Content marketing has been the buzzword of the search industry for the last few years. It’s a marketing method that’s proving popular and successful for both B2B and B2C businesses and it shows no sign of waning as we head towards 2015. In fact, research published by the Content Marketing Institute in the US shows that 70 per cent of B2B marketers have been producing more content marketing than in 2013 and 69 per cent are working on creating more engaging content. Supporting search efforts is the goal of many of these marketers.
While it might seem that content marketing has exploded over the past few years, and this Google trends graph shows how much, using content to market your business isn’t a new thing. However, the combination of platforms available to work with is.
What is content marketing?
Here at High Impact, our particular strand of content marketing covers on and offsite content designed specifically to enhance the digital footprint of your brand, supporting your search goals as well as the buying funnel. It might take the form of an onsite blog, buying guides or other onsite resources or articles or infographics or other creative content outreached on your behalf. We build a content strategy around your search goals and customers; ensuring content is carefully considered and useful for users as well as search engines.
Of course, content marketing isn’t an online only strategy; early forms certainly came long before the internet or Google. For a great example of old school content marketing, take a look at the popular recipe books created annually by flour brand Be-Ro flour. The books were introduced to help boost sales of self-raising flour. Bakers had long worked with plain flour, so the brand introduced this new product through experiential marketing with displays and tasting sessions. They followed this up by producing the books to show their product in context, gaining a cult following to boot. While content marketing won’t, and shouldn’t, always feature the brand or product, it should respond to a need or interest of it’s consumers and that’s something the Be-Ro books did wonderfully. You can read more about other pioneers of content marketing here.
There are a huge number of benefits to successful content marketing and they’re not all search related. However, as we’re search specialists, we’ll start by looking at those that are. If you’re thinking about starting content marketing or increasing your efforts and content marketing spend, you’re likely doing so because you want to improve your rankings and traffic. Content marketing can help in a number of ways; providing fresh and relevant content on your site that anticipates and answers search intent, as a tool for link development and by putting your site or brand name in front of larger audiences. A well-placed infographic or news story that features a link to your site has the very real potential to encourage click through. Even if the content merely features your brand name, there’s the chance the readers will search you out themselves as a result of what they’ve read.
Next, we move on to the ‘incidental’ benefits of this activity; aspects you can factor into campaigns to boost your digital footprint and reputation, which just happen to support search.
We’ll imagine the impact of some decorating tutorials posted on an eCommerce site that sells DIY equipment. A customer stumbles across one of the tutorials while searching for the answer to a DIY query; they watch it and explore the site a little. Next, they might leave or sign up for to the newsletter or connect on social media to watch out for sales. While they’ve not yet made a purchase, they’re now familiar with your site and your brand and they may well return. They might even share your content on social media and help expand your reach.
As part of the DIY tutorial campaign, the company releases a survey to find the jobs people most need help with around the home and include information on favourite tools and a few other things. This survey might make an interesting blog post or an infographic and the data could be turned into several great news stories. The brand is establishing itself as a trusted name in the market and nabbed some great PR to boot. Those links that the content has generated help to boost rankings and also send traffic to the site and the content marketer has built a relationship with those publications that have featured the story or infographic. This is a very basic example to show the multiple effects of a content marketing campaign. Campaigns can grow an audience and their brand as well as traffic. It can also be used to join up or maximise other marketing efforts, just like the Be-Ro books.
When should you use content marketing?
Whether you are new to SEO or have been doing it a while, content marketing is an option. We like to think of it as creative support for link development, with added benefits thrown in. The audience can be lost or forgotten in ordinary SEO campaigns but content marketing places the audience at the centre of your strategy. It will carry a message that’s not just for the search engines and isn’t just another ad (because consumers are turned off by overt advertising).
One of the great things about content marketing is those that are operating within niche industries have just as much chance, if not more, of establishing themselves as a voice and gaining traction through content. Imagine your industry conference is coming up and you have some really interesting data that you’ve collected, why not build a resource with it on site or pass on the data to journalists of selected online publications for use in stories? The interest in the conference should give your content an extra push and help you find your audience.
While content marketing can take a while to kick in and links may continue to accrue long after the content was first published, knowing when and how to distribute the content is the key to its success. Before getting started, we recommend a site audit – ensuring all the technical aspects you need for search success are in place while you build and launch a killer content campaign.
How do you measure the value of content marketing?
As search specialists, we’ve got a good vantage point when it comes to knowing what content people are looking for and this is something that can be fed directly into content marketing campaigns. Our data experts work alongside journalists and PRs who ensure each campaign marries technical and editorial considerations. If you’re already carrying out the sort of activities we’ve mentioned, looking at content marketing from a search perspective gives you a new analytical way to measure your success. Along with the number of eyes that saw the news story and the social media reach of a content share, you could look at improvements in rankings, links, mentions gained and traffic garnered. These are things that can be reported transparently alongside your other search goals.
Do you have questions about content marketing and its suitability for your business? Get in touch today for an informal chat.