Content Marketing has become a very essential part of today’s marketing world – especially with business to business marketing. However, many marketers don’t seem to understand it or even use it. Creating content marketing – planning, development, production as well as measurement – can feel like a tiring journey into the unknown world. If you are a marketer, and struggle to answer the question, “what is content marketing?”, then this is your article.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing deals with provision of valuable content or information to potential and current customers with the aim of building trust, awareness, positive sentiment and branding. Therefore, we can define content marketing as a marketing practice of creating as well distributing valuable, consistent and relevant information to acquire and attract a well defined audience with the aim of driving client action. A fruitful content marketing drive establishes you as a professional in your line of business, thus setting the groundwork for your long term business relationship. The primary focus is to establish the relationship, not to hard sell.
Differences between content marketing and advertising
Content marketing and advertising differs in two basic ways;
- · Content dwells on earned or owned media. If there is a media buy, then it become advertising.
- · Content is not a push strategy, but a pull. This mean that it attracts, rather than interrupt.
Content that forms content marketing strategy
- · E-books
- · Blog posts
- · Guest blog posts
- · Standard videos
- · Podcasts
- · PowerPoint presentations
- · Email newsletters
- · Social media posts
- · Micro-videos
- · Live presentations
- · Webinars
- · White papers
How to build the best content marketing
Building an eye catching content marketing is not all that hard as you might be thinking. In fact, a lot of people have already done it and are enjoying the benefits. As Google continue to grow over time, content marketing that used to give excellent SEO (Search Engine Optimization) results begins to weaken. Due to this, you need to ask yourself how you can develop a content marketing plan which will stand the test of time as it continue to be relevant to Google and users.
If a SEO professional tells you to target guests posting as a way of building your authority, and your own personal brand, what you are not told is that your main focus should be to deliver quality to the customer. Majority of the marketers take this advice to mean that Google like guest posts and yet it Spam the strategy. This is frequently experienced with infographics.
Building a breath taking content marketing strategy focused on appealing to customers is not that hard and will always produce better results while not succumbing to Google’s future updates. Although high quality content is not scalable as low quality or mediocre content, it will eventually pay for itself a hundred times over time. As a marketer, you need to be persistent as well as consistent in your efforts so that you can win the approval of Google and your customers. Below are tips on how to build a strong content strategy that can stand the test of time while yielding amazing result.
1. Onsite content marketing
Your marketing content strategy should start with the content that is on your web, where you need to focus on optimizing your user experience. User experience involves not only how neat, cool, simple and beautiful your web looks, but it also describe how easily your user can get whatever they are searching for on your web. What does this mean? It means that you put your content first; it be accessible, prominent and be able to deliver the information or content that your user needs.
Intent based content
Do you know what your ordinary user would want to do on your web? Do you think he or she could take time and click on ads? Do you think that you are doing it right? User motive plays an important role in how your onsite content strategy works. If you want to do it correctly, you should think about your user wants or expectation or needs when he or she comes across your web through search.
The only way to stand out from your competitors and even make a good impression to your user is through having a unique style of presentation.
Short content vs. long content
A lot of discussions and analysis about long form content and short form content has taken place to find out which is the best. You might not belief it, but long form content has always been able to with stand the test of time. Two things are responsible for this; Google love it and people like to read and understand better with long form content.
Do not sell
You turn your work into marketing when you conduct naked selling using your content. Many things have changed on the web and therefore, you should focus on providing as much value as you can so as to attract people who will want to buy your stuff more naturally.
2. Offsite content marketing
Identify your user
There are a lot of webs, communities and blogs that cater to the same customer that you are targeting. It is not only easier but also more productive if you identify your target customer and understand what is on their mind via what they’re actually talking about as opposed to trying to your own educated guesses. Actually, this is one of the benefits of guest posting instead of picking random topics and pitching them to publishers. You do your research on something which your know that it’s helpful and experience direct feedback from members of your potential and current target customer.
Just like online content, you should not try to sell on offline strategy. Never think of passing over a piece of your marketing copy as a guest post or even as an offsite publication. It is highly likely to backfire.
