How content marketing drives sales is important to know before you get stuck in creating content for your customers. You might actually find content marketing isn’t  actually appropriate for your market and customers! Driving sales through content marketing is a big task that requires a lot of upfront work. Therefore it’s vitally important to know how content marketing drives sales before blindly diving in.

What is content marketing?

Can’t really talk about how content marketing drives sales without knowing what content marketing is can we?

Simply it’s a form of marketing that uses content.

Unhelpful huh!?

Generally in online business this will mean creating and publishing blog articles, eBooks, podcasts, social posts and videos (content) but without the express intention of making sales. Or at least not immediately!

Content marketing is much more about awareness and engagement. Making sure that our customers know of us and our products (awareness) and start to actually give a damn (engagement) about what we do.

So how does content marketing drive sales? Sales are NOT the express and immediate objective of content marketing. Instead sales are driven further down the line simply do to the increased amount of attention and engagement at the front end of your sales process.

In the BATON framework (Business, Audience, Tribe, Offer and Network) we tend to use content marketing in the Audience the Tribe sections to engage and “warm up” our audience.

Content is used as free value that we deliver to our audience. As they warm to us we can begin to insert sales messages and move prospects towards purchase.

What content should we produce?

The purpose of content marketing is again to build awareness and engagement. Not sales! At least not yet.

This means that we need to create content that is, well, good at building awareness and engagement.

We can just guess what our potential customers might want to hear about but that’s a bit of a crap shoot. Instead I recommend finding out what people already want to hear about and producing content that matches their existing requirements.

To do this we need to LISTEN.

What are people already asking? What are people already interested in?

Thankfully Google exists and (even more thankfully!) we can see what people commonly ask Google!

By knowing what people are already searching for online we can hone in on good content marketing topics. This gives us a nice content marketing research tool to add to our arsenal. There are others but Google is a great place to start.

Google and Content Marketing

There are three basic categories of buyer keywords on Google.

They are:

  1. Informational
  2. Navigational
  3. Transactional

I’m going to nab this useful graphic from Alexa:

how content marketing drives sales


Basically people go to good and punch in different queries depending on where on their journey to becoming a customer they are. Obviously they don’t think about themselves this way but we can online business owners can!

Let’s say we sell kettles. Boiling water is our game. We have great kettles and want everyone to know about them and why our kettles are simply the best.

A potential customer could type various things into Google that might lead to us:

  • an informational search might be “when to buy new kettle”
  • a navigational search might be “best brands kettle”
  • a transactional search might be “buy kettle now”

All of these might lead to our company (depending on how good we are at SEO and/or if we are advertising).

For the purposes of content marketing though we are most interested in the first type; “informational”. We’ll start here.

Informational keywords for content marketing

Informational keywords are the the key for learning how content marketing drives sales.

These are the sort of early topics that are interesting to someone dipping their toes.

Maybe my kettle has a bunch of limescale and I’m starting to wonder if that’s unhealthy and if I should be replacing my kettle.

I’ll head to Google with this idle question. I haven’t yet formed up the thought “I must buy a new kettle” but (compared to the vast majority of the population!) I’m on my way towards this decision.

As a business we want to be THE source for this information. We want to be there, front and centre, to answer every prospects burning (boiling?) question.


Content marketing benefits

Basically if we are the go-to resource for the topic we entrench ourselves as a market leader.

We become the first port of call for questions and inquiries and we provide answers.

Does this drive sales? No. Not immediately.

But at this end of the funnel we can be the only ones operating.

Trying to dominate (via Google SEO or advertising) keywords like “buy kettle now” is expensive and difficult. Why? Competition. This is where the majority of our (lazy!) competition will operate- purely trying to make the sale right now.

Transactional keywords are, it is true, much closer to the sale. Once someone is at this stage in the customer journey they are ready to buy. But there are also much fewer prospects and far heavier competition.

If we instead move back down the chain and focus on informational keywords we get an early, lower friction, cheap “in” with our future customer.

This allows us to build authority and trust by being the informational resource in our business niche. Then we convert that awareness and engagement into sales further down the line.

Content marketing cons

Obviously there’s a flipside here. Otherwise everyone would be focusing on content marketing and nailing it.

The main issue is that content marketing (unlike direct sales) is much slower. It requires more upfront time and effort to get content created. Content remember comes in the form of blog articles, eBooks, podcasts, videos etc. This all takes planning and time to create. It’s a process.

And the rewards (ie. sales) take time to come.

Direct advertising on the transaction end of the customer journey on the flipside is fast. It’s expensive yes but there’s also immediate revenue.

It’s a toss up really. Ideally you do both. 

You have a slow burner plan for content marketing, continuously putting out content, tending your audience and building over time until you can drive sales. At the same time though your business runs more direct transaction based advertising to get revenue flowing in. The cost of that revenue (ie. how many £ spent in advertising vs. £ revenue ) will be much higher. It’s less efficient than content marketing BUT it’ll be more immediate.

What format of content to produce?

You’ve decided to start putting together content. You understand it’ll take 6 months+ to see any revenue from the activity and you are fine with that. It’ll mean efficient sales further down the line.

Now what?

Do you…just start blogging or something? Blogging is a thing right?

Well: yes. And no! Sorry it’s never simple is it?

Blogs are a super important part of content marketing because it’s the main method we use to entice Google. In short Google loves new, valuable content. Google doesn’t want to see a website that is the same for 3 years. It craves novelty. Blogs are the main way of feeding Google new content. The is the underlying reason why they are such a key piece of online marketing.

But content marketing can be wider. As mentioned before it could be videos (Youtube), podcasts , eBooks (Amazon) or a range of other formats and platforms. It’s a wide gamut really.

Which particular format you produce will inform the platform. For example Kindle/Amazon is the perfect place for eBooks used in content marketing. If you are creating a podcast then it’ll be published on various podcasting platforms.

Don’t try to do ALL formats and platforms at the same time. Unless you have a dedicated content production team this won’t work. You’ll burn out.

Instead choose ONE format and stick to it. I’d personally recommend keeping it simple with a blog (written), Youtube channel (video) or podcast (audio).

Once you have one channel consistently producing you can begin to repurpose content. For example if you record video you can strip out the audio and edit it into a podcast. Or if you have a podcast you can have the audio transcribed and converted into a blog article. These are more advanced repurposing techniques that’ll come later.

For now choose ONE and stick with it.


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