that after reading this post, you will be able to make an action plan in content marketing for your business.
*The audio version of our webinar with Anna Odrynska Chief Strategy Officer at Alpha Serve:
First, I’d like to introduce myself and my company and show you some of the results we get in our blog to prove that my tips can be really valuable because they work. Then I will tell you how we in my company use the content in terms of free content and paid content tools as well. I’ll give you some instructions on how you can use your blog to generate traffic and leads to your business, and how the media can also help you to boost your sales. So let’s start.
My name is Anna. I’m the Chief Strategy Officer and co-owner of Alpha Serve. I’m responsible for the business part of our project – business development, marketing, and partnerships. Alpha Serve is a software development company. We‘ve been doing outsourcing services for 15 years but in the last four years we’ve switched to our own products and we developed enterprise-grade apps for professional business software such as Jira, ServiceNow, Zendesk, and others.
There are a lot of mentions of our achievements on the slide but it’s worth knowing that in total we have more than $9,000 active installations for all products. Also, we have a partner network with more than 150 partners and 35 apps in ecosystems, one of which ranks number 6 among the fastest growing on the whole Atlassian marketplace where there are about 5,000 apps.
The idea to show this to you was to let you know that we’re not a kind of service provider or whatever, we are just a normal company working on the B2B market. I’m not going to promote any services for you, I just want to share our own practical experience, and how we gain these great results in the last four years using content marketing.
Content Marketing as an Essential Component of Your Overall Marketing Strategy
So at the very beginning, I wanted to say why we use content marketing. We use it as an important point of the whole marketing strategy. Today we do a lot of other marketing activities like advertising, paid ads, events, and many others, but when we were starting with the product project in 2019, we didn’t have any budget for ads, that’s why we started with what we could do at that point – our niche blog. The idea of using content for us was:
- to bring a wide product awareness to let the potential users and the potential audience know that our products exist and that they can really solve their problems with them;
- to promote our expertise;
- and, of course, to collect leads from any place on the web to be present whenever the potential users can search for our solutions;
- improve our SEO positions to let them work in the complex.
So I wanted to share just a few things for you to know about what we’ve done and what we’ve got. As I said before, we started our blog in 2019 and as a result of 2022, we had more than 70,000 users. It’s not much for the B2C market, but it’s enough for B2B, for the niche products which we work with. 83% of our traffic in the blog is organic so we didn’t pay for it. Our domain rate according to Ahrefs is 60 now and it has grown by 22 points in 2022.
We do efforts to get this and I also decided to put this here for your understanding of how much effort was done for example in 2022, in terms of content: we’ve published 65 articles in our blog, and 20 partner articles, which were posted in the blogs of our partners. We also published 27 press releases, 20 paid publications, and other content in our relevant communities, like the Atlassian, ServiceNow, and PowerBI communities. Also, we tested the format of LinkedIn short articles and it succeeded.
In terms of sales (not only due to the content, of course, but with its help), we have doubled our revenue in 2022 compared to 2021.
How Do We Use Content Marketing?
So how do we use text content marketing? I wanted to highlight that today we’ll talk only about the text content – no video or graphic content, only articles or any other text that can be shared on the web.
As I said, the main point for us was letting the potential customer find us whenever or wherever they’re Googling for any kind of things that can be done with the help of our products. In the arsenal of our content marketing team, we have basic tools so this is something that can be very simply done by your own efforts: it’s the blog on our website, product documentation, which is a good tool where you can also gain some positions to provide some content for your users.
For example, we have the user guides that we provide to our clients, published on the web, and, of course, there are some website product pages apart from the blog, or in our case, we have a listing on each marketplace where we sell our applications, and social media accounts. So these all are basic tools where you can do some valuable texts and publish some content to take a position and Google when people search for something.
