In recent years, and driven by digital, the focus for marketing has shifted from the traditional scatter gun approach to the more finite personalisation and customer segmentation method. It’s widely recognised that the customer responds less well to the hard sell and more to being engaged by a story that has parallels to their lifestyle, or at least one that they aspire to.
In a study from Roper Public Affairs, it was discovered that 80% of people, particularly business decision makers, state that they would rather get to know a company via articles rather than advertisement and 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading quality content on its site.
The most successful websites recognise that to harness relationships is the key to that success. You can no longer simply offer a service but must also build a community of trust, sharing and company advocates.
The line between digital and traditional marketing is now blurring and it’s through this online evolution that we are increasingly witnessing the benefits of content marketing. Organic traffic and performing well in the SERPs is highly influenced by content marketing and businesses are beginning to reap the rewards. So what exactly does content marketing involve and why is it so important?
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing means more than just great copy and can come in many forms. Content helps to build brand awareness, encourages brand loyalty, advocacy and increases relevant web traffic by creating consistent, reliable and valuable information.
Content marketing works best when multiple channels are engaged to enable consumers to access information which improves user experience. Content marketing channels can include the following.
- Industry news - Sometimes referred to as News Jacking. The aim here is to attempt to rank for popular keywords
- Press releases - The same article can be distributed to a number of print and online publications, including links to your website
- Podcasts - A perfect way to demonstrate subject authority and can be recording in the form of interviews with other experts
- Blog articles - This is a broad description. Sometimes incorporated in to the industry news section of a website, ranking for popular keywords and increasing the content of your website will improve rankings. Guest posting on other company blogs will often earn you a link in exchange for your copy
- Whitepapers - These can be published electronically and also make a great way to collect customer data by requesting an email address for the download
- Videos - Videos are incredibly shareable but it’s important to include ample and descriptive content so the user and the search engine know what the video is about
- Infographics - Social media is all about imagery and infographics allow you to convey a great deal of information simply and in an eye-catching way
- Slideshows - A moveable infographic, slideshow have become increasingly popular as they require very little design knowledge. Companies like SlideShare make the process easy and allow users to share the content
Content Marketing and SEO
Google have always championed the importance of the user experience, creating communities and providing more than just a service. This way of operating was enforced when Google released two major algorithm changes in 2012 which saw 12% of websites have their rankings affected positively and negatively.
The Penguin update was all about targeting websites with unnatural links. This issue was a throwback to the days of black hat SEO’s thinking it was quantity over quality and relevance when it came to backlinks and link building.
The Panda update on the other hand affected sites with what was deemed as thin, spammy or duplicate content. Google updated their Webmaster Tools (now renamed the Search Console) with the advice to concentrate on user experience, provide good original, intelligent content and the natural links will invite themselves.
Content marketing emerged through the aftermath of the updates as the answer to good SEO. A comprehensive content plan is required for any website, regardless of its purpose. Google recognises unique and quality content and rewards such websites with higher rankings, domain authority and more traffic. Not only this but well researched, useable content is natural link bait. Create content that people find interesting and useful and you will invite natural links from quality blogs and websites.
Content Marketing and Job Boards
As we have previously stated, successful content is shareable content. It’s now easier than ever for users to share links and pieces of content online, whether that’s via email or social media. Social sharing has become a form of personal recommendation, whether you personally know that ‘friend’ or not.
A great example of this is the Wiley Job Board Network who utilise their content very effectively. They produce highly relevant and well researched blogs regarding jobseeker advice and industry news. Alongside this they also implement tactics to add further value to their content. They offer downloadable research papers and studies; at the bottom of each blog post they provide links to other pieces of their own content which are relevant to the subject. They build customer trust and increase the time spent on site. These tactics encourage a cycle of sharing and information consuming.
Another simple but crucial tactic is providing social sharing buttons at the top of each article. Studies show that few people read an entire article, in fact, little of no correlation is seen between reading and sharing; by providing social options at the top of the page they have doubled their chances of social sharing. The Wiley Job Board Network offers a complete community to their users and has enhanced their popularity, site traffic and brand awareness by harnessing the power of social media.
Do not be mistaken, shareable content and viral content are two very different concepts. Many companies online can offer to create viral content for your brand at a fee; this is a worthless, time consuming and often an expensive venture. Efforts need to be concentrated on creating content that your user base requires.
Creating a Content Strategy
There’s more to content marketing than just churning out as many blog articles as possible. Your content needs to be thoroughly researched, relevant to your industry and strategized, but most importantly it needs to be targeted, otherwise you could waste a lot of time and resources.
Firstly, get to know your audience. Jobseekers are becoming incredibly technically aware, using not only job boards and recruitment sites, but also social media as part of their search for their perfect role and organisation to work for.
If you are creating targeted and relevant content jobseekers will continue to return to your job board even if they are no longer looking for a job. A good place to start in the content research is to ask yourself the question; what do they need? Get together with your team and have a brain storming session, the more people the better, it’s important to have a range of perspectives. Talk about content that your user base would be interesting in or would benefit from, including topical industry stories. Then think about the best way to showcase this information, this is your starting point.
Think creatively, your ability to be creative is of paramount importance for a successful content marketing campaign. Give your users a personality behind your brand; whilst advice guides and white papers are incredibly important, users will switch off if you do not provide them with character within the content. Remember you are creating something which your users will feel compelled to share with their family, friends and colleagues, it needs a hook.
Create a content calendar and order the publication dates and subjects around industry events and search trends.
Long Term Content Commitment
Once you have begun to create and post content you need to keep track of it. Analyse each posts success including not only traffic and conversions, but monitor people linking to each piece as well as social shares. A good place to start is with Google Analytics and the content drill down reports.
This will help you build a bigger picture of your users and what they require. Use this analyse to adopt a data led strategy for future content generation, ensuring that your time and resources are being spent in the best way. You will quickly see which topics and areas of content are performing well so use this to influence future content.
Content marketing is not a one off campaign, but a long term commitment, the right time and resources must be devoted to your content calendar in order to see the best results. Companies which blog more than fifteen times a month get on average five times more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all. The benefits of implementing a coherent content strategy can make a huge impact on your business.