Content Marketing is not a new concept, it has been around for over 100 years. In fact, the classic foundation stories of the birth of content marketing go all the way back to the Michelin brothers, in France. Content is King for a reason and they discovered its true potential.
The Michelin Brothers were two brothers who made pneumatic tires, and they were trying to sell them along with an innovative product of its time, the automobile. This was in the year when the roads were horrible in a place like France, where people frankly didn’t like to get outside Paris and their provinces. Mostly because of the political and geographical conditions that prevailed then.
The Michelin Brothers hence decided, in order to sell more tires, they had to get people to drive further and further. So, they came up with the concept that really is the birth of content marketing, it was the Michelin guide. It was unique in its own way. It reviewed not just restaurants in Paris, but restaurants in other provinces. They were the first ones who came up with the 1, 2, and 3 stars rating systems. Basically, the guide showed the best restaurants out there that serves food that’s to die for. They also added information about the gasoline centers, and the motels just in case someone wanted to stay over. The guide also had a manual-like section that talked about how to repair pneumatic car tires.
And guess what, this strategy put Michelin on the map because they were trying to sell not just their tires but also other valuable information and features around the province. Basically, through this guide, they were speaking to their audience about what they are truly passionate about, i.e., Food, and travel. And by creating relevant content, they got the audience to travel more often and drive all the way out there into the provinces for absolutely remarkable restaurants. People had to replace their tires more often, but it was all worth it.
And thus, Michelin sold more tires and doubled their annual revenue almost every year.
So, this is the story that you should remember while you’re most likely to hit pause and think about content marketing strategies.
What is Content Marketing?
So, what does the modern definition say? Where are we now in the 21st century when it comes to content marketing? Well, you may Google and find out the definition. Some people like to read definitions, but here, you will not see a definition. Instead, you will see two highlighted words in the above Michelin Brothers success story that are absolutely critical to any definition of content marketing.
Yes, you got that right! Every content creator should produce absolutely Valuable and Relevant content. Now, if it’s not relevant, you may not meet the interest of your readers and if it’s not providing any value, then why will anybody take it?
So, the idea is to create relevant content that contains value, and your audience will find you.
What Makes Content The King?
Content is king for several reasons. Whether you make a blog post, podcast, infographic, video, vlogs, eBook, or an eCourse, no matter how you create content, you’re constantly trying to give solution to your audience. What you are trying to do here is feel the need of your audience and give them exactly what they have been looking for in your content as THE Expert. When you position yourself as the guide or expert, your audience listens to you and automatically follows all that you say. They thrive from your content and gradually trust you more. Thus, they will always return to you and buy more of your products or services.
Unfortunately, most of the writers today are writing for Google. They do not realize in this whole process they are spamming the web with content that adds no value to a reader’s life.
People give attention to things that matter. For instance, consider Netflix. People watch things that are binge-worthy.
How much have you spent time watching Game of Thrones, Friends or for that matter any of the other series? People do give attention to things that serve the purpose.
Similarly, a podcast that is informative and gives clear takeaways or a unique recipe blog might as well speed things up for you when it comes to marketing your content or brand.
How to Consistently Create Binge-Worthy Content?
- The first thing you need to do is to ask your audience. Do the research and refer the content produced by your competition. Analyze the gap and fill it by adding value to your already relevant content. Conducting surveys and polls have become extremely easy today, especially with Facebook and Instagram, there are distinct features meant only for opinion sharing and polling.
- Remember that your headline is very important. Lack of creativity here can cost you. Be it a blog, video, or a podcast, people first refer to the title or the headline, and if found relevant, they pursue it further. Basically, your headline should be strong and should be able to address the problem.
- The length of a video or blog doesn’t really matter. You may have heard some telling “oh, it’s too long, people will not read it” or “hey, it’s too short! People may skip it.” Well, all that matters is answering objections and if you can address all the concerns that people have, you’re good to go.
- The next thing you need to keep in mind is that there are different types of users who are visiting your website or blog. If you’re a product company, you will find a few sections of visitors are interested in your offerings and the other few are here just to consume your content. All you have to do is put yourselves in the shoes of your visitor’s and think about every possible scenario. Make sure you have a copy for every type of segment.
- You may not be able to convince every visitor who comes to your website. All you can do is encourage them to give you their email ID details. You can collect all the email ids with hellobar.com. Surprisingly, it’s a free tool. You can use these email ids for retargeting them with your products or services.
- Last but not least, you need a documented strategy. Most marketers do not have a documented strategy. Why documented? Well, it’s just not only for you, but it’s also for the people who work with you or for you.
Things to Consider Before Creating Any Content
As mentioned earlier, always document your strategy for the following;
- Personas – Start with your consumers. These are the people who will either buy or not buy your product or service. You need to start with them. This is about finding the right type of content that will be of interest to them. So, basically by creating personas of your different visitors, you will be able to find out the “THEM.” Segment your audience and plan your content subject and structure accordingly.
- Brand story – What is your story? What people find memorable are not stats, numbers, or even a feature but stories. Stories are told and retold whether you’re a B2B business or B2C; if you have a story, then you’re ready to go. Stories are the currencies of content marketing. Talk about what makes your brand unique? What is it’s history, struggles or the discoveries?
