For All the Entrepreneurs Confused about How Content Marketing Actually Works

For All the Entrepreneurs Confused about How Content Marketing Actually Works

Let’s start with a simple question…

How, exactly, does content marketing make money?

Because that’s the end goal, right?

You’re not hunched over your keyboard, racking your brain for attention-grabbing ideas because you enjoy it. You expect to get clients, sales, or some other tangible result for your business. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but sometime in the future, all that work you’re putting into creating and publishing content had better pay off.

Except… what if it won’t?

What if your entire understanding of the way content marketing works is wrong?

What if all the time you’ve invested into creating content was, in fact, a senseless waste of time, never possessing even the slightest chance of turning a profit?

It would be a tragedy, and yet I believe that’s precisely what’s happening. Not just to you, but to millions of entrepreneurs around the globe.

Is it because content marketing is just a fad? Or worse, an elaborate hoax?

No. On the contrary, I believe the hype is totally justified. If you execute the right content marketing strategy in the right market, the results are breathtaking.

But that rarely happens. There are lots of reasons why, and I might eventually write a short book explaining them all, but by far the biggest reason why most entrepreneurs get crappy results is they completely misunderstand what content marketing is about.

Here’s what I mean…

Content Marketing Is Not about Traffic

I know, it’s heresy. Just saying that, I’m half expecting a mob with pitchforks to show up at my door.

But stick with me for a moment.

Over the last decade, I’ve created or helped create content that has generated over 200 million page views. What might surprise you though is the vast majority of that traffic was completely worthless. People came to the site, stuck around for a minute or two, and then left.

So yes, it’s an impressive number, but it’s also a meaningless one. In fact, all the numbers connected to traffic like pageviews and unique visitors are meaningless. They are what’s called “vanity metrics.”

To be completely transparent, I didn’t realize this until about halfway through my career. For the first half of my career, I thought traffic was the only thing that mattered. I measured it to the exclusion of everything else.

But then I noticed something peculiar:

A minority of the content was producing the majority of the revenue.

When I talked to customers about what influenced them to purchase, they brought up the same articles over and over again. Out of thousands of posts, maybe only 20 of them actually influenced a purchasing decision.

I began to wonder, “Was all that other content a waste? What if I had published those 20 posts and nothing else, saving myself literally years of effort?”

And that’s when I had an epiphany.

The One Metric That Matters

In the software world, there’s a concept called “The One Metric That Matters.”

The idea is, every business has a single number that matters more than all others. Depending on your type of business, it might be monthly recurring revenue, time on site, friends referred, or something else entirely. The bottom line though is you have to figure out which number matters most, and then focus on it relentlessly.

Still with me? Okay, so here’s the difficult question:

In content marketing, which number matters most?

Your knee-jerk reaction might be, “Well duh, revenue.” If content doesn’t result in revenue, then it’s worthless to your business, right? So, the common sense answer is to focus on a metric like revenue per visitor. Publish content that makes money and nothing else.

As it turns out though, that’s wrong. Here’s why:

If you publish an article today, you don’t really have a firm grasp of how much money it will make you for months or even years. It’s what experts call a “trailing indicator.” By the time you can measure it, it’s too late to do anything about it.

So, what’s the right metric? If you’re running a business, what can you track and improve on a daily basis that will produce a corresponding increase in revenue?

It took me years to figure it out, and the answer might surprise you. Certainly surprised the hell out of me. It’s not page views, unique visitors, the size of your email list, revenue, or any sort of complicated ratio combining them.

In fact, it’s not a metric I’ve heard anyone discuss, so I had to create an entirely new framework to explain it. Let’s dive in.

Why Some Content Marketers Make Tons of Money (and Others Don’t)

Suppose for a moment that you are in a real estate brokerage firm in San Francisco, and you wake up one morning to discover you rank #1 on Google for the term “san francisco real estate,” sending you hundreds of hot prospects per day.

You’re obviously going to make a ton of money, right?

Well, not necessarily. For instance, what if…

  • Everyone visiting your website takes one look around and concludes you are a moron? Or worse, a huckster?
  • You fail to gather their contact information?
  • You do gather their contact information, but you never follow up, and they forget about you?
  • Nobody can figure out why they should work with you instead of your competitors?
  • Even if they do decide to work with you, you lack the persuasiveness or authority to convince them to act?

