Content marketing is one of the most effective marketing methods around today. Although businesses have always shared information about their products and services, it has never been as easy, and as important, especially to small businesses. Most brands use content marketing, but less than half believe they’re good at it, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
What is Content Marketing
“Content marketing is a way for a business owner to educate your customers and potential customers about your products and services,” says Patel, co-founder of KISSmetrics. “The goal is to offer tips, help, and education about anything that can be helpful to a customer”
Why do Content Marketing
“Small businesses should be even more focused on content marketing than larger brands,” says Brenner, head of strategy for NewsCred. “Small businesses need to drive brand awareness and leads with limited resources. Content marketing is a great way for small businesses to do both
Build Awareness, Gain Trust, Get Customers
Businesses that invest in content marketing generate awareness of their business and products, get customers engaged, and enjoy sales leads. “Content marketing can do something even more meaningful for businesses,” says Patel. “Good content marketing builds trust. And if someone trusts you, they are more likely to buy your products and services and more likely to tell their friends and family.”
Where to Start
The experts agree – ask yourself, or ask your potential customers: what are the problems they are experiencing that they’d like to solve, for which you have solutions. What is the value to the customers? And importantly, what is the value to your business? If there is significant value to both, and its in line with your business goals, then its worth creating content about.
What Mistakes are Businesses making?
Businesses who fail to take into account integrating SEO, social media and content marketing will not be successful. “There is great content being published on corporate blogs on a daily basis that no one ever sees.” says Kramer. “SEO, social, and content all have to work together – you need a robust presence in the social media space and you need to understand the role that fresh, relevant content and social media channels play.”
Businesses often fail to create relevant content. We’ve all read website blog entries or Facebook posts that have little or nothing to do with the business that posted them. The result is that it chips away at the credibility and trustworthiness of the business in question. No one wants to wade through posts looking for the occasional valuable nugget of information – we simply move on to the next company.
Volume, Variety and Value
Your marketing mantra should be to mix it up, create often and make it valuable. Decide what you’re going to talk about, and then make every effort to produce as much great content around those topics as often as possible. And do it over multiple social media channels in a variety of ways. People and search engines reward companies that are creative and in the ways they deliver relevant information to them. Think text, photos, videos, slides, white papers – the list is endless.
The digital world where you’re putting your content out comes loaded with measurement tools. Google Analytics will show how content is driving customer traffic back to your site, views and more importantly, shares will tell you how valuable your material is considered to be by your customers, and finally check how much search traffic you’re getting. Track the change to each over time to see if you’re getting better or merely treading water.
Content marketing is a journey, not a destination
We live in exciting times – our digital world is constantly evolving. What we did yesterday might not work tomorrow. Watch your competitors and learn from their mistakes and successes and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly. Take advantage of new approaches as they arise.
“Within the first three months you should see more traffic to your site. Within a year, you should be able to monetize traffic on your site.” says Patel.
Amazingly, only 44 percent of B2B marketers and 39 percent of B2C marketers report having a documented content marketing strategy in place!
What exactly is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute, an online resource for information on all things content marketing related, defines content marketing as:
Content marketing is 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.
You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it. Think of some of your favorite commercials – did they make want to learn more about the product, do they help keep the product in mind when you’re thinking of buying? You can reap huge rewards from content marketing.
Some Content Marketing Examples
Content marketing comes in many types and forms–far too many to cover here. Instead, I’m going to give you a feel for content marketing and get you thinking like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you.
Infographics. Typically these are long vertical graphics that often include statistics, graphs, and have attractive graphics. Here arguably are the best infographics of 2014. Infographics have a surprisingly long shelf-life – a good one can be passed around social media and posted on websites for years. You can get a professionally designed infographic by hiring a contractor on a site like oDesk or if you want to remove some of the risk you can go with a company like Visua.ly. An infographic can cost upwards of $1,000 to be designed, and several thousand dollars if you are hiring a contractor or agency to include strategy and planning, research, copywriting, and design. Promoting infographics to bloggers and the media can also cost you. Alternatively you could set up a board on Pinterest and curate infographics on a topic related to your business which is also a form of content marketing, and it costs nothing but your time.
Webpages. What’s the difference between a normal webpage and a webpage that is content marketing? The simple answer is yes. A well-written, free online guide such as ‘Consider The Beginner’s Guide to SEO’ from Moz, has been viewed millions of times, and has brought in countless customers to Moz. Most case studies are boring. Hubspot, another content marketing service company has fascinating case studies. That’s the difference between simply putting content on your website, and content marketing.
