Hard Proof That Content Marketing Works—A Professional Speaker Case Study

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Hard Proof That Content Marketing Works—A Professional Speaker Case Study

At the end of the day, what we (and our clients) really want is for the phone to ring, the email inbox to fill up (with real and relevant inquiries) and/or for people to walk through the door.

We don’t care about a lot of traffic. We care about getting the right traffic, visitors who are interested in us because we can serve them. We don’t want people pushed to our site. We want people to come looking for us. We want to pull them in.

Question: Can Content Marketing deliver the desired results?

Answer: Absolutely.

Case Study – Speaker Education

Wee bit of history in the company: Two old guys found themselves in the enviable position of being asked to give lectures, seminars, and destination talks on cruise ships. You know, those big behemoths that sail the world. The two fellows traveled for free with their wives in tow, so much so that before long their friends and acquaintances started asking them, “How’d you get that gig? Can you teach me how to do it?”

One of the fellows was old school – go to networking events, meet people, strike up conversations, hand out business cards, talk to the guy in the neighboring stall – that sort of thing. The other was just old. But he knew something about online and content marketing and how to get visibility via organic search.

The latter talked his friend into putting up a basic web site. SpeakOnCruises was born. (FULL DISCLOSURE: The site I am exposing here is one of mine. I asked myself if I could open up my dashboard and show you actual results and I said ‘yes.’ No need to click through unless you want to verify for yourself that the site exists or are interested in the content of the site.)

In the process of setting up the site and putting up basic content to define what the site was about, each sailed again and the site lagged somewhat. Him-hawed is the technical term.

Once back from cruising (and in lieu of working off the extra pounds from the ship’s buffet), the old dude talked his old school partner into hunkering down and putting up more relevant content to their site. He didn’t call it content marketing for fear the old school dude would have balked, signed on for another cruise and nothing would have happened to the site.

What they did:

“Just write more and follow a few guidelines,” was all the old guy advised (he wrote, too).

What they did NOT do:

1. They did NOT do keyword research.

They decided they wanted to write about speaking and cruise ships and lectures and seminars and destination and special interest talks and stuff they were interested in. They did NOT want to write about topics they didn’t care about and use keywords just because it might be more ‘search friendly.’

“If I wanted to do something I didn’t really care about I’d go back to work for Sun,” said the old school guy.

2. They did NOT do keyword frequency use.

They had no idea and still don’t know how many people might be interested in speaking on a cruise ship. They just wanted to write about something they cared about, something they were experts at, and see what kind of response there was.

3. They did NOT spend money on a template or anything else for that matter.

(Just a domain name and they put the site on an existing shared hosting account).They were too cheap. They tweaked a free template in the WordPress repository with the old dude’s limited know-how and started writing in earnest … from November 1st, 2013.

What Happened

Compare the results of three months of plodding – August, September, and October to three months of posting content regularly in November, December, and January.

SpeakOnCruises 6

SpeakOnCruises  6 month History

Unique visitors and page views are way up in the second three months.

The kind of results is important, too, as in where the traffic came from.

Speak On Cruises Organic Results

Speak On Cruises Organic Results

Organic traffic is way up. Feedburner traffic is up as well. And the only difference was MORE relevant content.

One more thing is important, even critical.

Dumb as grumpy and grumpier were, they did think to include a basic call-to-action button on their website. When clicked, the button took readers to one of three contact forms – hire us, contact us, and contact us/thank-you.

Question: Do visitors from search act on calls-to-action?

Answer: A resounding yes.

Speak On Cruises Conversion

Speak On Cruises Conversion

From November 1 – January 31st they had 1,439 unique visitors. Of those visitors 279 went to the contact form = 19.4%. And more than 100 of those filled the form in and hit send.

An actual inquiry (with details of the sender removed)

Speak On Cruises Actual Inquiry

Speak On Cruises Actual Inquiry

The content they created went to market for them.

Question: How much more content was published in the three months – Nov – Jan compared to the three months Aug – Oct?

Answer: There were 50 posts made from Aug-Oct – about one post every other day. There were 250 posts made from Nov-Dec – almost 3/day.


MORE relevant content posted at regular intervals with the right formatting gives better organic search results = better conversion. Simple as that.

If you want your phone to ring, more relevant email inquiries, and/or more people to come through the door, give them more reasons = more content, to do so.

Content marketing works.

All screenshots from Google Analytics, taken in February 2014.
Screenshot of SpeakOnCruises taken in February 2014.
Featured image is screenshot of SpeakOnCruises taken in 2014.
Next post – What’s the difference between online, inbound, social media and content marketing?

Bill Belew
Professor, Speaker, Author, blogger, all-around old man. Having taught a full 48-hour MBA course in Marketing with Social Media at a graduate school in Silicon... Read Full Bio
Bill Belew
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  • Oleg

    Great case study to pile that further proves that more quality content = more organic traffic.

