Content Marketing for Non-Marketers
I’ve spoken extensively about role of social media marketing in a strong marketing plan, but I haven’t covered content marketing quite as heavily. That’s a gap that I’m hoping to address today, because content marketing is a very powerful digital marketing tool – one you should definitely have in your toolbox.
What is Content Marketing?
Let’s start with the basics. What is content? Content is a marketing term that includes your social media posts, but so much more. Content includes blogs, newsletters, emails, white papers, articles, infographics, photos, videos, graphics, press releases, and more. This article I’m writing right now is content.
So what is content marketing? Let me share the Content Marketing Institute’s explanation: “Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach 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.”
I can see you rolling your eyes. Another marketing fad? Something else I have to do? Who has time for this? I feel your pain, but content marketing is no fad. It’s the fastest growing marketing medium, and it’s designed to reach your potential customers by considering how people actually use the Internet and catering to their interests.
Why Do You Need Content Marketing?
Content Lasts Longer
Content has a much longer shelf life than social media posts, and can be reused. Social media posts have a very short “half-life.” Make a Facebook post, and it will be seen for a few hours and then fall off the radar. Twitter posts have a shelf life of just minutes – a half hour if you’re lucky. LinkedIn and Instagram posts typically don’t last more than a day. Occasionally you’ll make a great post that will get a lot of shares and keep traction for a day or so, but then people move on to other things.
On the other hand, when you post a blog to your website, it’s seen repeatedly – potentially every time someone visits your website (known as “compounding.”) “Over its lifetime, one compounding blog post creates as much traffic [to your website] as six decaying [social media] posts” (HubSpot, 2016.) You can boost the effectiveness of your content by reusing it, engaging influential audiences, and re-purposing it later. For example, I have a partnership with ValpoLife, and they are kindly publishing this piece for me. Both of us will publicize it on social media. Once it’s done being read on ValpoLife, I will put it on my blog. Whereupon, I’ll publicize it on social media all over again. Maybe later, I’ll turn it into a video and publicize it all over again. This article will reach many more people than a Facebook post ever would.
Content Engages Customers and Develops Loyalty
Content marketing offers value to your audience, establishes you as a generous expert in your field, and keeps you in the top of their minds when it is time for them to buy. You should look at this strategy from a long-term point of view. Your audience may not be ready to commit or buy right now, but if you produce content that intrigues, entertains, or educates them, you will be their go-to resource when they are ready to buy. You can provide this content to them in any of that list of popular content formats: blogs, articles, emails, etc. Again, Hubspot’s research finds, “86% of consumers would like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with at least monthly, and 15% would like to get them daily” (Statista, 2015.) Your customers (and future customers) want you to provide content.
Your Customers Hate Ads
Think of what you do with junk mail. Your customers are recycling it without even looking at it too.
Do you watch the commercials on your DVR, or do you fast-forward through them? Me too.
Think of how you feel about ads on the sidebar of Facebook or Google? Your customers are mostly ignoring them too.
How many times you have clicked on a banner ad on a mobile app or web site. Yeah, no one else clicks them either.
In fact, many people have installed ad blockers so they don’t even have to see them.
According to an article in Business Insider, “Ad blocker usage surged 30% in 2016, according to a new report from PageFair…. There were 615 million devices blocking ads worldwide by the end of 2016, 62% (308 million) of those mobile. Desktop ad blocker usage grew 17% year-on-year to 236 million.”
The answer? Produce content, not ads. Internet users are very ad-savvy and hate being “sold” to. Content isn’t hard sales. It’s gentler, less pushy than an ad. It establishes your good-will and expertise, but doesn’t prod people into buying. In fact, the less “salesy” your content, the better. The result: people click on content that intrigues them. They WANT content. But it generates leads all the same, because those folks will remember you as a resource when they’re ready to buy.
Content Marketing is Essential for SEO
Google and Bing determine where to place your website in search results by taking many complex factors into consideration. Keywords, authority, page popularity, and how fresh your page is all have an impact on how well you place in a search. Producing content and keeping your website up-to-date with it can improve your SEO immensely. Keeping your website fresh with blogs, whitepapers, infographics, photos, videos and more will help your SEO performance. Pages that have aren’t regularly updated, that don’t have interesting content to keep your visitors coming back, that aren’t keyword optimized, and that don’t keep your visitors reading for long will suffer in search results.
Your Competitors are Doing It
With all these benefits, content marketing is a key element of a strong marketing plan. Even small businesses are getting in on the action. As content establishes you as a leader in your field, if your competition is doing it and you’re not, they’re reaping all the benefits and improving their visibility and reputation in the marketplace. You simply must keep up.
That said, like all marketing, you must be strategic about your content marketing. What medium will work best for your industry? What information, education, or entertainment can you provide that people really want? How will they get it? These questions are best answered after consultation with a professional marketer. And if you’d like to get into content marketing but aren’t a writer, photographer, or graphic designer yourself, you’ll probably want to consider having a professional help you.
If you found this article helpful, we welcome you to browse through the rest of our blog. If you’d like some help getting started with content marketing, feel free to give us a call at 219-309-9726 or email at [email protected]