Any number of things can derail the sale. Properly used though, content can actually solve each of the above problems. For instance, continuing our real estate example, it can:

  • Build trust with website visitors, making them far more likely to reach out to you about representing them.
  • Give people an incentive to hand over their contact information, e.g., to access “premium” content like an e-book about where to find the hottest deals in town.
  • Remind prospects of your existence, so when they are ready to list their property (or purchase one), your company is the first that comes to mind.
  • Separate you from your competitors, both in the tone of your marketing and through embedded examples that demonstrate how your company is different.
  • Build trust and authority, so when you do approach prospects about representing them, they will be far more likely to both agree and respect your expertise.

In other words, content isn’t just about traffic. It affects every stage of the sales process, and the content marketers who are making the most money are the ones who leverage it for that purpose.

And what’s more, they track the actions of prospects at every step.

A Simple Way to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Content

Here’s a simple question that brings everything I’ve said into perspective:

After reading your content, how many people take the next step?

For instance, going back to our real estate example, your first goal is to get someone to visit your company’s website. Perhaps you do that by publishing a blog post they might be interested in, and then sharing it on Facebook.

From there, what’s the next step?

Well, you want to capture their contact information, so you can build trust and authority with them over time and eventually convince them to become a client. Next, you might put them in an email sequence sending them some of your best blog posts, or perhaps a video or two. And so on.

We can put the whole process into a simple table:

Type of Content Indicator of Success Metric
Blog Post Headline Prospect Clicks Link Traffic
The Blog Post Itself Prospect Reads It Time on Page
Free E-book Offer Prospect Subscribes Via Email Opt-In Rate
First Email Subject Line Prospect Opens Email Email Open Rate
First Email Body Copy Prospect Clicks Link Email Click Through Rate

Conceivably, the table would continue with dozens of steps until the prospect finally makes a purchase. In each step, you’re measuring the success or failure of your content by its ability to influence the prospect into taking action. The metrics in the right-hand column are simply a way of measuring whether or not readers are moving through the process.

In other words, the metrics themselves are not important. The action is.

If you’re publishing lots of content and getting tons of traffic, but no one does what you ask them to do (e.g., actually reading the post), then your content is worthless. The opposite is also true. If you publish content, and not many people read it, but those who do read every word and happily proceed through your funnel, then your content is quite valuable.

This thinking leads to two simple maxims:

  1. The purpose of content is to create influence.
  2. The purpose of marketing is to convert influence into action.

If you build a massively influential brand, but you never ask anyone to do anything? Well, you’re not going to make much money.

If you are constantly asking people to do things, but you have no influence? Well, you’re not going to make much money in that case, either.

In other words, you need both content that creates influence and marketing that asks the prospect to take the next step. Sadly, the reason why most businesses get such crappy results from content marketing is they have neither. The content they publish doesn’t build any influence with their readers whatsoever, and they never make it clear to the reader exactly what the next step is.

On the flipside, a small number of businesses (like Smart Blogger, I’m proud to say) release content that builds influence with millions of people around the globe. They also combine that content with marketing that slowly but surely moves prospects toward a purchasing decision.

The result?

Millions or even billions of dollars in revenue. If you think I’m exaggerating, ponder this:

The reason Oprah is a billionaire is because her TV show creates massive influence with tens of millions of people, and then she monetizes that influence by showing viewers advertisements that prompt them to take action. She’s a content marketer, just like the rest of us. 🙂

The bottom line:

Stop obsessing over your search engine rankings, share counts, the size of your email list, or any of the normal metrics. Sure, it’s all interesting, but none of it matters unless you inspire the reader to do something. Not with one post, not by demanding they do what you want, but by creating a flow of content that subtly nudges them down the path to victory.

Is it hard?

Yes, but it works. If you can master creating content that generates influence, and then you back up that content with marketing that converts influence into action, you’ll have built a “machine” that prints money for years or even decades into the future.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to constructing such a machine:

  1. Map out the process prospects follow before deciding to buy from you.
  2. Create content for every stage of that process that builds their trust in you.
  3. Create marketing that follows behind the content, asking them to take the next step.
  4. Measure the success or failure by your ability to get the prospect to take that step.
  5. If the process breaks somewhere, as it certainly will, improve the content and marketing in that stage until you can get the prospect to take action.

That’s it. Content marketing in five simple steps.

Next up: world peace. First though, I need to take a nap. 😉

About the Author: Jon Morrow is the CEO of Smart Blogger.

105 Comments

  1. Todd
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 10:34:07

    I can’t tell you how much I love to see this! Great stuff, as always.

    One reason you are a thought leader, Jon, is that you spend time analyzing the information, not just pushing it out.

    You just developed a simple framework. This is similar to some of the things I’ve been thinking about. I’m looking at how it fits into my own thought process.

    Thanks!

