Marketing has progressed a lot in the past decade: from TV, radio, newspaper, and billboard advertising to SEOs, pop-up ads, and banner ads. The public has moved on from traditional advertising. We can skip over commercials with DVR or avoid them entirely with online shows. Radio commercials can now be bypassed with an iPod or satellite radio. Programs like AdBlocker negate pop-ups, and newspaper readership is slowly declining every year.
So how do you market today, when everyone can easily choose to ignore you?
Content marketing, or marketing disguised as actual content, is the answer. And here’s why—good content marketing will make people want to interact with it. They won’t consciously know it’s marketing. Or, they’ll actually be happy to see a product or content piece that answers their questions or solves a problem. Would you rather spend millions of dollars hoping people won’t skip over your TV commercial, or spend a significantly less amount to have millions of viewers voluntarily engaging with your content for longer than thirty seconds?
Intrigued? You should be! Content marketing is cost-effective, easy to use and maintain, and can bring in big business. Not to mention it’s Google friendly and a huge value to your SEO. But what exactly is it and how does it work?
The Basics of Content Marketing
Let’s start with the basics. Just what is content marketing? Well, it provides valuable information (content) to current and potential customers for the purpose of branding and building trust, awareness, and positive sentiment. Successful content marketing establishes your brand as an expert in your industry and sets the groundwork for long-term business relationships.
What constitutes content marketing? Basically, everything! According to Forbes, content marketing can include any of the following:
- Social Media Posts
- Email Newsletters
- Instagram Photos
- Micro-Videos (Vine, etc.)
- And much more
As you can see, “content” is not limited by definition. It essentially focuses on the relationship with the consumer, as opposed to hard selling a product or service. In fact, according to Forbes, 60 percent of businesses already use content marketing in one way or another. So now that we know what content marketing is, and what constitutes content marketing, let’s look at what it can do for you.
The True Benefits
According to a 2012 AOL and Nielsen study, approximately 27 million pieces of content are shared daily. Imagine if each of those views brought in fifty cents, which could equal 13.5 million dollars per day. That’s a lot of money, and a lot of reason to begin your company’s content marketing.
But the benefits are not solely based in potential revenue. Recently, Ann Handley, Forbes’ most influential woman in Social Media and the Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, was asked about content marketing.
When asked, “Any future predictions on the state of “content marketing” in the next 5 years? Hot or not?”
[pullquote]“HOT. Or actually…Let’s not say HOT. Because that implies a fad, a trend, a passing fancy. Let’s just say that great content is great marketing. And that will be more true in the next five years than it is now. Which is to say – VERY!”[/pullquote]
Handley started her career as a business journalist and editor, but she has become a pioneer in digital marketing. She was cited by Forbes as one of the most influential woman in social media and as one of the top 20 women bloggers of the Internet. She co-founded ClickZ.com. If anyone knows about the potential future of content marketing, it’s Handley!
The truth is her prediction is backed by fact. Content marketing provides three times as many leads on the dollar versus traditional marketing and costs 62 percent less. It can even help grow your business a thousand fold in one year.
Content marketing is simply good business. It’s cost effective, regardless of whether you in- or outsource it. You already run a business website. Therefore, implementing a content strategy, such as an active blog, merely takes some planning and preparation. And the best part is you’re investing in something that isn’t a trend or fad, and it isn’t going anywhere! Content has been the backbone of the Internet since day one.
If you think about it, you audience is already primed and waiting for killer content. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 80 percent of users base business decisions off of information they obtain through blogs and articles as opposed to salesy advertising. 70 percent say content marketing makes them feel closer to a company, and 60 percent say a company using online content marketing helps them make better decisions. The want for content is there, and it’s ripe for the picking. All you have to do is create and publish killer content.
So just how can you get started? Let’s discuss 10 ways to kick off your content marketing.
10 Excellent Ways to Market Content
There are many excellent ways to get into content marketing, too many in fact. As we said earlier, content marketing can incorporate just about any type of media. Therefore, for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to break it down into 10 simple techniques:
- Long Form Writing: Contrary to popular opinion, Google and consumers actually like articles with more words. Neil Patel tested this idea by creating two versions of his home page; one had 1,292 words, the other had 488 words. The results indicated the long form page converted 7.6 percent better and with higher quality leads than the shorter one. In fact, the average length of the content for the top ten Google search results on a keyword was 2,000 words. Higher ranking was achieved through longer articles. Long form blogging, articles, or landing pages are an effective means of content marketing.
