As a relatively new company, started in 2011, we had a decision to make. Would we invest our time in content marketing or would we stick with the old-fashioned outbound marketing strategies like cold calling and email blasting?
We decided to unleash the power of content marketing. And it worked. After five months of disciplined content creation, we now have prospects finding us online and requesting our services. We have grown our newsletter list by 400% since launching a free SEO eBook less than two months ago. And this is only the beginning…
Content Marketing Defined
Before we dive into how to unleash the power of content marketing, let’s define what it is. Content marketing is the process of creating unique and valuable content for your audience and spreading the word about this content. Examples of content marketing are eBooks, reports/white papers, blog posts, and videos.
Content marketing is exceptionally good for SEO, because you are creating content to which others are likely to link. You are also likely to add content frequently to your website (also good for SEO) when you have a content marketing strategy.
You can contrast this to traditional copywriting materials such as sales slicks, infomercials, and those unwanted pieces of “mail” that show up in your mailbox.
Now that we know what content marketing is, let’s walk through the process of unleashing the power of content marketing step by step:
Step 1: Get Over Your Fear of Sharing Knowledge
You’ve heard the phrase: “Sharing is Caring.” Well, when it comes to content marketing, sharing is imperative. What we have learned in our business is that sharing valuable knowledge builds trust and makes prospects want more.
When you share timely and valuable knowledge with your community, people start to trust you and view you as an expert. People will link to your amazing content, which is great for ranking. And they will come back for more!
Step 2: Create Amazing Content
That’s what they all say, right? But what if you aren’t a good writer? What then?
Don’t worry. In today’s world, there are many different ways to create content. And even if you don’t know it right now, you’re probably a born writer.
If you don’t feel confident in your writing, consider these options:
- Write a journal for a while: I think you will find that good writing simply takes practice.
- Read The Elements of Style by William Strunk: <http://www.betterworldbooks.com/the-elements-of-style-id-9780143112723.aspx>: Yes, I am a writing geek, and I read this cover-to-cover. I won’t judge you if you simply use it as a reference. It is fantastic!
- Get somebody to edit your work: There is nothing wrong with having a second pair of eyes looking at your content. Most authors have editors who make sure that the content is grammatically correct and also flows well.
- Consider outsourcing some writing using a service such as Elance or submit a job posting on the ProBlogger Job Board.
However, if you did reasonably well in your composition class, you’re good to go. Find a topic that excites you and that will be valuable for your audience. Then decide what format works best for you and your audience.
If you’re just getting started, setting up a blog is the first step. Write five to ten articles to seed the blog and then publicize it. Make sure users have a way to subscribe to your content via an RSS feed (we use Feedburner) and leave comments to increase engagement. Write at least once per week to maintain readership and make sure to respond to those comments!
I personally enjoy reading eBooks, so when it came time for us to create our first “cornerstone content” (term borrowed from CopyBlogger), it made sense to write an eBook. We target a non-technical audience, and I had not seen a basic, yet comprehensive, eBook on getting started with SEO. So I decided to write one.
Determine the gaps in your industry and fill them with informative content.
If you’ve paid attention at all, you know that videos are the next “big thing” in content marketing. In fact, it’s already here! People love to watch videos, making YouTube the #2 search engine in the world.
And to the point of a great SEJ article last month, “Do This, Not That: SEO Content Edition,” videos have a better chance of ranking well for competitive keywords.
At Web Gnomes, we chose to create a series of educational videos called “Gnome Tips” that explain SEO concepts in simple terms in three minutes or less. Some of these are ranking quite well for their targeted keyword phrases.
Figure out what questions your audience has and answer them via video. (Don’t forget to add a bit of humor!) Videos are a great way to showcase your expertise and build a following.
White papers may sound like something from the past. However, they’re a great way to disseminate information and establish yourself as an expert in your field. I also hear some companies using the term “report” instead of white paper. Regardless, you can write a white paper on almost any topic ranging from “ranking factors for local SEO” to “why green is good for business.”
Learn more about how to write a great white paper from Search Engine People.
Step 3: Publicize Your Content
Great content is worthless if nobody can find it. Make sure that your content is optimized for the search engines (or the landing page for the content, if a download). Further, you can use these ideas for getting the word out:
- Write a press release
- Blog about it
- Announce your content on all your social media sites
- Add a note about it in your newsletter
- Write a guest post with a link to it
- Place links to the content on niche sites
Step 4: Unleash Your Content
If it is a blog post, this is pretty easy. You just publish it! However, if you’ve written an eBook or white paper, you may consider packaging it as a PDF document, and requesting an email address in exchange for the ability to download.
Do this sparingly! You don’t want all of your good content to be hidden. It’s good to have some of your cornerstone content available directly on your website for SEO purposes.
Step 5: Enjoy the Power of Content Marketing
You will not enjoy overnight success with your content marketing efforts. Slow and steady wins the race here. Be patient, write lots of useful content, spread the word, and they will come.
Over to You!
I would love to hear about your experiences with content marketing:
- What format has worked well for you?
- How do you find time to create content?
- What are the best channels for promoting your content?
- If you haven’t yet gotten started with content marketing, what is holding you back?