Sometimes in the realm of online marketing, we can get a little caught up in our own vernacular. In a world where acronyms abound, a person who doesn’t spend all their time working with PPC, SEO, or SMM may latch on to something like content marketing as an online marketing strategy that sounds more palatable. Before you decide to jump into content marketing with both feet, you need to ask, do you really understand what content marketing is? What if we told you that PPC, SEO, and SMM could all play important roles in your content marketing strategy?
Don’t worry, while content marketing isn’t as simple as it may sound; it doesn’t require a Ph.D. to understand. We’ll walk you through what it is, why it’s important, and send you on your way with a few tips to help you get started.
There are any number of ways to market your business online, and some will work better for your business than others. Content marketing, if done correctly can be an effective growth strategy for almost any online presence. Once you see how content marketing works, you’ll want to take advantage of its benefits.
Content Marketing Explained
At its core, content marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on creating unique blog posts, articles, infographics and other types of content. The idea is that your potential customers are online and looking for information, they just may not realize that they need your services or may not be ready to pull the trigger yet.
This situation presents the unique opportunity for you to provide the information that they are seeking. In doing so, you can build your brand recognition, establish your company as a trusted expert on the subject, and quite possibly begin a conversation that will allow you to nurture the person into becoming your customer.
For content marketing to work, the content needs to offer useful information that people will find truly valuable, that they will want to share with their friends and colleagues. At the very least it’s content that creates a positive experience with your website and brand.
If your company already has a blog, then you have probably used basic content marketing techniques to attract more traffic to your website. When done correctly, though, content marketing can do much more than boosting a site’s traffic or providing content for an email newsletter.
Why You Should Use Content Marketing
Content marketing campaigns often have several goals, such as:
- Reaching a higher position on search engine page results (SERP)
- Increasing website traffic
- Converting visitors into paying customers
- Improving your brand recognition
In many cases, achieving a higher SERP (another great acronym!) position will contribute to higher amounts of traffic and conversions. SERP positions depend on several factors, but inbound links continue to play a significant role in Google’s algorithm. If Google sees that a lot of other websites are linking to your content, then the search engine assumes that you have reliable information to offer other readers.
Creating content that other sites link to or content that gets shared on social media can do wonders for your search engine optimization.
Content marketing is also a great way of improving your company’s brand recognition. Traditionally, advertisers believe that it takes about seven interactions before a potential customer recognizes a company’s brand. You can arrange interactions through social media posts, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and a few other tools. When it comes to educating potential customers about your company’s services and products, though, you need informational content that’s fun to read.
While promoting your brand with content marketing, you can also establish yourself as an authority in your industry. When you give your readers in-depth how-to articles, instructional videos, product comparisons and trend forecasts, you show them that your business has an insider’s perspective on the services that they need. Standard advertising alone can’t do that very well.
How to Use Content Marketing Effectively
A lot of companies that try to use content marketing fail because they don’t know how to create effective content strategies. Building a good strategy does require some trial and error, but you can follow some basic rules to help your content do its job well.
- Create great content.
This may seem obvious, but most content marketing strategies that fail, do so at this crucial step in the process. You should expend 75% of your effort on crafting valuable content and 25% on distributing it.
- Use social media to spread your content (SMM – Social Media Marketing).
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become indispensable tools for content marketers. As companies like Facebook adjust their algorithms to make sure users receive high-quality content instead of “fake news,” you can look forward to well-written articles to get even more attention in the near future.
- Make search engine optimization (SEO) work for you.
Today’s search engine algorithms don’t reward you for keyword stuffing. Using some SEO tricks, however, can help your content reach higher SERP positions. Always write a meta description that’s between 135 and 160 characters; give each page a unique title that includes keywords; and create a sitemap that helps search engines locate your content. A small effort can go a long way when it comes to SEO.
- Pay for people to find your content (PPC – Pay Per Click).
Sure, it’d be great if all you had to do was post great content and people would find it. Unfortunately, the Field of Dreams approach (“if you build it, they will come”) isn’t a reliable approach, at least not at first. With SEO in mind, and enough effort and time, you should be able to generate traffic by creating content. In the meantime, PPC is an excellent way to pay to distribute your content to people who are searching for it.
- Measure the effectiveness of your content.
Google Analytics is the most effective free tool for measuring the effectiveness of content. Look for the statistics labeled as “organic traffic” to determine how well your content performs. Knowing what pieces of content do well will make it easier for you to choose topics that interest your readers.
You don’t have to abandon other marketing and advertising strategies to use content marketing. In fact, content marketing often works well in coordination with your existing SEO, PPC, and SMM strategies as well as email marketing services. Before you embark on a new campaign, talk to an expert who can help you develop a strategy that will work for you.