    Todd

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 13:40:44

      Thanks Todd! I do try to think things through before I publish them. Glad you’re enjoying it.

  2. Alp
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 10:37:59

    Jon, I love how this has evolved since you mentioned it on that eye-opening mastermind you ran. That little table is worth its weight in gold!

    I think this line was the missing piece of the puzzle for me:

    “In other words, the metrics themselves are not important. The action is.”

    I thought it was a super cool idea to track “influence” as your One Metric when you taught us about it. But I wasn’t quite clear on the how.

    Now this article puts it all in perspective. THANK YOU!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 13:41:08

      Most welcome. 🙂

  3. Alex
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 10:41:44

    Jon, this post so resonates with me and taught me a couple of things. I really liked the way you put the two simple maxims:
    1. The purpose of content is to create influence.
    2. The purpose of marketing is to convert influence into action.
    As a new blogger, I resonate with this – big time. It’s taken me a few months, but consistent purposeful content creates influence (generating trust in the process) eventually generating action. Thanks again for another great post!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 13:41:55

      Happy to help!

  4. Arlette
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 10:45:11

    Good explanation of how copywriting and content marketing work together and complement each other.
    By the way, I just picked up a copy of “Writer’s Market” and noticed you were mentioned in one of the opening segments. Congratulations!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 13:42:30

      Oh really? News to me.

      I’ll have to pick up a copy. 🙂

  5. Ashley
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 10:49:29

    Jon,

    This has to be the best advice about online marketing I’ve ever read. I think sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers (loved your “vanity metrics”) and lose sight of what you’re actually trying to achieve. But by focusing on the end action you want readers to know, it’s a much better way to know you’re doing things write.

    Thanks for another great post!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 13:49:13

      Exactly right. Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Gary Olson
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 10:55:30

    This answers a long term suspicion I have had about “web-based marketing”. Your suggestion is a great process to duplicate the pre-internet process of gaining revenue producing customers face to face, in the internet-based world. THANKS!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 13:53:33

      Yep, it’s very similar to selling face-to-face. Actually, I’ve noticed nearly all of the most successful content marketers have face-to-face sales experience of some sort. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

      • Jen Gresham
        Sep 22, 2016 @ 13:56:14

        Jon, I’d love for you to expand on this concept in a future post. I’m great at face-to-face sales, but consider myself so-so on content marketing. The big difference, in my mind, is that in face-to-face sales, the individual in front of me is telling me exactly what they want and need, and I can craft my services around that. It’s a highly specialized product. In content marketing, I have to appeal to a wider audience, who have similar but not identical issues. I’ve found that a harder nut to crack.

      • Jon Morrow
        Sep 22, 2016 @ 15:09:34

        Yep, face-to-face is much easier to adjust on the fly. It’s also easier because of the one on one aspect.

        But often times, the best content is actually written with a single individual in mind that represents a much wider segment of your audience. A.k.a., a customer avatar. Give that a try, and see if it helps.

  7. Keri Vandongen
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 10:58:41

    You always make me think and in a good way.
    OMG you’re brilliant, Jon.
    I strive to understand content marketing more in-depth to get better results, and to inspire others with content marketing benefits. Your information tweaks or enhances what I’ve learned.
    It doesn’t work to almost learn this valuable business skill.
    My vote for your content marketing program or book is YES!!!
    Off to tell other about the purpose of content and marketing.:)
    ~Keri

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 13:55:02

      Thanks Keri.

    • Smart
      Sep 23, 2016 @ 09:56:31

      “The best content is actually written with a single individual in mind”
      Jon, this line above is a gold mine. It’s going to be the foundation of all my future writings.

      Thanks man!

  8. David Worrell
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 11:02:36

    Jon:

    As we discussed when you last reviewed my site — 10,000 visitors that generate 0 phone calls is not much to brag about. “CONVERSION” is The Only Metric That Matters, and, OK, post-visit marketing is one key.

    But as you told me then, I also have to have the proper expectations: The web is a big place, with readers bouncing around like pin-balls. A site with good content will always get “readers” who are not ever going to be customers.

    And the more esoteric your industry is (mine is Small Business Finance), the more “readers” you’ll get. Huge hit rates — and huge bounce-rates — have become the norm for me… all with very few real prospects coming out of it.

    And yet the content does generate CREDIBILITY. When a prospect has seen the blog, and has decided to call me, they are ready to buy — no more selling required.

    That’s what I’ve had to make myself happy with.