In addition to this, we use free tools for content publication and sharing. By this, I mean the partner guest posts – free content on the partner blogs. It’s a very good tool because the partners have the same relevant audience that we target and they share them with the newspapers and other media, so it works pretty fine, and such publications are normally free because usually we exchange the articles: we publish our articles on their blog and they do the same with ours. It’s a total win-win and comparatively free of charge because you pay only for content creation.
The free tools on our side also include community articles so I’m sure that every industry has certain forms of communities where you can publish some valuable content, not an advertising one, but more like expertise promotion or solution sharing with your potential users and this is what we actively do: we publish content on our PowerBI, Atlassian, Zendesk development community, and many others. You can also take into consideration such things as Medium, Quora, or other communities, your target audience is reading.
Don’t forget about LinkedIn and other social media. It is also a very good place to share your content: short articles, how-to-use cases – in groups or on your private pages and then share it or use the mailing list inside LinkedIn. So this is also a very good option to share the content with the relevant audience and this is what we do.
The last type we use is paid content marketing. We started to use it not from the very beginning but later and here is what we did there in 2022. We published eight publications in profile media, in the media which are relevant for us, which are read by the relevant audience. We shared press releases about any achievements or other cases, we can share about our products or the company. Actually, one of the good experiences we had exactly with PRNEWS.IO. It was the cascade strategy, recommended by them, to support and strengthen the positions of the already existing content and I will tell more about this later. So as you see we do everything possible for our target audiences to find us.
Website Blog Traffic
Next, I wanted to tell you some tips which we gathered during four years working with the website blog, on how to make your blog work for you and make your blog generate traffic to your website, and collect leads.
I divided this process into several steps. So the first and one of the most important steps is to define the right topic for the article you plan to publish on your blog and to select the proper keywords.
When you are thinking of writing an article on a certain topic don’t forget to investigate what content already exists and which articles are already there in Google, giving an answer to a certain question.
Also, never forget about keywords. Every content you’re sharing should be first of all human-friendly and SEO-friendly so that Google could “understand” it and give it relevant positions in the search field. Therefore the keywords are really important. Our experience shows that you should use various keywords relevant to the topic, but promote it just with one main keyword. This keyword should be present in the headlines and the title and this is the one, with which you should track the positions. Don’t forget to monitor the positions of every keyword and adjust the content if necessary.
Of course, consider uniqueness – don’t forget that the content will be relevant only if it’s unique, SEO- and human-friendly.
When you’ve already defined the topic and found the main keyword to promote the content, the second step is to provide a detailed brief which is normally 80% of success. No matter if you’re working with in-house authors or if you’re working with freelancers, e.g. we have a team of freelance authors who are writing content for us, the detailed brief is key.
What we would advise you here is to structure the article by yourself:
- never leave the headings and the H2/H3 subheadings to the author;
- formulate it yourself, taking into consideration the logic of the article and the keywords;
- always mention the number of words needed for this article;
- add references: if you’re writing for a certain media or for your blog or for your partner’s blog, don’t forget to share with the author the place where the article will be published so that he/she could see what articles are already there, what format is there – any references would be suitable here;
- provide information input: add your product documentation, your website pages, or other materials.
When the brief is ready, the author creates content according to it and you are ready to publish an article on your blog, you need to mind the publication rules. It’s as important as creating and writing content with keywords. Make headings, subheadings, alts, and micro markup in the blog article, mention the author of your article and publication date, and update it from time to time.
I’d also recommend below at the end of the article show other relevant articles from your blog on this definite topic, something that can be also interesting to the readers, that can catch their attention, and leave them on your website for more time.
Also, don’t forget to link the sources. If you mention any information in the article on some statistics or rankings, always link sources on where it comes from.
When an article is published and it starts to collect traffic, your work doesn’t stop here. Don’t forget to share your content on social media. We often do the internal “like times” after the publication, inviting our team members to like and share the content which has just been published on social media, because the first time of the publication is very important for the social media algorithms.
Re-link your pieces of content with each other: add links of product documentation to your blog and vice versa, and link the blog articles with your website product pages. Re-link your content everywhere where it’s possible and relevant. Use link insertions and crowd marketing so if you have some relevant articles, insert anchors to add links there. In addition to it, use all types of content you have.