- Graphs and Charts: Graphs are a wonderful way to visualize data. They’re also easily digestible, fun to look at, and don’t need a lot of words to be informative. A few paragraphs of introduction, a conclusion, and a graph or chart in the middle, and you’re done. The point is, not all content has to be written. Charts and graphs are an excellent means of getting information across quickly and efficiently.
- Infographics: Another easy way to incorporate visual data that’s more meaty into your content strategy is the increasingly popular infographic. Infographics portray statistics and facts, and they analysis them in a more visually interesting way than a graph or chart. And they are not restricted to an X and Y Take, for example, our infographic of the copywriter’s brain. This simple graphic is a visual treat, yet it’s packed with some hard-hitting and in-depth material. It gives the audience a glimpse at the mind that crafts their content, and shows them just how much effort goes into the job. You can use infographics to present a sizeable amount of information, including information that can be difficult for other’s to understand, in an easy to digest format. It’s the perfect solution for technical jargon, or otherwise technical content, which might turn the average reader away in confusion if presented in written, article format.
- Whitepapers: The whitepaper is a truly unlimited means of content marketing. It’s a prime means of releasing highly informative, educational, and even technical information to your audience. One of the most underused elements of whitepaper creation is collaboration. According to the Content Marketing Institute, coauthor collaboration on a whitepaper is a great means of really nailing credibility and authority. You can use it as an opportunity to create or strengthen a relationship between your business and one of the leading experts in your industry or niche. Co-authorship with an industry expert can gain new exposure while driving home your overall credibility and authority to both existing and potential customers.
- Active Blogging: Search Engine Watch published an awesome piece about 10 shocking content marketing facts. And we felt one was particularly worth repeating: Businesses that blog 15 or more times per month land five times more traffic than those that don’t. Do not underestimate the power of the blog! An active company blog is one of the strongest means of increasing traffic, generating more leads that convert, and increasing your search rankings.
- Online Debates: Another good way to establish yourself as an authority in your industry is to publish an online debate. For example, Hubspot allows their employees to debate any topic from any side of the argument. It’s an excellent way to create some buzz and excitement about a topic. Online debates show that you and your team are committed to getting the very best information to your customers. A debate can even portray you as unbiased, giving your customers more faith in what you are doing.
- Podcasts: Like online debates, they’re great for generating discussion, providing reviews, and creating a buzz. They are also one of the fastest growing forms of content marketing around. Not only do they have the potential to reach a large audience, but they specifically reach the portion of your audience that is busy. They’re ideal for on-the-go audience members who don’t have time to dig into your written content.
- Animated Gifs and Slideshares: Here is a method used to great effect by Buzzfeed. This site has become ubiquitous on Facebook, and it has seeped into every social media site you can imagine. How have sites like Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and Bleacher Report grown so large so quickly? With quick, easily read Slideshares and animated Gifs. It can mean serious business and traffic, and it is a good way to distill information through humor.
- Tumblr: Speaking of social media, Tumblr is an excellent way to interact with customers. We always run to Twitter and Facebook, but Tumblr isn’t to be ignored. It’s a blogging platform already setup for .gifs, infographics, graphs, long form articles, and just about anything else your company could need content-wise. It’s simple and user-friendly, and it allows people to interact with you in a forum type setting. Tumblr, like most social media, is also easy and quick to update.
- Online Photo Books: You can also create an online photo book on Flickr or Photobucket. It’s easy to do and can give a good view into what your company does on a daily basis. You can also use the photo book to incorporate user suggestions and post photos that involve your audience. All you need is a camera, someone willing to take pictures, and a photo-hosting site. Tumblr, Flickr, PhotoBucket, and Instagram are just a few platforms you can leverage for creative, visual content that’s easily shareworthy.
These are just a few ways to begin your foray into content marketing. Exclusive offers sent via email, web comics, phone apps, and various social media platforms can also be used to jump start your new marketing strategy. Seems pretty easy doesn’t it?
Creating Killer Content of Unrivaled Quality
So now that you know what content marketing is, how it can benefit you and your company, and how to get started, the question is how do you create killer, high quality content? Content is king, but generating good content is essential to successful content marketing. You can pull out every trick in the book, but bad content is just bad. The better your content, the better your marketing will be. Ask yourself, would you prefer slogging through a poorly written, terribly worded 2,000-word essay, or breezing through a well-written and highly engaging piece that’s informative yet entertaining? I think we can agree the latter is the most appealing!
There’s a reason why content will never go out of style. In fact, there are X:
- Good Content Focuses On The Audience: The best content answers any question a customer may have, sometimes even before they can ask it. It’s conversational yet professional, and it should be easy for any reader to understand. The easier your content is to decipher, the more readers and followers you will have.
