If you are a business or entrepreneur, it’s more than likely you have engaged a content marketing company. At the very least, you’ve heard the term content marketing being mentioned. According to the Content Marketing Institute Research, “73% of B2B marketers and 70% of B2C marketers use content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy”. Research reveals that existing companies are increasing their monthly content marketing spend. Why are more and more businesses turning to content marketers? Why is content marketing valuable for businesses? Before answering these questions, it’s important to gain a better understanding of content marketing and why it’s used strategically in business.
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach used to better engage audiences via the creation and participation in various media.
- press releases
- website copy
- new media – animated content
- email campaigns
- social media posts
From Where Did the Term ‘Content Marketing’ Originate?
John F. Oppendahl coined the term “content marketing” in 1996. The journalist was participating in a roundtable discussion at the American Society for Newspaper Editors’ conference. Click the following, if you would like to learn more about the History of Content Marketing.
The 6 Step Content Marketing Process:
Content Marketing Process:
1. Content Strategy
2. Content Creation
3. Content Production
4. Content Distribution
5. Content Participation
6. Content Evaluation
1. Research, Analyze, Strategize
2. Content creation reflective of overall content marketing strategy
3. Blogs, articles, graphics, videos, podcasts, interactive content
4. Website, email database, subscribers, social media, traditional media
5. Engaging with consumers is a key component of the content strategy
6. Were objectives met? Exceeded? Let’s evaluate
“Content Marketing enables businesses to communicate with customers directly”
Why Content Marketing Is Valuable For Businesses
Content Marketing is a valuable marketing tool that helps businesses distinguish their brands from competitors. It is useful at any business stage and caters to both new and existing brands. It helps establish your company as a trusted and reliable authority in your specific niche. Establishing trust and being considered a trusted authority is more important now than ever before with the addition of E-E-A-T.
Content Marketing Helps Businesses:
- Build a brand
- Increase brand awareness
- Better position their brand
- Better connect with consumers
- Target communication initiatives
- Better understand customers’ wants and needs
- Develop more targeted, high-quality leads
- Convert consumers into loyal customers
What is a Content Marketing Strategy?
A content marketing strategy is a thoughtful, focused approach developed uniquely for your business’ content creation. A content marketing strategy incorporates your target demographic in all content initiatives. It is a great tool for broadening brand awareness, establishing brand loyalty and driving customer action.
What Distinguishes a Content Marketing Strategy From Mere Content Creation?
Marketing fundamentals are incorporated into a professional content marketing strategy. When creating content, it’s imperative that you provide a value-added experience for your audience. This means providing useful, engaging, accurate, well-researched content.
In an era of content saturation, it’s imperative that businesses ‘stand out in the crowd’. How can you distinguish your business from both direct and indirect competitiors? Is your content connecting with consumers? Are you generating useful leads, reflective of your target demographic?
Questions such as the aforementioned form part of a professional content marketing strategy. There is little point wasting valuable time, resources and capital simply creating content that’s devoid of a strategic approach. This is also why SEO must be part of your content marketing strategy.
A Content Marketing Strategy Must Include Optimization
Due to the immense online competition facing businesses today, it’s essential to include optimization as part of a professional content marketing strategy. There is no point creating content online without optimizing the content. Professional SEO content writers ensure that meta descriptions, alt text all contain the target keyword and are professionally written. Metadata muct be included in all online content, as without it, your content won’t be found.
Optimization of content does not merely refer to your company’s blog posts. It’s an essential part of having all of your online content found. Images, infographics, videos, audio files, as well as written materials, MUST be optimized in order to be found, indexed and ranked online.
“Content Marketing enables businesses to turn consumers of their content into loyal repeat customers”
A Content Marketing Strategy Is Advantageous For Your Business
A content marketing strategy ensures that your business is capitalizing on both existing and prospective customers. When metrics are derived, analyzed and discussed, strategies can be developed for specific target demographics. Accurate analyses help businesses better understand market segmentation and provide invaluable competitor analysis, of both direct and indirect competitiors.
Content Marketing Study Reveals Business Benefits
A recent Content Marketing Study revealed many of the inherent benefits in developing a content marketing strategy. Businesses showed significant increases among all categories of inquiry.
Businesses Reported That Content Marketing Helped:
- Build loyalty with existing clients and customers (78%)
- Nurture subscribers, audiences and leads (64%)
- Build credibility and trust (88%)
- Generate demand and leads (72%)
- Generate Sales and Revenue (57%)
Strategic Marketing – Why it’s Necessary For Content Marketing
Strategic marketing is a specialised area of business marketing. Thorough marketing analyses such as a SWOT analysis is conducted prior to the planning, creation, implementation or participation in any content marketing initiatives. This analytical approach is used for internal and external analysis. External factors such as direct and in-direct competitors, are further explored by comprehensive competitor analysis.
Unlike some companies that develop content strategies devoid of professional marketing, strategic marketing governs the content strategy phase. This approach is far more consumer-driven and competitor focused. Prior to any content being created, strategic marketers incorporate a company’s USP, mission statement, value statements and branding into their strategies.
