Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of Ask, Learn, Grow. The show where the Reef team answer questions and share insights and updates from the digital marketing industry.
I’ve got Joel with me today who is one of our Digital Marketing Managers here at Reef, and Joel is going to answer quite a common question, which is:
“Does a blog post lead to a sale?”
So, Joel, over to you…
So one of the key questions we sometimes get when we are making content marketing recommendations, or we want a client to take on content marketing or expand what they’re already doing is:
“Does a blog post actually lead to a sale? If so, how does it lead to a sale and what ROI can I expect from blog content?”
A blog post can lead to a sale, depending on the type of blog posts that you’re producing.
If you’re an eCommerce brand and you’re producing a gift guide, then that could potentially lead to a sale if it’s appropriately linked to the right product pages.
Generally speaking though, content marketing is not about direct response sales. It’s about initiating and nurturing a relationship with users, which may, at some point, lead to a sale when the user is in market for whatever service or offer you’re providing.
Okay Joel, so what is the role of blog content in an overall digital marketing strategy?
In digital marketing, more broadly, content has a few roles.
- So it has the role of initiating and nurturing a relationship with users and moving them from the point of discovery through to when they are in market to convert.
- It also plays a significant role in SEO, in building and maintaining the authority of your landing pages and other content on the site.
- It also helps you expand into less competitive keyword groups and that will in turn, benefit the site overall through the internal links that point to your landing page/s from the blog post or series of blog posts. So, it helps create a nice little SEO topical nest that will provide you with year round organic traffic.
- The beauty as well, is that if you have seasonal campaigns, you can put up a blog post for one campaign and then update and relaunch it next season, and it will have even more authority by then.
So content marketing is, in some ways, to do with building relationships and also building and maintaining relevance for core keywords.
You made a good point there about yes, building relationships, but also how it improves your overall search visibility.
And you can channel that authority by adding internal links to areas of your site where you need it the most. As long as the page you are linking to is relevant, of course.
I think it’s important to mention links… Links are still important for SEO, right? So people don’t generally link to commercial orientated or product pages, but they do link to reference-able blog content.
So obviously people are linking externally to one of your really high quality pages, and you’re using the internal links to pass that through to other areas of the site.
Like you said Joel, it’s going to improve the authority of the site as a whole in attracting links to the blog post and the blog post containing internal links to other pages.
Exactly. A lot of clients will go, where do we start with link building? But the issue is, like you mentioned, you have to have something to link to.
If you don’t have anything to link to, then we have nothing to promote via link building activities. That restricts your options to things like unlinked brand mentions.
Even without a blog, you still have to have a relevant landing page, which is more beneficial if it’s not your home page… but if it is your home page, that’s fine.
If you’ve not got an active content marketing strategy though, your link building is severely restricted because as you’ve rightly mentioned, it’s very unlikely that someone will link to your core service pages, unless it’s very directly relevant to what they’re publishing or it’s some kind of review that they’re putting up.
One other thing that a lot of clients don’t think about when it comes to content marketing, is that you can cut up blog posts and repurpose them as social content and use them in other places as well.
You can re-purpose them into design assets, you can shoot them as videos. There’s so many different ways you can use blog content.
Very good point. So one piece of content could become seven, for example,
It’s knowing what to do to splinter the piece of content so that you get the most use out of it and the most audience reach from your efforts as well.
So how does blog content move or help to move the user through the Customer Conversion Journey?
It all depends on the topic or keywords that you’re targeting.
So you would ideally want to target all phases of the Customer Conversion Journey with blog content (not all at the same time with one blog post), but the first few, early stages in particular.
Discovery, interest, and intent are of particular importance when it comes to content marketing.
Discovery for users that have not discovered your brand at all, or at the very least have not visited your website, they may have heard of you via word of mouth, but they’ve not actively engaged with you before.
So when it comes to discovery level content, you really need to look beyond your immediate service offering.
You really need to look at what questions people are asking or what’s going on in the industry in general.
What’s of topical relevance to the audience that you’re targeting?
It’s not necessarily about your product, but then again, it depends on the industry you’re in.
You could have discovery level content that is focused on your product, but you would be looking at more top level questions rather than comparisons and demos.
- A blog really has power in being able to be used as a conversation starter for the audience members that are in the discovery phase.
- Then, when we get to interest, we start to think more about entering what’s traditionally called the consideration phase.
- We want to acquire and maintain the interest of the users who have discovered us, and nurture that interest to purchase intent.
So at that point, that’s where we move from those top level questions and drill down to the next phase of more focused or targeted questions and content:
- So we’re looking at maybe FAQs about solutions, including your solution (product or service).
- Areas of interest in the industry that more directly tie in with your product.