    Unlike you, I cannot point to the 10% of my content that drives sales. It seems to be more that each customer has a unique problem to solve, and my blog has a LOT of answers… which helps them solve the problem, but also let’s them see that we are smart, helpful, guys who know a LOT about Finance. (e.g. Credible)

    Of course, you are right to point out that unless I merge more “asks” and marketing appeals into the funnel, I will have to settle for those prospects who are so desperate that they simply call me. (And there must be 10x as many who would call me later if I did a better job of “marketing” to them.) We can all improve on our conversion processes…

    But I have to disagree that a small amount of content and a compelling marketing process is enough to power big profits. In fact, the more I’m around, the more I wonder whether ANY content marketing program is enough to generate “big profits” for businesses like mine. (Through client generation, I mean. Yes, I could sell books and spreadsheets, but I want to make the phone ring with corporate customers, and that is a different animal.)

    Sorry to ramble. It’s been bugging me since we spoke last, and I think this blog post brought me to some clarity around the problem.

    Hope you’re well
    David Worrell

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:01:53

      Hi David,

      Always good to hear from you. It’s been a while.

      I’ve learned a lot since I reviewed your site several years ago. Not sure exactly what advice I gave you, but it would certainly be different now.

      In your case, the smartest approach would be to create content and then advertise it to your exact demographic on Facebook. From there, use a retargeting pixel to track everyone who reads the content, and follow up with and opt in offer.

      The advantage of this approach is you’ll get your content in front of precisely the right people. The disadvantage, of course, is that it costs money, although it’s far less expensive than most people think.

      If you want guidance implementing the process, head over to digitalmarketer.com. Both their free and paid materials are excellent, and no, I’m not getting any commissions for saying that. 🙂

      For everyone else: just to be clear, I’m not saying this is the right approach for everyone. David is an old friend, and I’m providing advice tailored specifically for him.

    • Si Chen
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 18:04:47

      Hi Dave,

      Just as an outsider looking at your site very quickly, it seems your call to action is request a consultation with a phone number below. Then it might just be easier for someone to call?

      Have you thought about some other calls to action that could be executed electronically, for example sign up to get news about what you do, an ebook on how to prepare your financials for lenders, etc.? Of course you’d know more than I do, but I thought I’d mention it.

  9. Vishal
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 11:42:41

    Deep post Jon! Makes us reflect on the work we currently do. Your analysis of only about 20 posts generating maximum revenue is in sync with Pareto’s 80-20 Rule 🙂

    In working with clients, I’ve observed that a tangible figure cannot be placed immediately on content marketing efforts. Tremendous effort goes into publishing blog posts, social media updates, online ads and more. Often the efforts take time to become visible. But once they start moving, the difference is stark. Leads increase, bounce rate decreases, other websites are keen on sharing your information and so on.

    We must remember that content marketing is marketing to humans. If we deliver value and evoke emotions in our audience consistently, sales, revenue and profit are just a matter of time.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:03:44

      It’s true, but also don’t forget about getting readers to take action. That’s the part most businesses miss.

  10. Tee
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 11:43:00

    Jon, I just want to give you a hug. Brilliant as always!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:04:33

      *hugs*

  11. Javier Encinas
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 11:43:24

    Nice article Jon, in my opinion one of your best ones. Your table of content, indicator, and metric is simple fantastic. I wish you had extended it even more. Anyway, we got the idea. Thank you for that.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:05:50

      Most welcome! If it continues to be popular, perhaps I’ll extend it out all the way to the sale for everyone.

  12. M. Sharon Baker
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 12:01:10

    Jon,
    I applaud your insights for your blogging followers. But you don’t have the formula quite right. There are at least 7 steps to content marketing. And you forgot the first two. 1) You need to figure out who your best customers are and what they want, and then 2) Develop a content marketing strategy to reach them with the content they want. I’m surprised you forgot those two given your recent deep dive into using surveys to learn what people want.

    The biggest reasons companies fail with content marketing is they have no idea who they are trying to reach and they don’t have a strategy to reach them.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:08:33

      If a business doesn’t know who they are targeting, that’s a bigger problem outside the scope of content marketing, I think. With this post, I’m assuming a business has a product or service to sell, and they know who their buyers are. Without those two things, the whole business is in trouble, not just the content marketing.

      • M Sharon Baker
        Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:50:00

        While they may know a little about their buyers, they really don’t know who their “best” buyers are – similar to your journey when you discovered the 20 percent of the content that was converting, or the content that motivated prospects to buy. Once you know what the best prospect looks like, then you need to create a strategy to land more of them with the right content. Most think they just have to write a boatload of content on their subject to attract traffic, like you mentioned, and then the buyers will just appear. The strategy and what the industry calls buyer personas help you develop the right content to move people down your sales funnel.

