As the Director of Marketing for a U.K. website, it’s my job to ensure our online brand BusinessesForSale.com gets the exposure it deserves. BusinessesForSale.com is a global service that connects over a million business buyers and sellers each and every month, and we look to change people’s lives through our offering. Whether users are looking to relocate, change their careers, become their own boss, or retire, we offer them a way to make a change.
I often think back to a particularly cold, late 2016 board meeting. As we ran through the marketing numbers everything looked good: core business in the U.K. was looking strong and we were seeing steady YOY growth across all metrics.
Then we looked at our U.S. performance — this has always been a target market for us. We already had a presence there, but numbers were disappointing compared to our home market. We decided to make the push into the U.S. with dedicated resources.
We had a big problem to tackle: how do we grow a market, and have a meaningful impact on the company’s bottom line, when up against competitors with much deeper pockets?
As an underdog, we have found that we are better off making several 1 percent improvements rather than hunt for a silver bullet solution. An incremental approach to market growth is much easier to execute and yields greater results.
We decided to bolster our digital strategy by implementing a two-pronged approach:
1. Onsite content
2. Offsite distribution
Let’s jump into each of these to better understand how content marketing helped us significantly improve U.S. site traffic.
Aspiring business owners experience a lot of emotions when they’re looking to shake up their lives, so providing them with simple, accessible entrepreneur advice is one of our key offerings. But, the big question remained how we could do this for an American audience.
We needed local advice and American speakers to accomplish this, so we decided to partner with the content marketing company based in the U.S.
We started by evaluating the differences between U.K. and American dialects so our vast library of existing content could be localized. This has been an ongoing project, and we’re still not 100 percent through, but we’re looking to make small changes over time and will continue to address language differences as we go.
Our content marketing efforts are based off a system we designed called DRACS: Discover, Research, Advice, Compare, Sale. This is our user journey and touch points on the path to a sale for our customers:
● Discover — A spotlight of the pros and cons to help the user decide if this is right for them.
● Research — A great opportunity to highlight how this will improve their life and how easy the process can be.
● Advice — Get the experts to talk about their experience through Q&A’s and how-to articles.
● Compare — What are our USPs? Make them clear and show why and how we are superior to our competitors.
● Sale — Close the deal. This really comes down to landing page optimization and making sure the path to conversion is as effortless as possible.
DRACS helps users through their journey in a honest and impartial way. The content marketing team loved the system and very quickly adopted it for the U.S. market.
There is lot of effort required to successfully distribute a large volume of content, and in the past we tried using SEO agencies but never had the results we wanted. We’ve always found that they try to handle content distribution in too much of a “SEO way” — meaning focused on keyword density and link metrics rather than relevance and whether links add value to users. This time around we looked to PR consultants and influence marketers to approach this from a different angle.
Instead of looking at creating links just for SEO, which honestly isn’t how you should do it, we wanted a company that would match content with sites and view this as a way to drive direct traffic. If the link on a site wasn’t going to get clicked by the user we don’t want the link on their site.
Through hard work and our content marketing initiatives, I was able to walk into our most recent board meeting with a big smile on my face — site metrics had improved like never before:
● U.S. website traffic is up 79.6 percent, with a 83.81 percent increase for unique visitors.
● Localizing the websites reduced our bounce rate by 5.89 percent
● Website inquiries are up by 47.85 percent
● Ecommerce transactions are up by 48.04 percent.
Overall, e-commerce revenue has increased by 68.59 percent since we began this content marketing push!
So, if you’ve read this and still wonder what to take away, it’s simple:
● Localize — Make sure you’re speaking the same language as your target users.
● Help your users — Provide content that answers their questions as honestly and impartially as possible and they’ll keep coming back.
● Focus on your niche — We all want to get the front page of the New York Times or Inc.com, but honestly they’re hard to get and are rarely your true target audience, so keep it narrow.
● Don’t take shortcuts — Over the 12 months we had lots of ideas thrown our way on ways we can boost our traffic overnight and we’ve turned all of them down. There are no shortcuts to becoming the number one in your niche. It really comes down to hard work.
● Adapt — Even the best plans need updating and we’ve changed ours a lot over the last 12 months. We’ll continue to do so in order to stay ahead of the game.
By doing many little things right, and fostering our content marketing partnerships, we can proudly say we reached our goals for the U.S. brand in 2017. We cannot wait to see what the new year has in store for us — as we look forward to another record year for website traffic and engagement thanks to quality content and strategic offsite distribution.