The phrase "content is king" has generated a lot of buzz among online marketers. While there are great debates to be had over the accuracy of that phrase, the point is that content is a bit differentthan other areas of marketing like social media and SEO, in that many of them are really only around because of content.
Think about it.
For one thing, without content, SEOs would have nothing to optimize for search engines. The metadata they add to posts is an attempt to help robots like Google and Facebook wrap their digital heads around the complexities of the content they're indexing. Every link earned by every marketer points to a piece of content, and the keywords that people type into search engines are an attempt to find—yep—content.
Every email, every tweet, every landing page, and every product description—they're all examples of content, and one of the best ways of describing what they all have in common was summed up brilliantly by Ian Lurie, of DocuPanda Review
Content isn't 'stuff we write to rank higher' or 'infographics' or 'long-form articles.'
Content is anything that communicates a message to the audience. Anything.
— Ian Lurie, CEO, Portent, Inc.
Content is the heart of what we do as marketers; we talk to our customers, our clients, and our readers, and what we say to them—regardless of what form it takes—is our content.
So what is content marketing, then? Well, it's pretty simple. Content marketing is the use of that content—any of it—to help meet a marketing goal for your organization. That could be acquisition of potential customers, retention of existing ones, making more people aware of your brand or your products, or really anything else. We'll go into many of the most popular and effective ways of doing all of these things throughout the rest of this FaazImageGrabber V2 Review.
How can content marketing benefit my business?
One of the reasons some companies have hesitated to allocate resources to content marketing is that it can be difficult to really understand the benefits of content marketing. Getting people to think more highly of your business certainly sounds great, but the results are quite nebulous. In this case, it helps to begin thinking about just how many benefits content marketing can bring. Let's start with the ones that are more intangible (though no less important):
Strong brand awareness
Imagine the following conversation between two people in your audience:
Creating content gives your audience something to talk about. When they're talking about you, they're teaching each other about your company, passing recommendations and links around in the process. This awareness of your brand is marketing gold.
Respect and admiration in the industry
"I was really skeptical of what I was hearing about the latest 'productivity hacks,' but the Harvard Business Review just published an article confirming they really work, so I might have to give them a try!"
The respect and admiration of your audience will absolutely take time to build, as they require earning trust. Once you've proven your knowledge and (even more importantly) your integrity, though, you can become the guiding light that people turn to when everyone else is simply contributing to confusion. Sites that don't care a lick about quality—sometimes called content factories—are bound to give bad or misleading advice, making readers scratch their heads and wonder who they can trust. That should be you. The authority you gain then transfers to your products or services, making customers that much more likely to choose you over the competition.
Indirect customer conversions
"What a cool post; I'd never even heard of this company before. Huh; they make software, too? I wonder what it does?"
If you're creating content that targets potential customers, you're shortening the distance between those people and your products, making it all the more likely they'll make a purchase later on. This is true regardless of whether or not your content even mentions what you're selling.
"Hey, would you all mind setting up some social media promotion of this white paper I just finished writing?"
"I think this is the first time we've ever collaborated on a project."
Content marketing is a foundation upon which entire marketing campaigns can be built. Creating content gives you, friendly content marketer, a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with teams you might not talk to often enough. You can work with design/UX to create fantabulous illustrations. You can work with engineers to make sure your content shows up the way it should online. You can work with social and community teams to make sure that gorgeous content is effectively promoted, and that's just the beginning.
There are also quite a few benefits that show more tangible results and are easier to measure:
Traffic may be the obvious benefit, but it's also one of the most important. Creating great content will bring people to your site, where they'll (hopefully) also find information about your company and your products/services.
The number of ways in which content benefits SEO is far too great to count here. In summary, great content attracts editorial links, which tell Google you're important and authoritative. Google can also crawl your content, getting a far better idea of what your company is about, allowing it to return your site for more relevant queries (including a great many long-tail queries). The list goes on, but it can all be boiled down to this: Without content, what is there to optimize for search engines?
Direct customer conversions
Really great product descriptions that convince people you've got unique value to offer them—that what you have can level them up—will bring your customer numbers up like almost nothing else.
A word about flywheel marketing
One thing you'll need to know right from the get-go is that none of these benefits is going to show up immediately. Content marketing is a wonderful example of what's referred to as flywheel marketing: At first, it takes quite a bit of effort just to get the wheel turning. Over time, though, the wheel's own momentum lessens the effort required of you to see the same results. Don't expect results tomorrow, and think now about whose expectations you may need to temper, and what that'll mean for your work. But don't let that fool you into thinking it isn't working.
