If you’ve spent any time on this and other blogs related to small business marketing, you’ve probably run across the term “content marketing” more than a few times. And while content marketing as a strategy is quickly gaining popularity in the industry, some people are still not quite sure what it means. In a series we’re starting today, we’ll see if we can help with that.
Content Marketing Institute (yes, that really exists), offers the following definition:
This might seem a little dense, but it does hit all the major elements of content marketing. To understand the concept – and later implement it – let’s break this definition down into its relevant pieces:
…Creating and distributing
These two aspects really must go hand in hand. Creating the content for your marketing efforts is all well and good, but you won’t see the benefits until you start distributing it. This can be as simple as putting it out on a public blog, or as involved as forming relationships with industry influencers. We’ll get into specific techniques later in this series, but the important thing to understand off the bat is this: content becomes more and less valuable depending on how many people view it, engage with it, and share it. Not only from a standpoint of reach, but also how your content will be ranked by Google.
…Relevant and valuable content
There are two reasons that your content needs to fit these descriptors. First, it will go a long way toward establishing the credibility and thought leadership you are aiming to create with your audience. Secondly, and of equal importance, is the effect that quality has on your content’s likelihood to drive traffic to your website. If you are consistently creating content that people recommend, Google will understand that it is good quality, and will rank it more highly. Keyword-spamming by creating content that is basically just stuffed with keywords and links used to be effective, but Google – and humans – have become wise to this practice and do not tolerate it well.
…To attract, acquire, and engage
In the past, marketers aimed to broadcast a message of their choosing to a broad audience of whoever happened to hear it. In recent years, however, marketers have learned to use emerging technology and trends to get much better bang for their buck – and a more valuable experience for their audience. Instead of selling products to people who a bunch of people who didn’t show an interest in them, we can now target our message to specific groups who have shown an interest in a product by going out and searching for it. Content marketers put what they want found out there, and let it bring their target audience to them.
…A clearly defined and understood target audience
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many marketers miss this part. It’s really difficult to create content that will be relevant and valuable to someone without first determining who that someone will be. Your content strategy should start with goals. Who are you trying to acquire? Everyone in the world, or a specific segment of your customers? The topics you cover and the way that you discuss them will be determined by this information, so make sure it’s clear from the start.
…With the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Again here, objectives are key to the development of your strategy. Not only do you need to decide who you want to acquire, but what you want them to do once they are with you. Do you want people to buy something for themselves? Sign up for something? Buy something for someone else? Sign a petition? Start by knowing where you want to go before you pick the route you’ll take to get there.
Over the next few posts we will dive more deeply into content marketing strategy. Hopefully today gave you a good primer for the discussion to come!