“I’m ‘doing’ content, but it’s just not bringing me clients.”
“I’m posting and creating regularly – in fact, consistency is my middle name – but I’m still a one-person show with little funding to achieve my next level.”
Lately, I’ve heard this ALL too often – but the reality is, if you develop content strategically, you CAN achieve six-figure income months in your business.
Since it’s been almost two years since I created a case study on my brand (specifically, how we are our own content guinea pig: we’re able to make monthly six-figure sales happen from clients that found our content online), I decided it was time for a new one.
I started the research for this in February, and today – almost five months later! – the case study is all done and live, as of today.
Our last case study focused on how we achieve rankings – “How We Outrank Every Competitor & Win Through Organic Content Without Spending a Penny on Ads (Express Writers’ Content Case Study),” from October 2016. Today’s case study focuses on how we actually earn real income (to the tune of six-figures per month) from the content and rankings we’ve achieved.
I’m specifically thinking of you struggling, DIY-marketers still not achieving the kind of revenue you’d like to see from your organic content efforts… yes, you! I think you’ll find today’s case study truly useful.
In today’s blog, we’re sharing a real, practical look at how we’ve built our company through content marketing. 99.9% of our leads and business revenue comes through the content we produce. And the majority of that content? Well, it’s published on our blog.
Next, we interviewed a client we work with from time to time: Magnificent Marketing, a full-service marketing agency. They also incorporate content marketing and blogging as their primary marketing avenue, using us to produce much of their content. We’ll share how they’ve boosted their client traffic numbers and rankings with great content.
If you read one blog of mine this quarter, read this one. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, and dig in!
Why & How SEO Blogging Equals ROI for Any Brand
Blogging (a form of great content marketing) equals ROI, for any brand.
In itself, blogging is a key online content format capable of building a brand, attracting your ideal clients to your website, and growing your entire business. Especially blogging written around viable SEO keywords you want to rank for.
But here’s the caveat to that.
That statement is only true if your blogging strategy includes consistency, relevancy and quality.
Businesses who create content strategically achieve ROI in the form of:
- Better, more qualified leads that convert at a higher rate than traffic from paid ads or paid search
- How many leads? Our content marketing ROI formula can help you estimate your average monthly leads/sales from content marketing
- Here’s the formula: Monthly Visitors x 16% Organic Traffic to Lead Conversion Rate = X Leads/Month)
- According to that formula, an average of 1,000 visitors/month can get you at least 160 high-quality leads/month from strategic blogging
That’s not all, though.
Blogging also brings in:
- Year-over-year site traffic growth that’s 8x higher than those at the back of the pack
- 6x the conversions of those who don’t publish content, according to a well-known study from Aberdeen and Kapost
Incredibly convincing numbers, right?
But, even better than stats, we have a prime, real-life example of what blogging ROI looks like.
Ready? Let’s dig in and see exactly what the power of blogging–and great content–can do for a business.
Express Writers’ Blogging ROI: $1,600 in Content = $66,700 Worth of Traffic & Organic Google Positions
Here’s a real-life, extreme example of how great, consistent content creation can work incredibly well.
Take a look at the current traction below for Express Writers. This is after six years of consistent content, with over 1,000 blogs published to-date on our site across those six consistent years.
(Remember, steady content creation has a dominoes effect: It does better over time.)
According to our data on SEMrush (pulled June 1, 2018), current paid search efforts to achieve our current month’s site traffic — 22,800 visitors — would cost $66,700. (This amount increases on a monthly basis for us. Lately, every month it’s been a 1-2k increase in traffic, with a fluctuating increase in rankings as well.)
If we were to buy this much traffic through Google Adsense, that would be an average paid search cost of $2.92 per visitor.
And, we haven’t even figured out how many of those are leads (buyers) yet. Expensive! $$$
How Much Content Do We Produce to Achieve Blogging ROI? + the Costs
We publish, on average, one long-form, comprehensive piece of content weekly, and we update content on a monthly basis, too. Besides that, we publish monthly podcasts with show notes, and monthly #ContentWritingChat recaps.
