Content Marketing has been getting a lot of attention lately. Some of this attention has come about following Google’s recent search ranking changes (the Panda update) and we’re going to continue to see Google neutralising SEO shortcuts and schemes in the future. What this means is that good content is one of the few rank-building strategies that works now and is one that will continue to work in the future. Yet content marketing is much more than a way to rank on Google, it’s a way to build a large audience of prospects and earn their trust. As Grant Leoboff puts it, marketing is no longer a means to an end, but an end itself.
If you want to grow your audience, generate interested prospects and ultimately grow your business, you need to understand why content marketing works.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is simple enough. If you have a blog or create videos for your site you may even be doing it already. At its core it involves two things:
- Creation of content that your audience is going to enjoy reading
- Leveraging (often indirectly) this content for marketing purposes
Content marketing means sharing information of value, usually closely related to your product area, in order to attract prospects and convert them into customers.
Consider the traditional model of interruptive marketing. Paying to interrupt people with ads is pretty hit and miss. However creating quality content that people are interested in is going to develop a much more positive and beneficial relationship.
What is the Benefit of Content Marketing?
The sharing of content is designed to build trust and demonstrate expertise, to draw in traffic
and to establish credibility. Done right, content marketing should increase your audience size and commitment, leading to:
- Improved search rankings (as more people share and link to your quality content)
- Increased traffic (from the better ranking but also from return traffic and word-of-mouth)
- Lead generation (as you leverage your content to build audience commitment and trust in your product)
How is Content Marketing Different to What I’m Doing Already?
Most websites either focus too much on purely commercial-driven content – such as writing about products, or they have good content but fail to apply it towards selling more of their product. Content marketing is about mixing no-strings-attached, valuable content with techniques for generating leads and converting prospects.
How do I get the balance right?
- Make sure your content is relevant and enjoyable to your target audience
To make your content enjoyable, it needs to solve a problem or cover a topic that’s important or
interesting to your audience. It also needs to be well written and clear. If you can’t produce this
yourself, consider hiring a writer or content manager to do it for you.
- Always have an active way to benefit from content, but don’t oversell
The best way to do this is to think of one thing you’d like to achieve that somehow relates to the
content, and include a direct ‘call to action’ that provides a simple opportunity for your readers
to do whatever it is you want them to do next.
This might include something like:
- Join an email newsletter
- Share your article on social networks
- Subscribe to your blog
- Link to your article
- Download a product brochure / book a consultation
Note that in every case the call to action needs to be relevant to the content it’s included with or it will appear contrived. This means the content that you share will be related to what you sell, so that what you’re providing can be not only useful to your audience, but relevant to your products.
It’s very important that the content doesn’t become some kind of advertorial where the content is a just a trick to advertise a product. Instead, the content should provide genuine value and address your reader’s current problems. By providing this kind of value you will become a trusted source. When the person is ready to buy something, you will be the first place they come to.
Content Marketing Example
For a simple example of content marketing look at the Haymes paint website. The website exists to sell their products, but the front page links to a whole range of content that isn’t directly about selling paint, but is likely to be of use or interest to their audience. The “About Colour” page or the “How to Paint” videos are genuinely useful, and make the site that much more likely to get bookmarked and returned to by visitors, who are then much more likely to buy their paint when the time comes.
You may also notice that it’s not only paint they sell – the colour consultancy article
demonstrates the virtues of hiring a colour consultant and it also lets you enquire with their consultants. So amongst their informative content there is some lead generation going on. This mix of interesting content with hints of more product-focused copywriting is classic content marketing.
One of the hardest parts of content marketing is generating ideas. Leave a comment with a short explanation of your business and we along with our other readers can help you brainstorm some content marketing ideas.