There's a fantastic visual that our founder Rand often uses to make this point: a graph of traffic from his wife Geraldine's travel blog:
As you can see from this caption, a great many content marketers have those initial blips of success, see their traffic fall back to "normal" levels, and throw in the towel just before the real traction begins to take hold. Don't be like a great many content marketers. Hang in there. :-)
Can I be successful in content marketing if I don't have a huge budget or a large team?
Oh good golly gosh yes.
If you don't have the resources to devote to regularly producing great content, try focusing on what's known as "evergreen" content, which is less timely and requires less upkeep but can serve as a great industry reference. One great example we've had here at Moz is the Google Algorithm Change History. This began as a place for Dr. Pete Meyers to keep track of various updates from Google, mostly for his own use. As he continued adding to it, bit by bit, it became a go-to resource for anyone looking to learn about shifts in the search results. With minimal upkeep, the page has attracted more than 1.7 million views since it launched in 2011.
A lack of resources has a silver lining—you don't have the time or money to dive into every content-related project you can think of, so you're forced to curate and target a little more carefully. The result is a portfolio that, when viewed as a whole, looks all the more impressive. Quality beats quantity any day of the week.
Gaining support and buy-in:
How can I convince my boss/client that content marketing is worth the effort?
Content may be king, but many content creators (and purveyors of fine content) often struggle to show the value of content marketing. This is because the types of content (blog posts, guides, webinars, etc.) that most people think of as content marketing all fall in the "discovery" part of the marketing funnel, which is several steps removed from conversions.
It's content that helps people find you. It might even be content that makes people fall in love with you a little. But discovery-level content is not usually the last touch before a big sale. There are many more layers of content that usually finesse that conversion. (More on that when we discuss how content can represent various stages of the funnel in ch. 3.)
Because it's not often the last touch and has a relatively intangible value, it's difficult to approach a client or manager and ask for resources for content marketing. Here are some tips that'll swing momentum your way.
If your decision maker doesn't know what content marketing is or doesn't understand the value (or effectiveness) of the soft sell, convincing them of the value of content marketing will be harder. Open their eyes by talking about the benefits of content marketing, including:
·Building a long-term audience
·Creating a consistent experience
·Setting up a flywheel for your marketing efforts
Be sure to talk frankly about the outcomes they should expect from content marketing. Brand building? Check. Helps your social efforts? Check. Increases your audience? Check. But because most content marketing sits up at the awareness stage of the funnel, it's not realistic to expect customers will go en masse from reading one blog post to buying all the things.
It may be that the real struggle you face with your client or boss is that they're afraid their industry isn't sexy enough for content marketing. It's not true—anything is interesting if it's framed well and shown to the right people. Your challenge here is to find that perfect angle to pitch to show them just how interesting content marketing for boring industries can be.
Demonstrate the ROI
That top-of-funnel position doesn't mean it's impossible to demonstrate the value of content. It just means you need to build a more complex model to understand and show how content really contributes to your conversions. These models can provide a good estimate of the value of your content, but they are, at best, an estimate, so keep that in mind before you tell the boss that if you can get the funds for one blog post it'll bring in exactly $1200 worth of leads.
To make sure content (yep, even that top-of-funnel stuff) gets the credit it deserves, use multichannel tracking (also called attribution modeling). That's a way to set up your analytics platform so it allocates a part of each conversion to each of the channels touched by the customer on their happy path to conversion. For example, at Moz, we find the average relationship has seven to eight customer touchpoints before conversion.
So if a customer first visited your site through a social channel, social gets credit for a share of that eventual sale. If they also read a blog post, the blog gets part of the credit. And so on.
You could use one of GA's built-in attribution models to understand exactly how much credit to give where, but custom attribution modelling lets you assign your own weights to each channel in the conversion path based on your unique situation.
We'll go into more details about all this in the Analytics section of this guide; for now it's enough to know that you can (and should) offer numerical evidence for the value that existing content is providing.
If you need a little help coming up with initial numbers, try this calculator from Siege Media.
Show off your competitors
"The other guy is doing it" seems like a terrible rationale, except that showing off the shares and attention a competitor is getting for their content can really help prove your point with someone who still doesn't see the value in content marketing. Just be ready for what sometimes comes next - "Do exactly what they're doing" - which is not the way to win at content marketing.
So about that original question… is content marketing right for my business?
Yes. Most undoubtedly yes. And you're already doing it, at least to some extent. Could bolstering your efforts with more resources help you achieve your business goals? Almost certainly. How? Read on, my friend!