Here’s an example of one of our long-form blogs:
And here’s an example of a #ContentWritingChat recap post:
What does it cost to create this type of content regularly?
Our costs run:
- Money: $400/month (this used to be $750, but we shaved off $300+ in costs by switching our Twitter chat to once/month instead of weekly)
- Time: 4-5 hours of my time/month in blogging prep, publishing, writing, outlining, optimizing, & 3-4 hours/month in email marketing
If you qualify the hours I personally spend on our content into a “staff cost,” that alone could run $1,600+ per month.
How Do the Costs Compare to Paid Methods?
If paid search would cost $66,700 to achieve our current traffic in a month (22,800 visitors), and my cost of content marketing to achieve that traffic is $1,625, then paid search would be (at a minimum) 40x more expensive than my organic content marketing efforts.
Or, put it another way – a solid, consistent content marketing strategy over time could be 40 times cheaper than a paid marketing strategy. For business owners and higher-ups who think exclusively in dollar signs, that’s convincing.
What’s the Estimated ROI from Blogging at Express Writers?
Now, let’s put those numbers into the ROI formula (using my base visitor amount, to stay conservative — my site traffic is an extreme example after consistent years of targeted content):
- 6,701 (monthly visitors) multiplied by 0.16 (average traffic-to-leads conversion rate) equals 1,072 monthly leads.
- 1,072 (monthly leads) multiplied by 0.14 (average leads-to-sales conversion rate) equals 150 monthly sales.
In this example, a monthly investment of $1,625 into a content marketing strategy would lead to 150 (minimum) sales.
The Reward: Just How Much ROI Does Our Business Blog Bring In?
Here’s what you really want to know.
Let’s look at real, hard data and see just how much ROI an average month of blogging brings in for us.
Let’s use May 2018 as our example month of data.
Inside that one month, expresswriters.com had 93,000 visitors:
And the majority of those visitors came in through search rankings:
Let’s estimate the leads and sales from that traffic once again using the content marketing ROI formula. Then we’ll compare the results to our recorded data for May 2018.
Infographic: Using the Content Marketing ROI Formula, Here’s our Real ROI Numbers for Blogging Results
Our Estimated Blogging ROI Using the Content Marketing ROI Formula
Our formula is grounded in two vital stats:
- The average conversion rate for traffic to leads: 16% (Marketing Sherpa)
- The average conversion rate for leads turning into sales: 14% (Business2Community)
Plugging those stats plus our traffic volume into a simple equation helps us estimate two huge content marketing ROI benchmarks: leads and sales.
First, we’ll estimate the leads we could see stemming from the month’s total traffic (93,000):
- 93,000 Monthly Visitors x 16% = 14,880 Leads
Next, we can estimate how many of those leads will turn into sales:
- 14,880 Leads x 14% = 2,083 Sales
Based on our traffic numbers for May, we could expect to see 14,880 leads and 2,083 sales resulting from our blogging and content marketing efforts.
The Actual Blogging ROI
Here are our sales numbers for May 2018:
- 235 orders placed
- 2,140 “items” (content services) ordered
- $186,128.50 in gross sales
- Keep in mind: Many of these orders were from return and repeat clients, although many of them were new clients, too. Our average client retention rate is increasing, as well. Several of our recurring clients have stayed with us for 3-4 years now.
- But, it’s 100% accurate to say that across all of our clients and lead generation methods, 99% of every client we’ve worked with to date has found us through our search rankings.
Our ROI from Blogging Is on Fire
The 2,140 individual content services ordered matches up very well with our predicted ROI from traffic we earned through consistent blogging (2,083 sales from 14,880 leads).
The real kicker, however, is apparent in our gross sales number.