Podcasts. Michael Hyatt is author of the best-selling book ‘Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World’. He practices what he preaches – his “This is Your Life” podcast is downloaded 250,000 times every month. Michael talks about reasons to launching your own podcast, “A podcast gives you visibility in a completely different world—primarily iTunes. I have had scores of new people say they had never heard of me until they stumbled onto me in iTunes.” His podcast is a money-making, lead-generating monster.
Videos. Gary Vaynerchuk does content marketing using online video – take a look at his YouTube channel. From videos promoting his family’s wine store and through those videos and other online marketing he has grown it to a $45M empire. Videos and podcasts are underutilized as content marketing because people think it’s expensive and hard. However, creating high quality video and audio content is easier than ever. Amateur video content marketing is to sell blenders, launch new dental products, and market visa consulting services. A simple video could change your company’s fortunes overnight.
Books. Savvy marketers don’t sell books, they sell books as marketing tools. As compelling as Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is, the book is a tool for driving customers to their coaching and speaking services. There is still the perception that it’s difficult to publish a business book, but it is easier than ever before. Publish your own, and even if people don’t read it you can still use it as a form of content marketing every time you’re introduced as “Author of…”
There are many other forms of content marketing, such as white papers, ebooks, apps, public speaking, presentations, and blogs – the list is virtually endless.
Why Content Marketing?
Content marketing, especially in this social-media driven world, is important to your business. You can reap huge rewards from content marketing. Let’s consider four steps of the consumer buying cycle:
Awareness. A customer may have a need, but they are notaware there is a solution.
Research. Once a customer becomes aware there is a solution, they will perform research to educate themselves, such as a car buyer finding out what different types of cars exist in their price range.
Comparison. The customer starts comparing different products from different vendors.
Buy. The customer makes their decision.
Content marketing supports first two stages of the buying process by raising awareness of options and educating consumers about products they may have never considered before.
We use content marketing to grow our business. Potential clients find our content, and by the time they contact us they’re already convinced they want to work with us. We don’t engage in any high pressure sales tactics. We’ve built trust before we know the potential client exists. And since we do content marketing as a service, our clients can see for themselves the product they’re going to get simply by looking at what we’ve done for ourselves.
The return on investment for content marketing can be huge. We don’t spent money on our own content marketing, or even that much time. Most% of the success we’ve experienced with content marketing is as a result of a handful of articles I’ve written.
Content marketing supports other digital marketing channels. It provides content for social media marketing and supports SEO efforts by generating natural inbound links and building up good content on your website that gets found in search engines. For many companies the bulk of their SEO efforts should be focused on content marketing.
How Do I Get Started?
Many firms offer content marketing services, often linked with SEO or PR. If you’re simply too busy to do it yourself or haven’t got the resources, then hiring a firm may be your best option. But if you want to do your own content marketing, the easiest way is to start blogging. It is hard at first, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get. Websites like Copyblogger teach how to craft content for your website or blog that will engage readers and turn them into customers or clients.
Content is good if someone genuinely wants to read it. Content is great if they’re willing to pay to read it. The 2014 The Lego Movie was arguably one of the greatest examples of content marketing to date. A 100 minute toy commercial and you paid good money to watch it! Lego recently surpassed Mattel, the creators of Barbie, to become the largest toy company in the world.
The #1 Secret of Content Marketing
Add value. That’s the secret. I’ve talked about it throughout this article. We tune out advertising when it provides little to no value. If you want to learn about advertising that doesn’t get skipped, watch an avid sportsman flip through a magazine or website about their favorite sport. They spend as much time looking at the ads as they does looking at the articles and photos. Much of the content is advertisements, but they don’t skip the videos or adverts, because they’re getting the value they want–good sport knowhow. Skateboard companies pioneered content marketing decades ago, because selling more product was secondary to the fun of creating videos and magazines.
If you’re still not sure what to create, ask your existing customers what kind of content you can produce that would be helpful to them now, or would have been helpful to them when they were looking for your product or service. They’ll probably tell you.
How Can I Learn More?
There are many online and podcast sources, from Hubspot to Copyblogger. More important than ever before is to focus on producing mobile-friendly content, since smartphones are becoming the dominant way in which most customers access content.
Most companies are not doing real content marketing…yet. Jump in now and enjoy the advantage. Let me know how it goes.