2020 has been devastating for businesses around the world. There was a point when two-thirds of the world’s population was in lockdown. Trade and industry ground to a halt in many countries. As economies try to open up, many companies are faced with a chicken and egg situation. How can they do marketing if they don’t have sales and how can have sales if they don’t do marketing. A low hanging fruit but not used to its full potential is content marketing.
1. Whats is content marketing
Content marketing is the creation of digital content that solves peoples’ problems. It is the blogs, videos, podcasts, and articles that other sites can link to, that people share on social media and attract organic traffic. These contents reside on a website or social media page as a means of building brand awareness.
Content marketing helps businesses get sales. The content attracts organic traffic. The more traffic a website gets the more opportunities of turning those traffic into leads and leads into customers.
What is organic traffic? Organic traffic is a website visitor who clicked on the result of their search in Google, Bing, or Yahoo. These are unpaid clicks of people who intentionally searched for a topic that a content deals with.
2. Why content marketing is important
Content marketing is important because it is a sustainable way to tell people about your brand or product. First, it is sustainable because search engines like Google support great content. Google wants people who use their search engine to find quality articles, videos, and information that solves people’s problems. If they don’t, these people would likely use a competing search engine. That’s why websites that offer no value do not rank on Google at all, and no SEO guru in the world can fix that.
Second, it is sustainable because creating good content is cheap compared to advertising. Creating traffic by drawing people to your website by advertising will eventually bleed your company out. Unless to are driving paid traffic to a great high converting and very profitable product, advertising is not going to pay for itself.
Third, it is sustainable because content marketing builds strong brands. All these people who found solutions to their problem with the help of your content will pile up over time. These people will also consume your other content. They will increase exponentially thereby creating a self-sustaining cycle of organic traffic, leads, and customers. Search engines will see this. The AI will conclude that a lot of people are finding help in your content. It will place your site on the top spot so that even more people will find your content.
3. Why content marketing works
Content marketing works because it focuses on giving solutions to problems that people look for on the Internet. Searches are intent-driven. That intent comes in the form of looking for solutions to problems like more knowledge, how to do something, what to buy, where to go, the whys of life, etc. Search engines then match these queries with contents from millions of websites it has indexed. Content that solves people’s problems will show up on the search engine results page. This gives people a chance to see your content and click over to your site. Visitors find value in your content will:
(1) read through your article,
(2) bookmark your site,
(3) link back to your site, and
(4) share your content on their social media pages.
All these signal to search engines that your site has valuable content that serves people in your niche. Google, Bing, and Yahoo will then rank your content higher on the search results page leading to more traffic.
Content marketing puts people at the center of its strategy. Through research, interviews, focus groups, surveys, and plain common sense, it’s possible to list down the problems that your product solves. That is why we recommend having buyer personas for the market you serve. This is especially true in inbound digital marketing.
4. Content marketing advantages
a. Builds organic traffic
Traffic is very important for a website. This is especially true for a business that does not have a brick and mortar retail presence. Your website is how customers in distant areas can find your business and make a purchase. A stable and healthy number of traffic going to your website will bring in business.
b. It is cheap
Cheaper than advertising that is. Content works tirelessly 24 hours a day seven days a week. You can leave it untouched for years and it will still attract traffic. These are unpaid, willing, and curious people who consume your content, browse through your site, and hopefully make a purchase.
c. Stable sales pipeline
Website traffic means a steady flow of leads. Content marketing attracts people who are part of your target market. They are far easier to convert into leads because your solution is relevant to their needs. Even if they don’t convert right away because they may not be ready to make a purchase, you can still nurture them in a helpful way. You continue to provide helpful content until such a time that they are ready to buy.
d. Creates awareness
Content marketing creates awareness for your brand. People who read your blogs, listen to your podcasts, and view your videos get to know what to expect from your brand. They become familiar with the quality of your content. People who are delighted with a website often bookmark these sites so that they can quickly and easily consume your content the next time. People also share helpful content on their social media pages. Bloggers and media sites will often link to your content if they find it relevant to their readers. These amplifications of content outside owned media reach more people beyond a page’s current visitors or fans.
e. You are set for the future.
Quality content works for you for a long time. They will continue to attract traffic for the foreseeable future. You don’t have to touch them for at least three years. That’s how hard working and how long good content helps a website. Once you get the magic number of 30 blog posts, you can leave them be. It’s optional to update them every once and a while but that will be easy to do since you don’t have to re-write the whole article. You just watch your traffic increase and your website go up the search engine rankings page.
5. Content marketing disadvantages
a. It takes time
This is because search engines like Google take a long time to trust web pages before it ranks them. It could take anywhere from six to eight months before you start seeing organic traffic Your site needs to be crawled by search bots to index your content, It figures out what your webs page is all about by looking at the text and images. These search bots go to your site now and then to look for changes, updates, and new content. With millions of websites on the Internet, ranking your content will take time. For sales, promos, and other time-sensitive activities or content, it is better to use pay-per-click (PPC), and social media advertising.
b. It is labor-intensive.
Writing a blog, producing video, or creating infographics takes focus, commitment, time, and energy. A website that will pull in organic traffic needs at least quality 30 articles. Google doesn’t like short reads. It associates long articles with quality content. And quality content ranks higher in Google at any time of the day. We recommend at least 1,000 words per article to about 4,500 words for pillar posts which we will discuss below. So unless you have a team of writers, writing at least 30 blog posts will take up a lot of your time.
