In 2017, small business owners everywhere are looking for ways to improve their outcomes and become more successful. In the pursuit of this, you’ve probably heard the term “content marketing.”
Once reserved for large, enterprise-level companies, content marketing has become, in the last several years, the go-to marketing tactic of major corporations and single-owner businesses alike.
Today, content marketing stands out as one of the most accessible, effective, and user-friendly marketing strategies available, and it is revolutionizing businesses everywhere. Read on to learn more about content marketing and how you can tap into its incredible power in 2017 to make your business the best it can be.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a type of digital marketing that uses online content, in the form of blogs, videos, articles, tutorials, social media, visuals, and more, to attract customers organically. Unlike traditional, outbound marketing, content marketing doesn’t require publishers to pay for user clicks or views. Instead, content marketing relies on the creation of valuable, interesting, user-centric content to draw people in naturally.
Here’s an example of content marketing in action: a person has an older dog with allergies that are causing the dog to itch and scratch relentlessly. Frustrated and in need of a solution, the person heads to Google and types in “dog with allergies.” An article pops up titled “How Different Food Proteins Can Help a Dog with Allergies.” Relieved, the person clicks the title and begins reading.
The article tells the person many things she didn’t know before – from how skin allergies arise, to how shifting the dog to a food with a different type of protein (from salmon to bison, for instance) can alleviate itchy, irritated skin. The article, which is published by a company that manufactures small-batch dog food designed to cater to dogs with special dietary needs, doesn’t try to sell the reader anything, and she goes away, happy to have found an answer.
This interaction is a simple one, but it’s indicative of the way content marketing works on the whole. Instead of hard-selling readers, content marketing provides them with value. It answers their questions, and allows them to walk away – knowing full well that, the next time that reader needs more information about tending to her dog’s dietary needs, she’ll likely return to the site that provided her with the useful information the first time around. She’ll probably eventually move through the sales funnel and become a customer of the company in question.
Content Marketing by the Numbers
While it’s true that content marketing is a kinder, gentler form of marketing, it’s also much more effective than traditional advertising and lead generation methods. Here are a few stats to prove it:
- More than 200 million people are currently using ad blockers. This makes it nearly impossible to reach them with traditional advertising and renders content the only viable way into their inboxes and minds
- Content marketing leaders earn 8x more site traffic than their competitors. When you create valuable, useful, interesting content, people flock to it in droves.
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional ads, but generates triple the leads. For small businesses without massive marketing budgets, content is often the best possible way to attract real, valuable engagement from customers.
- 88% of marketers are using content in their marketing strategies. If you thought content marketing was a fringe approach, think again! It’s currently one of the most-used marketing strategies in the digital world, and it’s only getting more prevalent.
Why is Content Marketing So Important Right Now?
The primary factor in the rise of content marketing is the evolution of search engines and user preference. Today, search engines like Google are smarter than they’ve ever been before, and their ultimate mission is to deliver quality, relevant results to users. This has resulted in the following changes, all of which have led to an increased focus on content marketing:
- UX-focused Google algorithm updates. In the last five years, Google has unleashed a barrage of algorithm updates aimed at weeding keyword-stuffed, poorly-written material out of the search results and replacing it with intent-driven, genuinely valuable content. These changes have made it harder for marketers to get by with traditional outbound marketing methods. Google now has strict regulations in place for advertisements, for example, and has begun penalizing sites that display intrusive mobile ads that interrupt the user experience.
- Shifts in user methodology. On top of Google’s algorithm updates, there’s also the fact that search engine users have become more advanced, as well. Today, 20% of all Google queries on mobile devices are voice searches. It is predicted that number will only continue to rise in the coming years.
- Advertisement fatigue. In 2006, web users were seeing upwards of 5,000 ads each day. This is compared to roughly 500 ads a day in the 1970s. Today, Google AdWords dishes out about 30 billion ad impressions each day. With these numbers in mind, it’s no wonder people are getting sick and tired of advertisements, and gravitating toward user-centric, valuable content instead.
