Your customers’ preferences are changing quickly, and have been for quite some time. Gone are the days of formal business speak and minimal digital content. Customers crave a more casual business experience. In fact, 70% of people prefer to learn about a company through articles rather than advertisements.
The solution: content marketing. And with 70% of marketers actively investing in content marketing, there’s never been a better time to get on board.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing involves the creation and distribution of online content (blogs, white papers, videos, infographics, etc.). It is intended to generate interest in a particular topic relating to your business’s product or service, but not explicitly promoting a brand.
For example, a healthcare company may have a blog full of healthy recipes. The content doesn’t necessarily promote their brand, but the topic relates to their overall brand focus: health. And yes, this blog you’re reading is an example of content marketing.
Why is content marketing important?
According to CMI, content marketing brings in over 3x as many leads as outbound marketing. Plus, it costs on average 62% less than outbound marketing efforts, accelerating your ROI.
Content marketing is your business’ way of answering your target market’s questions about what you do, why it matters, etc. It’s a targeted stream of information that helps customers and potential customers understand what it is you do and how you can help them, without explicitly telling them.
Having that information readily available on your website keeps them engaged with your company longer and prevents them from turning to a competitor. Plus, it saves your sales team and your customers time when both have the answer readily available online.
Having content readily available also helps your social media channels. In fact, 94% of marketers use social media as one of their content distribution channels. It keeps your posts fresh while also maintaining consistent, relevant content completely owned by your company.
It also establishes your brand’s credibility. Would you rather buy from a company that credibly talks about market trends, industry innovations and problems their business solves – or would you buy from a brand without that information readily available? Most people would say the first. And that brand trust will be invaluable in the coming months and years.
How important is Content Marketing to SEO?
In a word: very.
Search engines crawl every website’s content to help determine rankings for search terms. . Strong, consistent content will help the search engine understand your business and what it does better, which means you’ll not only see higher traffic, but also more relevant visitors.
Every piece of digital content created increases the chance of your brand being seen by others. But, your company also needs to strategically incorporate SEO best practices so each piece is optimized for top performance. Some of the best things you can do to increase your SEO ranking are:
- Incorporate keywords to show search engines what queries the content is relevant to.
- Include meta descriptions for each piece of content.
- Write alt texts for all media elements. They ensure your website has accessibility features for those with disabilities.
- Write an appropriate length article. You can find the ideal length by using a third party service, such as Moz or conducting your own independent research.
Your website won’t jump to the coveted top spot in search engines overnight, but over time it’s practically guaranteed to improve.
Our client, Stericycle kept SEO value at the core of its content velocity planning and saw major ROI because of it. Learn more in this video.
How does content marketing support digital marketing?
Content marketing is the foundation of digital marketing. It enables SEO, social media, email marketing, etc. You truly can’t have digital marketing without having content.
Think of it this way: if digital marketing was a restaurant, content would be the food. There would be no restaurant without the food, just like you can’t have digital marketing without content.
At the same time, if the restaurant doesn’t distribute the food, customers will never know how great it tastes. Similarly, content must be distributed across multiple channels (email, social, etc) to reach your target audience. And content creation without SEO value is like a chef making meals when no orders are being placed – it leads to wasted resources.
How do you develop a content strategy for a website?
Content marketing helps to keep your website fresh and is a relatively low cost way to give customers the information they need. But the key to content marketing is having an effective strategy. Here’s how you can develop a competitive content strategy for your company:
- Define Your Content Goals.
- What’s your overarching goal for your content? Go beyond just “supporting digital marketing efforts” – be specific. Some content may be focused on conversions while others may be great for general thought leadership. Decide where you want your company to be.
- Research To Understand Customer Needs.
- If you want to create relevant content, you first have to understand your customer. Conduct thorough research on their knowledge gaps, pain points, interests, how they prefer to absorb information, and what channels they’re most active on.
- Remember to revisit your target market at least once a year to make sure it’s still accurate. If not, adjust and modify future content (and in some cases, refresh old content, too).
- Listen to Metrics.
- If you’re an established business, review the existing content you already have. Analyze what did and didn’t perform well and use that to inform future decisions. There may be glaring differences or more subtle nuances that make a big impact.
- Pulling insights from analytics should be conducted as often as possible. If you truly want to reap the benefits of content marketing, you should start by optimizing it for performance.
- Implement a Content Management System.
- Whether you have plans to churn out hundreds of pieces of content everyday or a few new pieces each week, content management systems (CMS) help maximize efficiency. Beyond organizing content in one central location, CMSs also provide analytics, planning features and more.
- Not sure which CMS is right for your needs? Check out our webinar on selecting the right enterprise content management system to help you decide.
- Start Creating Your Content!
- Now that you have all the infrastructure in place to get your content distribution up and running, you can start creating the content. Take some time to brainstorm and develop different ideas. Decide which format is best to get your message and information across.
- Remember to incorporate SEO research too so you can get more eyes on your content.
- Plan Your Distribution.
- Once you have a stream of content at your fingertips, you’ll need to map out how you’ll share them with others. Beyond posting on your website, where else will your content be distributed? Social media, email marketing, forums, partner marketing, etc. are all different channels that help amplify messaging. Wherever you choose to send the content, make sure you’re following best practices for that given platform and understand what performs best.
- You’re all set! Now you just have to hit publish and monitor performance. Over time you may notice there’s a trend in your metrics. Keep those in mind as you continue to optimize your content down the road.
Ready to get started on your map to better content management? We’ve helped clients achieve content velocity by creating a clear, concise content management system and the governance to go along with it. Learn more in our webinar.