Content marketing has become the dominant form of marketing in the digital age. According to Hubspot’s State of Marketing Report
There’s a good reason for that. SerpWatch reports that content marketing has been found to cost 62% less than traditional forms of marketing while generating three times as many leads.
Yet not all companies that try content marketing see the same results. The key is to have a carefully planned approach that incorporates SEO, social media marketing, and email to maximize the reach and impact of your content.
This article will explain each of these areas and how they can work together to make your content marketing effective.
What Is Content Marketing?
Before going further, it would be helpful to clarify what content marketing is. The Content Marketing Institute defines it this way:
“Content marketing is a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
The key idea here is that this strategy is about creating content your audience wants so they are drawn to find and connect with your business. Whereas traditional marketing tends to go out and interrupt potential customers in the midst of some other activity that interests them (like watching a show on t.v.), content marketing aims to create resources that are what interest them.
Another contrast with traditional marketing is that the content created for content marketing does not tend to be directly selling. Instead of saying, “Here’s our product. Buy it!”, it says, “Here’s some useful information to answer your question or help you solve your problem.” It can mention a product or service, but the point is to give value to the user as a way to begin cultivating a relationship with a company that may eventually turn into a lead or a sale.
As we noted above, this marketing approach can be very practical. Businesses that use a blog get 67% more leads than those that don’t, and those investing in content marketing see, on average 30% higher growth rates than others.
So what does it take to do content marketing well?
Why is Content Marketing Important?
There are many reasons why content marketing is essential. Maybe the most important reason is that it helps you to connect with your target audience and build relationships with them. By creating relevant and valuable content, you can attract attention from people interested in what you have to say. This way, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field and build trust with potential customers or clients.
Content marketing can also be a great way to drive traffic to your website or blog. Optimizing your content for search engines and promoting it through social media or other channels can get more people to visit your site and learn about what you offer. Additionally, content marketing can help generate leads and sales by providing information that prospects will find helpful as they consider doing business with you.
This means that if done right, content marketing can be a highly effective way to grow your business or reach your goals. So if you’re not already doing it, now is the time to start!
How Does Content Marketing Work?
Since content marketing focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and engaging content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action,
it’s an ongoing process that includes planning, creating, curating, publishing, distributing, measuring/analyzing results, and then revising the entire plan based on what you’ve learned.
Content marketing aims to attract and retain customers by consistently creating valuable content that they will find interesting or useful.
The purpose of this strategy is not to sell products or services; rather it’s about building relationships with customers and prospects by providing them with the information they value.
Content Marketing and SEO
The foundation for effective content marketing is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is concerned with crafting content to achieve maximum visibility in search engine results.
There are many aspects to this. Part of it is pretty technical, dealing with behind-the-scenes details that can affect search engine rankings.
But the most important part of content marketing from the point of view is keyword research. A “keyword” is just the term a person enters into the search box in a search engine like Google. There are many tools that allow you to see what people are searching for and how much volume and competition exist for various keywords.
The goal of keyword research is to determine the topics most strategically covered in your content creation. You’re trying to discover the questions your target audience is asking or the problems they are trying to solve so you can address them. This is crucial for ensuring your content is valuable and relevant to your intended audience.
The Heart of the Content Marketing Strategy: Content
Once you understand the topics you should target with your content, you can begin creating it. Here we want to describe three critical types of content you’ll want to use in your strategy and offer some thoughts about making that content as strong as possible.
Blogs are the workhorse of any content strategy, where you create website articles that can help your audience move down the sales pipe. These tend to be relatively short (1,000 words or so) pieces focused upon a particular topic to provide valuable information to your audience.
Great blog posts have five characteristics:
- First, they are strategic. Your topic should be carefully selected based on the keyword research discussed in the last section.
- Second, they match search intent. This means that they answer the question or solve the problem the user has in mind when he or she clicks on the link.
- Third, they are high quality. There is a tremendous amount of content on the web, and much of it isn’t very good. Aim for excellent writing and valuable information to set you apart from the crowd.
- Forth, your blog has a strong angle that is easy to follow. Here are 4 content angles to consider for your blog – all proven to be engaging and entertaining for long-form content.
- Lastly, they are SEO optimized for search engines to crawl correctly. Since there are many minor optimizations to consider, check out these SEO plugins that can ensure you are doing what you can on the technical SEO side.
The static pages on your site can also be a valuable resource for content marketing. Don’t overlook the potential for informational content that would be useful to someone in your target audience. For instance, if you were a bow manufacturer, it would be natural to have a page describing the types of bows and their advantages and disadvantages. If this page is really well done, it can get traffic from people looking for this information who then become aware of your brand.
Just like blog posts, great site pages are strategic. SEO research should inform how you talk about who you are and what you do. You want to ensure you’re engaging with the audience that is out there rather than the one you imagine exists. Know their honest questions and real problems and show how you can help them.
They should also be well-written. Think about what it does for your impression of a brand when you find spelling and grammar problems on its site.
These are just blog posts published somewhere other than your site. They can bring companies many benefits, from sharing your expertise to growing awareness of your brand with a new audience you might not otherwise reach. For instance, if you are an architect, you could write about emerging architectural trends for a blog on contemporary design.
As with the other two types of content, these should be high quality and strategically targeted. In addition to the topic, this means aiming for publications your target audience is most likely reading.
Maximizing Your Content’s Reach With Social and Email Marketing
The hope with great content is that Google will eventually rank it well in search results, giving you organic traffic from those interested in the information you’re providing. But it is also helpful to promote your content to reach a wider audience and stay connected with your already existing audience. Social media and email are two very effective ways to do this.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other channels can be used to create a brief post whenever you have new content launching on your blog. You’ll reach a different kind of reader this way, who wasn’t necessarily out looking for the information you’re providing but is interested when he or she sees it. This will also keep your content in front of those who signed up to follow you in the past but don’t regularly visit your site.
Email allows you to stay in touch with the segment of your most engaged audience. After all, these people were interested enough in the past in the content you provided to give you their email addresses. A regular newsletter can be a great way to stay top of mind and to link to recent content that they probably wouldn’t otherwise see.
Bringing Your Content All Together
To reiterate what we said at the beginning, content marketing is a very effective strategy for building your company’s audience and increasing leads and sales.
Doing it well, however, takes more than just creating content. The most successful content marketing is built on a foundation of careful SEO research, uses content that is strategically targeted and of excellent quality, and amplifies that content while nurturing an audience through the use of social media and email.
After reading all this you might be thinking it sounds great but also wondering if you have the capacity to pull it off. Content marketing takes specialized knowledge, skills, and lots of time. It doesn’t always make sense to try to tackle it yourself.