- If we’re running a seasonal campaign, it might be tying in our offering to what’s happening on the calendar at the time of it, whether it be Christmas or Easter or tax appeal, or a particular industry event… It just depends on what you’re targeting.
When we get to intent focused content, that’s where, from the discovery and from the interest content, the intent focused content is more a point of destination.
Where do we send users to next, from the discovery level content and from the interest level content?
So at intent level, you can use a landing page, but you can also use a blog post that may take for example, the form of a gift guide. It may take the form of an infographic. It has more commercial intent basically.
This is really dependent on drilling down to what your product offering really is and the desired end result it helps the user to achieve.
But again, it really does depend on the topics that you’re dealing with.
Back to the question about blog content and the way it moves users through the journey… at the point of discovery, it initiates the relationship.
At the point of interest, it nurtures that relationship to a point where they develop intent to convert.
Yeah, fantastic, good stuff. And you mentioned about infographics there, which I think is an important point to note because we’ve been using the term blog.
Quite often a blog is just the place on the site that houses a lot of this type of content, but blog doesn’t mean text.
You can incorporate all kinds of different creative that you want on there, depending on, obviously, the needs of the strategy and your audience preference.
So I think it’s important to note that.
The other thing you mentioned is how blog content can be used to help nurture a prospect from a discovery to interest to intent…
I guess another way of looking at that is going from problem aware, to solution aware, to then looking at comparisons and all the ins and outs of the different solutions in order to choose a solution that’s the most appropriate for their needs.
So just a little bit more context to layer on top of what you said.
If a typical blog post doesn’t directly lead to a sale in most instances, I think it’s safe to say, if we’re talking more upper funnel content, how does it influence the decision to buy?
If it’s a user who has not yet discovered you, it influences the decision to buy by initiating that relationship. It initiates the first point of contact with the audience.
You provide them with content that is either of interest to them or answering a question that they have, which is somewhat relevant to your offer, but it’s not an offer.
Your offer isn’t the answer, the content is the answer. You’re providing them with value, essentially.
That’s how it leads to the sale further down the track, because you provide that initial value at no cost to the user, or assuming it’s not a gated lead magnet anyway.
You provide that initial value to the user at no cost to them other than their time. If the value is meaningful to the user in whatever sense that may be (usually educate, entertain or impact), then brand recall will be there.
That’s how it indirectly relates to the sale. It starts the brand recall.
Then, when that user has similar questions, the idea is that they’ll come back to you, or they will interact with your site more and learn about what it is that you actually do, or what it is that you’re actually offering.
When they’re in market for what you offer, or when they know someone who is in market for what you offer, you’ll be at the forefront of their mind when that need is there to be fulfilled.
They are also more likely to click and respond to your direct response offers at this time because of the prior positive experience they have had with the brand.
Share of mind equals share of wallet.
Let’s talk a little bit more on that.
You can, as a marketer, help to nurture this process along. You’re quite right in stating the brand recall benefits, and if you stay front of mind via your content and people continue to engage, then yes of course, when they’re in market, who are they going to think of? You.
But as part of nurturing them throughout the Customer Conversion Journey, you’ve probably captured a lot of these people on remarketing lists and on email lists.
So then you can follow up with these people and tailor the content, campaigns and offers, to help speed this transition along, nurturing them to conversion as well… but we could do an entire new call on that.
Yeah you’re absolutely right. A whole other topic.
Cool, good call today, Joel. Anything else to add before we wrap this one up?
I’d just like to say that investing in something that isn’t directly measurable in terms of ROI, can be a big roadblock to clients taking the leap and really pursuing content marketing.
People need to remember that when it comes to blog posts, they’re not going to immediately be profitable and generate instant conversions.
Further down the road though, they should be having a positive impact on your conversions. If you don’t try, you won’t know and you might be losing a significant competitive advantage in doing so.
In time they are indirectly profitable as well.
Indirectly can be through an increase in search presence, or if you look at attribution, the blog posts might be driving traffic to the site as the first touch point, with these people then converting later in the customer journey, usually via a different channel.
So there’s different ways of looking at it.
And in the NFP space, we’ve actually had some users donate from blog posts before.
So it can happen, that a blog post directly leads to a sale or a donation, but as a general rule it’s not the norm… but don’t let that be the barrier to you using content to initiate those conversations and build relationships with the audience.
If done well, it will lead to conversions indirectly.
Get clear on the goals and measure what matters and think about the Customer Conversion Journey, not just the convert stage, I think is the take away here.
Thanks Joel, for your time today, and for sharing all those insights about whether a blog post leads to a sale and how the customer journey factors in to that.
If anyone’s got any questions about anything we covered in today’s call, feel free to send them in and we’ll be happy to help.
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