- Channel Strategy – You need to have the story first and then figure out the best elements in your story. You have to analyze the best channels where your story could be communicated. Find ways to tell your story in 140 characters or less, or in a four-minute video. Think of ways to tell your story in a white paper or in any other document. Finally, map them to channels where it will fit the best.
- Listen – This is not the step you will find in any traditional textbooks from classic universities. But this is something that surely needs to be added to your step, your process, and make it a part of your content marketing strategies. Listen to the opinions and most valuable conversations about your company and competitors. Find out where your target audience is communicating and identify their personas. Accordingly, modify your content and marketing strategies.
- Measurement – You need to outline what is to be measured first. It is important in the beginning, in the middle and important at the end. It’s important throughout the content marketing process. You need to figure out the parameters that will tell you whether your campaigns are done right. The parameters are decided with goals. Think of what you want to achieve from a particular campaign. Whether it’s the web traffic, conversions, subscribers, awareness, leads, etc.
- ROI – This is the toughest part of content marketing. In fact, getting an initial budget to try something is even more difficult. To get through this process, you may use SpyFu. It’s very good at mining keywords and identifying market interest. Why SpyFu? Well, it will show you keywords not only for your brand but also your competitor’s. Identify the best opportunities in the market for those. Plan to build your content around these new-found keywords, next track, and measure success. Set a budget for content marketing to gain maximum ROI.
How Long Does it Take for Content Marketing to Work?
When you randomly browse, what do you find in your search results? Isn’t it some sort of articles, blogs, or simply text? This means, text ranks better than any other form of content on Google. So, how long does it take for any content to work?
A very long time! Yes, you heard that right. It can even take up to several months, years, or more.
So, why does it take so long? It’s not about how many blogs and articles you roll out every day. It totally depends on Google and the factors that it takes into consideration. The factors like; how detailed is your content, how many social shares is it receiving, is your content getting more inbound links over time?
This entire process happens naturally, and it’s just like any regular wine. The older it is, the better.
As these metrics improve over time, your ranking will too. So, keep in mind, you will not see results pouring in just a few months but after a considerable length of time.
Sure, sometimes your content may go viral on many social media channels, but your actual and consistent traffic comes from Google.
Content Marketing and SEO
In the olden days, search engines rewarded websites that followed technical details with a little bit of content sprinkled in. But today, Search Engines reward websites that provide relevant and valuable content. So, for argument’s sake, let’s say it was 80/20. 80% of the SEO process required metadata, alt text, CMS Systems and etc., along with some content on the page.
Well, here we are a long time past that. Today, Google recommends creating not just any content but valuable content that people want. The 80/20 ratio has reversed.
With the Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird update, SEOs are now required to distribute quality content that is engaging, credible, useful, and add some value to the time spent by readers on your content. Basically, it’s not just about putting keywords in the right places anymore. Which means the folk in content marketing and SEO need each other.
Advanced Content Marketing Tactics
Here are a few key content marketing trends that you cannot miss;
- E-Newsletters: This has been around for close to 20 years. Emails can present valuable content to your audience on a regular basis. Content presented through these newsletters can move your audience towards purchase. They also contribute to generating leads.
- Online videos and audios: If you’re not creating videos, you are most likely falling behind your competition. A simple, raw, and authentic video is what really matters to your audience. The future is video. It’s much more personal, people get to know you, your personality and your company better. So, create videos and upload them on all major platforms. Do not just share it from one platform to the other, instead re-upload in every platform. With audio, you can simply create a podcast, create an audio file, and upload it to iTunes or Lip Sync.
- Update your content: Make sure the content on your website is up-to-date. If you don’t update your old content, you’re not going to get enough attention.
- Fresh idea: Do not regurgitate the same information over and over again. As people are tired of reading SEO tips that will double the traffic. You can Google and find a hundred similar blogs on this subject. Write something new, fresh, something that hasn’t been seen before. This way, you’re more likely to get traffic, rankings, and even social shares.
- Promoting Your Content: There is too much content over the web. No matter how good of a content piece you write, it’s not going to be seen unless you promote it. So, spend most of your time promoting than writing. Use the 80/20 rule, where 80% of your time is spent on promoting and 20% for writing. The one way you can promote your content is to email all your subscribers and the people who link to your competitor content. So, you can do this by using Buzzsumo, type in a query related to your subject, see all the other popular content within your space. You then take it to put that URL into ahrefs. It will show you all the people link to that URL, and then you hit up all the people linked to that URL.
- Social shares: Getting backlinks isn’t enough. Facebook, Twitter, all these platforms drive a lot of traffic. You need to check out on Buzzsumo and find the people who are sharing articles similar to yours. This simple thing will help you to get more social traffic.
Having said all these, let’s come back to the core concern of this post, “What makes content the king? Creativity or Optimization?”
Building content and gathering a relevant audience is not an easy task, it requires patience. Creativity and optimization work hand in hand. Content is, of course, the KING but the entire process involved in marketing it is the QUEEN. Just like the queen in the chessboard game is more powerful than the king.
Today, we see billions of contents over the web. If statistics are to be believed, there is one blog for every seven people. In a world where texts, videos, and audios are created every second, no matter what is the quality of your post, it becomes extremely crucial to market it. Optimizing a good quality content is more likely to fetch you better conversions than the posts that are not convincing. Marketing is the very essence of every content.
So, the next time you build any content for the public to consume, make sure it’s convincing apart from being relevant and valuable. Market it well with the strategies listed in this post, and you’ll be good to go!