  13. Jessica
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 12:10:11

    Fantastic work, as always! Content marketers (and writers) so often forget that it’s a progression – and that every step along the way counts.

    You’ve broken the whole process down in a way that we can all figure out where the gaps are in the way we’re funneling customers. Thanks for continuing to share your wisdom!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:08:57

      Most welcome, Jessica. Thanks.

  14. Danny
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 12:26:43

    This is one of the most thought provoking posts I’ve read in a while. The analysis of different metrics for different pages and goals is something not many of us have picked up. At least, I haven’t!

    Though I’m only starting a blog this year, and too slowly at that, I realize, after reading this post, that I’m not quite as scatterbrained as I thought.

    I may still have a chance to succeed at this yet!

    Thanks!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:09:56

      Go for it, Danny. Glad I could be of some help!

  15. Jen Gresham
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 12:39:01

    Great post, Jon. I think there is also a time element here. For example, about 50% of my coaching clients come through my blog. But very often, they have been following me for years before they decide to sign up for coaching. I suspect I could speed that process up if I did more of what you’re suggesting here, but how do you account for success when the timeframe is so long? I suspect I’d get depressed looking at the kind of stats you’re suggesting, or I suppose I would need to add more actions/smaller purchases into the process to better visualize the progression.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:13:04

      I don’t think the timeframe necessarily has to be that long, even at high price points. If you carefully engineered every step of the process, I believe you could get it under 30 days for your coaching clients.

      But even if that’s not true, and it does take years, you could still use this framework. You would simply want to pay a lot of attention to the long-term engagement stats of your email list.

  16. Iyiola
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 12:41:15

    Thank you Jon even though I know you’ll reply me when you wake up, This is a good one.
    I thought email size was the metric, influence really covers email size, because it is further converted into action (which could be signing up for your freebie)
    Thank you so much, I had better change all my posts to make them influential including my Guest Blogging Program.
    Iyiola

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:13:52

      Most welcome! Glad I could help.

  17. Erin Ortiqeaux
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 12:55:09

    Great post Jon. Sometimes we do forget to focus on the right aspects of our business. Sure, there are a ton of contributing factors in revenue but the bottom line is to make sure our content gets results and creates action of some kind.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:14:13

      Absolutely, you nailed it.

  18. Paul Roberts
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 13:32:42

    Jon,
    Wow! as always you get the the heart of things, and do so clearly and concisely. I love thinking about it as a series of steps each with a desired action. Lot’s to ponder about in regard to my enterprises. Thank you for providing so much value.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:14:37

      Most welcome, Paul.

  19. Colette Broomhead
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:16:05

    Hey Jon,
    I found this post so interesting and useful! Reading it gave me one of those ‘well, duh!’ moments. It all makes so much sense and yet I certainly had never thought to look at content marketing in that way.
    Thanks so much for the insight 🙂

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:54:22

      Happy to help.

  20. Timmy Brain
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:36:19

    Hi Jon!

    Thanks for this excellent thoughts out.

    You just prime all my learnings at the Hubspot Academy. I could now see the whole content marketing journey more clearly.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:54:41

      Excellent!

  21. Sophie
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 14:56:37

    I’m about a month in after having reinvented my blog – I’m so going through the ‘vanity metrics’ stage and loving it! I particularly get excited with fewer visitors but lots of visits suggesting I’m saying something of interest. I’m new to all of this and have a huge amount to learn, not selling anything, but a great post to have in mind for future sites and projects that will generate income. Thank you!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 22, 2016 @ 15:10:51

      Ha. Yeah, it can get kind of addicting refreshing your analytics when you’re a beginner. I have fond memories of those days. 🙂

  22. Curtis Ray Bizelli
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 15:19:35

    Great post Jon. I learned a lot even about my own procedures. I’m still tweaking my content creation to gain more influence. Marketing is the 2nd step. I appreciate how you laid it out easy to understand. 🙂

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 24, 2016 @ 12:49:35

      Thanks, glad it helped.

  23. Si Chen
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 18:00:40

    This is right on. I just read another blogger who said it’s revenues not traffic that matters, but I think you are right: it’s the whole funnel from traffic to monetization that matters.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 24, 2016 @ 12:49:49

      Yes!