If $1,600 in content costs per month can generate $186,128.50 in gross sales, I’d say content marketing is a safe investment to bet on if you’re considering every marketing avenue (keeping in mind these are gross numbers before we pay our team of 70+ people, and cover other business costs & taxes).
Even more importantly:
- If we had to pay $66k in PPC ads to achieve our gross sales numbers, we’d be broke (there’s no way we’d make a profit after that high PPC cost and then the cost of delivering content services).
It’s safe to say that content marketing, mainly in the form of blogging, is the lynchpin for us in terms of drawing customers to our business.
Magnificent Marketing Case Study: Blogging = Steady Monthly Traffic Growth
I recently sat down with David Reimherr, founder of Magnificent Marketing, and their firm’s content marketing manager, Bre South.
Here’s what they had to say about how content marketing and blogging contributes to their client’s success.
“Our content strategy success begins with a deep dive onboard with our client to walk through targeted audience demographics, content mission statement, and their content tilt. In discussing the core messaging of the client’s product; we dig into the core of a client’s product and why it would resonate with its audience. We find which content angles will serve their audience, and how to reach their audience appropriately.
We help them figure out how to talk the talk their audience wants to hear.
All content efforts are driven by the content mission statement in addition to what our client already knows about their audience and experience. This gives way to the creation of determining main pillar topics and sub-topics the client commits to producing content for.
We help them create this mission statement for which all efforts will follow.
The main pillar topics are determined based on what a persona would actively be searching for as a problem they are looking for help to solve.
What topics will the audience care to read, interact and engage with?
All pillar topics funnel up to the brand’s content mission strategy and position the client as a thought leader in their specific industry. From here we are able to segment awareness, consideration and purchase pieces specifically and begin the roadmap of content construction and execution.
Blog writing is SEO focused which stems from a detailed keyword discovery and current ranking report to highlight the keywords to target for from their pillars.
We outline their content writing strategy by creating suggested headline topics built from our keyword report.
ROI & Success in Content Marketing
We’ve seen tremendous success, specifically in Emancipet, a national nonprofit veterinary service providing low-cost but high-quality care since 1999, through identifying keyword opportunities and crafting content around the terms to target.
We took over the account in January 2018 and through a strategic SEO focus around blog posts, consistent social media scheduling, and additional content creation we’ve seen a 16% increase in organic search. From that increase, 15% have been new users.
In addition, Emancipet nationally ranks in the top spot (#1) organically for the following keywords:
- affordable heartworm treatment
- Austin low cost vet
- low cost heartworm treatment
- cost of heartworm treatment
- how much does heartworm treatment cost
- how does microchip work for lost dog
- free vet clinics in Houston
- low cost heartworm test
- heartworm shot cost
- affordable pet care Austin
On a local level, we kicked off marketing efforts with Austin Dental Care, a company that has been around since 1997, with no previous strategic marketing in place, in November of 2017. Unfortunately, they did not have the proper Google tracking in place for us to historically compare but we saw the following continual uptick in organic search since our content plan kicked off.
Increase in organic search users:
- November: 30 users
- December: 112
- January: 216
- February: 263
- March: 313
- April: 337
- May: 408
Magnificent Marketing continues to implement successful content for their clients–and Express Writers helps fulfill that content!”
How Can You Achieve the Same Results and ROI from Blogging?
One of our passions is to spread the word about content marketing and help people achieve amazing results with it, like our own success at Express Writers.
Because – fantastic news – you can absolutely do this, too.
Here are some solid steps to help you get to a real level of blogging ROI.
1. Write Down What You’re Willing to Invest in Blogging and Content Marketing – and Stick to It
The type of blogging that earns ROI requires a two-fold investment of time and money.
Whether you take content creation in hand or outsource it to experts, the best stuff depends on what you’re willing to put into it.
Thus: Budget for your blogging. Write down a ballpark estimate of what you’re willing to spend, then proceed to the next step.
