A little while ago, I put together a Curiosity Content Marketing Q&A held at the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre in Edinburgh.
The event was part of a regular marketing meetup-type event, featuring different industry experts and professionals. For The Curiosity Content Marketing Q&A, I just happened to be the featured person that month (and came up with the name of the event myself).
There were over 100 tickets, and the event completely sold out – which was a huge surprise for me! Slightly nerve-wracking, actually.
But, I showed up, and I did the thing. I wanted to share with you some of the answers from that Q&A, so you can get a bit of a better idea about me (Bronwen Winter Phoenix), as well as some more insight into content marketing.
Q. What is your background, and how did you get started in content marketing?
A. I started off my career as a reporter for a newspaper, having first trained as a journalist. I worked on the news desk, I chased stories, I did interviews… and then I got a book deal back in 2008, and quit. Moved to Glasgow (and then back again).
After that, I spent a lot of time freelancing. I started seeing a lot of demand for a certain type of article or blog post, and I started to learn why that was. I worked for some digital marketing agencies, and got my HubSpot inbound and content marketing certification.
Y’know what else I learned? That I was damn good at what I did.
Whilst I was working for some of these digital marketing agencies, however, I realised they weren’t always that great. They made their fair share of mistakes. That’s when I realised I could do things a lot better (and get paid a lot better) if I were to branch out and do things myself.
Eventually, I did just that, and that’s how Phoenix Content Marketing (nee Solutions) was born.
That’s not the full story, but it’s the gist of it.
Q. What IS holistic content marketing, exactly?
Inbound marketing, or what I like to call ‘holistic content marketing’ is a full, all-encompassing strategy that includes blogging, SEO, call-to-actions, landing pages, email nurturing, marketing automation, analytics and tracking, and more.
In other words, it’s not just one thing. People like to asking me about SEO, or getting to the top of Google; but it’s not about that. I mean, it IS, but that’s really only one piece of the puzzle.
Think about what happens when you get to the top of Google, and you attract all of those extra visitors to your website. If your website isn’t set up to convert those visitors into leads, the results you’re going to get from that will still be pretty poor.
But having helpful content, and multiple touch points or call-to-actions around your website, which convert your visitors to leads that then receive emails nurturing them by giving them all the right information at the right time, you’ve got a full strategy that makes sure those visitors translate into sales.
Q. What are the benefits of content marketing?
So many! Content marketing can help you:
- Connect with your best customers online
- Answer their biggest questions before they even have to ask
- Establish trust and authority for your business
- Shorten your sales cycle
- Increase your overall leads and sales
- Manage your customers’ expectations
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some downsides to content marketing. I’ve actually covered the pros and cons of content marketing in more detail in this blog post. Check it out!
Q. Who is content marketing right for?
That’s a good one. Content marketing can work for a whole plethora of different industries – so many, it’s actually impossible to list here. But you’d be surprised some of the subjects it works best with. In fact, one of the most successful clients I’ve had to-date actually sold boilers.
Think of all the questions someone might have when they need to buy a new boiler. Actually, don’t – because I can tell you. They’d ask if they need a combi boiler, a regular boiler or a system boiler. What output do they need? How much will it cost? How long will it take to install? Which brand is best? What about the guarantee? What if you want to relocate your boiler, what happens then?
The list is endless. I actually wrote about boilers for this client for around five years, and I’ve won some work just off the strength of the content I created and the results I managed to help them achieve (187% increase in sales in six months).
But I digress. Want to know if content marketing is right for you? As a rule of thumb, here are some key indicators:
- Your customers take a while to make a decision (this is not an impulse purchase)
- Your sales value is relatively high (if you’re going to be spending £2,000+ on marketing per month, you need to ensure you’re getting a good ROI
- Your customers have a lot of questions they ask before they buy (and you know what those are)
- You have the time and budget to invest in a long-term strategy
Psst! Check out my blog entitled: ‘Will Content Marketing Really Work for Your Business?‘ to learn more.
If you fit into all of the above, content marketing through an agency is a great fit. But if you don’t have an extra £2,000+ per month to spend on an agency, that doesn’t mean you can’t still do content marketing yourself.