SEO strategic marketers build their keyword strategies around the company’s branding, in conjunction with useful and meaningful content marketing.
How A Content Marketing Strategy Helps Businesses
Valued Customers Feel Heard
Content marketing affords businesses with an unparalleled opportunity to speak directly with their desired customers. This communication technique enables your customers to feel part of the process. Their wants and needs are reflected in your content marketing efforts.
Customer Loyalty and Trust Increases
How to build and nurture customer loyalty is a discussion in which many businesses engage. Content marketing assists in building and sustaining customer loyalty. When customers feel heard, businesses are rewarded by customer loyalty and trust.
Businesses Can Differentiate Themselves From Online Competitors
Competition is fierce and it is vital to distinguish your brand from competing brands. One challenge facing businesses is how to ‘stand out’ in an over-saturated market? A content marketing strategy helps businesses differentiate their brand from other competing brands.
Why is Branded Content Beneficial For Your Business?
Branding your content helps deliver a consistent message to your target demographic. Businesses communicate directly with their target demographic, while capitalizing on the branding opportunities. The Content Marketing Graphic below is an example of branded content.
Branded content provides a useful lead generation technique. It enables prospective customers to contact you directly and quickly. It’s important that branded content includes an email, website url and company logo to make it the most convenient for consumers.
Branded content results in your brand being foremost in customers’ minds. This ‘dialogue’ results in greater trust for your business and helps distinguish it from competiting brands.
What Type Of Content Should Your Business Develop?
Consumer Centric and Content Centric Blog Study
Years ago, I used the following example to explain a consumer centric and content centric strategy to prospective clients. While conducting a search for things to do in Paris, I was directed to a listicle article. This list reflected the very most basic of recommendations, some popular tourist points of interest but with very little thought or effort made. In fact, the content was the definition of thin content. It’s no wonder why the webpage would have had high bounce rates. When you’re performing a search about what to do while in Paris, you want to be surprised by the value information you’re receiving. When this is not the case, it is incredibly frustrating and as the term suggests, you ‘bounce’ off the page.The next blog was very personal in its approach but again it too lacked any unique information, so again I abandoned the page.
It required further research to find any information that I didn’t already know. What is the point of visiting a webpage only to be disappointed? If you’re expecting to find unique, valuable tips for a trip to Paris then what is the point of manufacturing content that ignores your target demographic’s wishes? Why make the time and effort to write a blog that is devoid of quality information?
In order to maintain and grow subscribers, content must be unique, valuable, useful, well-researched, high quality and engage your target demographic. This is why a consumer centric approach identifies your audience’s needs and a content centric approach caters to these wants and needs.
Why Churning Out Content is Not a Strategy
In an effort to stay competitive, many businesses began churning out content in the hopes of increasing website traffic, and social media followers. However, the opposite often became true and the standard of quality diminished.
When we examine the situation online, it becomes easy to see that there is an overabundance of content. It is a source of struggle for many businesses trying to ‘get noticed’ online, yet remaining lost in all the ‘noise’.
When businesses prioritize quantity over quality, it’s no wonder why rates of conversion fall. Without a thoughtful, meaningful content marketing strategy, it is money, time and resources wasted.
Unfortunately, some businesses are still under the false impression that the more often they post, the higher their traffic, levels of engagement and conversion rates. However, that is a fallacy. In fact, it’s the value attributed to your content that is the most vital component in any content strategy.
Successful Content Marketing Demands Quality, Useful, Engaging Content Creation
Content Marketers know that irrespective of the plethora of analytics, the most critical component is the value attributed to your content. Each piece of content must provide a quality experience for consumers. Blogs must be engaging, useful, well-researched and unique. Gone are the days where you could merely write 500-1,000 words and rank highly. Today, competition is fierce and great SEO writers will continue to outrank their counterparts. Content must be keyword immersive, but not keyword spammy or use keyword stuffing. Has your business developed a customer centric campaign that prioritizes your desired customer?
E-E-A-T – The Latest Update to the Quality Rater Guidelines
There have been great advancements in the precision and accuracy of search engine algorithms and their sophistication continues to accelerate. In the latest update, Google added a new component, E-E-A-T to better answer search query results, focusing on Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This recent inclusion into the Google’s Content Ranking Guidelines demonstrates that the quality of your content is vital to your rankings. What does this mean for you and your business? Quality content is valued by consumers and search engines alike. The most important thing to remember when publishing written content online is to ensure its accuracy, relevancy, usefulness and quality.
Quality content in the Era of ChatGPT
In order to best service the needs of your target demographic, it’s imperative that your content initiatives speak directky to them. In order to best satisfy search engine algorithms, it’s essential that the value attributed to your content is greater than that of your competitors. New challenges to blog writing and webcopy are only beginning to emerge but as content marketers, it’s important to keep apprised with such developments such as ChatGPT. The way to outrank your competitors is to create superior content.
