In the early days of internet marketing, having the right words on the page was enough to ensure that your company ranked highly in the search results regardless of how the rest of your content looked. Today, this is far from the truth, as digital marketing has evolved and, due to mobile technology developing, people are constantly reading, listening to or viewing content hundreds of times daily. For this reason, the type and quality of content published has had to increase as consumers have naturally become more discerning. However, far too many brands are still wasting money and opportunities by making huge mistakes in their content marketing strategies. Here are our suggestions as to how you can keep reaching your online target audience and convert them into customers with our recommended dos and don’ts of content marketing.
…identify the goal of your content
Producing content for content’s sake is the road to nowhere. To develop an effective content marketing strategy, it is vital that you understand why you need a content programme, who you are trying to reach (your target audience) and your key messages.
Examples of the content marketing goals that you might set include:
- Increasing brand awareness through content that showcases what your brand is and what it represents
- Increasing organic traffic to your website
- Generating more leads by creating highly targeted and valuable pieces of content that include a lead capture form
…know your audience and create a customer journey
It is vital that you understand your target audience. Understanding factors such as their key demographic, browsing habits, the way in which they engage with your content etc. will help you to develop a successful content marketing campaign and create a customer journey. This journey will involve understanding your audience’s reactions as well as the social media platforms required to facilitate this process. Great content alone doesn’t yield results and even the most beautifully designed and written content will reach a dead-end if there’s no way to meet customers or prospects for the next step of their journey. Therefore, create a plan for what happens after someone downloads a piece of your content. Think about and map their possible reactions so that you can take them on the next phase of their customer journey by collaborating with the right people such as operations, sales, marketing etc.
…promote your content
If you don’t promote your content then no matter how amazing it is no one will see it. Make your content as visible as possible by publishing it on social media, sending to influencers, and posting it in relevant groups. However, be wary of placing content without considering the platform or market and avoid using the same piece across all platforms.
…optimise your content
It’s no small feat to emerge at the top of search engine rankings. Search engines play a huge role in whether a digital marketing campaign is successful or not, as they drive the vast majority of website traffic with bots crawling through websites identifying content, keywords and phrases. In addition, Google and other search engines perpetually enhance their algorithms, making relevant and original content a priority. Keeping your articles, blog posts, photos, videos etc. fresh, updated and nicely optimised behind the scenes will keep your website traffic flowing as websites lacking relevant content are largely ignored by search engines and pushed deep into the search results. Create a content schedule and follow this plan to ensure that your content is working effectively for you at all times. The longer that content is left by itself the more TLC it will eventually need.
…target the right keywords to maximise conversions
Undertaking the appropriate keyword research is very important, particularly for link building. You will naturally want to target words that help your company rank on search engines, as well as terms that could lead potential customers to the sales pages of your website. This needs to be considered before creating content for your website, offsite, and even for the keywords of specific website pages. Summaries on blog posts can also make keywords much easier for Google to pick up so these have now begun to be more important than ever.
…set measurable goals and track your performance to evaluate what works and what doesn’t
As with any solid marketing campaign you need to set attainable goals and constantly test your strategy to ensure its effectiveness. Tweak what content is working and drop what’s not. This will ensure that you allocate resources efficiently and don’t waste time, energy and money on weak performers. Google algorithm changes can also make a big difference in what works as a tactic, and effectiveness may be lost from only a slight change to this algorithm. Set milestones to see if you might need to modify the strategy with specific data sets as the data can clarify what is working and what is not. There are plenty of tools online that you can use to track and measure the success of content marketing campaigns, but just be sure that you are interpreting your stats correctly. Having a second pair of eyes — preferably expert ones — is never a waste of time or money.
…make it all about you or focus solely on promotion
Don’t constantly talk about your product or service. Knowing your audience is one thing, knowing what they want to see and read is another. If you just focus on promotional efforts, you will fail to truly connect with your target audience and won’t catch the attention of someone randomly doing a Google search. Plus, as a reader, it’s annoying to read through a boring sales pitch. Broadening your content beyond sales and products will establish you as an authority in your field and will build credibility. Healthy community management is a great asset; acknowledging followers, participating in forums, answering questions, having an active community channel etc. shows that you value your audience.
…attempt keyword stuffing
Keyword targeting is far different than keyword stuffing which can make a piece of content difficult to read. If the same word occurs 50 times in a 500-word article, most people will not make it through the first paragraph. Google also takes a dim view of low-quality content created only for SEO purposes that does not offer value to the reader. We advise that you use the services of an SEM expert writer to incorporate certain keywords in a natural way as this will allow for quality content to be produced with SEO benefits.
…forget the call-to-action and don’t have more than one
Every article that you write should have a purpose, which needs to be decided upon before you write it. If your primary goal is to lead your audience to your sales funnel, do not confuse them by overloading them with multiple CTAs as this can create indecision. Giving one specific action that is relevant to your content and to your sales funnel will be most effective.
…worry about frequency
The ultimate goal in content marketing is to produce consistent quality content and to engage with your target audience. Providing that you have a consistent strategy, then the frequency of posting doesn’t have to be a worry. It’s not about how much content you put out but the relevancy and value of that content. It’s much better to have a reduced frequency which is of a higher quality than a high frequency of content with reduced quality that will ultimately work to disengage your audience.
Content marketing is about more than just sending, sending, sending. Engaging in conversations will eventually lead to more customers and this is the reason why it’s important to respond to every comment/reaction on your posts. Research the answers to follow-up questions and formulate responses, or you may just wish to acknowledge that they took the time to comment. Whichever method you choose, this interaction will then provide you with another opportunity for creating conversations by replying or retweeting when they share your posts. Audiences want to interact with their chosen brands so take the time to be responsive and, in turn, they will reward you with loyalty and sales conversions.
…expect short-term results
Content marketing isn’t something you just ‘try for a few months’ before deciding whether or not to continue. That time frame is much too short to find out whether your efforts are paying off. Even if you make a shift in intensity (from a once-weekly blog post to multiple posts, white papers and newsletters), you need more time to measure your success. There may be days where you lose followers or your engagement rate drops and progress may seem slow, but don’t feel discouraged. The golden rule to remember is that content marketing is like asset building. You are creating a portfolio of content for your blog, social media and SEO – it isn’t like a one-hit advertising campaign that will give you an instant boost, but is a slow burn that can lead to a much bigger fire!
Make content your king
Content marketing is without a doubt a great way to grow a business and its brand/s. However, it pays to be mindful that a content marketing strategy is exactly that – a strategy, not a procedure. It must change and adapt through continual evaluation to be truly effective; putting it in place and leaving it alone to perpetually attract more and better website traffic is setting yourself up for failure. Content marketing is an active process, it needs a sound strategy and the continued commitment of resources to achieve the best results.
If you lack the time and resources in-house to do it justice, or you simply have other commitments absorbing your time, we can help. Our specialist Search Engine Marketing team can help guide and create every element of your content marketing strategy to meet your business needs and objectives, so please get in touch.