If you want a quick definition of what content marketing is, and some simple tips on how to get involved, you’re reading the right newsletter.
Content marketing has been around for years, that’s the first thing to remember. Many people and businesses have overlooked it so far, despite it gaining considerable and growing attention throughout the years. But since Google placed unparalleled importance on unique, engaging content as a ranking factor, it has become the next big thing, all over again.
What is content marketing?
The ‘content’ part
Put simply it’s the practice of writing original, unique, well-researched and engaging copy with a light scattering of SEO (keywords, links and the like). Remember that the latter is still important, but the former is absolutely essential – it’s where companies can show-off knowledge of their sector and capture interest.
The ‘marketing’ part
So you’ve written something inspirational – who’s going to read it? Just as there are probably thousands of undiscovered poets and novelists out there, there are probably lots of talented content writers without a clue how to sell their work. And we don’t mean sell literally, for money, Google would not look favourably on that. This is about networking; PR without the suits; chef’s table at the latest Michelin-starred restaurant and dusty wines – good old-fashioned, ‘I’ve got something that your customer’s (read: readers) will absolutely want’ networking.
Top 10 tips for content marketing
Talk about something no-one else knows as much about. Telling people something they don’t already know or encouraging them to think about something they do know about in a new way is a sure fire way to make an impression. You don’t have to commission ground-breaking research, but you do have to find an original angle at least.
Content marketing isn’t about keywords. If you rely on keywords as the basis for your content marketing strategy, you’ll probably find what you produce is flat and you’ll find yourself back in SEO article marketing territory. Brainstorm first and think about the SEO later.
Be original. If the rest of the world seems to be talking about one thing, try and find the next hot topic to talk about rather than simply jumping on the back of the current one. Of course, if you have an original angle on a hot topic, go with that.
Do your research. The world of internet marketing has moved on from producing content for content’s sake, now it’s all about quality and engaging content that takes time to plan and produce. While there’s still a place for high-volume content for link building purposes, the smart thing to do is combine this with high-quality, thought-through articles, reports and blog posts.
Know your audience. Content marketing is about producing articles that are written to be read and most importantly shared. So no matter how interesting you might find the debate of whether social media ROI can really be reported on, if your readers want to know about 3D television technology they won’t share your enthusiasm and they won’t read your articles.
Structure is as important as content. Online people’s attention spans are very short, and with this in mind it’s probably not worth writing a 60-page white paper that you expect them to sit at their computer and read. If you’ve carried out extensive research and results are fascinating, think about pulling out the key facts in bullet-point format and link to more information within the long document. Encourage your users to share these snippets on Twitter with a link to the full article. This way each of your customers can take what they need without having to read the whole thing (which inevitably they wouldn’t do).
Online and offline can work wonders when used together. When you produce a content plan, it’s worth considering the role print and digital can play. It might make more sense to put something into print and market it online, or vice versa – don’t think that content marketing is solely a digital practice.
Encourage discussion and conversation. As well as presenting great copy, it’s important to include calls to action that shape what happens to your content once it’s in the public domain. Give people a reason first of all to read it, then to share it and to discuss/comment on it – ask the basic sales and marketing question of ‘what’s in it for them’.
Keep an eye on your competitors. It’s not about stealing topics or angles, but it is about making sure you’re giving your customers more than your competitors at all times. Stay ahead and the word will spread that you’re the go-to place on a particular topic/industry. This word of mouth marketing is extremely powerful.
Content marketing is not about building links, it’s about attracting them. Rather than placing your content all over the place, you want to place engaging, hard-hitting, well-written content on your own site, which website/blog owners will find and then link to from their own sites. This is the ultimate goal and it’s not easy to achieve, which is way a content marketing strategy is essential before putting fingers to keys.
Feel free to share this if you know anyone that wants to attract and retain customers/readers but doesn’t know how. If you want each of the tips in Twitter-friendly format (140 characters etc) let us know!
Ask yourself this:
- What was the last piece of content you shared with your customers?
- Was it part of a content marketing strategy?
- Did you measure its effectiveness?
- Will you take learnings from it?