Publish high quality content
Majority of webmasters think that the mediocre content should go to the offsite publishers while the best goes to their own website or blog. This is wrong. The best way to build your own authority, brand and credibility is to avoid publishing any content that you think is of low quality.
Once you have distributed your content trough guest posting campaign and other methods, make sure that you do follow up on it and even check it regularly so that you can take part in whatever discussion that might follow. This shows the user that you are reachable and thus more likely to trust you.
3. Build strong relationship
Identify key participants
Link building has become an internet term for building relationship. You might have seen people offering e-mail templates to send to web owners. This technique is very powerful than you might think and it doesn’t involve a lot of work. You need to identify the key players in your line of business, both customer and competitors, and then build a solid list of the people who are doing the same thing as you, people who are trying to build traffic, brand and authority near or within your niche.
Join hands with your competitors
Once you have established a huge list of your competitors, try to start a relationship with them. You need to understand that it is not every person who is going to be helpful, but it is also very interesting to note that some of your direct competitors makes really good friends and even more helpful on the internet. Once you have established such relationships with other players in the market, a lot of things become easier. For example, getting a natural mention or link back or even publishing on other players’ webs.
Hang out with other players
You should also find out where your niche players hang out and discuss things on the website. It is not just about websites and SEO, but even the core location of your market. This makes you to be one step ahead of your competitors who stick to their independent sources such as Google. Additionally, you are able to meet a lot of people who you can start relationships with.
Focus on helping other people. As the saying goes, “You only get out whatever you put in” and “Garbage in is garbage out”. Therefore, put in a lot of value in the form of assisting others and you will get it back a hundred times in return.
The future of content marketing
Where is content marketing headed and what trends and drawbacks can we expect?
About 60% of businesses are using some form of content marketing strategy as part of their marketing. However, most of these businesses have not been able to understand it or even define it. More and more businesses will be able to define it before the end of this year, 2014, and even understand how it is useful for the accomplishment of overall business goals. Content marketing will be distinguished from the marketing collateral and thus have a distinct importance within businesses and organizations.
Due to increased understanding of content marketing as well as its usefulness, CEOs and managers will do more investments in documented content marketing strategies. A huge part of business budget will be allocated to content creation as well as dissemination, as business will be willing to invest in content marketing departments and managers.
As mobiles takeover from the desktop usage within the next one or two years, business will be forced to incorporate mobile into their content strategies. In fact, Google has already reinforced this as it recently rolled out its new algorithm “Hummingbird,” as well as revocation of keyword data from its analytics. Business will need to create content that can be read on the go – be mobile friendly, more actionable posts and shorter – depending on the device that the user will be using.
Measuring and tracking ROI’s of content marketing is often difficult because the results are spread over time. Therefore, businesses will be required to understand that the results of inbound marketing strategies cannot be measured on a case by case basis, but as a whole, over long term periods. Companies and SAAS software will try to assist business to calculate the ROI of the content marketing efforts while the CEOs will demand to see visibility into profitability.
Although content marketing is likely to be automated partially, businesses are likely to continue pursuing ways of making it less labor intensive and more efficient. It is very important to note that this will lead to lower quality content will lead to backfiring of the entire strategy. Sentiment and bad branding as a result of poor quality content is likely to turn the customers away rather than attracting them. The strong hold of content marketing is on its customer focused and personal approach, although, there might be a place for automation in the future.
Report by Content marketing Institute states that business to business marketers are using the social media when promoting their content more often than they did two years ago. This, together with the growth of Google+ will become a very important tool for information dissemination as well as social sharing. In addition, slideshare will become an important part of content marketing if it continues to follow its current trend where 40% of business to business marketers are uses it when distributing their content as compared to only 23% in the previous year.
As mobile gadget usage, GPS enabled phones increases; location as well as personal preference content will increase to be utilized to provide flash deals that are based on user current location. Although this technology exists, it will be embraced more before the end of the year. Business that fails to adopt location based content marketing technique will see a decline in their sales as their rival cannibalize their sales with location based flash deals, coupons and offers.
No matter the kind of marketing strategy you use, make sure that content marketing is a part of your process and not a separate thing. Qualities content marketing is part all kinds of marketing plans. Content marketing is all about attracting the customer and not pushing them to buy the product like the traditional methods of marketing.