Content marketing is the creation and sharing of highly relevant content to attract, engage and capture a clearly defined target audience. So basically, instead of constantly promoting your products and services (as many traditional companies do), you inform, entertain and educate customers and prospects. And, when it comes time for them to make a purchase, chances are they’ll buy from you! The most popular formats of content include: blogs, newsletters, videos, webinars, case studies and white papers.
There are many benefits to content marketing – increased brand awareness, thought leadership and lead generation. In addition, your search engine rankings will soar from more indexed pages, inbound links and an increased social media reach.
Although, Content is the buzz marketing term of the moment, it’s been practiced for hundreds of years. Some early examples include, The Michelin Guide, which was published by the famous tire manufacturer in 1904, providing tips for car maintenance and lodging. And, other brands like John Deere and Lego publish their own magazines, which guide consumers to purchase their products through informative and entertaining content.
The popularity of content marketing is exploding, due to factors such as: increased competition, the increased focus on SEO and social media and the drop in traditional marketing. Check out these statistics: In 2004, a Google search for content marketing yielded 25,600 results. In 2011, the same search returned 4.6 million results.* Smart companies are embracing content, and continue to make it a larger part of their marketing plan. In a recent B-to-B survey by HiveFire, 82% of B-to-B marketers are using content marketing as a part of their marketing strategy.*
Of course, there are challenges to content marketing – such as having the time or resources to create engaging content. And some businesses lack the ability to produce the volume of content needed to get significant results.
Here are some tips to help you produce better content:
- Be in the Know.If you can’t make it to tradeshows or industry events, be sure to follow the thought leaders. It’s important to stay on top of new developments, so you can provide insightful and up-to-date information.
- Speak to Your Target Audience.Define the audience you’d like to attract and tailor your content specifically to them. Visit their social media sites to see what they are talking about or, think about the common questions that customers ask you and produce content around those topics.
- Optimize Your Content.Cash in on the SEO benefits of your content by optimizing your blog and video titles. By using the Google Keyword Tool, you can search for the most popular terms in any category and identify the level of competition. Look for a long tail phrase (3 words or more), which is highly relevant, but has low competition. You’ll be surprised at how high your articles will rank in the search engines!
- Stay on Schedule.It’s important that your content becomes part of your daily or weekly ritual. Come up with a list of topics for your content and create an editorial calendar. This way when its time to write, you can immediately focus on a topic. Finally, have certain days and times dedicated to creating content and stick to it. I write my blog articles on Sundays – while my kids are napping!
- Be Visual.Use pictures and graphics in your articles, case studies and white papers. A creative photograph, or a hand drawn stick figure can go a long way. So have some fun with your images. And, if you don’t have the budget to buy stock images, you can get free images from flickr.com, as long as the artist has agreed to the creative commons license and you credit them.
- Be Results Driven.Content needs to be designed around an objective, and have a clear call-to-action. If you want a prospect to try a free demo of your software, make sure there is a nice, colorful button along side your content, directing them to a landing page with a sign-up form.
- Measure Your Success.Be invested in the success of your content. Be sure you are using software such as Google analytics or Salesforce to track your pageviews, downloads, and leads. This allows you to strategize future content based on your past results.
Content is king, and a content marketing strategy is a real game-changer when it’s done right. It allows companies to connect with audiences in a more personal way, and increase their search engine rankings and website traffic! Consumers are out there right now searching for information and answers to problems, and the companies that provide the answers and guide prospects through the buying cycle, will get the sale!
If you’d like to learn more about a content marketing strategy for your business, contact Brainstorm Studio today!
*Source: Hivefire, 2011 Marketing Trends Survey