In fact, I’m writing a course to help people in your situation right now.
Q. What kind of results have you seen for content marketing?
This is something that can vary for different industries. For instance, one of my clients who specialises in interactive touchscreen experience has, in the past year, seen their business increase by 45% due to holistic content marketing alone. Their website traffic also increased by over 500% – and still growing.
There’s also the story of the boiler company I mentioned above (who increased their sales by 187% in six months). A bit further down the line, and as things really began to snowball for them, their traffic increased to an astounding 250,000 per month at one point. (This did mean they’d get calls from people down south, but all of this traffic was coming from people who had typed their question or problem into Google, and found these helpful blogs).
Q. How much should content marketing cost?
Content marketing is one of the most – if not THE most – cost-effective method of marketing there is. It’s a lot more effective than Google Ads… however, it’s still an investment. That is, if you’re talking about a full inbound marketing (AKA holistic content marketing) strategy, rather than just paying someone to write a few blogs for you each month.
You can expect to pay an average of £2,000 – £4,000 per month here in the UK for an agency to do your content marketing for you. Over in the US, people will quite happily spend around $10k per month on content marketing. However, you can save some money by doing a lot of the hard work yourself.
It’s just that many business owners find they don’t have the time, knowledge or experience to be able to commit to that.
Q. How long does content marketing take to work?
Again, this question very much depends on your industry, and also how long your sales cycle is. We could be talking, best-case scenario, around three months before you start seeing results. But this could be less, or it could be more. I’d say the average is somewhere between four to eight months.
This is one of the reasons why content marketing requires a big commitment, and a whole lot of faith. In the past, when working for other agencies, I’ve seen some clients lose faith and express a desire to change their strategy halfway through (worst idea) or quit all together (okay, that’s actually the worst idea). The ones that quit temporarily saw their leads and sales start to pick up another two, three months down the line.
There are various factors that can affect how long content marketing takes to work, so here’s a quick breakdown:
- Your sales cycle (i.e. how long it takes your clients to make a decision about your products or services)
- Where you’re starting from (starting from scratch can often take longer than if you already have content assets you can leverage)
- How well you know your buyer personas (in other words, your ideal clients)
- How much content you’re publishing every month
- How well your website and blog is set up to convert visitors to leads
- The quality of your set-up content and marketing automation
Psst! Check out my blog where I’ve gone into a lot more detail about how long it takes content marketing to work.
Q. Should you do content marketing yourself?
There’s absolutely nothing stopping you. Just be aware that it’s a lot of work, and there are many moving parts you need to follow to ensure everything’s going to work the way it should. And if you’re going to invest that much time and effort into doing a thing, you’re going to want to get it right.
You also have to commit a lot of time when it comes to creating regular monthly content. If you’re running a business, it might work out more cost-effective to get some help – whether that’s outsourcing everything, or simply reducing the cost by taking on some of the work yourself.
There’s also the course I mentioned above that I’m currently putting together that will give you everything you need to start content marketing yourself. Stay tuned for that.
Q. What questions should you ask a content marketing agency?
If you decide content marketing is the right strategy for you, and you’re ready to commit to an agency, it’s worth speaking to two or three. They should be happy to listen to your goals and give you some free, impartial advice – as well as answer any questions you might have.
Here’s some of the biggest questions you should be asking a content marketing agency:
- What experience do they have? Do they have experience in your industry? (not essential)
- Can they guarantee the results?
- How do they create the content? Interviews?
- How involved will you be in the process? Will you approve content before it goes live? Will you be involved in the creation?
- How will they measure results?
- Which software will they use for the automation – is this included in costs?
Psst! Here are 7 of the best content marketing agencies in Edinburgh – just in case you want to look at your options!
Skip to the end…
Hey – you made it! Thanks for reading!
I just thought it would be a good idea to share the fact that I actually did this content marketing Q&A, in front of a lot of people, and share some of the questions that were asked – and my answers! It was a fun experience, and something I never thought I’d do.
It was actually a lot of fun.
If you have any other questions I haven’t answered here, or anywhere else on my blog, just get in touch with me. I’d love to hear from you!
Written by Bronwen Winter Phoenix, founder of Phoenix Content Marketing