Content marketing is a relatively modern phrase by marketing standards, used to represent any marketing functions which involve the creation and sharing of content, with a view to satisfying business objectives. How you present this content usually depends on the purpose, but it often takes the form of blog articles, How-to’s, white papers, infographics, videos, case studies, Q&As and so on.
One important differentiation between content marketing and other more traditional elements of the marketing mix is that content marketing is not focussed on selling, in fact if you’re trying to use content marketing for direct sales you’ve probably missed the point. You should be aiming to deliver valuable content which satisfies the query of the user and inspires trust and brand loyalty.
In recent years content marketing has very much found itself in vogue, being used by businesses large and small to add value to various parts of the business. Below, I’ve explored some areas of your business which can be enhanced and improved using content marketing:
1. Organic Search (SEO)
Any SEO worth their salt knows the importance of fresh and relevant content to enhance visibility in organic search. Traditionally, whether right or wrong, businesses would often produce content exclusively to satisfy the requirement of having keywords on a page. In 2015 this kind of content is no longer good enough. Not only do your readers deserve better but search engines are also becoming smarter, learning to differentiate between valuable content and thin, keyword-stuffed article spam.
So how do we increase natural search visibility with content? The answer is relatively simple; keep producing content which answers the queries of your potential customers / readers. As you build up a repository of content you’ll begin to generate more and more long-tail traffic, whilst also building relevance for those short-tail head terms. If your content is answering queries successfully, then a user will see its value and come back again and again.
Beyond this, there’s another area of SEO where content marketing can add value…
The number and quality of links (referring domains) has been an important ranking factor for most search engines for a long time now. Although the criteria with which these links are judged has changed and many other elements come into play, fostering links is still a core function of SEO.
The best content will always attract links – organic, editorial links. Without resorting to link-building or anything even remotely black-hat, unique content acts as a linkable asset. As such, content marketing can help to enhance your backlink profile increasing the search engines’ perception of your relevancy within your niche.
However, as experienced digital marketers, perhaps we shouldn’t be so naïve as to think that we can create content and let it do the rest of the work for us. If we have a substantial following already, then this is probably fine. But if we’re a new brand there’s no reason we can’t employ some good old fashioned outreach to generate some awareness of our awesome content.
In addition to SEO benefits, it’s difficult to overstate the impact content marketing can have on overall brand awareness and digital reach when executed properly. Let’s imagine a scenario:
- We regularly publish amazing articles designed to answer every possible query in our niche, on our own website
- We contribute regularly to the best blogs within our industry
- We produce how-to videos and publish them on-site using schema mark-up, and off-site on third party sites such as YouTube and Vimeo
- We produce helpful slideshows and publish them on third party platforms like SlideShare
- We produce infographics presenting amazing data from our niche, which we promote using outreach
As a result, any time a user searches for a term relating to our industry… total SERP domination! This process is effective for the same reasons that re-marketing is effective – when a potential customer sees your branding on a number of occasions, usually relating to content which is adding value, then this inspires trust and confidence which in turn translates into conversions.
As a company heavily involved in developing social media strategy for businesses, Passion Digital has discovered that one of the most common problems faced by business in the social space is that they do not know what to write/share. When they do publish posts, the levels of engagement are disappointing at best.
With a pre-defined content calendar and a content marketing strategy in place, the task of social media marketing becomes much easier. Users respond to good content on social media and it just so happens that you have a lot of content to share. The best kind of content to produce varies by platform, so I asked our Head of Social Dom which types of content he finds work best on social media:
“Interesting visual content continues be the type of posts users of social engage with the most. On Twitter, engagement can be 200% higher for tweets with image links, especially now that Twitter shows previews if images in your timeline.
Facebook is really the home of images though. For our client Carluccio’s, an Italian restaurant chain, we decided to post amazing photos of places in Italy on Sunday mornings and engagement shot up by over 400%!
Many businesses get into the habit of talking too much about themselves. It’s good to break it up. Share your news but also pose questions, tell stories, share famous quotes or amazing photos! The key is to inspire engagement. Give every post one engagement objective – do you want to get likes? Shares? Comments? etc. Above all else, it’s called social media, so be social!”
Content marketing is a great way to develop relationships with industry leaders operating within your space. Top people appreciate top content. If you offer up a great contribution to a blog within your niche (trying to add value, not just a link) then it is usually very much appreciated. It’s quite often that someday they will return the favour. A relationship is born!
Building relationships through content doesn’t just relate to your peers, you can also build long-term relationships with your readers (who eventually develop into paying customers). This is particularly important for any website who’s core business function is information consumption and potentially ad revenue.
Consumers go through several stages between becoming aware of service and converting into paying customers. In terms of creating content for CRO, these stages can be loosely categorised into Early, Mid and Late buyer readiness stages. Each of these stages can be catered for using different types of content marketing, increasing overall conversions:
Consumers within the early stage of the buying phase are generally not aware of their problem. We should create educational / thought leadership content to target these consumers:
- Industry trends
- Analyst coverage
- 101 education
These consumers are traditionally looking for a solution to a problem. Content to market to these consumers should be service-suitability related. For example:
- What is the service and how does it work?
- Solution comparisons
- Pitfall analysis
- Readiness and suitability assessments
- How do I choose a vendor?
Consumers who are considered to be in the Late buying stage are in a position where they need to be convinced that you are the right platform for them with thorough credentials and decision support. This can be achieved through:
- Bench strength demonstration (benchmarking against competitors)
- Case studies
- ‘How to buy’ / ‘working with us’ guides
So there we have it, 6 facets of your online marketing improved with high-quality content.