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You’ve probably heard that content marketing is kind of a big deal. Most people have. But, do you understand why your business needs it?
At BirdBrain, we believe content marketing is one of the best long-term marketing strategies your business can invest in. It isn’t focused on short-term wins, rather it influences almost every other online strategy and is focused on building a genuine relationship with your clients.
Over the coming weeks, we’re going to be discussing all things content marketing. In the first installment of our Content Marketing Essentials series, we’ll identify why businesses should implement content marketing strategies.
Stuck for time? Here some the key insights:
- Clients are spammed with more ads and marketing messages than ever before and are actively ignoring them
- Content marketing is your answer to cutting through the noise and even getting audiences to actively search for you
- Content must be of a high quality in order to earn your audience’s attention
- Quality content has the power to be your most powerful sales and lead generation tool, but it doesn’t happen by chance. It requires a strategy, process, commitment and investment
- Respect your clients – tailor your content to their needs and help them solve their problems with it
- It is vital that your content is easily accessible.
Ready for more? Let’s start with the basics.
What is Content Marketing?
“Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Why do businesses need content marketing?
Content marketing is one of the best long-term marketing strategies a business can invest in. It isn’t focused on short-term wins, rather it influences almost every other online strategy and is focused on building a relationship with your audience. You’re not just talking at them, like with short-term campaigns. Instead, you’re engaging them in two-way communication, building an invaluable relationship that is proven to increase conversion rates.
Audiences don’t enjoy the “interruption-based approach” that marketing folk have been using since the Don Draper days. The success of campaigns centred on forcing unwanted messages in people’s faces via print, TV, radio, and banner advertising is inherently limited by the user’s distaste of the “hard sell.” Stealing the attention of audiences is becoming harder as people have had enough with traditional advertising.
Advertising saturation has increased to the point that the modern audience is responding with ways to avoid advertising. It is easy to fast forward through TV commercials, block pop-ups, and ignore print and banner ads. With the availability of YouTube Red, Netflix, Foxtel, Spotify, and other streaming services, these messages can simply be avoided altogether. In fact, over 200 million people use ad blockers. If your clients do stumble upon advertising, it is likely that they will tune out.
The audience today actively seeks their answers through organic content or finds them through social media, rather than relying on advertising to tell them what they need. This means that a business which invests in the creation of valuable and relevant content will attract clients as they go through the process of seeking answers to their questions.
Content marketing is your answer to cutting through the noise, and even getting audiences to actively search for you.
Content is King… Or is it?
In 1996, Bill Gates penned an essay titled “Content is King.” This quickly became a mantra for marketing and communication professionals. Even today, two decades later, it is still ingrained deep into our souls while we’re in university, and put into practice daily throughout our careers. It underpins everything we do. But, it is losing its meaning.
Content is no longer king. There, we said it.
After all, everyone is creating content. There is so much of it out there that content is simply white noise throughout our day. There is no pazzazz or sparkle anymore. As the volume of content being created continues to grow, engagement rates are declining at astounding rates, with audiences becoming as adept at ignoring content as they are traditional advertising.
Well, hold on. Why are we raving about the benefits of content marketing, then? The answer is simple. Audiences are still hungry for content, but there is a catch.
Content has to be QUALITY in order to earn your audience’s attention.
Effective content marketing isn’t easy, but it pays off
You want someone to read your blog over the other two million blogs that are estimated to be published every day? You better damn well make sure it is interesting. And trustworthy, entertaining, authoritative, visually engaging, progressive, visionary, original, controversial and life changing. Let’s also add inspiring to that list.
The content you create can’t be a sales piece – it has to be authentic, open and valuable. Instead of hoarding and hiding company secrets from potential clients, the most effective marketers now generously give it away freely.
This approach is counter-intuitive to most of us. After all, if we just give information away, what value do we have left? Will our customers still need us? Will our competitors be able to steal our advantage? And, if our customers aren’t communicating with us directly during the research stage, will they still continue to purchase?
Fortunately, the evidence suggests they will. Research indicates B2B buyers move 57% of the way through the buying cycle before even engaging a sales rep. The mentality of protecting our expertise is born out of habit and insecurity. But, surely your business offers more value to its clients than just the knowledge it possesses. Most people simply seek out great content to educate themselves, as part of the natural consumer decision making process. Your brand, your people and your customer service are what will keep people coming back.
If you are looking for long term clients, demonstrating your insight, experience and creating brand love through the creation of high-quality content is means to build trust and transparency.
