Long gone are the days when people only went online and did a search when they were looking for something. The internet has become the major data- and information network with over 2 billion users a day. These users have one thing in common, they are all looking for information. The problem is that for every search phrase there are literally millions of results to choose from – there is an information overload!
Many of online searches are related to information about products and services. Your website has the potential to be on page one of the search results only if it provides the information people are looking for the answer to a problem they have; for instance how to repair a leaking washing machine or fix a blown fuse. They may simply be doing research on a topic or building their knowledge.
As the web user’s needs have changed, your website needs to change to make sure you provide them with the information. To do this better than your competitors you will need to ensure your website has good quality content that gives them the answers they are looking for. This not only demonstrates your knowledge and expertise but also builds your online credibility and trust in your brand.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that includes the creation and distribution of content. The purpose of content marketing is to both develop existing and potential customer relations by giving them good quality, useful information on your products, service or expertise.
Content marketing should be about adding value to the reader and should not overtly be about selling your products and services. This helps to retain and build client trust in you, your business and your products and services.
The objective of content marketing should never be direct sales but rather your objective is to increase your target market’s awareness of your company, your brand, your products and your services. By creating valuable content your business will quickly become regarded as an‘expert in your field’ and the trusted source for information – for both your clients / prospects and the search engines.
Trust is without doubt the most effective and lasting way to attract new business. Ask yourself a simple question – would you buy anything from anyone that you did not trust? Probably not! So, if your website has little quality information that will help visitors to understand and trust your business why would you expect them to buy from you?? Similarly if the content on your site is poor why should the search engines feature your website in their results?
Now you have a problem – customers cannot buy from you if they don’t know you exist because your business website isn’t in the first few results on Google. One of the most sustainable ways to raise awareness and trust is to create a steady flow of good quality content. This will improve your search rankings and will also demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to your site visitors.
Why Creating Valuable Content is Important:
- It helps to educate your customers and prospects about your business or niche.
- It allows you to demonstrate your expertise – creating valuable content can position you as a thought leader.
- It has a positive effect on search results – by creating new, relevant and keyword cluster rich content about your business in blogs, web content, whitepapers or articles you are demonstrating your expertise to the search engines which will encourage them to list your web pages higher in their search results.
- People are inclined share valuable information with their contacts which in turn will extend your brand awareness.
Because content marketing is not about direct sales, people will feel less threatened by it than they would if reading an advertisement. They are more likely to believe your helpful blog post than they would a product advertisement and because they trust you they are more likely to buy from you when they are ready to buy.
One of the most popular and effective content marketing channels is blogging. A blog is an excellent way for you to publish regular articles (or posts as they are called) demonstrating your knowledge and expertise as well as showcasing the benefits of what you can do to help the reader solve a problem.
What are the main content distribution channels?
As mentioned, blogging is the most popular content distribution channel for many reasons including:
- It’s easy to start a blog – whether a stand alone blog or as part of your website.
- A Blog doesn’t require huge resources or budgets – it is far cheaper and more effective than traditional advertising for most businesses – all that is required is a regular flow of content.
- Blogs are easy to update – initially to gain that all important trust you may need to post 2 or 3 times a week but eventually this can be reduced to once a week od every 2 weeks.
- A blog is a user friendly and familiar format being easy to read.
Other popular content distribution channels include:
- E-books – Usually more exhaustive material that offers information about specific topic. E-books are meant for deeper insight about something specific and that information should be distributed free of charge.
- Press releases – A well written press release can substantially increase the contact with your website and communicate your message.
- Social media – Great tool to share news and product/service information. Linking your business blog to your Facebook and other social media posts is easy to raise site traffic and win new customers.
- Whitepapers – Whitepapers are a great way for you to show off your in depth knowledge and expertise on a particular aspect of your business and are a popular download for many people.
Social Media and Content Marketing
Where people go, businesses tend to quickly follow. Many businesses have set up a business profile page on Facebook. With a community of well over 1 billion people Facebook offers great opportunities for businesses to promote themselves and develop a reputation and loyalty with consumers.
Social Media Marketing is more than just having a profile however, you must publish good quality content on all your social profiles – at all times with the objective of adding value to the reader. Social Media is also called social networking and, as in real life, if you go to a networking event you are expected to ‘talk to others’ i.e. share knowledge and information. Online networking via social media is just the same. Enter into discussions if you can add value.
For business promotion on Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn etc. think about the following points:
- Post simple and short updates (especially on Twitter where the character limit is 140 characters)
- Before posting think about the value your post adds to the reader. Is it relevant to your followers? Don’t brag on your social media pages. Short and straight-to-the-point posts are more popular and have a far higher viral reach than lengthy pieces.
- Video is always very popular on all social media channels – why not talk through a blog post to camera?
Client engagement on personal level
- Avoid sales oriented posts. Your Fans / Followers / Connections are your friends not your customers. Social media is a customer relations channel not a sales channel, so as the word ‘social’ in social media directs – be social!
- Post updates that are fun and likely to encourage conversation. Nobody likes overly officious posts that just state a fact or communicate a sales message. Work on your posts and try and make them interactive.
Avoid posts that are too technical
Most Facebook users are not looking for specific information. Any detailed or technical specifications should be included in your website website not your social media pages If someone really needs your technical expertise ask them to contact you via Personal Message or via `email so that your social profiles are not clogges up with stuff that would bore most people.
Most social media users are there for fun and engagement sooffer them what they want.
Blog updates on Social Media
Posting links to your blog updates on your social channels helps to draw attention to your website and generate more visitors, especially if your blog is part of your website rather than stand alone. Make sure the post preview and post descriptions are not too long and encourage people to read the full post. Ask questions and add comments that raise engagement.
Share others’ content
When you find quality content that has been written by someone else by all means share it – if the content is relevant to your industry and gives value to your fans / followers. Using others’ content is not stealing provided of course that you give full credit to the author. Content sharing is a great way to demonstrate that you are open to the views and opinions of others and committed to keeping up to date with your industry trends.
Content Marketing is without doubt the new SEO – most of us have been doing it for a while! For more information please leave a comment below or, if preferred use the contact form.