As the tides of SEO turns in favor of site relevancy, content marketing continues to gain importance in overall search strategy.
A recent Forbes article called content marketing “one of the best and most effective ways to connect with prospects and differentiate from competition.”
Yet, many of our clients still hesitate to allocate resources and time to a concerted content marketing effort. Why? We’ve found that while most marketing professionals understand the value of relevant, audience-driven content, many underestimate the impact it can make on search engine results.
In an effort to give you a broader understanding of why content marketing should be more than just a bullet point in your digital marketing plan, we’ve outlined the essential elements of a content strategy for you here.
What is Content Marketing?
First, let’s agree on what it is. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:
A marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Put simply, content marketing is a way to draw new people to your brand. By posting educational, entertaining or useful content—usually on your site’s blog—you build a long-term relationship with readers and potentially convert them to new customers and brand loyalists.
The SEO and Content Marketing Connection
Great content creates more links—more links drive higher ranking.
You’ve likely spent a significant amount of money on building and maintaining your website. How do you plan to leverage it to drive a larger, more engaged audience of prospects and customers? The obvious answer to most people is search engine optimization (SEO). But ongoing, SEO needs a delivery mechanism. And while optimized static site content is of utmost importance, a content marketing platform is the source of optimized dynamic content that builds brand recognition and continued credibility through social sharing and commenting.
An SEO strategy tied to a content marketing plan will yield higher returns in the longer term. Content marketing is a powerful tool in driving website traffic because it builds a relationship with a relevant audience.
- Your blog platform is the heart of your dynamic content marketing platform.
- Social media and email are your primary content amplification tools.
These elements work in conjunction to build your search engine popularity and presence. Content marketing fortified with social amplification and promotion enables you to reach beyond the boundaries of traditional SEO.
Awesome Content Marketing → You’ll know it when you see it….
63 Marketing Experts share examples of great B2B content marketing.
Content Marketing and the Customer Journey
Let’s look at content marketing in terms of the customer journey. Various content types are created along each stage of the customer funnel.
- Content for the Awareness stage is created to draw in new eyeballs and build trust with potential new customers.
- Content in the Consideration stage is created to market to that potential new customer.
- Sales happen at the Conversion stage.
So while your brand advocates have the most impact, they have the smallest reach because it’s only extended to their personal circles. The goal of content marketing is to engage, start a conversation, build trust and inspire people at the top of the funnel to move further down toward the loyal customer stage.
Customer Journey and Content for Each Step of the Journey
Creating a Content Strategy
Digital content comes in many forms: blog posts, video, case studies, ebooks, webinars, email campaigns, search and display advertising, product demos, free trials, online tools, etc. Understandably, it can be overwhelming. By starting with a basic content marketing plan, you’ll be able to focus in on those areas that best speak to your audience.
The basic elements of a content marketing plan are as follows:
- Personas: Define and create profile sketches of the audience you want to attract.
- Objectives: Identify content goals (sell products, book services, establish authority, build a fan base, create community).
- Content types: Establish the type of content your audience wants (educational, entertaining, news updates, etc.).
- Keyword research and content mapping: Identify the keywords associated with your content that you want your website to rank for.
- Publishing schedule: Create an editorial calendar for consistency of posts.
- Promotional strategy: Outline your content amplification and engagement strategy (email, social, strategic relationships to drive inbound links).
If you want to delve into this more yourself, this one-page content marketing plan is an excellent resource.
How Do You Know Content Marketing Works?
Finally, the all important question: How do you know it works? We have seen many examples with our clients over the years where content marketing has created long-term exposure.
We worked with a wireless networking client for example who created multiple educational videos of their chief technology officer explaining the technology standing in front of a simple whiteboard five years ago. To this day, several of these videos are in the top 10 list of most viewed (unpaid) content in their YouTube channel.
In another example, a financial software company client of ours has been steadily blogging for more than four years. As a result of their dedication to a posting schedule of quality content, five of their blog posts appear in the top 50 landing pages out of more than 2,000+ pages of content. Two of the top 10 blog posts are between two to four years old.
Finally, with our own website, tools and articles that help marketers with search optimization have been the main drivers of global incoming site traffic for years. When you search Google for our company, the search engine simulator and the Best Practices guide for optimizing PDFs appear as site links. This shows that Google considers those pages important pages on our site. Even if people who use our tools are not our target audience, when they link to our content or click on that content from the search engines, it sends an important signal that helps our content rank higher.
How has content marketing moved the needle on your site traffic? Let us know in the comments section below or visit our contact page with your questions.