6. How to do content marketing
a. Create your buyer persona
We have an article on inbound marketing and creating a buyer persona here. According to HubSpot, “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.”
We cannot overemphasize how nailing down your buyer personas will focus your Content Marketing. A well-defined buyer persona will influence your messages, contents, selling proposition, style, creatives, data, and a whole lot more.
Here are some practical methods for gathering the information you need to develop personas:
- Review your contacts list to uncover trends like how they find and consume your content.
- Create forms on your website that capture important persona information like asking about company size on your forms.
- Talk to your sales team about the leads they’re interacting with such as behavior, goals, titles, etc.
- Interview customers and prospects.
A word of caution. Identifying and sticking to your buyer persona has the very real possibility of shrinking your market size. That’s okay. Catering to everyone means a lot of bad fit clients that end up badly for both the agency and the client. You want to solve specific problems of specific companies. Companies where your buyer personas are employed.
You need to target small to win big. You won’t be able to solve everyone’s problems but you can solve someone’s problems. Conversely, people don’t buy because you can do everything. They buy because you can solve their specific problem.
b. Use Google auto-suggest to find your target topic
Only Google knows what people are looking for in Google. And they are not telling, not the numbers, at least. There are third-party tools who try to figure these things out but they are always wrong. The estimates are either too high or too low. We tested key words with third-party tools that returned zero searches, we wrote the article anyway. After some time we started seeing a trickle of traffic, then it became a stream until it is now a river of visitors clicking into the content.
Google will suggest or auto-complete the words or phrases that you type on the search bar. The AI thinks that you are just like other people who have searched for these terms and tries to be helpful by suggesting words to make your search experience easier. These suggestions come from other searches performed by people. Click on these auto-suggestions one by one to get w health of idea of what topics to write about in your niche.
c. Use Google “People also ask” feature to create response posts
When a question is typed into the Google search bar, a list of questions pops up in between the organic search results. These are the questions that people have asked in connection with your search query. You use this list of questions to write response posts to answers these queries. In addition to being another source for ideas, the posts you write to answer these questions have a higher chance of ranking.
d. Look at your competition
The search results should give you an idea of how competitive your topic is. If you see recognizable brands and big names in the SERP then it’s going to be hard for your content to rank. But all is not lost, click on the results and take a look at how good the content is. If you see short cookie-cutter content, then your content can beat the competition if you write something longer and better. Content that offers value is preferred by Google always. It may take longer but you get there.
However, if you see that the SERP comprise of forums and several meh posts, then get started on creating your content right away. The results show that Google has no better option than what it is currently ranking. Good content will rank number one, in most of these situations.
e. Create pillar posts
Pillar posts are your main subjects or topics. These articles are usually over 4,500 words long. Think of it as the mother ship where all your other shorter articles link back to. Search engines that see these links will conclude that there is a semantic connection between your contents. Your pillar post will then rank higher in SERP due to the number of links to it.
f. Create cluster posts
Surround your pillar posts with shorter articles, around 1k words, that link back to the pillar post. Cluster posts discuss sections of the pillar posts in more detail and separate blogs. There are three main types of clusters posts that good content marketers publish
These are your answers to questions that people ask on Google. You see these questions on Google’s “People also ask” box.
Anything can be reviewed: a product, company, service, another website, a video, etc. A good way to write a review is to take a look at customer reviews or feedback. Gather these reviews and re-write them in your own words. These are people who bought and used the product or service. Do note, that most reviews were written by people who are upset because of unmet expectations.
Content that tries to teach or discuss topics that people need help with. That’s almost everything. Somethings content producers don’t like the idea of giving the impression of an expert when the truth is that they just researched the topic. To get over this apprehension, simply don’t present yourself as an expert or guru. Come off like an ordinary person who is just trying to solve a problem just like everyone else.
g. Publish consistently
You have to keep creating valuable, problem-solving content on regular short intervals. This initial burst of activity on your site signals to Google that your website is active and filled with content worth checking out. This momentum is very important so that your site can begin to rank after six months. If your publication is too far in between like months between content, then you won’t create the forward force to be successful in drawing traffic.
h. Aim for at least 30 articles
You must have at least 30 assorted articles on your site. Create three pilar posts linked to by at least 10 articles each. This is the number of articles that you need to publish in two months. Just grit your teeth and slog through this phase. After you hit 30 articles you can slow down your posting to once a month.
i. Use video
Everything is about video these days. Video will always outscore any other form of content. Video fast tracks traffic to your site if you have a YouTube channel. Publish your video on YouTube then link back to it
j. Use social media
Contents that are shared through social media such as Facebook and Pinterest attract more traffic. Unlike websites, social media platforms have contacts where content can be seen, liked, or shared. Make sure that you have the social media buttons easily and conveniently located on your content. Your brand should also have at least a Facebook page where you can reach people who don’t venture out of social media.
Content marketing seems to be the only real marketing left to do. Traditional marketing like ads is expensive and not sustainable for the long-term. It is also less effective.
There’s also Google’s recent algorithm update which has forced companies to publish good content if they want traffic. Low-quality spammy content is being pushed away. This trend will only continue into the far future.
Content marketing should be high on the list of firms wanting to succeed on the Internet. Its advantages are too good and many to be ignored. It is affordable, scalable and sustainable. The bar for entry is low. The ideal time to start content marketing is now.