- Regularly Updated Content Wins Recognition: Let’s use cinema as a comparison here. Terrence Malick has made ten movies in 41 years, and he’s notorious for making difficult to decipher movies. Paul Thomas Anderson makes audience friendly movies that aren’t hard to decipher. Anderson has made 17 movies in 26 years, yet he’s much more readily recognized. Why? Because he keeps it simple and updates often. This is what you need to do with your content, have consistent quality and regular updates.
- Active Brands Earn Respect and Trust: The more updates your brand makes, the more trust and respect you’ll generate from your audience. The key is staying active with be spectacular content. Mashable recommends aiming for three high quality, 700-word blogs per week. More than this is great, but it’s a guideline to get you started. Don’t just create a minimal update either. Create an update with true substance and value. A bad update can be just as detrimental to your brand as not updating. As Rand Fishkin says, “…when it comes to content and content marketing, you probably want to err on the side of making things SUPER amazing, not MVP.”
The quality of your content is important. Consistent quality is better for your brand than a large quantity.
Content Marketing Is the New SEO
Content marketing is the new face of marketing, but it’s even more than that. It is the new face of SEO. And there is one simple reason why content is the new SEO. According to Quick Sprout, it’s the one thing that doesn’t get affected by algorithm updates! It’s not technical. It doesn’t cling to the current trends of the latest Google update. It is quite literally raw optimization with absolutely zero dependency on the technicalities that affect search engine optimization.
The type of content you choose to produce will directly affect your search rankings. It’s a ranking factor that you hold complete control over.
Here’s what to keep in mind:
- Details Matter: Short blogs don’t generate a lot of buzz or links. Quality is the key. Pay attention to detail and craft truly epic content that is of the utmost quality and packed full of useful information.
- Ease Is Important: People don’t have a ton of free time. In fact, most of us see our time as a valuable commodity that’s limited. We’re careful about how we spend it. The key to amazing content that ups your SEO is keeping it easy to digest. This is where those graphs, charts, and infographics that we talked about early come in. Podcasts and videos are just as helpful and easy to take in.
- Social Media Matters: Those social profiles you upkeep aren’t just for status. They’re for use! You have to put time and effort into building up your Twitter and Facebook profiles. Explore LinkedIn and Google Plus. You’ll need these platforms to spread your content, and the farther it spreads, the stronger your social signal become. As a result, your search rankings will climb.
- Consistency Is Crucial: We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: active brands have a competitive edge. Not to mention, consistent content updates contribute to your SEO. They can build on the keywords that relate to your website. They can expand your audience, and they can ultimately expand your reach. Consistent blogs and content updates should not be ignored!
- Headlines Are Vital: The primary way to share content is via social media. And let’s be brutally honest, most of us decide whether or not to read something based on its headline. If it piques our interest or makes us wonder, we’ll click to the content for a better look. If the headline was misleading, we’ll abandon the page pretty fast. Chances are we won’t be back, either, since our trust was misplaced. It’s vital to create catchy headlines, but they must be relevant. Fail in this respect, and you’ll likely watch your website fall in the search rankings as well.
It’s a fact; content marketing will never go out of style because it caters to both the user’s and search engine’s want for natural readability. In other words, it piques curiosity. It draws readers in. It imparts benefit and value, and it makes the reader say, “Wow! I want to share this with my friends.” And suddenly, content goes viral. THIS is the power of content market, and it is achieved through the most natural process possible: Good writing. THIS is why content marketing, in its many diverse forms, is not a trend or hot topic. It is a staple, a foundation, of business and marketing that will never, ever go away.
The Future of Content
It’s likely that we will continue to see more creative and innovative methods of marketing our content. Therefore, it’s important to try new avenues continually. If you haven’t tried a podcast, give it a go. If you’ve never released a video or a presentation, try it out. The results may just reveal a new avenue of marketing you didn’t realize would work.
The truth is there’s no wrong way to market content. Well, I take that back. There is. Bad content is just bad. So don’t be a contributor to the metric tons of low quality content that’s currently flooding the Internet. Internet users are potential customers. They’re your potential customers, and they’re tired of drowning in crappy content. They’re on the hunt for informative, engaging content. And if you provide it, chances are you’ll stand out amongst a sea of hardly worthwhile content.
Invest in creating, publishing, and sharing high quality content. It will benefit your business from a marketing standpoint while simultaneously boosting you SEO. It’s a win-win scenario. Who doesn’t love that?