The idea behind content marketing is simple enough. Create useful and engaging content so that folks will read it, watch it, love it, and ultimately buy the products you sell. But what are the core ideas that help to make content marketing successful?
Start with value. Content marketing has to provide real value, something that pierces all of the noise of social media and advertising.
What follows are five tips that start with value. If embraced, these could make your content marketing efforts more successful in the coming year.
Create Valuable Content
“Today’s consumers are staring at an invitation avalanche, with every company asking for likes, follows, clicks, and attention. This is on top of all the legacy advertising that envelops us like a straitjacket. There are only two ways for companies to break through in an environment that is unprecedented in its competitiveness and cacophony. They can be ‘amazing’ or they can be useful,” wrote marketing guru Jay Baer in his book, “Youtility.”
And let’s face it: Amazing is hard to do. So instead of trying to make the next viral video or breakout meme, focus on creating content that has real value for your target audience of potential customers. Specifically, create content in three, often overlapping, categories.
- Useful content. This might be a how-to post, a guide of some kind, or even an interactive tool. The aim is to help your audience complete a task or learn a skill.
- Informative content. Here your goal is to help folks acquire a new skill or perhaps a new perspective. Or it may help them make a better decision.
- Entertaining content. Joy, laughter, and emotion have value. And so does entertaining content.
Here are a few examples of valuable content videos to help make the point. Each of these embodies one or more of the categories described above.
This first example is a video from Guitar Salon International, which sells professional classical and flamenco guitars, and EliteGuitarist, which provides online guitar lessons. The two combined for a video tutorial that is useful and informative. A consumer could learn a real skill from it.
In a similar vein, Siccas Guitars, a top guitar store in Germany, regularly releases engaging and entertaining classical guitar performances featuring some of the best players in the world.
Montana-based instrument maker Stephen Boone published a video showing how he built a classical guitar. The video had more than 2.8 million views at the time of writing.
Build a Content Hub
Content marketing should connect your business with customers and prospects directly, without an intermediary. Thus you’ll want to own your content hub rather than use a third-party site to post all of your great work.
“That means you’re not publishing the bulk of your original creative content on LinkedIn or Medium,” wrote Sonia Simone, the co-founder and chief content officer at Rainmaker Digital, who described this concept as not building “on rented land.”
Instead, use a section or sections of your company’s site dedicated to content. If your ecommerce platform has blogging built in, you may be able to use it. Otherwise, your site may require some development and integration.
While this second option will take more work, it could also provide a competitive advantage. You could, for example, offer content via accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) or build your hub as a progressive web app (PWA), serving up blazing fast static pages.
Make Content Accessible
“One of the things you likely hear about … as a content marketer is how to reach as many people as possible. We tend to talk about this regarding finding the right audience and meeting them where they already are by participating in social media conversations and optimizing content for search engines. However, there’s another way to maximize your reach, and it’s all about web accessibility,” wrote April Klazema, who is the founder of a content marketing and communications agency.
Web accessibility is the practice of ensuring customers and potential customers who have disabilities can access and interact with your content. It is simply the idea of being inclusive. And, it is a must for content marketing.
The World Wide Web Consortium has a good introduction to web accessibility.
Content marketing and search engine optimization are related. Both disciplines seek to attract and engage an audience of potential customers. Both seek to understand what is important to the target audience. Both work best when focused on providing real value.
So how do they differ and how does one integrate these two important marketing techniques? Well, try thinking about a sandwich.
That’s how digital marketer Lee Odden described the relationship between content marketing and SEO in a June 2014 article for the Content Marketing Institute.
“While SEO has traditionally been able to drive online marketing performance on its own, search engine updates to address online content quality (Panda) and the more conversational nature of search behavior (Hummingbird) — along with the surging popularity of social networks — have changed the SEO landscape forever,” Odden wrote.
“Think of SEO this way: If a customer-focused content marketing program is the sandwich, then SEO is the mayonnaise. It touches nearly everything and enhances the overall flavor of the sandwich.”
For your content marketing programs, try to fully integrate SEO. Your content marketing hub should embrace technical SEO best practices. And SEO can be a fine tool to help your company identify content topics — perhaps via broken link building or other popular link building techniques — that would resonate with your target audience.
Connect with Consumers
Content marketing should be the beginning of a customer relationship. You want your audience not to just be consumers of content but participants in your business.
Give folks an opportunity to engage. Offer email subscriptions. Include links to the products you sell in relevant content. Or simply feature products in a similar manner as the video examples above.