  24. Len Diamond
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 18:54:39

    “If you publish an article today, you don’t really have a firm grasp of how much money it will make you for months or even years.”
    Exactly what’s wrong with “content marketing.”
    [Confining the following argument to a b2b situation — business people contacted in a business environment (i.e., not when they’re consumers shopping for shoes or at home watching a movie)] — a sales message, what we used to call “advertising” before the word was proscribed, will save you a lot of that time. You show the benefits of your product, ask `em to do something, and tell `em how to reach you. Someone who responds is a potential customer, not just a reader. If you get no response, you know what you’re doing doesn’t work, and you know it now.
    Before everyone jumps: I know b2b marketing is a long process; I’ve done it. I know the arguments for “relevant” and “valuable” “content.” But if your product can help a businessperson improve his/her business results, what is more relevant and valuable than telling him/her about it?

    “Is it because content marketing is just a fad? Or worse, an elaborate hoax?”
    Worth looking into. A marketing method that mostly can’t identify its ROI and so pushes revenue out into the hereafter…
    Too long by half for a comment on someone else’s blog, but couldn’t help it. Apologies for that.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 24, 2016 @ 12:55:17

      I’m not sure I understand your point, Len.

  25. Tracey Arial
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 23:38:05

    Jon, I just love how you make complicated concepts crystal clear. I’ve been working with clients to set up strategies that match call-to-action messages to audiences and then use that desire to pick the appropriate communication tool for the job. (Too many people decide they need a Facebook strategy or a blog strategy or a whatever strategy without figuring out who they want to reach first and then decide the best way to reach them.)

    Measuring how that tool works using your very clean table is the obvious next step. Thank you.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 24, 2016 @ 12:55:50

      Most welcome!

  26. Kurt Roswell
    Sep 23, 2016 @ 02:30:56

    content to create influence, marketing to convert influence into action – this right here hits the nail in the head for me. I was so used to hearing about marketing hacks like “write quality guest posts” or “have an engaging lead magnet” or “create a rockin’ autoresponder sequence” but no one really tied it all up for me this clearly. Thanks Jon. I hope you would consider creating a more comprehensive course or tutorial on this and lay out some detailed action steps with concrete examples.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 24, 2016 @ 12:56:31

      Yep, definitely considering doing something more comprehensive. In the meantime, glad this helped you!

      • Kurt Roswell
        Sep 27, 2016 @ 23:30:27

        Looking forward to it, Jon… Again, thanks for this.

  27. Lisa Thompson
    Sep 23, 2016 @ 05:54:39

    Great post as always Jon. Thanks so much for walking us through all of this. Laying everything out in a sequence as you do in this post and others like it is so incredibly helpful. It really just takes someone who’s done it before you to help put all of the dots together as there are so many dots! You provide concrete, actionable steps and I feel as though I’ve gained a superpower with the information on Smart Blogger and Serious Bloggers only. You da man!!!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 24, 2016 @ 12:57:11

      Thanks Lisa. 🙂

  28. Kim Orr
    Sep 23, 2016 @ 12:04:42

    Hello There Jon!
    Thanks for this thoughtful post. I may have missed something, or this may be my ignorance about different “segments” of marketing — it may not count as “content.”

    But one thing is clear — if you provide content that calls for action and what you deliver doesn’t meet the reader’s expectation, then no amount of future content will matter.

    I know this from the courses I have taken with you. They came recommended by word of mouth from a former student of yours who now runs her own $100K/year blog. Your courses are so well thought out and deliver so much more than they promise that I can recommend them to anyone, and do.

    So whenever you write, or whenever one of your staff posts or offers advice, I pay attention.

    Your content — both what you provide in your posts, and what it promises in your courses never disappoints.

    This is what I would consider the best of “content” marketing because it has value not matter what your metrics are.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 24, 2016 @ 12:59:36

      Yep, the definition of content is a bit fuzzy. Personally though, I believe the same logic applies for paid content like courses. The goal isn’t just to get a sale. It’s to deliver a great experience, building influence that makes the next sale easier.

  29. Micah Sawyer
    Sep 23, 2016 @ 21:35:27

    Hey I really liked this! There’s some great tips in here. Keep it up!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 24, 2016 @ 12:59:57

      Thanks!

  30. Lindy
    Sep 24, 2016 @ 00:33:00

    I’m with Tracey—appreciating how clearly you explained this complex idea. Thanks!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 24, 2016 @ 13:00:13

      Most welcome!

  31. Wasim
    Sep 25, 2016 @ 15:07:19

    Every paragraph in content has to be engaging and building trust for visitors is also equally important, those are the few pointers which i make out from your post.
    Thanks Jon 🙂

  32. Jerry @ BusyBees Locksimth
    Sep 26, 2016 @ 06:48:34

    Hey Jon,
    Stumbled across this awesome article while exploring the option of using content marketing for my locksmith business. As you have mentioned, we rely heavily on Google rankings for acquiring business. Hope to use your tips for having a successful content marketing for our business. We are in San Diego. If you are around, do drop by. 🙂

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 29, 2016 @ 22:52:31

      Thanks for the invite, Jerry. Best of luck with the locksmith business!