A typical starting budget could look like a monthly cost of investing a blog management package, where you’re posting 1-3x per week or more, and a social media plan that boosts the activity on your brand’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
2. Calculate How the Investment Will Pay Off
Let’s say you choose to outsource your content.
At Express Writers, if you want our best writing level, that’s Authority Content. One authority-level blog costs $375, including full design, content, research, keyword strategy, and more.
You would actually receive SEO keyword research from our trained experts in each Authority piece, and have the possibility of ranking high with each blog. Investing in one year of authority blogging would cost about $19,500 if you publish one authority blog/week.
Or, if you want our next-best writing level, you could invest in expert writing, which is not as intensified, long-form and powerful as authority, but is also a high-quality, worthwhile writing level. You get an expert writer who knows your industry. No SEO research and full design, content only. This costs $395/month for 1 blog a week, posted on your site. Or $4,740 a year. (See blog management packages here.)
Since we write to appeal to your specific readers and search engines, we can estimate your keyword rankings. We can also use stats to figure out your click-through rate and traffic from organic blogging.
We hashed it all out in our post on content marketing ROI:
With an estimate of your monthly traffic in hand, we can then estimate potential leads and sales using our trusty formula:
As you can see, this is an easy and eye-opening way to determine how your blogging investment will pay off.
If you’re not satisfied with the potential ROI, play with the numbers and see what happens as your investment increases.
P.S. A note about blogging. You really need social media activity (posts, sharing of your blogs, relevant facts about your brand, etc.) from a qualified social media copywriter if you don’t have social media going on yet. It will really complete the full-circle picture. For example, our Twitter profile @ExpWriters is responsible for 10% of our monthly traffic!
If you were to add social media coverage from our social media packages to the blogging you do yourself, or the blogging we could do for you, this would start at $360/month to promote the blog and share other relevant posts about your brand consistently, adding $4,320/year in costs. Making sure you have activity under your brand name on social media is absolutely necessary for every brand.
3. Blog the Right Way (that Makes the ROI Roll In)
Here’s one caveat: You’ll only earn blogging ROI if you blog the right way.
The ROI formula only predicts what you’ll earn from consistent, high-quality, targeted blogging.
If you phone it in, you will not see the results the formula predicts.
We have lots of guides here at EW that can help you blog profitably. Here are a few for starters – read up to improve your game:
- How to write a killer blog intro
- How to write blog content
- The ultimate guide to optimizing your blog posts
- How to outsource your content
4. Remember That Cheapening Out Also Cheapens Your Content
Remember that investment you committed to in step #1?
If you flake out on it, your content will flake out, too.
Cheapening out likewise cheapens your content.
For example, if you cut the time you devote for blog creation in half without improving your productivity, you’ll start pushing out lower-quality blogs.
Similarly, if you cut the budget for your content, you’ll only be able to afford the cheapest content mills. Usually, this means bottom-of-the-barrel writing, or writers whose native language is not English.
With the latter, mistakes like these are too common:
Examples via Mark Matsuno
Mistakes like these can kill your blog ROI, because content that’s thin, riddled with errors, factually incorrect, poorly written, or hard to read does NOT rank.
Need a visual reminder of poor blogging? Here you go:
Not only does this blog make your brain hurt, it’s also completely useless information. From one post, it’s painfully obvious that this business went the cheap route for their blog.
Ready to See ROI from Your Blog? Be Inspired from Our Success Stories
Here’s the deal:
Our blogging ROI at Express Writers is huge because:
- We have invested SERIOUS time and money into creating great content
- We have blogged consistently, regularly, and predictably for six years
- Our blogs are usually long-form, SEO optimized and targeted to our audience
- We’re committed, heart and soul, to high-quality blogging
There are no “buts” about it.
If you want to see similar ROI down the road, you MUST commit to blogging and invest in quality.
Are you ready to bring it?
We can help with that. Trust us with your blog content creation – we know what it takes.