The concept of content marketing has been around for a long time and it’s not going away any time soon. It’s likely you’ve heard of the term before and are possibly already executing your own form of it (whether you are aware of it or not).
To put it simply, content marketing is a type of marketing that sees brands share materials that don’t explicitly promote the brand, rather incite interest in the brands’ products or services. Whether it’s through social, online video, podcasts, infographics, or an in house magazine, content marketing can cut through the excess of information and generate genuine interest in your brand (hopefully with sales to follow).
Grounded in storytelling, content marketing can significantly improve conversion rates, whilst supporting your marketing efforts tenfold. It works hand in hand with SEO, email marketing, and social media, driving consumers to follow and engage with your brand. Yet as with most marketing efforts, the content marketing world is more competitive than ever. So how do you cut through the noise and make it worth your time?
Have a strategy
Content marketing should be part of a long term plan, not just a single, one-off approach. It is a vital step in the customer journey that can dramatically improve your ROI so therefore deserves a well-devised strategy. Build a plan that reflects your audience insights and works towards a long term goal.
Within this you should be looking at ways your content can be executed through multi-channel distribution, whilst also ensuring cohesiveness across all channels. Set timelines, goals and KPIs, but remember that content marketing also requires agility. Test what works, and tweak the plan to suit as you go, rather than setting things in stone. A good content marketing strategy requires constant analysis!
Make it educational
Many brands place sole emphasis on promoting the products or service they sell but lose sight of the fact consumers don’t always want to be sold to. Content marketing should be all about education and insights you can offer a consumer. Creating educational and informative content can differentiate your brand in a saturated market. You only need to look at the brands that do it well to truly understand the power that educational content can have.
Take Coles and Woolworths for example, they have both launched various free in house magazines offered to consumers, full of recipes, profiles and health and wellness tips. The underlying message is of course ‘buy our products’ but they are offering something of value to the consumer in the process.
Ask if it’s relevant
This point might be grounded in a little controversy given that some people would argue that content for content sake is better than no content at all. Challenging this reasoning, I’d argue that creating and distributing relevant content is what you should aim for every time.
Content can be a reflection of your brand image and if you have positioned your brand a certain way, you can quickly undo all your hard work if you distribute content that isn’t up to scratch. Take your time developing a strategic plan that is relevant to your brand and adds value for the audience you’re talking to.
Involve your audience
Most brands will have some loyal followers that have an unwavering brand affinity, however many brands aren’t tapping into that power. Use your loyal followers to create user-generated content that essentially acts as modern-day digital word-of-mouth (plus they do the job of creating content for you so it’s a win-win).
User-generated content is an authentic way to increase engagement and encourage brand discussion, but more importantly, is incredibly cost-effective. A great example of a brand tapping into the power of their audience is Starbucks with their White Cup Competition. This was back in 2014 but still holds relevance today due to its success that came with little cost. Starbucks held a competition that encouraged customers to doodle on their white Starbucks cups and post their images to social media. In just 3 weeks almost 4,000 people submitted an entry which not only encouraged social chatter, but generated PR for the brand and extra content that Starbucks could share.
Support your SEO efforts
One of the biggest benefits of content marketing is what it does for SEO. Content marketing contributes to SEO by generating inbound links and additional content for your website. That means your brand is getting a better chance at being found in search engines (which can directly translate to increased sales). It has been said that SEO without content marketing is like a body without a soul, so if you are proactively working on SEO, content marketing should be right beside it.
Content marketing will allow you to take advantage of backlinks, enhance your user experience and keep consumers on your website for longer. The two go hand in hand because SEO demands content and content marketing doesn’t get seen without SEO. Yes they are completely different things but need each other to be successful!