123 percent gainSpoiler alert: I did our own inbound marketing reporting for June 2013 and realized that our website traffic had improved 123% over June 2012. Do you know how we did it? Content marketing caused our lift in website traffic, pure and simple.

What if I told you that you could get a 123% lift year over year by starting a blog for your business? It seems that I’ve been telling a lot of people that lately, so let me back up this claim with some proof.

As of last June, our website had been seeing a small but steady decline in traffic month to month. In 2011, we started to get more referrals, and I frankly got lazy with our blog. Rather than giving readers information that was helpful to their business, we instead announced news as it happened – new website launches, awards and new hires. Exciting stuff for us, but boring stuff for most of our readers.

I knew that we needed to win over new prospects with our website, but the fact that we were losing visitors was a problem if I wanted to continue to get business from our website. I also knew the solution -- blogging more about stuff that matters to the companies that we wanted to work with.

In September 2012, I made a concerted effect to blog more. I made it a priority. We wrote as a team. We brainstormed ideas together, and either our content specialist or me wrote the blog posts. We engaged more in social media, taking a scientific approach to what we posted when, and where. In just 9 short months, we've well over doubled our website traffic.

This is our Visits graph from Google Analytics comparing June 2012 (orange line) with June 2013 (blue line).

Website visit comparison, June 2012 - June 2013

Measured effects that content marketing has had on our business

  • 123% increase in website traffic year over year.
  • A few hundred people now subscribe to our blog. By asking people if they want to subscribe to our blog on our landing pages, we've seen an explosion in subscribers in the last 4 months.
  • We're having more conversations on social media, especially LinkedIn.
  • We're getting referrals for new business from people reading the blog.
  • We’ve had two speaking engagements.

Our blog has helped us regain authority status with the people that matter most to our business. By staying focused and committed, our business has grown and we’ve hired two new people to handle growth.

Our content marketing formula (it can be yours, too)

Our formula is no secret, and we haven’t done anything that you can’t do as long as you devote the time and energy to doing it right. Here's the content marketing formula that we used for our own business.

  • We defined the kinds of businesses that we want to work with. We now know a lot more about the decision makers at these companies, so we know what to write about.
  • We publish 2 blog posts per week on topics that we know our target audience wants to know about.
  • We ask people to subscribe by email to our blog posts, and follow up with an email "teasing" each blog post the day of publication.
  • Promote each blog post on social media. We maintain a social media calendar and connect with those that are sharing and commenting on our posts.
  • We've also written several guides to help educate people how to generate more leads from their website and create a website that attracts customers. We place calls to action on our website and link to pages where you can download these documents.

What I’ve learned in the last 9 months that you can apply to your company

  • Defining your target audience is critical. Writing content takes a lot of time, so it's important that the time is not wasted on topics that your prospects don't care about.
  • If you have a blog already, you may have to abandon some of your old readers. A lot of people who read this blog in the past were web designers and developers. They aren't our target market, so we had to write differently, even if it alienated them.
  • Listen very closely during sales calls, write down questions people ask you and answer those on the blog. It’s important that you also pay close attention to the types of words people use to describe what you do, because those are the words they search for. Hint: The words people use to describe your product or service are often different than the words you use to describe your product or service.
  • An active blog provides a great pipeline of socially sharable content that is relevant for months after publication.

You now have some real advice for what it takes to be successful at content marketing. Go start a blog, give your customers what they need, and reap the rewards.

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