Here’s how content marketing earned $30k for this villa with $0 ads

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Here’s how content marketing earned $30k for this villa with $0 ads

Author Terence Leong Co-Author Candice Neo

Are you struggling to maximise results from digital marketing? Or have you reached a saturation point where your ads no longer work?

Let’s look at the curious case of this private pool villa in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Properties and homestays are in oversupply in Malaysia. Everyone is struggling to find tenants. This is often the case for various industries too, such as F&B — too much supply and competition is intense. How can you make yourself stand out?

This was a problem faced by this particular villa.

But within 8 months, they managed to increase their enquiries by more than 10 times, got thousands of engagement on social media and hundreds and thousands of high-quality direct brand searches on search engines that resulted in more than RM 120k revenue (approximately USD $29,200).

How did they do it?

This is a homestay located in the outskirts of KL, near the national zoo. It’s managed by a property management company and they have mainly been selling the villa on Airbnb since late 2019. Here's a screenshot of their Airbnb listing:


Just like putting your restaurant up on Grabfood, on distribution channels like online travel agencies (OTAs) or Airbnb you don’t have much control over your distribution and you have to rely on the platform to show your accommodations to their users. And they take a sizeable percentage of your revenue.

But many homestay businesses didn’t have much choice — without strong social media presence and rankings on search engines, they often have to depend on these distribution channels to get sufficient reach and bookings.

What this villa management company did:

They decided to work with online travel magazine TripCanvas on content marketing, and they got their villa and brand promoted through various channels:

  • SEO ranking (for keywords such as “private pool KL”, “private pool Malaysia”) and they topped brand searches too.
  • Social media (with content tailored for different languages such as English and Chinese)
  • A website presence through a staycation deals page

Here's a screen of a viral Facebook post featuring this villa, published on TripCanvas:


Why was this content marketing effective?

The villa could actually sell by itself if given the right content marketing push.

Photo via TripCanvas.
Photo via TripCanvas.

It was a hidden gem — its interior was designed like a glasshouse with floor-to-ceiling windows, surrounded by greenery. There was an indoor pool with a hammock, a few swings and the entire design was very Instagrammable — perfect for Malaysian readers in their twenties, who loved a good pool but did not want to swim under the sun, which is typical Asian behaviour.

Malaysians are generally conservative and wanted privacy when they are swimming, which is why private pool villas are more popular than resorts with shared pools. However, private pool villas are very rare in Malaysia — it’s costly to build and maintain one.

So you can imagine how rare it is to find a villa like this in KL, near the heart of the city. It’s a convenient location for a short staycation over the weekend. Not to mention the glasshouse concept, colourful and trendy interiors would make perfect pictures for the guests’ social media feed.

Accommodating up to 12 people in 5 bedrooms and priced from RM 2000 a night (around USD $486), it was pretty affordable for such a villa and all it offered.

One of the bedrooms in this villa. Photo via TripCanvas.
One of the bedrooms in this villa. Photo via TripCanvas.

A few album posts were curated and posted on Facebook, highlighting all these unique selling points of this villa which the management did not bring up in their marketing posts, and it instantly went viral.

Here's one viral Facebook post featuring this villa on TripCanvas, an online travel magazine:


Readers loved it. Other publications started to follow suit and wrote about them too, further amplifying the content marketing effect.

Most of these posts have tons of engagement and social media was abuzz with pictures of this villa. Everyone was talking about it and the villa’s bookings shot up. Weekends were fully booked. They even had to turn away some customers.

Many young adults were booking it for birthday celebrations, marriage proposals, and other special occasions.

Enquiries and bookings for this villa are still trickling in every day.

Here's a screenshot of enquiries received by the villa management on Facebook:


The dramatic results of content marketing:

Without relying on paid ads, they managed to get:

  • 258 high-quality direct brand searches per month on Google, 4,000 impressions a month for purchase intent searches
  • More than 870k views and 6,000 engagement in total on social media
  • 50 direct enquiries a month (over 10x improvement)
  • More than RM 120k in bookings’ revenue (approximately USD $29,200)

Take a look at this screenshot of the villa page’s analytics:


People were so interested in the villa that the magazine they worked with even put them up on a deals page, and traffic was at 2000–3000 visitors even when there was no active promotion.

The villa management was amazed — this had never happened before.

And this is the power of content marketing.

Why is content marketing so powerful?

People are not just buyers; they are also looking for things to learn and inspire themselves. So it’s very important for you to not just look at immediate sales conversion but leverage on content marketing to insert yourself in many touchpoints throughout the customer discovery journey.

When your products are featured in content with good SEO, people will continue to search for them over time, and sales will still happen even when you don’t promote your products actively.

If the content is useful, even if readers don’t buy your products now, they would remember and bookmark the content, and come back to make the purchase months later.

For example, after Unilever created their All Things Hair publication, it helped them to generate 73% ROI (return on investment) compared to their paid search cost.

Screenshot of Unilever’s All Things Hair publication.
Screenshot of Unilever’s All Things Hair publication.

Many businesses feel that content marketing takes up too much effort and time, but what you need is to know how to qualify the right person to do the job, understand what roles are required and what content marketing strategy should be in place.

Successful content marketing strategies require a deep understanding of your potential customers’ pain points, innate needs and desires, and use that understanding to hit all the sweet spots.

P.S. We are the digital media company that runs online travel magazine TripCanvas and has helped the villa management company achieve more than 10x improvement in lead generation and greatly amplified their brand presence on search engine and social media. All content shared above was done with the consent of the villa management company.

How can you replicate this success?

Do you want to replicate the success of this private pool villa?

Start your content marketing journey — it’s an investment that would pay off in the long run.

Here's what you need to create a sales-generating content marketing funnel:

  1. Creating a website with copywriting, design and UX that converts for you
  2. Creating a lead magnet that can generate qualified leads for you
  3. Create a competitive analysis for you (analysing your competitors and their strategies) that will guide the content strategy
  4. Develop your marketing positioning through in-depth research of the pain points of your clients/customers, which includes (but not limited to) interviews with you and other experts in your field, interviews with your potential customers, research on the behaviours of your clients/customers
  5. Content strategy involving both top-of-funnel content and bottom-of-funnel content
  6. Content creation and publishing
  7. Ad strategy, audience targeting and promotion
  8. Generating content and ads' performance reports

If you're interested in working with us for an A-to-Z done-for-you content marketing for your business, reach out to us by filling in the form below.

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