There is more to ranking for your target keywords than just writing great blog posts and then hoping you will eventually rank for what you want to.
Many marketers that have found great success by spending thousands of dollars creating exclusive tools, content and videos. Though the tools themselves aren’t set up to adequately monetize their use by online visitors, thus leading to an overall loss when it comes to comparing investment versus direct revenue, they’ve still been a good investment for marketing purposes.
One good example of this is Neil Patel, who blogs over at QuickSprout and founded KISSmetrics. He has written several blog posts about how his significant investment in tools has generated traffic and worldwide popularity for him and his brand, but have cost him thousands of dollars (over $45,000 and counting for his QuickSprout University and another $45,000 for his website analyzer tool).
Even though this is a significant investment for tools and content that are then given away for free, the exposure that Neil continues to receive has helped him continue to invest in companies and do what he loves — speaking and consulting.
Spending large amounts on content results large returns in traffic, backlinks and leads. For example, Neil has also disclosed costs and benefits for visual content for KISSmetrics.
- Cost: $600 per infographic, 47 in the last 2 years at $600 each = $28,200.
- Results directly from infographics:
- 2,512,596 visitors
- 41,142 backlinks from 3,741 unique domains
- 41,359 tweets
- 20,859 Facebook likes
Neil states that it would have cost him over $800,000 to get the above traffic numbers through sponsored tweets and traffic. Instead of going this route, he chose to pay the expense for the creation of content instead of solely on the promotion of it. This strategy has worked out tremendously well for KISSMetrics and Neil.
In fact, Neil turns down over $1m in queries and leads each year from companies wanting consulting or advertising and sponsored content on QuickSprout. Being able to turn down potential income in exchange for having your ideal career and business may make the initial large investment in content creation worth it, because it can lead to demanding a higher retainer over a larger period of time.
Below are the following areas that heavy investment can lead to higher overall exposure, both in the search engines and throughout your industry.
As mentioned above, Neil created his website analyzer tool for over $45,000. Creating unique, high-value free tools has many benefits, the best being inbound links and referral traffic. For instance, Neil mentions the success that Moz has had with its free Open Site Explorer tool, which allows users to compare their websites with others as well as receive a copy of their link profile.
The referral traffic that Moz receives from the Open Site Explorer website to pages on its main site, Moz.com, are large and steady. While many of their competitors charge for similar tools (and users pay for them), making this tool free has helped Moz maintain one of the best reputations online for search engine marketing. It also serves as a good introduction to Moz’s paid suite of tools, which charge users a monthly cost.
If you build a great, high-value tool for free, user trust will increase, thus increasing the likelihood that users will want to try your paid tools or services, as well. After all, if your free tools are extraordinary, your paid tools must be out of this world.
Besides potential leads and referral traffic, free tools are also long-standing linkbait that bloggers and other websites will continue to link to, as long as you provide the tool.
Neil launched QuickSprout University, which was a suite of free content and videos that helped users learn all about online marketing and beyond.
By investing in a useful and thorough education portal or suite, you are not only putting more content online, but you are also setting your company up to be seen as an expert in your industry.
Users are more likely to trust companies that have a “university” of content rather than one that has a website that just explains their services.
Another type of education investment that can pay off in more leads and recurring revenue are e-books and other long-form content. One example is Kindle books, which are a great way to gain exposure and reach a new audience, as Amazon is the largest e-commerce search engine in the world. According to Forbes, Forrester Research found that 33% of all users start their product search on Amazon versus a traditional search engine.
Other long-form content, like webinars, white papers and exclusive studies can also be offered to customers as an incentive for email list sign-up, as linkbait and to increase credibility.
Unique, exhaustive content that is published on a topic which hasn’t been covered much (either because it’s so new or so extensive that no one else has had a chance to cover it yet) will get you higher rankings much faster than another piece on something several others have covered before.
Neil Patel’s long-form guides, on “link building” and “content marketing” both currently rank in the top 10 on Google for those terms.
Video is similar to educational and long-form content and often even covers or adds onto existing written content. It is worthwhile to invest in high quality production tools and staff for video as just with website design, users subconsciously evaluate a company’s overall worth depending on the quality of what they output online.
Producing high-quality video is not only costly, but very time-consuming (due to editing and reshoots). However, video continues to grow online. According to Digiday, online video now accounts for 50% of all mobile traffic, and Cisco estimates that globally, online video traffic will be 55% of all consumer internet traffic in 2016. Because of all the online content that people are exposed to each day, video is an easily digested medium that many companies aren’t taking advantage of properly.
When it comes down to it, if you are going to spend money to promote yourself online, do it right. Spend the money to make something you can be proud of and that actually helps people.
Don’t copy what others are doing — make it mind-blowing, and people will respond. While the initial costs can be overwhelming, the long-standing payoff in credibility, leads and referral traffic will be worth the cost, especially if you scale back on the costs associated with the marketing methods you are using that aren’t working.
This is where social media marketing comes in big. Creating content is only half the battle.
Don’t spend big on content and then cheap out on the social promotion because the “build it and they will come” mentality doesn’t work. Check out my post on The Essential Three-Pronged Approach to Content Promotion to learn how to better conduct this step.
Photo credit: Scott Clark via photopin cc
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.