Small businesses across all industries are benefiting from successful content marketing strategies every day. These businesses are using content to educate, entertain and humor audiences across marketing channels, increasing ROI in the process.
Small businesses with successful content marketing plans are proving that you don’t need a big budget to build meaningful relationships with customers through content. One business that has been particularly successful with content marketing is Yale Appliance.
Yale Appliance, a Boston-based appliance store with an e-commerce website, has utilized content marketing to drive traffic to their site, build their email-marketing list, improve conversion rates and increase revenue. The focus of Yale Appliance’s strategy is their blog.
Yale often publishes blog content optimized with less-competitive, long-tail keywords that assist visitors in all stages of the sales funnel. In addition to blog content, Yale produces buying guides, email content, videos and even recipes. Together, this content has made a great impact on the business by positively affecting their bottom line.
One component to Yale’s content marketing success is the diversity of content offered. Whether you prefer quick reads like blog posts, longer reads like detailed free guides or watching informative videos, Yale has you covered. The president of Yale Appliance, Steve Sheinkopf, has agreed to walk me through Yale’s content marketing strategy and share his learnings.
Steve got started blogging in 2007 to correct misconceptions in the industry, but really began blogging strategically in late 2011. “It is our marketing strategy, and the engine driving our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest engagements,” Sheinkopf says.
Yale focuses on creating blog posts that are designed to capture a potential client when they are in the decision making stage of the sales cycle. By providing information that helps a consumer make a decision on a purchase, trust is built, making them more likely to purchase from Yale when they make a final decision.
“Blog posts are designed to answer questions consumers ask daily,” Sheinkopf adds.”What is the newest, best product or how do products compare head-to-head, as well as what problems you want to avoid. We don’t shy away from issues; in fact, we highlight them.” Yale provides content that answers customers’ questions, provides transparency and is relevant. As a result, it moves website visitors through the sales funnel.
Let’s take look at some of Yale’s successful blog posts:
This post targets people who are looking to purchase a stove but are deciding between a few options. This audience is further along in the sales funnel; they have already decided they are going to buy a new stove, but are unsure of which one.
The post describes each model, including: a picture, list of features, price and link to more information for each, along with a comparison of the two. Additionally, the post features a video describing the differences between a slide-in vs. a free range stove — another choice the buyer has to make. The information included in the post is very useful for people deciding on a stove to purchase, all in one place.
At the beginning of this post, the author included a Vine that shows six different ceiling fans.
This small addition makes the post more interesting and gives visitors a peek into their ceiling fan options. Below the Vine, four of the best ceiling fans Yale has to offer are profiled, complete with photos and specs.
Finally, the author includes his opinion on the matter and recommends the best fan featured. This post positions Yale as an expert in the appliance industry by providing a professional opinion. This post aims to assist people at the top of the sales funnel who are interested in purchasing a ceiling fan somewhere down the road, but are probably not ready to make a decision yet.
Yale Appliance also produces blog posts that contain answers to customers’ frequently asked questions. The author frames the post as a series, so if a visitor finds this post helpful, they may find others in the series helpful as well. Next, the author answers FAQs about refrigerators, again, showcasing industry expertise. FAQ posts are beneficial for consumers throughout the entire sales funnel, from those who are interested in making a purchase to those who are deciding between makes and models.
All of Yale’s blog posts offer suggestions of additional relevant content throughout and feature strong calls to action at the bottom, above the comment section. The primary call-to-action is for a subject-specific free guide, with a secondary call to subscribe to posts by email. Readily providing readers additional content has contributed to Yale’s success.
The free guides mentioned above are another example of Yale’s compelling content. Yale creates free guides for each blog category. These free guides are designed to help consumers make buying decision by providing all the information necessary to make a sound choice on their next appliance purchase.
Each free guide is featured on its own landing page and requires entry of name, email address and ZIP code for download. Because the consumer values the information offered in the guide, they have no problem filing out a name and email capture form. The form also includes a check box for email subscription, so not only are free guides a great resource for the consumer, they are helping expand the company’s email marketing list as well.
“We send lead nurturing (non-sales) emails to consumers who download our free guides. The unsubscribe rate is less than a 1 percent and the click through averages 30 percent, so they must like them!” Sheinkopf says of Yale’s free guide and email success.
Yale often has live chef demonstrations in their Boston store, which allow them to show off their numerous cooking appliances. As a result, it seemed only natural to include the recipes featured in the live demos on Yale’s website, Sheinkopf says.
Gathered in groups by dish, the recipe center features appetizers, entrees, desserts and everything in between. There is also a “contributors” section that links visitors to the chefs’ websites, which makes for a great user experience.
In addition to written content, Yale also produces useful video content for consumers. There are currently 140 videos on Yale’s YouTube channel, with topics ranging from appliance FAQs and reviews to company history.
The videos are not very long (no more than five minutes) and are not recorded by a professional recording studio, but are very effective. Sheinkopf says at first he recorded videos with an iPhone, but then purchased a camera, and recently bought additional lighting equipment to make their videos even better.
Yale’s videos feature many different employees — all specialists in their line of work — further positioning the company as a leading expert in the appliance industry, and he notes that they are just getting started.
The relevant videos make great additions to Yale’s blog posts, but also stand as compelling content on their own. By supplying answers to common questions, sharing expertise and providing a visual element other than product photos, Yale’s videos make consumers’ appliance buying decisions a bit easier.
As a result of content marketing, Yale’s traffic has more than tripled annually (from 40,000 visitors to 150,000) and leads have grown from 800 to 2300 monthly. And even more impressive, revenue is up by 40 percent since 2009. “Profitability is up way more than that, because we eliminated marketing expense,” Sheinkopf adds.
As 60 percent of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site, it makes sense that developing and implementing a content marketing strategy has positively affected Yale’s revenue.
By providing informational and educational content, Yale is able showcase industry knowledge while building trust with consumers, which often results in a relationship that transcends the first appliance purchase. Sheinkopf says, “Personally, I think businesses should be providing their prospects information rather than interrupting their day with advertising. Don’t shout and create a better, more positive relationship [with customers]. At the very least, you will save a fortune in advertising.”
How has content marketing positively affected your business? Share your story in the comment section below.
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Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.