Hubspot indicates that 60% of marketers list blog content as their top inbound priority. Despite this, too many business owners are settling for superficial content that does absolutely no justice to the blood, sweat and tears they put into building their business. It’s an easy trap – one we all inevitably fall into at some point or another. It’s time to stop relegating content creation to the lowest bidding offshore supplier who has no real understanding of your brand, business values and, most importantly, your customers.
Quality content has the power to be your most powerful sales and lead generation tool, but it doesn’t happen by chance. To be successful, it requires a strategy, process, commitment and investment.
Groundwork Content Marketing Tips
You’re dealing with real people. Respect them.
When creating content, you must remember that you’re creating content for real people. Your clients are just as real as your friends and family. They have real feelings, real lives, real needs and real problems. Remember that in every.single.thing. that you do.
Your audience is not (I repeat, NOT) just a hypothetical person on a journey through your sales funnel. Your customers’ journeys are their stories and their lives. Respect that, and reflect your respect for your clients in your approach to content creation.
All too often we hear the SEO discussion. It goes something like this; “what is the perfect keyword density?” or “how many times should I mention my keyword?” or “what latent semantic keywords should we use?”
Unnatural approaches like this went out years ago. I’ve never met someone who enjoys reading a piece that is keyword stuffed. It’s painful, and something that makes our skin crawl! We no longer strive to appear to Google as being highly relevant for our users; rather, we strive to genuinely be relevant.
If you were writing a book or a magazine article, would you seriously consider making sure you mention a keyword or title a particular number of times to make sure your reader is reminded of what they are looking for? Hopefully, you answered a definite “no.”
It’s ludicrous, and more often than not an extremely obvious ploy to ‘game’ the search engines. Don’t do it. Just don’t. Forget writing for the robots, it’s an approach doomed to fail.
As a business, it is your responsibility to create content that helps your readers solve their problems and is empathetic to their needs.
You have a valuable offering – offer it in a valuable way!
Your content must be accessible.
There is no point writing killer content that is so good it would make your ideal client swoon if they can’t find it. It wastes your time and resources.
Know your SEO and how to write content that provides user benefit while semantically providing SEO relevance within your wider SEO strategy. Content that is both Google-friendly and user-friendly is a delicate balancing act – one that is proven to be worth investing time into trial and tweak to perfection.
You should also understand how to attract clients (social media content and influencer marketing are only two possibilities). Get your content out there, then make sure your website follows through and completes the experience.
Think of it like trying to pick up in a bar. You prepped for the evening, you have a killer outfit, and are confident you present well. You’ve attracted a potential interest. Your banter is on form, you’re engaging, and they are definitely interested. Things are looking good. Then… just as you go to close the deal, you spill your drink and have to race off to clean yourself up. On your way back to the bar, your mum “happens” to show up with all your aunties and you get ambushed. By the time you make it back, someone else has swooped in and you’ve lost the opportunity to close the deal. Your “call-to-action” failed before you even really got the chance to put it out there.
It’s the same with social media. In this scenario, your socials are relevant and engaging, and you are building a relationship with your audience. You have successfully enticed them with a call-to-action that is so good they are willing to break their newsfeed scroll and commit to visiting your website… but your site takes forever to load. The moment passes. They’re impatient and can easily visit another site that will load. The harsh reality is that they’re probably going to visit your competitor’s site.
The importance of accessibility for any website is high. In the context of content, it’s critical. The majority of users access video and written content via mobile devices, with the proportion of mobile vs desktop users increasing every day. Ensuring your website is optimised for mobiles and tablets is essential.
Another turn-off for your audience is clunky navigation and poor design. Clean, effective code and stellar design will increase your chances of retaining a visitor’s attention.
Why should a business conduct content marketing activities?
Content marketing is the strategic solution for reaching and engaging audiences in order to build a long-term, genuine relationship that reaches businesses objective.
Content Marketing Essentials: The Series
Getting grips with the essentials of content marketing will change the way your business creates and distributes content. It will also shift the way your clients, and potential clients, view your business.
Stay tuned, over our Content Marketing Essentials blog series, we will explore the basics of content marketing and content execution. What can you expect?
- The Power Four
A guide to help you get a grip on the essential social-media hit list, who uses the channels and how they use them.
- Persona Mapping
Audience demographics are so last century and no longer effective. Personas are essential in content marketing.
- Giving it to your Audience
Using social media as the love language to woo your clients is a powerful tool of seduction and enticement.
- Content Planning
Becoming a master in executing content with this practical guide to scheduling social media posts, distribute EDMs or post blogs.
- Social Media ROI
Measure the return on investment from social media and understand how to know if you’re getting bang for your buck.
If you’re ready to talk content marketing, say hi! We can’t wait to meet you and help your business.