  33. Ryan Wordsworth
    Sep 27, 2016 @ 02:33:56

    Nice informative post John. come to know new things from this blog. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Santanu
    Sep 27, 2016 @ 04:23:57

    Amazing article to read here. I totally agree with your points and specially the one that content marketing is not about bringing traffic to website, rather building the brand in long run. many thanks for this useful share.

    • David
      Sep 28, 2016 @ 14:03:59

      I think it’s safe to say that content marketing is definitely about both of those things, but you should focus on the brand building and when you do, the traffic will naturally come. You know, like Field of Dreams – “build the brand and they will come”.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 29, 2016 @ 22:55:54

      Building the brand is important, but the point was, you have to think through every step of the purchasing decision and make sure your content and marketing moves people forward.

  35. Steph
    Sep 27, 2016 @ 06:14:42

    Bloody love you, Jon.
    Thanks for this!

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 29, 2016 @ 22:56:14

      But of course. 🙂

  36. Lieza Allen
    Sep 27, 2016 @ 07:43:23

    Thank you for posting this article, this is truly informative and helpful. As a business, your content marketing goal is to become part of the fabric of your customers’ lives. Once you can do that, selling to them becomes relatively easy.

  37. Jesse
    Sep 27, 2016 @ 18:52:30

    Ya… you have to capture your clients attention in the first 10 seconds and wording must be very precise. Thanks for sharing the extra tips.

    • Jon Morrow
      Sep 29, 2016 @ 22:56:53

      It’s a bit more complicated than that.

  38. Jassie
    Sep 27, 2016 @ 23:34:44

    This is amazingly helpful. It is true that large number of traffic does not necessarily equate high revenue. What matters is how to keep the customers stay with your blog for a long time. I’ve been struggling with my page because all I think is for the share counts, links to my site, but I have never realized the steps like you mentioned above. I need to change my strategy from now on. Thanks for writing a dedicated article!

  39. Mathew A
    Sep 28, 2016 @ 07:58:36

    Hey Jon,
    You have nailed it! awesome!

    I enjoyed reading your post this morning and yes, content is still the king in blogging and internet marketing field.

    What action would be taken by the audience after reading our content is most important and thus we need to focus on crafting the killer content that would nudge our readers to take the right action.

    My primary goal is to offer the helpful information for my loyal readers and make them subscribe to my newsletter service to send the updates and offers.

    I would like to follow your practical tips to spread my content and reap the benefits listed in this post.

  40. SM Nuruzzaman
    Sep 28, 2016 @ 10:51:13

    Hi Jon, yes it’s true that content marketing is not about traffic because I myself got real answer from this.

    A few years back, I had a blog that was receiving huge traffic, but no sale. May be this is a real example what you meant.

    Thanks for the in-depth content.

    Wish you good luck.

  41. Bican Valeriu
    Sep 28, 2016 @ 15:39:18

    Love to read this kind of information from people who actually know what they do. Thanks Jon.

  42. KUK
    Sep 28, 2016 @ 21:25:49

    Love this in-depth post. It really hits the mark on what’s needed to be successful in content marketing. Kudos to you.

  43. karthikala
    Sep 29, 2016 @ 03:50:33

    I read your articles very excellent and the i agree our all points because all is very good information provided about content marketing post.It is very helpful for us.

  44. jacob wallace
    Sep 29, 2016 @ 08:21:07

    Thank you so much for this list. I will post it in our Seller’s Bootcamp at icraft.ca. Any new business starting out can at least focus their resources elsewhere. Cheers, Christine

  45. uthman Saheed
    Sep 29, 2016 @ 11:59:20

    In the early years of my experience in marketing, I mistakenly paid too much attention to what JON termed as Vanity metrics. They are really, I regretted spending so much of my resources and time working of metrics that could not help out.

    I like the way you analyze the post and thanks so much.

  46. Philliptwyford
    Sep 29, 2016 @ 15:32:05

    Hi John

    Superb article. I am in the early days of my own content and Blogging career but this was refreshingly brilliant advice. Thank you

  47. Michelle Gale
    Sep 29, 2016 @ 22:45:46

    Next up: world peace. First though, I need to take a nap. 😉

    Damn, you’re good.

  48. John James
    Sep 30, 2016 @ 09:49:31

    Such a great post with great information for small business owners! Thanks so much!

