Content Marketing is a blanket (some like to say umbrella) term, that is used to describe a set of tactics, techniques, and strategies that are used to fulfill business goals. For the most part, it will use relevant content that serves the reader to not only attract but also to retain and convert them into customers. Truly successful content marketing will create the very much sought-after positive associations regarding your brand without all those well-known marketing hassles.
The marketplace today is indeed very different. It used to be that a store’s employees and salespeople were considered the experts and that both businesses and brands spent much advertising dollars in order to find folks who were in need of their services.
Fast forward to today, and the roles have reversed. It is now the buyer who is the expert, and that is reaching out to the businesses and brands alike for help. Here are the documentable facts from the research done in 2013 by GE Capital Retail Bank. (yes it was that long ago, the current number should be higher)
- On average, a buyer will guide themselves through that traditional sales funnel 60 to 90 percent of the time before ever contacting a salesperson.
- Just under 82% of shoppers will do online research before they even step one foot into a store.
- Nowadays a consumer will spend on average 79 days doing online research before actually making a major purchase.
Chances are good that the tactics that you’re familiar with regarding communicating with prospects and existing clients are pretty much history. The way a customer (or potential one) gets their info these days is very different. You may bow wondering if this ‘content marketing’ is just a fad or a cool sounding buzzword? It is definitely neither, and it’s here to stay.
What is Content Marketing?
It's marketing by providing useful, relevant content about your products and services. Most of the time, the content is in written documents, but it could be in any form from photos to videos and more.
Rather than just telling your potential customers who you are, you can use Content Marketing to actually show them. It’s a fact that Content Marketing really is more than just advertising. The way that a business will interact with their customers has truly transformed. With social media on the rise these days, a brand now has to both interact and genuinely become closer to their customers to gain their trust and loyalty. Today it’s super-important that you not only give out useful information but tell those engaging stories and share some advice as well.
When you give out useful and free information, you will be able to build a well-connected base of customers which will not only remain loyal to your brand but tell others as well. Word of mouth is the absolute best form of advertising. Do you know anyone who doesn’t like free things?
High-quality content is considered gold when it comes to SEO. The days are long-gone when the keyword-loaded copy was the way to go. Search engines will be your friend when truly good and relevant copy is used.
Prospects today have a very strong appetite when it comes to information. They want it fast, and they want it now. Most will research online before actually making that purchase. It’s a well-known fact that for many years, folks would research the features and prices of cars before even thinking about visiting a car dealership showroom. Ah, the good old days before the internet. Today, grocery shoppers will use their mobile phones to find out about the best deals and prices.
Content Marketing on the Web
The content for a website is much different than the many other types of ‘writing’ out there. Right now, you might be asking yourself “How so”? Fact is that a visitor on the web is basically only going to skim the text. With literally dozens (no wait, I meant millions) of choices right there at their fingertips, if your content doesn’t give them what they’re looking for right then and there, they for sure are going to bolt. Once they leave, chances are better than average that they won’t be back.
There has been much research done on this, and all of it concludes the same thing; that the average viewer/visitor is only going to hang around maybe 10 seconds on a site. There are others in the know that say 5-6 seconds. Regardless of which number you use, the reality is that you only have a short time to grab your visitors' attention.
How to do Content Marketing
Even though many marketers do indeed realize how important content genuinely is, a good amount of them (maybe you?) haven’t yet established a serious marketing strategy.
So how is this done? How do you go and develop a plan that truly makes sense for your business? Here a few key steps that you should use as a framework to guide you as you move forward.
- Planning First you need to understand what objectives your company needs to achieve and what role content can play in this. How can it be used so that it compliments things like service, advertising, promotions, or sales?
- Segment Your Audience Maybe you have a single homogenous one, or possibly one that has multiple segments. Is there any match between their concerns, interests, and the information that they need?
- Choose Your Tone Be sure that you clearly establish a tone that represents consistently the values and expertise of your organization or business. This content needs to be optimized not only for the audience but for both business objectives as well as search engines.
- Implement Your Plan Decide how your content will be distributed. Are you going to publish those articles directly on your website? Maybe you want to start one of those blogs. Decide which topics you will cover and how often you will do updates. Fact is that a consistent and regular schedule is guaranteed-best when it comes to establishing a sense of familiarity with your audience.
- Monitor Your Results It’s always wise to spend time paying attention to whether or not your content is having any effect on either your site traffic or search engine rankings. Are visitors in any way interacting with your content? If they are lodging complaints or asking questions, are you even responding?
It all starts with a plan
Before you create any content, you should always know who it is you are creating it for in addition to which channels you are going to use to promote it.
It’s best to incorporate this into your marketing plan. Yet still, this is not going to be enough. Think of each and every piece of content as an investment. As you create content that your audience finds engaging and valuable, a dialogue is created. Once this dialogue is created, then you can turn it into business results. The proper content topics will without a doubt produce the best return on investment. (ROI)
This all sounds great, but how do I do this?
List Before you even write down a single topic idea, you need to ask yourself if this content will actually solve anything or answer any questions. If yes, make a list of topics that will support your answer. Then you should give each topic a score for both value and volume.
Yeah yeah, you want to know what exactly each of those is.
Volume = audience reach
Value = the benefit to your business
Gather Get together all supporting data that is related to your topic(s). That will include how many people will actually care about or find both the topic and keywords useful. A few of the various potential sources of this data will include:
- Doing a search for both the keywords and phrases that actually were used to get to your website.
