What is Content Marketing ?
To this you can get many answers, but content marketing is basically nothing new, just the publication of information to generate sales or leads. Something, preferably shareable, to engage, entertain or educate. People have done it for years, in older formats print, video or audio mediums, but generally in just one outbound direction.
The days of shouting out your message to get it seen or heard, are being replaced with the opportunity to have a two way conversation, or more than two way, if you are good at it. You can encourage your potential customers to tell you exactly what they want or which questions they want answered.
Useful content, well presented, can show competence on your part and a desire to help inform your audience, to create Authority and build a brand. Some suggested rules include writing for the reader, good story telling. This is very much a Marketing function rather than a Sales function and one that should be guided by the requirments of the audience. What do they want to read or hear about ? Find out – Ask ? Deliver the resulting content as Text, as Audio and as Video content. Use it on your website, in Forums, on YouTube, in Blogs, Podcasts and Webinars. Find out where your audience searches for the answers you have to offer – then repurpose or deliver the answers in the relevant format.
Tip: Create a Library of useful content on your website, curate it, improve it, asking for suggestions as you go. By asking for suggestions, you will get the questions from your audience about what they want. Then you get the opportunity to give it to them. They are not coming to your site to buy anything, they are seeking the answer to a question. If you can answer it well, then what you have to offer may become of interest to the reader. But focus on answering the question and offering FREE no obligation “Tips” or guides. Do not plaster the content with “Special Offers” or “Buy Now” or “Only 12 hours left” sales messages. Offer links to other useful information, other guides, tips or free sheets. On each page, do have one or two simple discreet Opt In buttons, to a product or shop, but they should be there if required, rather than a focus on the page. No big forms looking for Personal details, no “In your Face” popups, no screaming sales tools. John Deere have done this for generations in every medium known and they have a great Community of followers, who know the products do as advertised and the potential buyer knows long before visiting a showroom what each product can do, which problems they solve and how they operate, along with Tips on how to get the best from the product, why it is better than the competition and how it makes sense to own it.
Publish: After you create the content, work on the platforms for dissemination, rather than the other way around. In some cases, you may want to talk to multiple personas in order to make one sale. If you are selling family cars, you may want to talk performance to a male buyer and safety to a female buyer, logistics or specifications to one and comfort or styling to another. When a family decides to buy one car, they are really buying two or more. Each participant in the buying process of the car will select a model for their own reasons. Audi recently promoted to women drivers by discussing how well they drive in general, because they could see that 80% of car purchases are influenced by women.
Sharing – Content delivery channels – Share your content in Social, in LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, but look to get found because you are creating the best content. It is more important than where you rank in Google for your profession. Your site could be appearing on Page 10 which is no fun, but if you get the Content Marketing right you will get found for specific relevant articles, if they are good enough. Content is now more important than SEO or Link Building or Optimised MetaData, Keywords or registering with search engines or portals. Adblockers will mean that it is becoming harder to get seen through paid search, so good content is vital.
Content is King – Long live the King !
This is good news, so lap it up and get started with a Content Marketing plan. Talk to us if you need advice.
Remember: The 5 C’s of Content Writing
- Credible – In a low trust world, you want to look real, so maybe get some articles published in Magazines or Online Forums of note
2. Clear – use short sentences and paragraphs and bullet points, no big words or long sentences.
3. Concise – use as few words as possible and then look to reduce that too
4. Compelling – It has to be of interest to the reader not the writer
5. Conversational – Talk as if you are chatting with a friend, make it you and make it real. People who like you will like what you write, your style, personality and tone. No, not everyone will like it, but you do not need everyone.
Create a Steering Document – Plan the work and work the plan!
Develop a Content Marketing plan, get intentional about content, be a plotter rather than a hamster, have a plan to develop and publicise your content that is relevant, informative, entertaining and worth the read. Deliver it via the right channel, to the right target market, at the right time, in the right format, be it mobile, audio, video, charts or a combination. Have your buyer personas, work out why they might buy and create convincing content. Start with the end in mind. Ensure alignment throughout your organisation, so that the messaging is the same in all communications channels. Plan the delivery, use Hootsuite, be consistent.