  49. Rajkaran Singh
    Oct 01, 2016 @ 22:15:52

    Hi Jon
    Awesome tips. This is the post that will help every content marketeer to stay focused.

  50. enkonversations
    Oct 03, 2016 @ 05:03:29

    Hi jon such a great post this information helps ma a lot keep guiding us

  51. Muhammad Kahlid
    Oct 04, 2016 @ 05:24:13

    Yes, content is still the king in blogging and internet marketing field. Internet marketing is best to promote any business

  52. Nick Raineri
    Oct 04, 2016 @ 14:20:11

    I agree, influence is a key part of content marketing. This article does a great job of stressing the value having a positive influence with your content can bring. It’s important to be producing quality content that will prompt your audience to engage with. This will cause them to be more likely to want to come back and take next steps. Thanks for sharing Jon.

  53. Bryan
    Oct 05, 2016 @ 09:15:31

    Hi Jon I am totally new to content marketing but I am planning to start a blog of advertising retail shops and their deals and charge them for that…many shops usually have offers yet clientelle dont know that the offers exist…or SALE..what is a simple plan of generating traffic and monetizisng it not only through charging but creating traffic n such

  54. Becky Schulze
    Oct 05, 2016 @ 23:03:14

    Wow! I am just starting out. In fact, this is my first week. I found your post to be very revealing, and I look forward to studying your blog for ideas and inspiration. Thank you

  55. Golam Qauser
    Oct 06, 2016 @ 01:52:50

    Great post Jon. I learned a lot from this post. I’m still tweaking my content creation to gain more influence. Marketing is the 2nd step. I appreciate how you laid it out easy to understand. Thanks

  56. Katrina Chua
    Oct 10, 2016 @ 20:53:38

    This article makes sense! Marketers are so focused on producing sufficient, great, high-quality content that they overlook the need to drive revenues. Your content must move a portion of your audience to close the deal and purchase your product or service. You’re such a brilliant Jon! Thanks!

  57. Isaac Liang
    Oct 12, 2016 @ 08:23:34

    Gorgeous stuffs! I love your articles. Like you, I have a disability (hearing impaired). you are awesome! Keep it up!

  58. Ellie
    Oct 13, 2016 @ 08:55:25

    Adorable…. I found your post to be very revealing, and I look forward to studying your blog for ideas and inspiration.
    Thank for sharing

  59. Brian Driscoll
    Oct 13, 2016 @ 23:24:22

    Sounds right on the money. I was thinking about this myself. I had an article on a new website of mine get 100+ shares and no leads. But then I got it in front of two clients who needed the specific service it broke down (the shares were reset at 0 to), and it sold the service without me needing to say a word.

    Changed the way I think about content completely.

    By the way, fantastic article! Masterfully written.

  60. Sherman Smith
    Oct 17, 2016 @ 15:12:30

    Hey Jon,

    A lot of us tend to complicate things more so that keep us from getting sales conversions.

    I’m glad that you pointed out that the goal is to get our visitors to take action. This is through influence and figuring out which content drive revenue.

    The 5 steps that you have here helps a lot to keep us on track for our financial goals and to fix the loopholes that holds us back.

    Thanks for the share Jon! Have a good one!

  61. James
    Oct 24, 2016 @ 11:23:33

    Great point we want visitors to take action by contacting us. This blog post was just was I was looking for you all nailed it with some great information

  62. Nicolas Puegher
    Nov 01, 2016 @ 22:04:16

    Definitely, content marketing isn’t about traffic, it’s about the experience and how helpful it is for everyone, not only your readers.

    Providing a high-quality content and helpful is more likely to go viral than just “good content” with the intention of getting traffic.

    Sounds quite stupid, right? But we can use the same content on everything, like my mentor used to say, if you want to make money online, forget about making money online and focus on providing value and be a problem solver.

    Lots of great tips mate, bookmarked for future references and leverage, thanks a lot for sharing.

  63. Richa
    Nov 03, 2016 @ 08:21:47

    Nice post 🙂 This is great to learn how content marketing actually works.
    Really very helpful.

  64. Amin Khan
    Nov 09, 2016 @ 12:12:22

    Hi Jon,

    Great post. Actually, something that made complete business sense.

    Personal branding is indeed one factor that stands head and shoulder above any other marketing metric, in any area of content marketing. Granted, so many people focus only on the traffic side of the equation which in many cases can prove to be counter productive.

    I’m glad you nailed the idea in its intended sense, and made the observation crystal clear in the minds of people in such a powerful manner. Two thumbs up!!

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