by: Thomas Young
The Importance of Content Marketing
One of the most powerful forms of online marketing is called “content marketing.” Content marketing is the strategy and process behind using your online content to draw people to your company and converting them into customers. It is very strategic and has become an essential part of any company’s marketing efforts. Content marketing is driven by people’s need for information before they make a purchasing decision and is behind the growth in pull marketing.
The Content Marketing Process: Ten Steps
More than likely, your marketing department is already doing some form of content marketing. Most companies wing it and do the best they can with content marketing. However, the lack of a strategic process impedes their results. Content marketing will get much better results with a strategic process that has proven to be successful. Here are ten steps in that process.
1. Write for the Reader
The most common mistake of content marketers is to write from the perspective of their own company instead of using language that is easily understood by their target market. Each organization has an internal language, a set of terms and methods for communicating that works for their company, but this may not be how prospective customers communicate. The first step in content marketing is to bridge the gap between the company and the reader.
Write content to help your target market do their job better and improve the quality of their lives. Use quality thinking and avoid marketing speak or brochure content. Write content with value and that educates, and avoid content that sells or self-promotes.
2. Use Content Marketing to Get Found in Google
The more content on your website, the better your rank in Google searches. Google is paying more attention to websites with blogs and regular content updates. Here are a few points directly from Google to consider in regard to content marketing and search results.
- 500 to 1,000 web pages is ideal for most websites.
- Adding fifty pages to your site is equal to 48 percent more search engine traffic.
- Your website gets nine times more traffic when you reach 1,000 pages.
- Websites with blogs get five times more traffic than those without blogs.
- The more content on your site, the better rank it will have in Google searches.
Also, being on the first page of a Google search result is important branding for your business. A key element in sales prospecting today has become Google searches or people researching the online marketplace to find your company. Keyword searches and content optimized for Google will bring loyal customers to your website. Your content marketing strategy drives this process.
3. Content as the Voice of the Brand
Many writers may contribute to your web content marketing efforts, but it is important to have one consistent voice for your company brand. This builds trust and drives simplicity for readers as they learn more about your products and services. Content marketing is used to explain your value to your target markets, and consistency is critical to communicate a clear brand message. This content provides a personality to your brand and the consistency leads to better marketing results.
4. Translate What You Do Well into Online Content
Get very specific on product and service content that is unique to your company. Write about what your company does well. Website visitors will appreciate this because it is what they are looking for. What you do well is loaded with benefits, and content should be used to explain this, including videos, photos, graphics, audio and other media. Tell the story of what you do and how you do it. Also, remember that marketing verbiage and ads are not usually perceived as valuable content.
5. Make Content a Competitive Advantage
There is a new definition of free content and it is your “competitive advantage.” In other words, giving content away for free has become a competitive advantage. Many companies resist this because they believe they are giving away their secrets. However those secrets are not as important as you think. If you don’t give them away, others will. The upside beats the downside; you are only hiding value if you don’t distribute excellent content. Your digital marketing and lead generation strategy determines how much to give away. Anyone can compete with content and if you don’t, others will, which will take away online market share, and you may not even see it happening!
6. Write Great Headers and Taglines
Headers, taglines and photo captions are the most read content on the Internet. This content should be direct, simple and catchy for visitors that will scan your website looking for areas of value to them. When website visitors see the benefit in headers and taglines, they will pursue deeper content for more information. Excellent headers and taglines save people time and create value.
7. Communicate in Layers
Website visitors scan content quickly. You can meet their needs by using taglines, headers, and short blocks of text on key landing pages as scannable content. The website reader should be able to go deeper into your site and find volumes of content and information as needed, but they will only find this content if they can first scan and search.
Set up your content in layers on your website. Taglines and brief bullet points with links to more information are best to accomplish this goal, in addition to an intuitive navigation menu. Keep your content brief on the key landing pages of your website. Most website content can be cut in half and still communicate the same message.
Websites provide an opportunity for almost limitless amounts of content to meet visitor needs. Origin this content in layers so users can first scan and then dig deeper to find volumes of content. An added benefit is improved search results from Google and other search engines.
8. Always Use Captions with Photos and Graphics
Photos are by far the most-looked-at content on the Internet. Photos without captions tell different stories to each person that sees that photo. Always write clear and direct captions for all your website photography so that ten out of ten people can easily understand the photo’s message and the purpose of the photo on your website. Avoid clip art and stock photography, as this can be seen as clutter. You can often find the same stock photo on many different websites and this creates brand confusion. Use real photos of real people and things at your company, along with a caption on each photo. This will likely be the most valuable content on your website and get the most attention from visitors.
9. Watch the ROI on Content Marketing
Overall, content marketing is cheaper than traditional advertising and many other forms of marketing. Still, you should set up tracking methods to monitor conversions and track the ROI from content marketing, and all strategic digital marketing efforts, for that matter. Content marketing should have excellent and measurable ROI. Content marketing is also more permanent than most forms of sales and marketing because content placed online will be there for a long time.
10. Create a Company Culture for Content Marketing
This is especially important in order for sales and marketing staff and top leadership to embrace content marketing. Writing and preparing content is hard work, and support must come from top levels of the organization. The transition to content marketing from traditional push marketing can be difficult and will take leadership. Start by using the content around the office that can be rewritten for the web. Improved marketing results will help drive the culture needed to implement a winning content marketing strategy.
Barriers to Content Marketing
There are many barriers to content marketing and most people avoid it as much as possible. Many people in sales and marketing have not developed the necessary writing skills to be effective in content marketing. Here are a few of the common barriers you will need to overcome.
- Don’t have the time or the people
- The team will have to work too hard
- Giving away free content will not work for the company
- The wrong skill set in the marketing or sales staff
- Many people hate to write
- Unable to relate to the customer or understand online prospecting
Don’t let these barriers to content marketing get in the way of your online success. Find the right people and build a team to implement content marketing strategies.
Content marketing covers a lot of ground, and is a new form of prospecting for sales. It is at the core of pull marketing and a driver of inbound marketing strategies. You can read more about blogs, types of content and content marketing channels in later chapters. In many ways, content marketing is the most important tactic in driving traffic to your website, and Google is leading the charge in responding to effective content marketing strategies.
- Include a content marketing strategy in your strategic digital marketing plan.
- Meet with your key sales and marketing staff and develop a process for content marketing as a regular part of your strategic digital marketing efforts.
- Assign the content marketing work to people who show initiative and want to write. Some of these people may be outside contractors.
- Understand and segment the audience for each form of content.
- Determine your content outlets, types and topics.
- Assign a team member to schedule content placement in various channels.
- Make sure all content is optimized for the search engines.
- Develop a schedule for regular content placement and updates.
- Track results and conversion rates to determine your ROI.
Thomas Young is the CEO and founder of Intuitive Websites. He is an author, speaker and digital marketing consultant. Order Tom’s book “Winning the Website War” to get more digital marketing insights.