Facebook and Twitter are ‘Paid Channels‘ whereas your website is an ‘Owned Channel‘, so create all your content for your Home Base website first and radiate it out from there.
Do an Inventory of your existing content, break it down and then deliver it, remarketing or repurposing it as you go. One good ebook could become 100 Blog articles and 1000 tweets, being used in multi channel campaigns.
Content may be generated by outsourced partners, but for most companies, the best content is or can be created inhouse, by people who know about the business, product or service.
Mobile Content Marketing – the new challenge
Content can be participative or crowdsourced, in that you can create useful content with suppliers or partners that will be attractive to your customers, maybe even create good ‘Fat’ content. But, bear in mind that more and more content is being consumed on a mobile or tablet, so how you break it up for delivery is important. Work from the mobile back, so create content that delivers on a phone first rather than on a website first, then for mobile – reverse the priority, as mobile is no longer playing second fiddle. Mobile Menu structure is crucial. When designing a site, start with a Graphic Mockup for Mobile,Tablet, laptop or PC and a layout or wireframe for content and menu structure.
CCPL – Content Cost Per Lead
CCPL will evolve to measure the success of specific content in delivering leads so that a budget can be made available for the Chief Content Officer and the team of Content Creators, who will become more consumer centric rather than just creating more advertising. It is time to engae, by being real, open, engaing and honest. Measuring the success of Content Marketing is a new must. Content consumers could be either potential customers or potential investors, employees or suppliers. Small companies can create great stories that consumers and brand ambassadors will lap up, then demand more of the same, especially hyper local content, which can rank higher than mass market content by global brands.
“Buyers have changed the way they buy, so sellers must change the way they sell.” Michael MacGinty 2010 – this still applies, so, good well presented content can help buyers find what they want, answer their queries, thus helping them make the buying decision or offer feedback if they are not convinced.
Some useful tools:
Answer the Public helps find useful trending terms in Social Insights
Social Crawlytics find influencers – Social metrics
Try Spruce Create simple images in seconds – ideal for social
BuzzSumo – Find out which content works on your site and others
Symantic weband data sharing means that the walls will come down and Google will start seeing app content, which is important because so many people are searching via app on their smartphone. This is a challenge for Google, so they need to offer results from apps and any other source of data.
Plagiarism – Do not be a copycat
Many websites contain text that was copied from another website. This is plagiarism and Google recognises this copied content. As a result the website with the copied content will fall down the rankings or cease to be indexed. If you want to check your copy, simply copy a line of the suspicious text and put it in Google search, using double “quotes” to indicate that you are searching for this “exact line” of text.
There are loads of FREE checker apps and sites, but avoid these honey pots as they will force loads of useless adverts in your face. Use Google itself to do your search.
Be careful who is allowed to add content to your website, because if someone adds copied content, your business will suffer. The same goes for images, if you use someones image, add a link and credit to that person. Having a student or digital marketer adding content can damage your wealth, so be aware of who is adding what. As a general rule, if you have not created the content, then it is not yours. This image is from Pinterest
If the content is copied from another site, then it may be plagiarised, but within your own site you may have content athat is duplicated. Google can se this as a way to manipulate or fool its bots, so you may be punished if you are deemed to be doing it. Having some of your own original content appear more than once on your own site, will not cause an issue, if it makes sense on each individual page. Over use of key words or terms may be deemed as being duplicate content, so make good use of synonyms. For example web design could also be website design or website designing or webpage creation etc. If you do have to use excerpts of someone elses content, you can make these pages ‘no follow’ or let Google know this is not your content, perhaps add it as a print only document a downloadable pdf. Get your Digital Marketer to set this up for you.In Googles own words,” if your site contains multiple pages with largely identical content, there are a number of ways you can indicate your preferred URL to Google. (This is called “canonicalization”.) More information about canonicalization from Google.