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'Building a pillar page helped increase our online sales by 836%'

Back in October, we asked Music Education Consultant, Anna Gower, to give us an honest account of her experience building her first pillar page, using the ESM Inbound pillar page guide. Since then, her page has yielded some fantastic results, acting as a content-rich platform which successfully converts visitors in numbers her business has never seen before. Below, she shares some of her top tips with us, as we ask: could it be time for you to embrace a pillar page for your website?

Approach to building a pillar page

When Anna first came to us last Autumn, she had a very specific content issue which she explained:

Anna Gower"The website that I manage has a problem. The organisation shares a name and some content with another that has been around for a lot longer. Both organisations offer training and resources to music teachers in different parts of the world but each has a separate website, different communications channels and sales strategies. I’m probably not alone in this problem – many of us collaborate on content and find ourselves muddled about where it is anchored."

She's right – many businesses do face this problem. Keeping track of where all your content is housed, who has ownership of what and identifying which bits are still relevant is an unappealing task which requires a decent audit. We recommended Anna taking a look at our guide: 

"I read ESM’s comprehensive (and very first-timer-friendly) guide to pillar pages and decided to try creating one for myself, as well as some cluster content. As producing blog posts is a regular part of our current communications strategy anyway, it made sense to group several of these around one topic... Here I explain my journey into pillar page content and hopefully show that if I can do it, so can you."

Book falling open with pages spread

Anna decided the best approach was to:

  • Look back through some legacy open-source resources and publications about the core work of her organisation, buried on the current website as downloads.
  • Choose her focus – songwriting – to be her first cluster topic.
  • Check the publishing rights allowed for the content to be reproduced as intended. They did, and it was a great opportunity to revisit an older resource and be reminded of the wealth of content already created.
  • Check existing analytics – these showed it was not being found by visitors on the site.
  • Reproduce this content as a webpage, then add the original document as a download and link to as much existing content on the website as possible creatinga free guide to songwriting’.

Anna had two key sales objectives that underpinned much of the business' communications focus, and these became the central calls to action within the pillar page. They were:

1. Forthcoming open workshops which needed delegates to be able to find and book onto them.

2. Growing the mailing list which was key to encouraging new subscribers to make the most of some really strong email-marketing campaigns coming up.

"I recycle many of the blog posts as content for social media and the weekly ‘featured blog’ for the front page of the website. Each cluster post has been added as a hyper-linked button to the pillar page as they are created, and I add hyperlinks to the pillar page in the blog posts as much as possible. The word ‘songwriting’ always appears in the title of each cluster post."

chart on paper showing progress with pens and ruler

What was the immediate effect?

At the time, Anna started tracking the analytics of the pillar page, and within days was already seeing positive results. Back in October, we checked in with her and she told us that:

"So far, in just four days, traffic to the website has increased by over 200%. I’m really happy and impressed with this increase and it makes me realise that creating a pillar page to help Google categorise and sift through our content is such a better model than having all these scrambled, unanchored blog posts on the internet, as we had before – and many businesses have."

In order to turn this engagement into a better SEO ranking, Anna's next step was to encourage some of the teachers who engaged with their programme to embed the links into their own blog posts too, and make better use of analytics to understand how visitors were using the pages. She knew they needed to monitor which were the most effective links to encourage more clicks across the site. At the time, she said:

"It’s an exciting time for us and our content, and I really hope that other organisations follow our lead – it really was an easy step to do and the traffic increase is testament to its efficacy: the proof is in the pudding!"

a climber at the top of a mountain looking out on the view

What has changed after six months?

We decided to check back in with Anna to see how, after six months live, her pillar page was performing – did she still think it was a worthwhile tool, and was it still producing positive interactions? She told us that since publishing their first pillar page, there has been a noticeable increase in traffic to their website:

  • Unique visitor views have increased steadily with an 81% increase in unique visitors compared to the previous 6 months.
  • There has been a 68% increase in page views.
  • Most importantly, they've seen an 836% increase in online sales.
  • There was a significant spike in unique visitors when their pillar page first went live, which was 75% higher than in the previous 6 months.
  • The pillar page is still one of their most-viewed pages in weekly analytics and they continue to feature all of the related content across their regular social media outlets.
They aren't the only ones who are seeing positive results from a pillar page  inbound marketing company, Weidert Group, recently increased their organic traffic by 74% with the help of a pillar page.  Anna went on to explain that:
"Our first pillar campaign has been hugely successful in bringing people on to our website and allowing us to explore which content most engages our audience.
Our next steps will be to create a second pillar campaign which we will release alongside several resources that are gated behind a sign-up form, so we can start implementing more inbound strategies and make better use of our analytics data to understand and respond to the needs of our communities."
Anna has found that creating individual posts and sharing these across social media has enabled her business to run lengthy and focused campaigns, targeted at defined areas of need for teachers, and resources for supporting students with songwriting. They back this up with a practical session at their international workshops and also give away supporting resources, all of which build on that pillar-page content. Finally, she says: 
"A large amount of our site traffic comes from Facebook where there are a number of teacher communities – our pillar page has been shared as a useful resource, but not always by us! Now that we are six months in, our teacher communities are starting to use social media to let us know they have been using it and recommending it to others; in some cases they've even shared videos of student work completed as a result of our page." 
ESM Inbound has plenty of advice, if you think you're ready to build your own pillar page. Or we can build one for you – just click the button below.  

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