It’s 2017. Where’s your content?!
As the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) calls it, content marketing is today’s marketing. It is no longer an option; it’s a requisite. According to the B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America produced by CMI and MarketingProfs, around 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing as the foundation of their marketing strategy. Add to that, 70% of these marketers are creating more content than they did a year prior. According to respondents, entire marketing departments have been restructured around content marketing.
So, What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a type of marketing that includes the creation and sharing of online content, such as blogs, videos, pictures or memes and other social media post. It is practically anything. As integrated digital agency Portent, Inc.’s CEO, Ian Lurie says: “Content isn't 'stuff we write to rank higher' or 'infographics' or 'long-form articles.' Content is anything that communicates a message to the audience. Anything.”
So, remember that photo album of your office Christmas party – the one with the drunk limbo dance picture that you posted for everyone to see on your company Facebook page? That’s content – and not a very good one.
Your online content is there to promote your business. Add to that, it has to do so subtly, without explicitly marketing your products. According to a study done by the Content Marketing Association, poor content puts your brand in a bad light with 70% of the respondents.
Still, content marketing is a necessary and beneficial marketing investment for your business.
Content Marketing Benefits
To this day, content marketing may still be hard to sell. You can encounter some difficulties getting buy-ins from your company executives. Results take time and may be hard to measure. But, the benefits are there – so take advantage of them.
1. Site traffic
According to the Aberdeen Group, businesses that lead when it comes to content market enjoy a 7.8 times increase in website traffic – and rightly so. Good quality engaging content, shared through your social media accounts, makes people curious. It brings people to your website.
The key is that you consider what your target market is interested in. Know what is valuable and useful to them. Search Engine Journal is a prime example of a business that has been successful in getting to the heart of what its readers want. In return, it enjoys more than a million unique visitors monthly.
2. Better search engine optimization
Quality content is an SEO goldmine. Because of it, your website can get editorial links and mentions. This increases your site’s authority to the eyes of Google. It also tells the search engine giant a lot about what your website is all about.
3. Direct customer conversions
Good content marketing puts your brand above the rest. It requires funds, time and writing skills, yes. But, it is still 62% cheaper than traditional marketing, and it gives you three times as many leads, according to a study by Demand Metric. You can see conversion rates increase by nearly six times.
4. Better brand awareness
The IBM Digital Experience Survey of 2015 found that 56% of marketers believe that they get higher engagement rates with personalized content. Brand-specific content is an effective way of improving brand recall. When buyers remember you, they are encouraged to engage with your website and social media presence.
5. Indirect customer conversion
A good write-up that praises your product or user reviews that talk you up improve your standing with the online community. In fact, according to the Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by BrightLocal, 88% of buyers trust online user reviews.
These user-generated content, alongside your own, bridges the gap between you and people interested in your product. They learn about you, and remember you when it’s time to buy.
Content Marketing Best Practices
Ready to create your content? Here are a few best practices to remember:
1. Know your target market.
Do you know who you want to reach with your content? What are their jobs and company positions? Where are they located? What are their common problems and how can you help?
These are just a few things you need to know before you pick up the metaphorical pen. Create a profile of your target audience. Use available online tools, such as Google Analytics, to see what they’re searching for. Keep this in mind as you create your content.
2. Write naturally.
2016 is the year mobile search overtook desktop searches. And, on the phone, people do searches differently than when typing on a keyboard.
On mobile, people search using plain language. They don’t edit themselves. They don’t think about keywords. They just ask “Siri, where is the nearest pizza takeout?” instead of typing “pizza takeout New York.”
Make sure your content is optimized to consider mobile searches. Question-formatted content, such as FAQs and how-to blogs, gives you a lot of options in this department.
3. Implement lead data capturing tools or strategies for the content you share.
Remember that increased traffic does not immediately translate to an increase in conversion rates. You have to generate qualified leads off your site traffic. The best way to do this is to implement tools or strategies that capture your leads’ data when they engage with your content. Examples here are site surveys or email sign-ups prior to content download.
4. Be consistent. Plan and follow a content calendar.
Plan your content and publish them according to schedule. Your goal is to keep your Google “freshness score” high. Doing so tells search engines that your content is timely and relevant.
5. Before you write, research on trends.
To remain fresh and timely, look at what’s trending. Online tools, such as Google Alerts and Google Trends, alert you on trending searches. Get ideas from here on what to put out for your target audience.
6. Mix up your content.
Make sure to include a complete mix of content for your content marketing. Different types of content reach out to a variety of people. For instance, light funny content can easily go viral. They catch attention and are easy to digest. How-tos and user guides, on the other hand, are more targeted, and tailor-fit for people further down your sales funnel.
7. Write for real people.
You know the trending keywords, and now you want to use them in your content. That’s a great idea. Just make sure to use these keywords naturally. Don’t make the mistake of stuffing your content with keywords. Search engines have become smarter than they were a decade ago. Top rank in search results requires relevance more than having so-and-so number of keywords in your content.
8. Measure everything that you do.
Make sure that you measure everything that you do in the name of content marketing. There’s no one formula for content marketing strategy that works. It’s different per business. And, you’re not going to get it right the first time. So, measure your progress and tweak where necessary.
About the Author: When not underwater and trying to talk to fish, Roda Novenario talks sales and technology as in-house writer at Tenfold, a CRM Phone Integration company.