A question posed, relates to the impact AI automatically generated text, even entire blogs, will have on rankings. While we cannot predict the future accurately, we can rely on marketing and consumer-driven approaches to guide us through these tumultuous and uncertain times. One thing is for certain, there is no substitute for quality. Professioanl SEO blog writing encompasses a lot of research and analytics prior to the creation of a blog post. These unique skills – interpreting analytics, applying the results to strategically drive traffic to the blog post, listening to the company’s guides and stipulations in order to maintain brand loyalty. This type of content creation that heavily values the fundamentals of marketing, cannot merely be mimicked.
It’s one skill being able to reverse engineer a process, but it’s an entirely different skill making the gathered information relevant and useful for your business. This is not an automated process. It takes skill and experience to be able to conduct keyword research and analysis, interpret data and then write valueable, engaging, well-researched and optimized content.
What Distinguishes High Performing Content?
High performing content shares the following characteristics:
- Keyword Intent
- What adds value for readers? Professionally written content ensures your readers are provided with value. This means that references are checked and anchor text links to high authority sources. Taking the time to read a lengthy blog means that it’s informative, useful and valuable.
- Creativity is Valued by Businesses. Content must be unique, both in its context and appearance. Infographics are a great example of unique content. The combination of well-written copy with visually appealing graphics, is a winning combination. Infographics still remain one the most shared pieces of content.
- Quality over Quantity. High quality writing is easily distinguishable from its counterpart. Quality writing is intuitive, speaking directly to its audience. No amount of auto-generated text, will detract from valauble, creative and engaging writing. The quality attributed to your online content is also a ranking criteria. Quality content that is well researched and valuable remain determining factors. Google’s Search Quality Guidelines provides an in-depth look at how content is ranked and the purpose of search quality rating.
- We’re busy professionals, so don’t waste our time. The notion of the time-poor consumer is as relevant today, as when the term was coined decades ago. It is vital that you provide useful information. Businesses are judged by their communication initiatives and over-promising yet not delivering is completely unacceptable. Will a visual graphic help you better communicate your company’s systems and processes than text alone? Did you know that articles with images receive 94% more views? Make sure that your content satisfies your audience’s needs.
- No-one wants to be uninformed or misinformed. In today’s fiercely competitive environment, business blogs often resemble high quality journalistic-style articles. It’s imperative that topics are well-researched. Accurate research is essential and this means that existing web content and blog posts must be updated regularly. In addition, Google’s new E-E-A-T makes accurate research a ranking criteria. Quality blogs that are well researched and valuable remain determining factors.
- Sustain readers’ attention with exemplary writing. Thankfully, the standard of online writing has improved over the years. However, there are many blogs and webpages that are in need of urgent attention. Those are plagued by grammatical errors, typos, poor spelling and demonstrate a lack of proper sentence construction. It’s evident that the writer’s language skills have a lot to be desired. Professional content writers and copywriters best engage readers with well-written, colorful language that seems to ‘jump off the page’.
- Content must be optimized in order for it to be found online. Businesses cannot afford to ignore SEO. This process is how content is ranked and found online. Without optimization, all your tireless efforts to produce and publish high-quality content has been in vain. Images provide businesses with a unique opportunity to capitalize on their target keyword due to less competition. Did you know that articles with images receive 94% more views?
- Customer Intent Keywords. Instead of selecting location based keywords, professional content marketers strategize ways to better meet the wants and needs of their target demographic. One such technique is by selecting customer focused keywords. Customer centric campaigns are centred around this target keyword. Is this a keyword that your customers associate with your brand? Have you created a campaign that best communicates the ideas central to your keyword?
- Elicit a response. Content must be engaging. What distinguishes content that engages its readers/viewers/listeners? It entertains, informs, educates, provokes and adds value. It’s imperative that you fully know your target demographic, in order to best meets their wants and needs.
- Create content that doesn’t date. Wherever possible, create content evergreen in nature. Evergreen content ranks highly for many reasons. One of which, is the fact that search engines like to see content being updated and improved over time. Given the fierce competition online, it’s impertaive that you maintain and enhance your content, so that it remains relevant.
Create Content That’s Worth Sharing
If you are hoping to better engage consumers and drive traffic to your website, then creating content merely to create content, is insufficient. Companies must create well written content that is immersive in nature, in order to transform it into content that is shared.
The level of participation demonstrated by sharing content, leaving comments, and engaging with blog posts signals that the content is valuable. Both people and search engines make this assessment and other websites choose to link to yours. These type of metrics enhance your content’s rankings.
Most Blog Content Receives Zero Social Shares
In 2023, it is almost unbelievable to still read that “94% of all blog posts have zero external links”. This presents an enormous opportunity for those who are correctly optimizing their blogs.
What Does “Zero External Links” Mean?
Zero external links means that:
- there are no backlinks in the blogs
- there’s a lack of research and or supporting evidence
- there’s a lack of quality and useful links for readers
- no authority source is linking to the blogs (a negative metric for search engines)
Content Marketing Improves Your Business
Whether you’re a new business trying to build a brand or a well-established brand seeking a competitive edge, content marketing is one of the best marketing strategies to use. In an over-saturated market it’s essential that your business distinguishes itself, in order to remain competitive. Content marketing enables you to better communicate with your consumers, resulting in targeted leads, successful campaigns and satisfied customers.
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