The number one problem I see with people running eCommerce sites is that their primary goal on the website is to sell a product or service,” says Joe Howard, CEO of WP Buffs, which provides managed care plans for website owners and agencies. That probably seems like a good idea, but here’s why Howard thinks they’re wrong.
“When you look at the data, 96 percent of people are not ready to make a purchase when they come onto your website. So, if your entire website is focused on pushing people towards purchasing something, you’re only really catering to 4 percent of people on your website,” he says.
Howard thinks there’s a better way: to stop focusing on selling the product or service directly, and concentrate on converting visitors to new leads and active leads. And the best way to do that is with content marketing.
Content marketing drives growth at WP Buffs
Content marketing has been a major driver of WP Buffs’ success, helping it to grow from Howard’s initial idea into one of the leading companies in the niche. WP Buffs started because Howard had two life-changing insights:
- As a freelance WordPress website builder, he wasn’t making money if he wasn’t actually building a website.
- There were a ton of people using WordPress, which now powers 30 percent of the web, but not a lot of companies doing a great job supporting people with WordPress sites.
After doing a little research to make sure he was on the right track, Howard launched WP Buffs in March 2016.
“96 percent of people are not ready to make a purchase when they come onto your website.”
As well as building websites, Howard also had a marketing background, so using inbound marketing to promote WP Buffs was a natural fit. He says whether you call it SEO, inbound, or content marketing, there’s nothing particularly complicated about it.
“It’s putting together good content and having it be visible in search engines like Google. People find it, they come to your website, and from there, you generate leads and eventually generate enough interest to turn some of those visitors into customers,” says Howard, who also runs WPMRR a video course that teaches WordPress professionals how to implement, sell and execute ongoing care plans for their clients with an eye toward increasing monthly revenue, and hosts The WPMRR WordPress podcast, which focuses on growing successful WordPress businesses and monthly recurring revenue.
It’s definitely working for WP Buffs: “We get about 85 percent of our new leads, of our traffic, of our new customers, through organic search,” says Howard.
The WP Buffs content marketing approach
WP Buffs has a three-step approach to content marketing. First, says Howard, figure out if people are searching for the topics you want to write about. He adds that a little keyword research goes a long way. “You have to find out if there’s enough search volume so you could draw some of that web traffic to your site and generate business from it.”
Second, use that information to write the content that your audience needs. “Our business is WordPress related. So we create a lot of content related to WordPress security, speeding up WordPress websites, how to get a free SSL certificate, that kind of stuff.”
Third, offer value. “Make sure you are not just trying to write content that’s going to draw traffic, but that’s really going to bring value to people,” advises Howard. “You can draw in 100,000 visitors a month to a piece of content, but if people aren’t resonating with that content, or it’s not good and it doesn’t build trust, then what’s the point?”
Howard also believes in keeping track of web rankings, both for his own content and his competitors’. His top three tools to help with this are SEMrush for competitor analysis, AWR Cloud for web rankings, and MozBar for showing sites’ domain authority right in the search results.
He uses this last one to quickly identify potential ranking opportunities for the company’s content. “It’s a nice, easy way for me to do keyword research and see where the low-hanging fruit is so I can quickly see if we can rank for a term,” says Howard.
How eCommerce sites can do better content marketing
Of course, there’s more to creating good content than just keywords, says Howard. It’s all about authenticity. While WP Buffs includes content targeted to customers in its content plan, the company also provides content to help the wider WordPress community. In addition, they’re not afraid to get personal, and that works well for their audience.
“Sometimes it’s the personal connection that counts,” says Howard. “One piece of content that I wrote recently that got pretty good feedback was an article about working remotely when your significant partner does not.”
He adds that authenticity builds trust, and that’s when visitors turn into email subscribers.
“If someone becomes an email subscriber, it means that they have been to your website. They have a baseline level of trust in what you do and/or the content you’re producing, and want more information from you in the future. We probably convert about six percent of our visitors into email subscribers, which is pretty good,” he says.
That’s why Howard recommends that eCommerce companies focus on content marketing as a way to find and capture new leads. “Once you have people’s email addresses, you can build more trust with them, show more value, give them free stuff; whatever you do that you find effective.”
The number one inbound marketing tip
Howard’s most important tip for success with inbound marketing isn’t really about inbound marketing at all. It’s about how you use your time.
“I think most good things take hard work and they take time to build, or else everyone would do them, right? So, my number one trick, is to dedicate time to pushing forward your inbound campaigns,” says Howard.
He points out that many business owners spend a lot of time working for clients, but when they do that, they’re not actively working to grow the business. That’s something they must do, he says. And that’s why it’s crucial to dedicate a set time to marketing your business every day, week, or month.
Howard practices what he preaches: “To me, that means putting my phone on airplane mode, not answering people who are tweeting at me. It means putting on my email pause so that my email actually only populates twice every day. I’m not in my inbox wondering who emailed me,or if something important is there. I just turn it off because it’s a distraction.”
He concludes: “Everyone would be successful with their inbound marketing if it was easy. The fact that it’s not easy means you have to work hard. If you expect that it’s going to take time and put in the time you need, you’ll get there. That’s my secret to success. It’s gotten me to where I am today, and it’s what I expect will get me to wherever I’m headed.”