Content marketing is a competitive and complex approach to marketing. Have you been wondering, “what is content marketing exactly, and how would a business do it effectively, especially now?” Luckily, you’re in the right place! In this week’s blog post, you’ll learn all about the art and science of content marketing, and how it can benefit your business. Let’s get started.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic approach to marketing. As such, your business provides valuable and relevant content to your potential customers that helps them get informed and solves a specific problem. It’s not just writing content for the sake of content. It’s about attracting and retaining your ideal, or target, audience by creating and distributing high-quality, relevant content that is easily found.
And while it’s called content marketing, the goal isn’t just to get lots of viewers on your blog posts, articles, or case studies. Your ultimate goal is to drive those visitors and readers to make a purchase and become repeat customers.
Part Art, Part Science
Content marketing can seem like a huge amount of work for an uncertain gain. Isn’t creating all that content week after week time-consuming? And how can you be sure you’ll get results?
But it’s not a new fad. Content marketing is proven to get results – that’s why many of the largest companies in the world use it. That’s because people are becoming increasingly used to using the web for all kinds of research. They’re looking up products they are interested in purchasing, about topics they’re curious about, and about services they may use.
Think about it – these days, when you need to know something or buy something, where do you turn? If you’re like most people, you turn to a search engine like Google. There were 5.8 billion Google searches per day in 2019. That means you can’t afford to ignore search engine traffic.
And sure, you may use other digital marketing techniques like paid search ads. Those can be valuable because they capture search engine users with high intent – those prospects who know what they want and are ready to buy.
But content marketing is about nurturing everyone else – those who aren’t ready to purchase right away – to become a customer. This is a large pool of potential customers. Many need time to do research, or are not yet committed to purchasing, or are just idly browsing information. Content marketing helps you reach all of these people and build your credibility and brand awareness with them, while giving them the information they need to make a decision.
Creating Effective Content for Marketing
Content marketing is about more than just creating a high volume of content. When you only focus on content volume, the quality tends to suffer. And while in the early days of content marketing, keyword stuffing and lots of poorly-written blog posts got results, today both the search algorithms and your readers are more sophisticated.
So, why do you need to be strategic about creating content? There are a few reasons.
Getting a Return on Your Investment
Creating high-quality content takes time, if you do it yourself. Or it takes money, if you pay a digital marketing agency or a freelancer to do it for you. Either way, it’s an investment of some kind.
Content marketing can be very low-cost if you’re creating your own content, but as a business owner, you’re busy. Those hours spent doing keyword research and creating a content planner are valuable. And you can outsource your content creation – but beware of too-cheap content farms. You won’t get the results you’re looking for if you’re hiring the cheapest writers you can find.
Since content marketing is always an investment, you want to be sure you’re getting a good return on that time or money spent. You will get more results if you go into your content marketing efforts with a thoughtful strategy. This comes from knowing what your target customer is looking for – information about products or services? Compelling stories? The latest and greatest info on an industry? Then you can create content that works.
Competition is Fierce
Content marketing is popular because it’s effective. That means it’s worth investing your time and money in it.
But it also means you will have plenty of competition. If you are creating a content marketing campaign without mastering the basics, you will lose credibility in the eyes of your audience. This can happen when you hire very cheap writers who don’t have a good grasp of English or proper grammar, which makes your content look unprofessional. It can happen when the information your content provides is regularly out of date or inaccurate. Or if you’re in a field with lots of high-quality content marketing competition, putting out low-quality content can be damaging.
Coming Up with a Content Plan for Content Marketing
Creating a successful content marketing campaign starts with a content plan. Who are you writing for? What are you hoping to achieve with your content? And how often can you realistically create content? Consistency is just as important as frequency, and high quality is better than simply high volume writing.
Let’s look at an example. If a pizza shop was coming up with a content marketing plan, they would want to consider who they’re creating content for. Is it a local audience, or are they shipping nationally? What kind of readers do they want to attract – local customers, national food critics, or someone else?
They would next want to consider why they’re using content marketing. Are they hoping to build brand awareness in the community, or get more local SEO prominence, or build customer loyalty? All three are valid goals, but each will be achieved a different way with different types of blogs.
Finally, how often can they really create content? If the pizza shop owner is also going to be the content writer, she’s likely pretty busy. Maybe a once-per-week posting schedule is doable, or maybe it’s more like once a month. If the content is high-quality enough, less is more, as long as it’s consistent.
What You Need to Know About SEO
Behind every successful content marketing strategy is a complete understanding of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Why? Because good SEO helps your readers find your content. If you’re creating the best content but no one sees it, it will go to waste.
SEO helps search engine users find your business. You can review our previous blog posts about the essentials of SEO and the different types of SEO to get an overview of the basics.
Where SEO is vital for content marketing isn’t just about finding keywords. It’s also important for understand what kinds of content your audience is looking for. Are they search for specific questions? For a specific product or service? For general information? That’s the kind of content you want to be writing about for them.
As with all SEO writing, it’s not about stuffing as many keywords as possible into one blog post anymore. Search algorithms have gotten smarter. As such, they realize readers will click away fast if they land on a poorly-written spammy-looking article.
Therefore, write around specific keywords, of course, because that tells you what your viewers want to read about. But remember, you’re writing for the readers first. Make sure your content is written well – you can include stories, anecdotes, and examples to make it more digestible.
And finally, make sure the content follows the conventions of SEO best practices – informative headings, completed meta description, and an H1 tag for your header. Make it valuable and relevant to your audience, above all.
Common Content Marketing Mistakes
Content marketing is highly effective – when it’s done well. But if not, it’s a waste of time and marketing dollars. There’s plenty of confusion out there about what constitutes best practices in content marketing. Avoid these common mistakes and you’ll see results from your marketing campaign sooner.
1. Ignoring Social Media
Social media is a valuable piece of any content marketing effort. It allows you to share your content yourself with your loyal customer base – on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, or wherever is relevant for your business. Social media shares get more views on your content, which creates an SEO boost. It also means you have built-in social media content, which benefits your social strategy.
2. Not Taking Advantage of Email Marketing
Once you’ve spent time creating your content, don’t just let it sit there and wait for people to discover it. Content marketing is a natural fit with email automation. Your email list is a collection of people who have opted in to hear updates from you, as part of a nurture campaign or because they’re loyal customers. So be sure to share your latest content with them, as part of a monthly digest email or another campaign.
3. Losing Patience
Content marketing isn’t a form of marketing where you will see instant results. You need time to boost your SEO profile, get readers in the door, and help them to make a decision. It can take months or over a year to get the full results. But that’s no reason to delay taking action.
Actually, it’s the reason you should start your content marketing plan today. In a year from now, you’ll be reaping the rewards. And content marketing can bring in sustained leads, which are critical to building your business over the long-term.
4. Failing to Measure Your Results
Putting time and effort into content marketing is worth it – or is it? You won’t know unless you are tracking and analyzing your results. Fortunately, content marketing gives you plenty of information on how you’re performing.
- look at your page views and clicks with Google Analytics
- find out how many clicks you’re getting from search terms in Google Search Console
- look at social media shares to see what’s connecting with your audience
But don’t look just at your views. Views are great, but if you have millions of website visitors a month who don’t purchase anything, you’re not achieving your true goal. Looking at your conversion rate gives you the best idea of how many prospects – your site visitors – are making a purchase of your product or service – your customers.
If this rate is lower than you’d like, it’s time to make some adjustments for the future. But you won’t know what’s not working (or why it’s not working) unless you’re consistently measuring your results.
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