The topic of the day is content marketing. But what exactly is content marketing? It’s a marketing strategy that focuses around coordinating your businesses development of content building, social media presence, and search engine optimization efforts in a consistent and meaningful way in order to maximize the effect that each would have individually. Each of these facets of your companies online presence are important individually, however you will see the most effective outcome if you successfully link the three of them together. Now let’s talk a little more specifically about how content marketing comes to be.
The first and most crucial aspect is the development of content. Whatever social media and search engine optimization you use, it all means nothing to a content marketing strategy if there is no content to guide people to through your social media and SEO efforts. So what makes for good content? Well, deciding what is good content starts with identifying what it is that your desired customers are interested in learning more about. If you are able to correctly anticipate your customer’s needs then you can build content that is relevant to them. If you give customers bad information, you will lose credibility quickly.
So, seriously guys, make sure the content is accurate and relevant to your audience.
One of the key ideas to consider throughout the process of content creation is the understanding that you are serving a customer need and therefore, you should develop content with the same level of quality that you would have on your company’s main product or service offering. This content is going to be an extension of your companies image which means that it is important to put quality first, otherwise people will assume that your product is of similar quality to your content.
So, what should be your goal with the development of content? Your goal should be to become the expert on whatever subject you write about and have the people searching your subject seek out your opinions in the matter. Your overall goal is to capture the hearts of these people, have them view you as a subject matter expert, and therefore when the time comes where they are interested in making a purchase, they already trust your judgment and hopefully recognize that you will also carry that quality over into your actual product or service, and therefore they will choose you over a competitor.
Now, some skeptics would look at this strategy and question whether it is ok to gain an audiences trust and then use that trust to foster business transactions. To this point, I urge those skeptics to consider that it is important to distinguish content creation for the sake increasing your search engine rankings from creating meaningful content in order to prove your competence in a particular subject matter to potential customers. Consumers today want to research prior to their purchases and see the bigger picture before making a purchase. Content marketers are there to offer opinions on the subject, and if the needs of the customer correspond with the benefits of the product offering, then guiding customers to the point of purchase becomes the final step in the process.
The use of social is essential to the sharing of information about your business. If the content is there, but nobody is talking about it, it won’t have as much of an impact on your ability to build an audience of engaged listeners. You can use social media and blast your followers with posts encouraging them to check out your website, or buy your product. This will lose you followers fast. That isn’t to say that you can never promote your business through your social media, however if that is all that you are doing, your audience’s attention span will not last and you will soon find yourself with a considerably shorter list of followers. However, if you are posting links to relevant content that is of interest to them, they will not only continue following you and engage with your content, but they will also become one of your most important forms of promotion. When someone sees a retweet from one of their friends, they are more likely to trust the source. Every retweet is free exposure to 10’s, 100’s, even thousands of new potential audience members and therefore taking advantage of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn are going to be an essential aspect of your content marketing efforts.
Finally, search engine optimization will come into play. However, if you have effectively developed content, and are guiding it through your social channels, your SEO work is almost complete. The rest just focuses on making sure that your use of keywords is optimal. Keeping in mind that search engines are continually getting smarter, however, they still need you to stay within their algorithms in order for them to search you. This means that you should integrate real terminology into your content because while you and your audience may know the relevance of nicknames, metaphors, and other creative justices that can be taken, Google may not have the capability to search that criteria, and you can lose considerable traffic when your keywords are not explicitly stated.
Content marketing is so important to the marketing mix because of the fact that it doesn’t interrupt people. People consider their time to be of great importance to them, and when you take that time away from them, they can become slightly irritated with you.
You are not brandishing your product in front of anyone’s face. People are actively seeking information on the subject and you are simply giving them a place to become more informed. These customers are already farther along in the purchase process than any customers you would reach through traditional efforts, therefore these are more qualified leads that you are reaching for a fraction of the cost. The fact that you are spending less money to engage more qualified leads while simultaneously developing the owned media that reflects positively on your brand makes the decision to develop a content marketing strategy a no-brainer. So, to gain a better understanding of content marketing, I recommend going out and taking a look at some examples of content on the web.
One example that jumped out at me as particularly creative is the Kraft iFood App that was developed by Kraft Foods. The app contains a database of recipes that use Kraft brand foods wherever possible in order to show give readers more reason to buy Kraft products. It also allows you to create a shopping list for when you go grocery shopping. This is a great way to engage shoppers because you are helping to make the food buying and cooking process as easy as possible for the customer. In addition you are able to promote your brand by suggesting that they use your products while preparing the recipes listed.
Recognizing the importance of content marketing as we move deeper into the digital age where customer engagement is key will have a profound effect on your company’s ability to connect with their audience. Having recently joined an agile planning software startup myself, I’ve begun developing a strategy for using content marketing to increase the strength of our brand. I will begin by developing a blog that focuses on informing readers about the benefits to an agile approach to software development. The goal of the blog is first of all, to educate ourselves on the problems that customers are running into in the software development world. Using the problems identified, we will be able to build our content in order to answer the questions that the audience has about software development, what agile can do to help, what issues currently exist with available agile software programs. From there, it is about engaging with the customer. Asking them their opinions on what they would like to see out of an agile software company will also allow us to increase and streamline our features offered in order to create the strongest user interface possible and this versatility will help to make us the most sought after product on the market. Simultaneously with the development of content, we will be developing a social media presence which will give our audience additional voice as well as act as a conduit for the increased site traffic we hope to see from our content development efforts.