If you are publishing videos on YouTube, don’t forget to leave the link to the article under the relevant video in the description.
Use Pinterest. Use all possible places where you work to share the content and then this content will work for you.
Paid Content Distribution
If you’re done with free tools you can also think about paid distribution. I must say that we cooperate tightly with PRNEWS.IO here and they are our best paid content distribution partner. That’s why we decided to make the webinar together; to let you know how you can also use the paid content for your business.
As I said, we do paid publications media, but we don’t do it messy. We do it very precisely, selecting the relevant media, thinking about the relevant topic for this definite media, and, of course, what is important, monitoring the results. Actually, having the results, we’re satisfied with, allows me to share the content creation tips with you. Let’s continue.
What do I mean by “relevant media”? For us, it’s important not to attract a wide audience. Our target is to select the proper media with relevant readers so those people who can be really our potential customers, who are interested in the topic on which we create content. That is why we always take into consideration the relevance of the media and we invest time in high-quality media selection. We not only check the media itself, its geography, and which countries the readers come from, but also its domain rank, its terms, and conditions regarding if it’s a temporary publication or not, how many links can be inserted, and if they are do-follow or not-follow. After making a short list of the media, which can be relevant for a certain topic or a certain product we want to share information about, we always look for a relevant place, where the article can be published, whether someone would see it there or not. We put so much attention here because our target is not only to get a strong link to the website but also to get a good position in Google and to be read by the relevant audience.
So these are the necessary points we take into consideration while selecting the relevant media. Also, we advise not to duplicate publications. If you’ve done something about a certain product on one media, don’t use it for the second time to write about the same product. You can do it with another product or another service but don’t duplicate it and use the same media several times.
After you’ve selected the media and the product or the service you will talk about, you need to select a suitable topic. Check this exact media, take a look at how normally the article titles are formulated there, and do the same to make it natively fit the content that already exists on this media. Mind the SEO, keep the native format of this media, use the UTM marks if needed to track the traffic coming from this article and always check uniqueness before submitting the content for publication, because it’s very important.
When the content goes live there is one more step that shouldn’t be ignored – monitoring the results. What we always do is check the indexation of the link so every article that goes live needs to be indexed. We monitor positions by keywords – we’re checking what position in Google has a definite article by the keywords selected previously and this is why the main keyboard is important, which I talked about before. We monitor the product pages or where we provide links in the article to our products. For example, we monitor the quality of the traffic: how much traffic is coming to the website from this definite article, what is the bounce rate, how much time, people came from this article spent on the website, and so on. These are the takeaways that we are taking into consideration next time, selecting the relevant media.
And again, for the paid content it’s also actual to share this content the same as yours. So these are the basic rules which I hope would be helpful for you to use when you decide to come to the paid content distribution.
Content Marketing Platform
- 100,000+ media publications;
- get backlinks to your product;
- scale work with content distribution.
What I wanted to say more is that you need to remember that bad publications may happen. There are publications that don’t take positions in the top 30 on Google, which generate bad, not relevant traffic or do not generate it at all. This may happen. Remember, that only those people who do nothing don’t make any mistakes and if you’re doing something on a daily basis even if you are a true expert – bad publications may happen.
What does it mean? Having unsuccessful content doesn’t mean content marketing doesn’t work. In the situation where you revealed the article which is not working, your task is to adjust it and restart it if it’s possible. For example, if you checked the position, the links, and uniqueness and you see that something is wrong there, you may adjust it. But before doing it, you should think if it’s worth putting in additional effort and improving this content, which you already invested in. As for us, we normally try to relaunch the existing content if it stops working or it didn’t work from the very beginning. And here is where monitoring is important.
