Nowadays, no agency is too small for content marketing not to be a talking point. But in truth, most agencies still craft campaigns that benefit either one half of the term or the other. Here, we take a look at how to combine both content and marketing goals into a contemporary advertising strategy.
A guest post by Inbound Marketing expert and Amazon best-selling author Matthew Capala.
With about 160 million blogs online and 4 billion hours of video being watched every month on YouTube, there is a huge opportunity for brands to connect with their consumers via compelling content. The problem is that most content marketing initiatives underperform because big creative ideas are rarely integrated with a data-driven, performance-based approach. In a
popular post on Content Marketing Institute (CMI), Barry Feldman of Feldman Creative rightly noted: “You could make the case that SEO is content marketing. Search engine optimization is a misnomer anyway. It seems to suggest you optimize the search engine. Clearly, you cannot and do not. You optimize online content.” In a world where 80 percent of consumers search online for a product before purchasing it, the goal of content marketers is not only to plan and create content, but also to find a way to make it more discoverable in top search engine results. Great content can go unnoticed without SEO, while SEO-led content can do poorly because it is not compelling. That’s why brands need a holistic approach to content marketing that emphasizes creativity and performance equally.
“You could make the case that SEO is content marketing. Search engine optimization is a misnomer anyway. It seems to suggest you optimize the search engine. Clearly, you cannot and do not. You optimize online content.” — Barry Feldman
Excellent content marketing is data driven
Content marketers still need to understand how the search algorithm works to make their content perform on Google or on Facebook’s Graph Search. The game changer is that, as marketers, we can’t be merely concerned about “the keyword.” Instead, we must optimize our content to relate to “who” typed it into the search box. In other words, marketers need to align their keyword strategy along the user journey, emphasizing the connection between content and intent (i.e. keyword) through methodical audience profiling, research, and analysis. In other words: if you engage in content marketing and you don’t have personas developed and validated by quantitative research, start over. You need to make content decisions based on data so that you craft content with a built-in ROI. Measure and test everything. Great content that is optimized and targeted towards predefined personas pulls your audience in naturally. Only the perfect knowledge about the people you are writing for will enable you to tell the most engaging story for them.
“If you engage in content marketing and you don’t have personas developed, start over” — Matthew Capala
Your number-one job is to tell an engaging story
Which leads us to the most important rule of thumb: your number-one job is to tell the perfect story to your followers. No matter where they are, and preferably at the moment when they are making decisions. Businesses are on social media because they want to be relevant and engaged, but if their content is banal and unimaginative, it only makes them look lame. A story is at its best when it’s non-intrusive. Especially on social media, the only story that can achieve business goals is one told with native content. If you want to talk to people when they consume entertainment, you need to be entertainment. It doesn’t require you to alter your brand identity—you shouldn’t. But content for the sake of content is just pointless. Marketers who understand social platforms at that fluid level will succeed. Get out there. Be human. Take the time to understand each platform, and act like a user. Talk to people in ways that are native to the platform and you will win.
Update your content frequently
And: don’t chase the algorithm. Instead, get in front of it. Publishing frequency matters, but only if content is relevant and well crafted. There’s no doubt that you need to publish frequently on your brand’s website. According to HubSpot, companies that distribute content regularly receive 55 percent more website traffic and – in particular in B2C markets – generate 88 percent more leads compared to those who don’t publish frequently. The topic of content frequency is my pet peeve, because it is often abused and taken to extremes, especially when it comes to branded content. Yes, content frequency does impact customer acquisition. But if the content is not good, your audience will move away and your efforts will be counterproductive. Therefore, the main question isn’t what publishing frequency is needed to trick Google’s algorithm; it’s how often your company is able to create content that’s relevant for the user.
According to HubSpot, companies that distribute content regularly receive 55 percent more website traffic in general.
Original native content vs. recycled alphabet soupThe right approach to marketing on the Internet involves a wide range of disciplines: psychology, social science, and data analytics. But, above all, you need to be “native” to the platform you are communicating through. Just to be clear here: you can’t simply repurpose old material created for one platform, throw it up on another one, and then be surprised that people don’t engage or are turned off by your efforts. You have to take the time to understand each platform and take a long view approach to developing a community. If you want to become influential on the platform, you will need to act like the user. However, no matter how “native” to the platform you are, your content has to be amazing. Effective social media marketing is about engaging your audience with compelling stories. And that’s a constant.
A shortened version of this post originally appeared on Sparksheet.com
Text: Matthew Capala
Illustration: Michael Tränker, grasundsterne