Content marketing is one of the key areas of a complete, strategic digital marketing plan. However, for those who are coming to content marketing from a background of traditional marketing, it’s important to understand the different ways in which content can be used to grow and connect with users, followers, and customers.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when creating a new content marketing strategy. However, as long as a few key points are kept in mind and followed, creating content and sharing it online can be a relatively affordable and very effective way to grow business.
“Content” is Not Just Blog Posts
When many businesses start thinking about implementing a content marketing strategy, they usually think about and focus on writing blog posts. However, there’s a lot more to content marketing than just publishing blogs. Content can include:
Depending on the type of business you have and the type of customer you’re targeting, certain kinds of content may be more suitable than others. Blog posts don’t work well for some topics. For example, if you wanted to publish content on car maintenance, a video showing how to change the oil or replace an air filter would probably be easier to understand, more helpful, and less boring than simply trying to explain it with words.
Publishing the wrong kind of content could lead you to missing the mark completely—it may not be the case that you’re coming up with bad content ideas, but rather you’re publishing them in a non-ideal, less effective format. As such, it’s usually wise to use a combination of different content types, depending on the topic you want to discuss. Many businesses today regularly publish blogs along with monthly newsletters and video content to be shared on YouTube or Facebook.
Content should be Audience-focused, Not Sales-Focused
The sales message may not always be clear at first glance when looking at a company’s blog or YouTube channel—content marketing is more subtle than direct ads after all, but that doesn’t mean it’s less effective. The needs of the audience should always be front and centre for any content marketing strategy, and serving an audience with valuable content is the key to its success.
Let’s take a babies and kids’ clothing brand, for example. A traditional marketing approach would be built around driving more traffic to the website and stores by promoting products, offering incentives such as special discounts and add-ons, and upselling and cross-promotion of products at the time of sale.
Content marketing, however, looks at the customers of the brand (parents, mainly mothers of a certain age range) and the type of content that would be helpful to them and not necessarily directly related to the product. That might include topics such as parenting advice, baby care, ideas for family trips, and kid-friendly recipes. While some blog posts might highlight selected products or inform readers about special offers and promotions, the majority of the content should be informational, with the aim to be as helpful as possible.
A post about helping your baby sleep through the night, for example, won’t directly market clothing items sold by the brand. But, if it’s valuable enough, it will be shared by those who read it and find it helpful. In this way awareness of the brand grows and more traffic goes to the website, and some of that traffic may result in purchases and loyal customers.
You can see this concept at work on the blog of designer children’s clothing label Children of the Tribe. While a lot of their content is product-focused, they also use their blog as a way to build a backstory behind the brand with travel stories and interviews mixed with helpful information such as dealing with challenges as a new mum. The resulting content forms a kind of online lifestyle magazine that’s enjoyable to read and showcases the aspirational ideals of the brand.
Content Marketing and SEO Should Work Together
While being helpful, informative, and engaging should always be the aim of any content you produce, it’s also important to optimise it to drive more views towards your website. Here’s where SEO or search engine optimisation comes in.
To explain SEO in a simple way, imagine you have a website for a professional cleaning company and want to target people searching online for “carpet cleaning services in Sydney.” On a basic website, Google and other search engines will only analyse the content describing your services, which might amount to around five pages. However, if you have a blog section with hundreds of posts about subjects revolving around carpet cleaning advice, products, and services in Sydney, there will be a lot more content to parse, and there’s a higher chance that search engines will look at your site as a good resource for people searching for, well, carpet cleaning services in Sydney. This will help drive your site and its content to the top of search result pages, leading to more traffic.
SEO techniques can also be helpful for figuring out exactly what kind of content to produce to meet the wants or needs of your target market. Tools like Google Analytics and AdWords can be used to gain insights into the problems and interests of your ideal audience. For example, if you own a real estate agency and discover through these tools that there are a lot of people searching for tips on improving their investment property, you’ll known that creating content focused on this subject is a smart move.
Social Media Presence is Vital
Several years ago, it was relatively easy for any website to reach the top of Google search listings by using SEO techniques alone. Things have changed, however, and it’s no longer enough to focus solely on SEO. Nearly 80% of Australian internet users use social networking sites, and 59% check in at least once daily.
Social media has become a part of our everyday lives, and ignoring it in terms of content marketing will have negative effects on a business. Even if you’re publishing massive amounts of valuable content, it will all be for naught if nobody can find it. Apart from SEO, one of the key ways to promote your content is through social media.
The power of social media is that it allows content to be shared much faster and many more times than through normal links—a funny video or an excellent blog post posted on Twitter or Facebook by an influencer with many followers may be shared thousands of times within minutes and have the potential to go “viral.”
Promoting your content on your social media channels should be an integral part of your overall content strategy. By doing so, you not only have the opportunity to alert followers about new content but can also promote older posts to get the most out of them.
Quality is Key
Content should be valuable to your followers in one or more of the following ways:
By making sure any content you publish has at least one of these characteristics, you’ll be more certain that it meets the needs of your audience and is shareable to encourage even more buzz around your brand.
Humans are visual creatures, so content should also look good. This means creating and editing content that’s easy to view, read, and understand—both on desktops and mobile devices. High-quality content should be the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy, and it’s worth putting in the time and budget to get it right.
A half-hearted blog with poorly-written articles or a YouTube account with videos that render poorly on smartphones won’t be appreciated by your audience and will discourage them from checking out your other content. Worse, they can also have adverse effects on how your brand is perceived online, creating a negative reputation surrounding future content you create.
Content marketing isn’t a quick fix by any means nor is it a one-time wonder solution for all your marketing problems. Rather, it’s a strategy that requires careful planning, constant attention, creativity, and resources that, when done right, will definitely produce results.
For those new to content marketing and digital marketing in general, it pays to seek the help of experts to get started on the right foot and avoid being overwhelmed. We at Curate Bee are in the business of helping SMEs develop and maintain an awesome online presence through careful planning and the right use of digital tools and online platforms. Through our experience and expertise, we’ll help you reap the rewards of your digital marketing plans sooner rather than later. Click here to know more about how we could be of service to your business.