Is your business thriving in the digital landscape?
Are you producing consistent high quality content for your audience?
If not, why not?
The phrase ‘content is king’ is bandied about, and it’s certainly oversaturated. But it contains a simple truth.
Content should be the main focus of any digital marketing strategy.
Smart Insights polled their audience, getting a response from over 600 of their readers. They found that 29.6% of respondents believed that content marketing would be their top digital strategy in 2015.
Improving website experience, paid search marketing, and targeted banners placed considerably lower. The results of this survey can be seen in this infographic courtesy of CamFoundation.
But it’s not enough to create high quality content. Marketers know there has to be a sound strategy in place to boost loyalty, engagement, and brand awareness.
Digital marketing campaigns are increasingly important. Especially when you consider that everyone who has access to social media is now a content creator.
This year 1 billion people logged onto Facebook on the same day. The internet is a busy place, and it’s only getting busier.
Google implemented over 500 algorithm changes last year in order to police the vast amount of content available online. It wants to provide its users with the most relevant results.
That’s why your content needs to be outstanding. If it’s poor then it will never be found by an audience. Google has made sure of that.
You’ve Got a Voice (Use It)
The amount of content posted online is staggering.
Every minute there are 1,400 blogs posted, 2,460,000 bits of content shared on Facebook, and 72 hours of video on Youtube.Click to tweet
If everyone is doing it, how do you add your voice to the mix?
You need to have a clear strategy that has realistic goals. In short, you need to know what you want to achieve from the content you create and share.
It’s not enough to write blog posts and share them. Even seasoned online writers are shunning ‘traditional’ post formats.
Carol Tice argues that content must be longform, more akin to magazine/newspaper articles, than brief snippets of information.
“Instead of short blog posts, we should create better content that’s article quality, with interviews and research data — that’s what builds authority and really gets you traffic and leads.”
Content strategies have to start somewhere. Even the most effective marketing campaign began as a thought in someone’s head.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.”
Don’t be put off by the abundance of content online. Just strive to add something of value to the mix, and aim to create better content than your competitors.
Show Off Your Industry Knowledge
How do you get started? You consider your business, and what knowledge it can add to its audience.
John Hall from the Content Marketing Institute argues that a business should share its knowledge. He suggests that you should use your in house skill set to create valuable content.
Everyday your employees are learning on the job. That knowledge should be stored and compiled because it provides excellent fodder for unique content.
You can develop articles and infographics that reflect your business’s experiences, providing your audience with industry specific information.
“Show the world how knowledgable your business is with relevant high quality content.”
Influencing Audience Perception
Content doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It can be used to provoke a response from audience members.
Let’s use an example, our business is a small town artisanal bakery, that’s struggling to compete with big name competitors.
The bakery can use its USP (handmade products) to carve out its own niche. It does things differently, and this is an aspect of the business that it can promote through clever content creation.
It could use its unique identity to write targeted blog posts that encourage conversations around its artisanal branding.
In the process, it can effectively highlight why its business is better than its competitors.
Formulating a Strategy
Our small town bakery can shape a brand conversation around the benefits of locally sourced ethical foods.
The bakery can write posts detailing:
- Its philosophy
- The way it makes its breads
- The care it takes to make the best product possible
The bakery can use content marketing to:
- Carve out its own niche
- Increase online traffic
- Increase its revenue
There are other benefits to this approach, too.
Thanks to its blog posts the bakery can see how its audience reacts to the content it shares. This quickly becomes a two-way conversation.
Driving Relevant Traffic
If the business has a clearly defined USP it becomes easier to identify loyal consumers and potential brand ambassadors.
The artisanal bakery can leverage social media channels (Facebook, G+, Twitter, Instagram, and even Reddit) to share its content. It can pursue conversations with its target market, fostering stronger relationships around its brand via the content it shares.
Building a Relevant Audience
Ted Karczewski wrote an excellent post detailing how to leverage data to devise an effective content strategy. It’s a good way to provide your audience with relevant information.
Audience specific content is one of the key qualities of a good website. It targets the people who will benefit the most from the work you do. Also, it provides them with a place to hang out.
This is a good way to meet your audience. Provide them with content that they’ll want to congregate around, and use data to determine what they want to know.
“Create content to shape the conversation your customers are having.”
Using content to advertise your business is an increasingly effective marketing strategy, and when you consider that you’re creating the conversation, you can see why content marketing is so prevalent.
This is your chance to speak up, and if you do so honestly, with authenticity, and with deliberation you’ll benefit from a relevant audience that’s happy to become part of your online community.
Why High Quality Content is Important
It goes without saying that the content you create has to be of a high quality, and it must say something new and unique.
It can’t be a rehash of things you’ve read online – it has to resonate with your audience, and it must sparkle with personality.
But even that’s not enough. Rand Fishkin over at Moz argues that a good article has to be 10x better than anything else you can find on the subject.
That’s a high bar, and it’s certainly a challenge.
Anyone can write an article, but few people can write something that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Rand provides a checklist. His list of questions are designed to ensure that your article adds considerable value for readers.