10 Tips for Effective Content Marketing
This year, using content as a pillar strategy in your digital marketing is a fantastic idea. Content marketing has been on the upswing for years now, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, many experts predict that the future of digital marketing is more content, not less. To use content marketing effectively in your company, follow these 10 tips:
- Develop A Content Mission Statement
According to Content Marketing Institute, one of the best things you can do to improve your content strategy is to develop a mission statement that outlines how you’ll use content, and why. To create your mission statement, answer the following questions in a document:
- What’s your company’s goal?
- Who is your target audience?
- What are the valuable experiences you can deliver to that target audience at various stages of the buyer’s journey?
- What is the primary factor that will make your content different from anyone else’s?
- Use Content Tools To Your Advantage
Because content marketing has been booming in recent years, developers around the world have built a host of useful tools to make the content creation, distribution, and measurement processes easier for publishers. Here are a few top tools to add to your kit:
- Ubersuggest. Keyword research is a critical component of successful content marketing, and Ubersuggest is a tool that can help you understand which keywords your audience is using. Simply plug in a keyword phrase and Ubersuggest will make keyword suggestions listed in alphabetical order. Ideal for expanding your keyword strategy, this helpful tool is a must-have.
- Hemingway App. Not a born writer? No problem. Hemingway app is a simple, free tool that allows you to plug your content into an editor and see places where you can eliminate difficult sentences, words, and phrases, and streamline your writing.
- Traackr. Interested in combining influencer marketing with your content methods? Use Traackr to manage your relationships with influencers.
- Buzzsumo. Find trending topics and track your competition with Buzzsumo, the one-stop shop for all things content.
- Avoid The Urge To Make Your Content Sales-Focused
If you create pushy, sales-dense content, you’re not doing anything but implementing traditional advertising and using content as a vehicle. In the words of Sujan Patel in a recent Forbes article, “use your content to gently guide your customers through your buying cycle.”
While this may be the long-game approach, content works as an accumulated tactic, not an overnight scheme.
- Create Long-Form Content
Today, long-form content ranks and performs better than short-form content. For best results, focus primarily on crafting content that’s 1,000 words or longer. In addition to the fact that most of the content in the top 10 spots of Google’s SERPs has roughly 2,000 words, long-form content will also give you more space to connect with and provide value to your readers.
- Analyze Your Headline
While 80% of people read headlines, only 20% click through to your body copy. Because of this, it’s worth the time and effort it takes to optimize your headline accordingly. To ensure it’s generating the impact needed to capture your audience, run it through a tool like CoSchedule’s headline analyzer, which will analyze the word balance, length, word count, sentiment, and keyword content of your headline, and tell you exactly how to improve it.
- Create Content On A Consistent Schedule
While content marketing is a bit more time-intensive than other forms of digital marketing, consistency is key, and it’ll pay off in the end. According to HubSpot, companies publishing 16 or more blog posts each month earn 3.5x as much traffic as companies who blog 4 or fewer times each month.
- Develop Conversational Content
People want to read content that sounds like it’s written to them, not at them. As such, take pains to create conversational yet professional content your readers can relate to and connect with.
- Add Visuals To Your Content
Don’t assume “content” only means written content. In fact, visual content is one of the most valuable assets of the digital world right now. Simply adding a colored visual to a piece of content can increase people’s willingness to read it by 80%. That said, add stock photos, infographics, videos, and memes to your content marketing strategy.
- Hire A Professional Team To Help You
A dedicated content marketing strategy can quickly grow to take up a great deal of time and energy. If you’re having trouble managing it all, look for a digital marketing team that can pick up your content creation, social sharing, or content promotion responsibilities for you.
- Learn From Your Competitors
There’s always more to learn about content, and watching the way your competitors do things can help you adjust and calibrate your strategy accordingly. Watch specific things like which keywords they target, which topics they cover, and which channels they publish content on.
Content Marketing: The Way of 2017 And Beyond
This year, content marketing will rise to a whole new level of importance. Ensure you’re on the bleeding edge of the trend by using these 10 smart tips to make content marketing a fundamental part of your digital marketing strategy.
Do you need a trusted team to help you with your content marketing? Contact Thrive Internet Marketing today to learn more about our services!