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Thursday, 15 August 2013

Essentials for an effective content marketing strategy

Content marketing has become the next big thing for business owners and for good reason. Due to changes in the Google algorithm, search results are now heavily influenced by high-quality, original content. It’s good news for online businesses because content can alleviate dependency on Adwords and PPC campaigns to drive traffic to their site.  But diving head first into content production without a clear strategy is a good way to waste a lot of time and money.

Content Marketing components

As content marketing enters the mainstream in Australia, I’m seeing a lot of worrying advice given to business owners wanting to improve their websites. Some of it has to do with content but even more relates to social media and search engine optimisation (SEO). This is particularly troubling because a sound content marketing strategy needs three distinct components in place to be effective. Those components are:
  •  Original Content is information, education and possibly even entertainment designed to establish your authority and expertise within your business. Content can take on a variety of formats including blog posts, infographics, video, print magazines, email newsletters, customer success stories, white papers and even photographs.
  • Social Media encompasses online activity designed to attract potential customers to your content. Each shopper has a different social networking fingerprint.  The goal is to understand what information they need when they’re shopping.  Most consumers don’t want a relationship with a brand; they’re looking for help making purchasing decisions.
  • SEO – It’s no longer enough to stuff your website and online content full of keywords about your business. You must understand where consumers are spending time and how they’re searching for information.
The 3 Essential Components to any Content Marketing Strategy - 2013 Global Copywriting

“No strategy” marketing plan

When all three components are present, a content marketing initiative is perfectly positioned to increase your traffic, build trust for your business and deliver valuable word of mouth recommendations. Use them in isolation and the results will be disappointing.

Stand-alone content – This is sometimes referred to as the “Post and Hope” method of marketing. You can invest put a lot of effort into terrific content, but if no one knows about it there’s not much point in going to the trouble of creating it.

Social Media strategy  - When social media is your only marketing strategy, two things happen. You spend all your time in broadcast mode and you really have nothing to talk about. Social media without content is just chit-chat. Very few people feel compelled to buy after being bombarded with a one-way message offering no real value.

Solo SEO – Google has very clearly stated they intend to deliver valuable search results to their client. Their measure of value is how much original content is being published and how often it’s being shared. Traditional SEO agencies are quickly converting to content marketing as SEO strategies become increasingly dependent on content for success.

The key to online sales

If I could leave you with one piece of advice, it’s this. Find someone who incorporates all three components of content marketing before making any investment in content, social media or SEO. While it’s tempting to rush in and get started, too often no real results are achieved. Rapid changes in technology, the maturity of social networking and Google’s focus on content create a complex environment for online business owners to navigate. Spend time developing a comprehensive strategy and you’ll be rewarded with targeted website traffic you can easily convert into sales.

I’ll be a speaker at the Future Proof Workshop on how to develop an effective content and social media strategy at the Online Retailer Conference in Sydney, 19 August 2013. Why not join us?

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