Jessica is a digital expert and board advisor of Valux, LLC, a nationally recognized full-service digital marketing and PR company.
Imagine having a business website that potential customers came to because it was a source of information for something they were interested in. Rather than trying to entice people to click on an ad or link with a promotion or sale, people found your website in a search for something they wanted to learn more about. Think about how much more qualified your website visitors would be if they were there because they saw your website as a source of valuable information.
There is a way to do this, and it’s known as content marketing.
What is content marketing? Here at Valux, we define content marketing as “the strategy of creating high-valuable and relevant content that your audience will be engaged in reading and interacting with.” This content can be shared on a variety of outreach channels, such as your website, in emails or on social media.
Two key words in that definition are “valuable” and “relevant.” Content marketing is about offering information that people can use and meets their needs. The “content” part of content marketing is often a blog, although it can take many forms, including podcasts, videos, e-books and more. What’s most important is that it contains that valuable and relevant content that lets the potential customer know that you are the expert in the subject they’ve searched for, and your company can provide the solution they need.
Where written content, like blogs, becomes particularly valuable is in the ways it benefits your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking. Many people still think of an SEO strategy in terms of keyword stuffing, but those days are gone. Search engines still seek keywords, but the algorithms, which change frequently, now reward quality content over a page full of keywords that offer no insight or information. Quality content relevant to your industry or niche should organically include keywords that potential customers are searching for.
Backlinks also help your SEO rating, so when other sites link to your content, search engines reward that as well, resulting in your site moving higher and higher in the search rankings. Why would anyone link to your site? Because you have valuable, relevant content — a good content marketing strategy. See how it all ties together?
So, you may say, “This is all great, and I want to do this. But how?” As a full-service marketing agency, we often hear questions like: “How do I know what customers want?” “How do I get started with content?” “How do I get it seen?”
The first question is the easiest and is in your hands. They’re your customers, after all. Talk to them. But also, talk to the people who speak to them most. There is often a gap between sales and marketing, but salespeople are closest to customer needs. If they’re really listening — and if they’re not, they probably aren’t very successful — they have a sense of the greatest customer concerns and what is most often on the minds of people who are shopping for your product or service.
A recent study showed that 74% of business-to-business (B2B) content marketers use sales team feedback to research their target audience, while only 42% have the customer conversations themselves. What works best will depend on your business, of course, but the key is putting information before brand. Use advertising to pitch your products; use content to become a trusted advisor and valued source of information.
Getting started is a little more complicated. It depends on your organization, how it’s structured and what kind of resources are available to aid in content creation. Another survey, this time of business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations, found that more than half of marketers outsource some content marketing activities, with content creation being the most-often outsourced task at 80%. Outsourcing can supplement some in-house creation, or it can be the primary source.
Next is the question of “How do I get it seen?” The most common way marketers distribute content is social media — 89% of survey respondents use it, with email a close second. A good social media strategy is essential, but we often hear how time-consuming it can be to develop and maintain. Having someone on your team or to partner with who has social media expertise can go a long way. Social media done right is invaluable, and more so than ever in 2020, as the pandemic has led to more time online and increased social media usage. The Harris Poll found that in the first few months of the pandemic, around half of all adults in the U.S. were using social media more. It’s the perfect opportunity to reach customers where they are.
All aspects of your branding and marketing strategy should complement each other. Content is no different. By combining your online advertising, branding and SEO solutions with your content strategy, you can send a powerful, integrated message to your customers. From more qualified web traffic to increased search engine rankings and more engaged customers, content marketing is a strategy that can benefit any business. If you haven’t given it a try, maybe now is the time.
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