Content Marketing is the buzzword of the day.
The essence of “Content Marketing” is to generate incoming interest for your business or brand as a result of superb content which is helpful and informative.
This is in direct contradiction to the age-old tradition of getting in business by advertising aggressively and splattering one’s brand in everyone’s face so that they never forget it.
Those days are gone.
Consumers these days do most of their research online. This is particularly true of B2B buyers who are usually 70 per cent down the sales funnel by the time they even make contact with you.
People have grown so accustomed to finding all the information they need on the internet, that failing to provide that information for them puts you and your brand at a disadvantage.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at what content marketing really is and how it can help your business generate leads regularly and reliably.
Content Marketing has become so much a part of our daily lives that it has even merited an entry in the Oxford Dictionary.
The Oxford Dictionary defines Content Marketing as:
“A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.”
The essence of content marketing is to “sell without selling”. It is to tell people something that they find useful and helpful, which in turn gets them to:
Another term for this could be “inbound marketing”, although inbound marketing is more closely associated with HubSpot, specifically.
The two terms are not entirely the same, although they share many similarities.
HubSpot’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Halligan coined the term in 2005, nine years before HubSpot went public as a company.
Inbound marketing is all about getting leads to come to you. It is customer-centric and puts the customer first.
That’s the first and foremost rule of both inbound marketing and content marketing: Put the customer first.
In a world where content and solutions are at everyone’s fingertips, one cannot afford to work with antiquated methods of marketing. In today’s world, if your content doesn’t answer people’s questions and give them the assistance they need immediately, they simply go somewhere else to find those answers.
It goes without saying that, to engage in a successful content marketing campaign, you must have an excellent website design that will easily move your visitors down the sales funnel from lead to customer.
How many times have you found an article on Google, read it, then clicked away and didn’t even remember the name of the website you were on?
That’s either a failure in:
Your website must be designed and laid out in such a way that it keeps people reading.
The key metric to analyse when looking at your
Bounce rate is the number of people who have landed on your website but left without (a) looking at any additional pages or (b) taking any meaningful action on your site (such as clicking a link, filling out a form, scrolling down to a certain depth of the page which indicated their interest in the site, etc.).
If you are getting a lot of visitors to your website but your bounce rate is high, then:
Above all else, the design of the site should be clean and professional. A quick DIY theme is unlikely to get you the mileage you need in order to get people to see the content you want them to consume.
Add meaningful content links into the body of the article or content the visitor is reading. If you have a super-super helpful article regarding making widgets, then be sure to link to that article from any other article about widgets.
You can be more blunt than this: Place large and noticeable banners (with CTAs) inside the content itself, telling people where they can download or read more about a particular subject, related to the one they’re currently reading about.
Remember, the essence of content marketing is to be helpful to people. If you tell someone, “Hey, look here, this might also help,” and then proceed to give them invaluable information which indeed does help, they will remember you.
More importantly, they will likely also buy from you.
Newsletters and mailing lists are crucial to keeping people informed of your business and getting them to consume even more content.
As with everything else in content marketing, the key to getting subscribers is to offer something of value.
If someone receives a newsletter which is packed with useful tips, they are more likely to click on a discreet ad somewhere lower down in that newsletter.
Always put the customer first. Always ask yourself, “Would I like to receive this content in my inbox? Would I interact with it? What should it contain for me to find it useful?”
Following the above approach, a fierce sense of customer loyalty for your brand can be developed.
If your customers know that you sincerely have their interests at heart, they will stick with you through thick and thin.
Content Marketing and SEO go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing.
The two subjects interlock, but each is broader than the other in certain respects.
Content Marketing encompasses the content of all types, not only the content that should be found on Search Engines.
Newsletters, white papers, courses behind a paywall — these and many other types of content would not be geared to be found by search engines. So, they would be outside the scope of SEO.
But blog posts aimed at getting traffic would be. Video content and social media posts would also be encompassed by SEO.
SEO itself is a subject that is far broader than merely a few well-worded blog posts. Properly executed SEO Services would include off-site optimisation, e.g. actually phoning and emailing people for backlinks to your content or website.
SEO includes website analytics and tracking, keyword research and analysis. Again there is a bit of overlap here, but not enough to call these two subjects the same things.
Your leads and sales prospects will all be at different stages of the buyer cycle. It is important to have enough content on your website to match wherever they are at in the buyer cycle.
Your frontline of content-marketing is the blog post.
These are the posts that will bring new leads to your website.
Make sure your content has plenty of images in it so as to add meaning to the post.
Regardless of whether the post is written for existing readers or to garner new ones, write it in such a way that it is optimised for search engines.
Long articles — over 2,000 words (the sweet spot is currently around 2,400 words, although this can change) — tend to outperform shorter articles for evergreen, SEO-friendly content.
But there is also a place in the world for shorter articles.
