You’ve heard it before: content marketing isn’t about self-promotion. It’s about providing value.

That’s all well and good, you might be thinking, but you’re in business to make money. What you really want to know is: Can content marketing help you generate sales and grow your business?

The answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’ and in this post, I’ll share some effective marketing techniques to help you use content marketing to generate sales.

The Benefits of Content Marketing

There are at least fourteen undeniable benefits to content marketing.

To begin with, content marketing:

  • Helps you attract visitors to your site
  • Generates brand awareness
  • Builds trust and credibility

But it doesn’t stop there – content marketing is also helpful for lead generation. Studies have shown that content marketing generates three times more leads than paid search for every dollar spent.

If that surprises you, it may be because content marketing uses a different approach to selling.

I think HubSpot said it first: “inbound marketing is marketing with a magnet, not a sledgehammer.”

First, a mindset shift

If the thought of selling makes you feel slimy, I’d like to propose a different perspective, which may help.

Can we agree that selling your product should never be about trying to convince someone to buy something that isn’t right for them?

If your product serves a need, then there are people out there for whom it’s a perfect fit. There are people with a problem that you can solve. There are people who will achieve success or avoid failure because of you.

Those people are your ideal customers, and they need you as much as you need them. All you have to do is find those people and help them see the truth about how you can help them. And there’s nothing slimy about that, right? That’s where great content comes in: it can help you do exactly that.

There are three main steps to focus on, and we’ll go through them, one at a time.

  1. Choose the right content to produce.
  2. Optimize your content for conversions.
  3. Promote your content.

1. Produce the right content

Write for your ideal customer

This is where many content marketers take a wrong turn, and it can have fairly dire consequences.

I made this mistake myself with some of my earlier posts on the topic of fonts and design. It’s not that those posts weren’t popular. They were and still are. But they’re much likelier to attract designers, who aren’t my primary audience.

Your content can be well thought out and brilliantly produced, but if it doesn’t engage your ideal customer, it’s useless.

To make sure you don’t fall into this trap, consider developing buyer personas before you start content marketing. This will help you get to know your ideal customers really well, so that you can create a content strategy that attracts and engages them. Only then should you turn your attention to content creation.

Create content that answers customers’ questions

Quality content can help position you as a trusted authority that potential customers can trust to solve their problems. How? By answering the key questions they have while they make their buying decisions.

Here are a few tips for unearthing those questions:

  • Follow your ideal customers on social media to see what they’re asking each other and your competitors about.
  • Conduct keyword research to find questions with a high search volume.
  • Pay attention to the questions being asked on Quora.

Create content for every stage of the sales funnel

Your content should attract your prospects and nudge them through their buying process.

Create content to help them:

  1. Recognize they have a problem and all the ways in which this problem is costing them.
  2. Realize that solutions exist and get them excited about solving the problem.
  3. Compare available solutions and understand the factors they should base their decision on.
  4. Validate their decision to choose you by providing a rational justification as well as social proof. (Customer testimonials or a compelling marketing case study are both great examples of content).

Produce content in different formats

If you want to create content that sells, look beyond the blog post. Explore different formats — such as infographics, presentations, and videos, to name a few.

Before you default to blog posts, study which content formats hold the most appeal to your social media followers and to potential customers.

Create content that addresses sales objections

During your sales cycle, are there sales objections that come back again and again, and that you have to address?

Consider creating content around those objections and their answers. The upside? Not only can that content drive organic traffic to your website from people googling their concerns, but you will also be able to embed it in your sales process to convert leads into customers.

For example, the post you’re reading right now could help me address the concern of potential Blog in a Box customers who think that content marketing won’t lead to sales.

User-generated content

Content that your own users create around your brand can be your best form of advertising because it instills trust. In fact, studies show that 50 percent of millennials trust user-generated content more than other media.

For inspiration, check out these great examples of how brands have harnessed the power of user-generated content.

Don’t forget existing customers

If you’re looking to boost revenue, acquiring customers for that first sale is just the beginning. Focus on increasing the lifetime value of each sale by earning repeat sales and referrals from each new customer.

And guess what? Content marketing can help with that too. Create content to help existing customers get the most out of your product or service. Content such as best practice articles, tutorials, and explainer videos.

Always be optimizing

Your web analytics data offers a tremendous opportunity to continually improve the results of your content marketing over time.

Study your content’s conversion metrics to see which content pieces are most successful at converting to sales. Use that data to optimize your content strategy.

Consider creating your own content marketing dashboard to make the most of all your content.

Pique emotions

Studies have shown that our emotions are generally responsible for our purchasing decisions. We rationalize those decisions after the fact.

Learn how to harness the power emotional storytelling, and you can create content that generates more sales.


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2. Optimize your content for conversion

Add calls to action to every post

If your goal is to generate sales, make sure that all your content features at least one prominent call to action.

For example, make it easy for your readers to know how to reach you if they need your help. Or contextually link to your sales pages where it makes sense in your content.