He consults the search results (Google, BuzzSumo) and asks himself the following questions (paraphrased):
- What questions are being asked and answered by these results?
- What sort of user experience is provided?
- What’s the detail and thoroughness of the information provided?
I’d add two more questions to the list:
- How could I write this better?
- What makes this content less than excellent?
Of course, ranking the quality of work is subjective, but you should know your audience. Consider what they’re looking for, and provide them with more information than they need.
Readers shouldn’t have to go anywhere else. Your work should be as close to definitive as you can make it, and you should build your brand’s reputation on content that stands out for its excellence.
The Dangers of Poor Quality Writing
We’ve touched upon Google’s algorithm updates, and how they’re designed to promote good writing.
It’s worth noting that they penalise poor writing, and punish websites that publish it.
He argues that good content provides audiences with something new. It contains relevant information that they haven’t found or considered before.
He states that the majority of content online is average. It provides some benefit to the audience, and it can be successful if promoted well.
Bad content is designed to pad out websites, and it provides readers with little of value. Jon sees no use for this type of writing. Bad content may drive traffic to your website, but you won’t retain that audience. It will damage your reputation, too.
You want your brand to be celebrated for the good things it does. You want to share relevant, industry specific information that appeals to your audience.
What’s the point in creating bad content to increase your website rank in search engines?
People are the end user. Provide them with value.
Develop a Tone of Voice (and use it)
“…when their tone of voice is consistent, their audience hears the same person speaking whenever and however they deal with them. That consistent voice shows customers that the brand is a consistent, reliable company to deal with, and that every part of their experience will be equally good.” Content Marketing Institute
Always speak in your brand’s tone of voice. Audiences love consistency, so be sure to use the same voice across the content you write, from the social channels you share it on, to the customers you interact with online.
Alex Honeysett wrote a brilliant post on using archetypes to develop a brand’s tone of voice. She outlines a simple process but one that I think every business should consider before beginning content marketing strategies.
Long Term Benefits (Become a Thought Leader)
By producing and sharing consistent high quality content, you establish your brand’s value.
You need consistent content to generate traffic. It has to be of a high quality to ensure that your website ranks well within search engine algorithms.
As we’ve discussed, relevant content is key, and if you’re a good content writer, you’ll start to see a return on your efforts in the form of new customers.
If you persevere with your content strategies you’ll find that your brand becomes well respected within its niche. This can lead to thought leadership, making your website the ‘go to’ place for high quality relevant information within your industry.
The Aura of Your Brand
Content marketing is an effective way to develop the aura of a brand. By this I mean that a brand will find intangible values become attached to its name and legacy.
If our artisanal bakery keeps writing useable content, audience members will start to think of it as a high quality service, a place that isn’t after their money, but wants to add value to their lives.
“That’s how a brand becomes aspirational – by being inspirational first.”
Start with your brand story, and work from there. Remember that everything has to be relevant, and everything that you say must reflect your brand and its core values.
Add value with the content you devise and you’ll be blessed with an engaged audience that loves (I don’t use this word lightly) what you do.
All You Need is Love
Kevin Roberts argues that love is the future of branding. His contention is that businesses should strive for a real human connection with their consumers.
Consider his Love/Respect Axis. Your work has to be more than valuable, and you have to foster more than just respect from your audience. You need to provide your consumers with an identity that they can continue to buy into. That’s how you promote high love, and high respect.
The aura of a brand can be so much more than what it physically does. As Roberts puts it:
“…emotional connections… (are) an opportunity to truly connect with people. An opportunity to tap into human emotion more deeply than we have ever done before. And have people love us for it.”
Apple gets it. Nike does too. Those brands know that their audience wants more than just a product. Their consumers define themselves through the intangible values associated with those brands. They buy into a lifestyle.
From Good to Great
Back in 2001, Jim Collins shared a similar perspective in his discussion on how brands move from Good to Great. He suggests it’s about who you work with, not how, and this certainly translates to content marketing.
Jim further states that change takes plenty of small moments, rather than one definitive action. Each piece of content you publish is part of a much bigger picture so keep your end goal in mind.
Build your brand around your content, but make sure that it targets the right people. Get to know your audience on a personal level and provide them with more than they thought they wanted.
It’s all about building real relationships – that’s the future of branding. Content is an important part of your brand’s identity. Make sure that you’re using it effectively to connect with people. What you do is for them, the end user, the reader, and the eventual brand enthusiast.
And remember, start by loving the content you create – it’s infectious.
Should you Hire a Professional?
Of course, learning how to write quality content takes time, and a certain amount of skill. For many businesses effective content marketing is an area that they could improve upon, and instead of struggling to develop excellent content in house, they should just hire a professional.
Storkey Media knows this business well. If writing excellent blog posts and articles isn’t your forte, then use our expertise. We’ll speak for you, and you can get on with what you do best – running your business.
Need help with content writing or marketing? Book a free consultation with Storkey Media and use our integrated marketing services to galvanise your digital strategies.