In recent times, the benefits of content marketing for SEO has been widely broadcast with a plethora of articles, opinions and top tips reinforcing the need for organisations to produce unique content regularly in order to acquire those sought after first page rankings.
However, limiting the role of content marketing to SEO without first understanding how content impacts on the delivery of your commercial objectives is unlikely to yield the desired results. Developing low quality, regurgitated content from online news sources is unlikely to add significant value to your audience or significantly enhance your visibility in these post Google Panda and Penguin update times.
Content marketing needs to be an integral component of your digital marketing and communications strategy and should be utilised to build awareness of your brand, stimulate user engagement, reach new audiences, increase visitor levels, improve conversion rates and drive revenues. For most organisations, the commercial objectives will be similar, but a clear strategy that clearly outlines the process for achieving these objectives, is critical.
Prior to embracing content marketing, organisations should consider the following:
In an increasingly competitive digital landscape, it is imperative for organisations to differentiate themselves from their competitors in order to gain market share.
During the early stages of developing a content strategy, key areas such as brand values, unique selling points, tone of voice and value proposition need to be identified, documented and issued as guidelines internally and to external agencies.
This forms the basis of your content strategy and should be utilised across all forms of digital communication, including website content, blog posts, pr and social media.
Developing content that is of value to your audience and stimulates a response; whether that be a comment, share or like, is the holy grail of content marketing, with an emphasis on quality over quantity.
Discuss potential subject matters internally and seek feedback from your existing audience to determine what types of content would be well received. If you are currently writing content, review what has worked and what hasn’t worked, which platforms have been the most effective in terms of engagement, monitor your areas of expertise and brand mentions online.
Look at forthcoming events in your sector, product launches and seasonal trends as potential subject matters and use all of this information to plan an initial 3-6 month plan which illustrates timings and schedules for the development and publishing of this content.
Which platforms do you intend to use for the delivery of your content strategy? A blog should be at the forefront of your content delivery plan but identify where your target audience is likely to reside online and which platforms offer the most effective route of communicating with prospective customers.
Review Google Analytics to identify keywords and phrases that typically drive visitors to your website and analyse the search queries report in Google Webmaster Tools to find keyword opportunities.
Ensure that social media, and in particular social sharing, is integrated into your content marketing strategy. Identify which social media platforms will be utilised and tailor the content specifically for each platform. If applicable to the audience, share your blog posts across the main social media platforms and integrate social sharing functionality into key areas of your website.
Utilise Google+ as a mechanism to share content and build authority. Create a company profile and personal profiles for each person who will be writing the content and integrate Google+ authorship features to build authority.
It is important to note that content, in it’s broadest sense, can be delivered in a number of ways such as opinion pieces, buying guides, reviews, white papers, video, podcasts, infographics, imagery and more. The type of content that you publish will be largely dependent on what your audience engages with and what level of resource you have to produce this content.
Resource is a key consideration when developing a content marketing strategy. Do you have the resource and expertise in-house to deliver the required content and type of content effectively? Will you need to outsource elements of the content development?
In most instances, structuring your content schedule so that can be delivered effectively in the short term is typically a good starting point. Its important to emphasise the ‘quality over quantity’ factor and it is often more beneficial to plan the scheduled delivery of content rather than an initial burst of activity which will inevitably tail off through lack of resource.
It is important that all content marketing activity can be measured effectively and key metrics should be agreed and included within the content marketing strategy. Key metrics could include an increase in visitor levels, user engagement and revenue and should be monitored regularly to determine the overall success of your endeavours.
The analogy ‘content is king’ is still very much at the forefront of digital marketing but ‘strategy is queen’ will ensure that your content attracts, engages and converts.
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