For a lesson on content marketing, we are going to study the Red Rocket Blog, as a case study.
Back on February 28, 2011, I wrote Lesson #1, my first blog post. I didn't really know what to expect, as I had never been a blogger before, and had never even heard the term "content marketing". All I knew was a wanted to prove to visitors of the brand new Red Rocket website, that I was smart on launching and funding startups and well versed on digital strategy and marketing. Writing a few "how to" lessons seemed like a good idea to do that.
Over the last two years, I have written a total of 188 blog posts, including this Lesson #142. It takes me between 30-60 minutes to write a post, depending on its complexity, and I write around one post per week. So, about 140 hours of time has been invested to date, spread over two years. And, each blog post is between five to 10 paragraphs in length. I try to limit each post to around a 5 minute read with clear, easy-to-understand action items with real life datapoints for the readers to action upon in their own businesses.
In addition to writing content, I do my best to get the content discovered. I try to select popular topics and use engaging titles, that are already getting a lot of monthly search traffic at Google, based on data from their keyword suggestion tool. And, I distribute the content to my social network of followers (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+), including posting each lesson to the relevant group discussions that I am a member of on LinkedIn (after joining 38 relevant groups on startups, digital marketing and venture capital). I only post the tweets once, not multiple times, which would get me even more exposure for the content throughout the day. In addition, I look for various third party content sites (e.g., Crains, Founder Institute, Alltop, Alley Watch, Technori) to help me get exposure for the content, by republishing portions of the articles from their sites, including links back to my site, which helps with promotion and backlinks for search engine support.
The result of the above effort is a Red Rocket Blog that gets around 8,000 reads from around 3,000 unique visitors per month. Starting with zero reads in February 2011, the blog has grown exponentially in each year, from 2,000 monthly reads one year later to 8,000 monthly reads today, just over two years later. So, it took some time for the blog to attract an initial readership, and for search engine optimization benefits to kick in. But, today, traffic is starting to accelerate, with the 8,000 monthly reads this month, up from 5,000 monthly reads in January!!
So, why does this all matter?? Here is what has happened to me and the Red Rocket consulting business during the same time: (i) it has help me build my personal brand; (ii) I get a lot of PR requests for interviews and free exposure in major media outlets (e.g., Entrepreneur, Wall Street Journal, Crains, Forbes); (iii) it has dramatically increased my social media following and Klout score; (iv) I received a few unexpected honors and awards (e.g., Crains Tech 50, Mentor of the Year finalist); (v) I was invited to speak or participate at several industry events (e.g., Techweek, VentureShot, eFactor, Lean Startup Circle, IRCE) and guest lecture to entrepreneurs at the local universities (e.g., Northwestern, U-Chicago, U-Illinois Chicago, Columbia College); (vi) Red Rocket has become the #1 or #2 link in Google for "startup consultant"; (vii) I get about 200 inbound consulting leads a year, with which to drive Red Rocket revenues; and (viii) Red Rocket's reach has expanded far beyond Chicago, with leads coming in nationwide, and even from overseas.
And, what did this cost me, other than a little bit of my time? Nothing! So, take lessons from here for your businesses, scaling up or down your traffic estimates based on your content type, quantity, frequency and distribution. Embrace content marketing around your industry or business, and watch the new found leads roll in. But, as you read, be patient; it does take a bit of time before it takes off.
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