    However, I would say that if they has done keyword research and had a list of terms to pepper into their content, each post could have gotten more results.

  • Bill Belew


    I don’t agree with you. It is better to write naturally with an overall focus in mind and allow your word choice to gravitate toward which words you will use the most.

    Thanks for reading.


  • Rick

    The game of guessing what Google will emphasize must keep the SEO experts jumping. Since we (commoners) can’t figure it out, we must be working with old info. So, your points are good – just keep hitting publish – but with quality posts.

  • Bill Belew

    Rick… you are spot on.

    In a room the Algo writers are trying to guess what real ppl are doing. All the while SEOers are guessing the algo writers. They keep missing each other.

    Just write good stuff and the algo writers will catch up. In the meantime the real people will be pleased.

    Thanks for reading.


  • Nikhil Makwana

    This case study adds values about to understand the quality of content and publishing frequency and attraction too.

    In reply to comment about Algo Writers, we always need to think about, users and how we can attract and engage them within our content. As a result, such users will search for terms which would have used within the content, hence there is no need to do research for keywords and its frequency, but we will be creating opportunities that users shall search for the terms which we would use and increase the search frequencies and RANK HIGHER in SERPs.

  • Steffen

    if there is interest, fun or even love in the subject involved, then the provided information wille be better and more useful. you will write about stuff that you know really well, and readers will feel that.

    if you just write on a special topic because some keywords suggest that and you don’t know that much about this part of the topic (or just don’t like it), then people aswell will feel that.

    the ultimate silverbullet and longterm strategy in seo is to write good articles.

  • Bill Belew


    If we keep the readers in mind first and foremost the algos will find us. However, if we think of algos first, the readers will not always find us and if they do, they are not likely to be pleased.

    Thanks for your comments.


  • Bill Belew


    You are spot on. Why do I want to write abt what I don’t care/know abt just because it pays more?

    I might as well work for smb I don’t want to just to get a salary.

    Good content will win.

    Thanks for reading.


  • James Kirk

    Hey Bill,

    So basically you wrote 250 articles and increased from an average of 5 visitors per day to 26 (organic traffic that is)? That’s what 250 articles gets you? An average of 21 more visitors?

    I agree with Oleg that you should write better (higher quality content) and not always more. If you would’ve done keyword research you could (maybe) write 10 posts that would bring those extra 21 visitors …. per day. More is not always better, like in this case maybe?

    Indeed, content marketing works, but it involves more than just volumes and passion.

  • Bill Belew


    I disagree.

    I taught a class in an MBA prograrm – full 48 hours – and I gave my students the option of generating good stuff that is useful, answers questions, gives information on a more consistent basis = several times daily versus … one article a day of ‘higher quality’ for lack of a better word. The more updates daily far outperformed the once a days.
    I do not advocate mindless updates for update purposes. Take a look at the content at http://SpeakOnCruises.com for an example.
    I do advocate a balance of consistent updates with pillar posting …. I have more on this all ready written up and it will appear in a future column in about two weeks.

    Thanks for reading.


    • James Kirk

      Well, you would be on track here only if those guys had the same writing skills and wrote about topics which are fairly similar (in terms of traffic). Otherwise if one writes about pillows and one about sports, we might be in for a surprise that the one on sports is the winner with more updates 🙂

      You still don’t convince me that you couldn’t get those 21 visitors with just 20-30-40 articles; 250 articles is a lot (and for some could even COST a lot). Getting just 21 on average makes me think they are not quite quality. Or maybe they are not optimized. And you know, SEO this mixture of things: content, optimization, design, etc etc.

      Anyway, my two cents. Maybe I’m wrong and you should publish 10 per day instead of just 1 with great value. But I don’t think so.

      • Bill Belew

        @James, My students worked in a variety of different niches which is why I can draw a conclusion. Example some wrote once a day in nutrition while others wrote multiple times a day in the same niche. Multiple times a day wins.

        Take a look at SpeakOnCruises and tell me if it is mindless chatter.

        The numbers are relative – 26 vs 5 is 5 times. It’s entirely possible that 31 is the max to be expected. Remember…didn’t do frequency study.

        An even better strategy is to write good solid content that addresses FAQs and news and insights and feeds your audience AND balance that with other in-depth (not better) content.

        Make sense?

        Thanks for reading.


  • Glenys

    I like your writing style Bill, very entertaining. I can see where the cruise ship lectures would have gone very well.

    It is encouraging to see case studies about the results from simply writing good content.
    What is the average word count of your daily posts?

    • Bill Belew


      Thank you for your kind words. Praise is seldom found online. 😎

      The average word count for daily posts is 200-250 words.

      Thanks for reading.