No matter the length, ensure that the article has enough value for those consuming it.
How-To articles are crucial to getting in leads and future business.
They can also become SEO magnets if done properly.
A how-to article must utilise a lot of graphics and charts to convey its message. It needs to be easy to follow and grasp quickly.
The person looking for a how-to article can sometimes be flustered and in a hurry. Having an article that can be easily grasped, quickly, means they will likely stay on your site instead of rushing over to find some other website with easier-to-understand content.
The essence of a how-to article is to fully and completely answer the reader’s questions! The more info you can give them, the less likely they are to go back to the search engines to hunt for more solutions.
Indeed, some SEO professionals believe this is indeed one of the indicators Google uses in its ranking algorithm — how soon someone performs a similar search after clicking on a result. If the person returns to Google and performs exactly the same search after visiting your website, or clicks a link lower down on the results page after reading your article, it might be an indication for the search engine that your article was not useful for the reader.
How-To articles have the added benefit of being something that people will likely bookmark and come back to later on, over and over again.
It is up to you, then, to optimise the layout of your website so that you guide these users into whatever sales funnel is most appropriate for them.
Make it easy for people to bookmark pages by adding some design elements to the website that help them through the process.
White papers can either be done in HTML or PDF. The difference is that an HTML (webpage) white paper could include keywords to be found for SEO purposes.
It is not an entirely recommended strategy.
A better strategy, in our opinion, is to create a white paper as a PDF and then put that PDF behind a form that collects the person’s email address and signs them up to receive regular updates from you (with their consent, of course).
By the time someone looks at a white paper, they are likely already at the buyer stage where they’re considering your services. SEO-style articles are usually “how-to” and “find out” articles.
White papers are generally for people who are already on your site and want to know more. That means they are already a lead for having shown interest.
It is imperative to get these people onto a mailing list so that you can follow up with them, using the same strategy that brought them to you in the first place — helpful, useful content.
The same is true for case studies — they can be a straight web page or a downloadable PDF.
We recommended using the PDF version behind a form that signs them up for a newsletter.
The landing page for that case study or white paper can be optimised for search engines while the case study/white paper itself can be written in such a way that is more appealing to potential buyers.
When people think of video content, they automatically think of YouTube.
Indeed, YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. It’s also a great place to host videos due to its reliability and streaming quality.
But in terms of content marketing, you should think about what types of videos you want to have on your website.
Yes, the video might be hosted on YouTube, but it’s crucial to show it on your site, using YouTube’s “embed” code.
You can create videos for anything and everything — accompanying videos to blog posts, how-to videos, animated explainer videos (usually short and lighthearted).
Social Media, like Blog Posts, is often the first foot in the door for your potential clients — the top of the sales funnel.
Make sure your social media posts are entertaining, unique, and encourage engagement.
Social media shares is a metric which is utilised by Google in Search Engine Rankings, although it does take into account the reputation of the person sharing the link.
A well-thought-out social media strategy is imperative to any content marketing strategy.
A landing page is not just any website page. It is a website page that is optimised to generate leads.
Usually, landing pages are sparse on contact, high on impact.
What content the pages has must be delivered swiftly and succinctly.
Think of a landing page as the gate leading in. Make the gate welcoming and easy to pass through. Don’t overwhelm the visitor by insisting they fill in a gazillion boxes of information just to download your PDF or to sign up for your newsletter.
The page should be well-designed and aesthetically pleasing, and it should gently lead the prospect down that sales funnel by offering them useful and helpful information of high value to them.
Content really begins to shine once people sign up for your newsletter.
Unlike “the masses” to which you appeal by using a wide range of blog topics and posts, newsletters are more focussed to a target market.
Ideally, you would have subcategories of newsletters, asking people to pick and choose their interests.
For example, let’s say you run a fashion store and offer a newsletter about the latest trends — something like “What’s hot and what’s not”. Every week, you promise to have fashion experts from around the world weigh in on the current issues surrounding fashion.
So, that newsletter targets people interested in fashion, but you could go a step further:
You could then send each of these people a specific newsletter according to what interests they have — and you could also then advertise products which are closer to their interests.
An online course would be the Shangri-La of content marketing. Free courses of high-value content are almost guaranteed to go viral.
What’s more, they would keep people on your website, consuming content, learning more.
This all but guarantees that they will eventually also become your customers.
Your online course material must really shine — highest quality learning materials and articles, videos, and exercises.
You could also offer a free tier and a paid tier.
The only possible content marketing strategy for startups is a full-blown strategy using every single one of the content types above.
Content is either something you do full-blast or don’t do at all. It takes a massive concerted effort to start gaining traction.
The good news, however, is that it is often far cheaper in the long run than online advertising.
Content marketing is a sustainable method of marketing which often picks up momentum over time if done right.
Online advertising, on the other hand, can become more costly as competition increases in your sector.
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