- Use your internal data to gather keywords.
- Use your customer support inquiries to analyze themes.
Organize Now you can put all of this wonderful data into that magic spreadsheet. You will begin (hopefully) to notice common topics and themes. Simply make a list (love those lists) of these topics and themes including their popularity.
Cut and Prioritize With this step you will be able to identify each of the topic’s reach. From the data that is on this new list, you will be able to determine the number of individuals who care about or actually find a certain topic useful. The higher this number is, the greater the potential reach of the topic. After you prioritize this list, you will be able to further cut it down by keeping the topics that have the greatest revenue potential.
Yes, this process will take some work, but you’ll be happy that you took the time to do this. What you will end up with is a list of topics that is strong and will support both your business and marketing goals. It will also save resources and help keep you on track.
Take out your pen & paper
Or laptop & mouse, or whatever you feel comfortable with.
Now that you’ve got a strategy regarding growing your business and the content you will use for doing this in addition to an editorial plan, it’s time to start writing (creating) that content. As we have said; it needs to be not only relevant but engaging. Not all content producers actually consider themselves to be writers. Each and every time you actually create a piece of content, whether it be a podcast, video, or a blog post, you are following the same process which involves organizing your thoughts and ideas along with finding the best words with which to express yourself.
For now, we’ll talk about writing content. Not whether blog posts or written content is better than the other. It’s just a fact that all content begins with the simple written word. Even if you decide to present your thoughts in video form, you still have to begin with the words. Things only change in the production.
Here are six steps that you should use whenever you want to create a piece of content. Most likely you won’t go through them in any special order, but understand this; the truly best content without a doubt has definitely gone through all six of these.
- Choose both your topics and approach
- Do the actual writing
- Take some time to cool off (Remember that cold drink?)
Make it stick or they will click
Never ever treat your visitors like academics that enjoy reading those both complicated and challenging texts. Do not be wordy, and never try to show off your ‘maybe extensive vocabulary’.
It’s very possible that you spend much time seeing to it that your content has a good conversion rate and possibly if visitors are sharing it, but are they actually reading it?
Research has found that:
- The pattern that is most-often used to view a web page is in no way the left to right pattern that we all learned in school.
- Instead, it is typically the ‘F’ pattern, where most of the emphasis is placed on the headline along with the first paragraphs of text.
- As the reader scrolls down the page, they will tend to hover over to the left side of the page, as they basically skim the rest of the page.
- Our eyes can and do move incredibly fast when digesting a website page.
- Highlighted links, text, and headlines will always catch the eye and draw the reader’s attention.
Most people will scan/skim through the content. Scanning can be likened to speed reading, but it is not the same. It’s kind of a triage approach that is used to gather information. A scanner will go through a piece of content and grab as much information as they are able to without reading each and every word. A scanner will not read blog post or article in depth. Not at first at least. Basically, they are on the hunt for very specific info, and they want it now.
If you take the time to understand how a scanner thinks and acts, you’ll have a better idea of how to create content that truly will fit what they need.
Great. People skim. So what do I do?
So here comes the next question. What’s the best way to make and keep the content on your business website sticky so that it keeps those potential customers around long enough to actually understand what the heck it is that you have to offer? There is no exact guaranteed recipe for this, but here are some tips that can be very useful when it comes to keeping a visitor planted when they’re on your website.
- Be sure that your content is both valuable and relevant. When someone types a topic into Google or any other search engine, (yes, there are others.) they kind of expect that the results are going to give them information that is indeed relevant to their search. If they go to your site and find outdated and irrelevant stuff, they are gone, plain and simple.
- Make sure you stay on topic. Most often a visitor will be very specific in their search and will no doubt become quickly frustrated if they are forced to sift through a bunch of stuff so that they can find what it is they are there for. If your topic is rather broad try this; break it down into paragraphs and address one specific item per. Another thing that works well is to add links here and there on your page to other pages that have related content. The whole idea is to make your site user-friendly.
- Always double-check for spelling and grammar errors. Nothing screams unprofessional more than a website that’s riddled with spelling or grammar issues. A simple trick is to slow down, take a break and maybe get yourself a cold drink. (Pizza goes well with cold drinks.) Go back (with clean hands of course) and fresh eyes. You might be surprised at how the errors just jump out at you.
- Write Assertively. There’s a pretty good chance that no one knows your service and products better than you. That said; do not hesitate in any way to write with authority.
- Be sure to write for your audience. You no doubt have heard about how important it is to use links, keywords, and SEO techniques to make your site user-friendly. While this is super-important, also is that you see to it that your content is engaging. A conversational/informal tone always works best, and for sure; avoid both the marketing jargon and fluff.
Typography (font family, size, weight), layout, color, etc... all affect how your visitors interact with your content. A good designer will do his research and carefully design your content layout to ensure it can capture the visitors' attention and bring your points across.
Monitor and Adjust
It's important to constantly monitor your content to measure performance and apply improvement. I personally find this article on Content Metrics to be a good start for measuring your content's performance.
Well there you go. Wise is to invest in your content. There are many in the know think that this should be done more than any other medium. A professional Content Writing Service will see to it that your content is indeed written by an experienced copywriter, and also that the work is ideally-optimized for the various search engines. It’s a fact that more valuable than ad placement, is organic search rankings.