If you monitor the results of every publication you can check the position, traffic, keyword saturation, and uniqueness and then you may do some changes to the existing content especially if it is published on your blog or on the partner’s blog. Check out and change H2s, spam with keywords or the main keywords, add some screenshots, and actualize the information. Whatever you can do, do it to make this content work better. This is how we reanimate our articles.
After all the adjustments, we send the article for re-indexation, then we re-share it and observe how it works. Later if we see that the article takes the position but the more strong content kicks this article a little bit behind, we strengthen this article with some special activities. For this, we buy links and use one of the good strategies which were suggested to us by our partners PRNEWS – the cascade strategy. This is what they normally do themselves with the minimum interference from their side and it’s working pretty fine.
The idea is to use the existing content, but rewritten and updated, thereby creating unique content; then to publish and re-link it on several other media and other places. Such a reanimation cascade works really fine and we have used it already three or four times which is why I can highly recommend this service for your content.
We started with one marketing specialist working part-time and one freelance copywriter in 2019. These two people and me (I also devoted time to marketing) have done all the marketing activities, not only the content. Nowadays we have six team members in the marketing team, and just from the autumn of last year, we’ve started working with the content manager, who is managing all the content marketing progress. So on the content management side, we do everything in-house: the content manager selects the topics, prepares briefs, and communicates with authors. Talking about the authors, we work with freelancers – we have four or five writers who are working for us on a constant basis, but they’re not in-house, more like contractors. Some of them we found on Upwork, and some of them – on the Ukrainian platform for content freelancers. It’s always a bottleneck because you can’t generate more content when there is no one who can help you, that is why we constantly look for new authors.
Now what we are actually testing is the AI content tools and they seem to be working pretty great in terms of rewriting, in terms of the articles check, in terms of reformulating something in your stock, etc. There is a great service in the content AI, which is known as “Explain as a professor”, so you provide an extra from an article and AI generates a great text for you, explaining the same in a very clear way and with great English.
Summing up, we have an in-house marketing team, which manages all of our marketing activities, one person who is fully dedicated to content management, contracted authors working for us on regular basis, and we are using AI.
So one of the main things which I would like you to take away from this article is that content marketing really works. It’s important if you’re working with the SaaS business, B2B, or any other business. Human-friendly and SEO- friendly content works really well and it can be used for your product awareness, branding, and, of course, lead generation.
Also, I’d like to add that it works in the long run because articles are not something like Google ads that you published and started to get some clicks almost immediately. Articles need some time to take a relevant position but the idea is that afterward, the content continues to work for you without your active participation. So that you understand me better, I’ll give you an example: we have an article published with the partner in 2020 and it’s still number two in the referral traffic generation, it still continues to generate traffic to our blog, our website pages, and our products. With our partner, we keep this article updated from time to time and it’s working. As you can see, we published it and paid once almost two and a half years ago, but it’s still working to generate traffic to our product pages. This is what you need to remember content marketing is more about the long-term impact.
The second point I wanted you to keep in mind is that the secret of successful content lies in proper preparation. You have to invest time in preparing the brief as I described before and not rely on the authors because they’re not interested in your business they’re interested in getting money for the articles, so it’s in your favor to prepare well. Check the uniqueness of the articles, there are a lot of services on the web that can be used for that, check how many times the keywords are used, and check if the description and other requirements are met.
Publishing and monitoring the output is the third recommendation, that I wanted you to take with you. By that I mean, don’t leave the content after publication. After you published the content your main work is just about to start. You need to monitor the positions, the metrics, and the results, share the content and relink it in all other existing places that you have. So keep in mind that your marketing tasks don’t stop when the article is published, they just start there.
The last piece of advice is to create content constantly. Don’t think you’ve just done it once and then say “Okay, that’s it”. You should remember there are tons and tons of materials generated on a daily basis by all the businesses and companies, and the top in Google changes regularly so you need to make sure to keep your place there. To do this you need to consistently create content, keep it up-to-date, track all the materials, and how they are working for you.
That’s all for my side, I would be happy to answer your questions. Drop me a line on my LinkedIn just in case you have any questions 🙂