“Are you sure you’re an expert? Because I’m not seeing anything about you online.”
When you hear the term “content marketing,” it’s easy to think of big brands with six-figure advertising budgets and a team of bloggers and infographic designers on their sides.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter how ‘big’ your brand is. Even if you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur, content marketing can significantly impact your ability to attract high-quality clients.
Yes, creating quality content marketing requires a fair amount of time — but what doesn’t? This is an important investment into your brand that will keep on giving.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing generates and distributes valuable free content to invite and convert prospective customers — and then turn them into repeat buyers.
This includes content like blogs, podcasts, and email autoresponders. Remember: it’s your job to be useful. If your audience doesn’t get any value from your content, there’s no point in creating any.
How is content different from social media marketing and SEO?
While companies use content marketing to educate and inform by creating or causing behaviour that results in sales, social media marketing intercepts discussions on social networks for marketing purposes.
Instead of annoyingly yelling your brand and advertising messages as loud as possible, content marketing’s goal is to ‘partner up’ future clients or consumers.
In my opinion, instead of just backlinking to a piece that provides value, a content piece needs to provide value that stands alone. But maybe that’s just me.
Meanwhile, SEO (search engine optimisation) compliments content marketing by optimising a website using keywords placed in strategically useful and organic ways to boost traffic from search pages. It includes competitor analysis to determine how you can target the keywords that are currently making your competitors money.
Here’s an example to make things clearer (hopefully):
Imagine you’re working on a company website. So far, so normal.
You propose a blog for SEO purposes that will offer helpful editorials to your target audience. The aim is to generate more traffic and, as a result, more sales.
You’ll naturally be adding more content to your blog page, which needs to be both helpful to readers and keyword optimised. And your audience needs to read it first to generate more backlinks. Because if no one ever reads your content, why would anyone backlink it?
So, you’ll probably create Twitter and Facebook profiles to start sharing your content around social media platforms. Maybe even something slightly more outlandish like a Pinterest account. And you start to grow those accounts.
Suddenly, from just wanting to do a little bit of SEO, you’re engaged in all three strategies—content marketing, social media marketing and SEO—without even breaking a sweat.
So, you see, when you’re doing your content right, it’s natural to engage in online marketing’s golden triad.
Why content is more important than ever post-COVID
‘Social distancing’ is a fairly new phrase thanks to our annoying friend, the coronavirus.
Millions of people, bored and with nowhere else to go, are killing time in isolation looking for ways to entertain themselves – either through endless scrolling on Facebook, watching countless YouTube videos or listening to podcasts they’ve found online.
Let me ask you, do you want your brand to be in amongst what they’re looking at? Just because people are staying indoors doesn’t mean your business should be distancing itself too.
The current increase in content consumption offers a huge opportunity for your business to engage more customers and deliver brand messages with exceptional content marketing.
If you’re not already taking advantage of this situation, now’s the time. For marketers and advertisers, this is a chance to lead the conversation and stand out. Now more than ever, your customers are online, with fewer distractions and hungry for content. Feeding them lots of useful articles and snippets can help your brand build meaningful relationships and gain their trust.
Deliver informative content that establishes your cred, experience and trustworthiness. Post fun and relatable content leaves your audience wanting more from you. Keep two-way communications open with your market during this pandemic and they’ll remember you even after the crisis is long gone.
How to up your content marketing game, today.
Start by writing blogs. Lots of blogs.
COVID-19 related or not, wouldn’t it be nice to keep your consumers updated with events, information and news? Write about topics meaningful to them. You can also post lots of light-hearted, but informative videos. Give them a good laugh.
Likewise, utilise social media and emails wisely. Never stop interacting: talking to your audience doesn’t always have to be face-to-face. Share updates online, ask them how they’re going via email or exchange comments every now and then. What’s important is they know you’re there.
Content marketing: Best practices for your business
Just like any digital marketing strategy, content marketing is constantly evolving. To be effective, it must be flexible in response to shifts in customer behaviour, demand and those pesky search engines updates.
According to Seth Godin, real content marketing isn’t repurposed advertising, it’s making something worth talking about. In other words, your why is what matters, not what you sell.
With this in mind, these are the best practices you should focus on:
1. Understand your audience
Content marketing is very customer-oriented. It’s not so much selling, but more entertaining and educating your readers with the goal of earning their trust in the process. To do this, you need to be aware of who your audience is, and what they need from you. If you don’t know, create key customer personas and map your content to their journey. This gives you an idea of how much workable content you have now and what content you need.
Why start with this?
The buying journey is an experience. Whichever stage you’re at, the goal is to create excellent customer experiences. You need to map out this experience for every channel and touchpoint of interaction with your business.
2. Integrate with your SEO campaign
As I discussed earlier, content marketing often ties in with SEO, which – now more than ever – operates on the mantra “Content is King”. Good content is linkable and supplies a demand – two of the most significant assets Google is looking for. If you rank high for any search query, it means Google believes your content has one of the best answers for that search query. Simply put, you’re writing for people and search engines.
Your article should provide genuine value beyond self-promotion. The real people visiting your website should find something useful, relevant and aligned with their intent. Targeting one keyword per page and set a minimum page length to ensure your content is succinct and your keyword placement reads well.
3. Optimise your mobile content
Today, creating phone-friendly content is a requirement, not an option. If you can’t reach your audience through mobile search or display, you’ll miss out on crucial opportunities to engage, especially when a huge chunk of internet consumers are using their iPhones to search the web.
When optimising for mobile, you face two challenges. The first is speed, because you have 15 seconds or fewer to make a good impression before your potential customer moves on to a competitor.
The second challenge is engagement. Your content should be designed for mobile devices and offer a touch-ready experience. Take advantage of these mobile moments to drive deeper levels of engagement.
The bottom line is this: to drive content marketing success, learn to respond to the shifting trends and interests of today’s digitally demanding consumers. Good content marketing establishes long-term relationships with current and prospective customers through relevant, consistent, high-quality and useful information. Also, it reinforces your brand positioning and SEO efforts.
Adopt these practices, and you can build an effective strategy or fine-tune the one you already have in motion. If you’re successful, you’ll break through the noise and drive real results.
Tell your story with content writing
When done well, content creates brand equity, meaning that your brand becomes more and more valuable over time as you continue to create valuable content.
And the more you help your audience, the more your brand gains a reputation as an industry leader. This creates a flywheel effect where you start to generate more and more momentum—until suddenly you’re dominating your field.
Whether you’re planning to produce your own content or partner with a trusted freelancer, the most important thing is to start content marketing now. When you provide worthwhile, valuable content, you give potential clients a compelling reason to do business with you.