Content marketing is defined as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. So why is content marketing all the rage and how can it benefit your business’s marketing efforts?
According to current figures, content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less.
Content marketing is what we used to think of as good old-fashioned PR: articles, information and thought leadership pieces that aim to showcase the knowledge of the writer.
The reason it costs less?
Well all it takes is your knowledge to complete the content, time to write the piece and then time to distribute to PR platforms. All of those are activities you can complete on your own, without the intervention of an agency, especially if you can write. There are no additional costs for creation and design, and no distribution costs unless you want to distribute it via email. If you are distributing via email to your own personal client list, you can often do that at little to no cost too.
Once you’ve written a great article there are a number of things you can do with it, including distribute it to multiple platforms for publishing.
You can also easily stick it into an email and send it to clients, and it lands up living on your website for ongoing SEO (search engine optimization) reach. If the article is well accepted and full of interesting ideas, it will naturally evolve into radio and TV interview requests, and it’s really easy to repurpose well-received content to make a video for your YouTube channel.
In fact, in the American market, you often find YouTube channels that source great articles and then turn them into audio and video presentations. Write an article that attracts enough attention and you will find this happens to you.
If your article has good enough content, you’ll find that it gains international legs, in a ‘lite’ form of going viral.
American and international platforms love republishing great articles and once an article is up on the Internet, it usually stays up, so you no longer have a ‘limited-time’ reach with each piece you distribute.
In fact you really want to wait 3 to 6 months before you begin to measure the reach of a piece, because you need to give it time to penetrate properly into the world wide web.
If you’ve ever submitted websites and sitemaps to search engines, you’ll often see a notification telling you that it may take up to 90 days to index your submitted changes. Once the site and page are indexed, it takes even longer for that page to start returning reads and results, because it has to compete with what is already there, and grow in popularity. If you keep that article up for a long enough time, what you’ll see is that it returns consistent SEO results, because good information doesn’t go out of style; especially not content relevant to a business process or area.
So as your article and SEO penetrate more deeply into the Internet people will begin to find it in search results, be dazzled by your brilliance and want to do business with you. Until you take the article down it will keep serving that purpose. Don’t believe me? Go type in a search now and look at the dates of the results that return to you – most often you’ll be looking at articles that were written way back in 2013/4.
You know how you wish you could talk uninterrupted sometimes – and just get your point across? A thought leadership article is the perfect way to showcase your knowledge without feeling thwarted or interrupted.
You have time to go over the content, refine your message and perfectly craft the words you want to say – and you can take as long as you need to perfect it! You also don’t have to deal with the inevitable doubt, shame, embarrassment and vulnerability you feel when standing in front of someone or talking out loud in a sales pitch. Similarly, by the time the client contacts you for an appointment, you’re walking in as an expert and not a nobody – and that changes the tone of the sales meeting immediately. It definitely starts you on a firmer footing.
What’s important though is that you SHOW your knowledge – and don’t just tell.
Content marketing differs from traditional PR in that it is educational and informative entertainment – but importantly, it is entertainment. People have to be interested and you have to keep their interest – and in our quick-fix world of instant gratification that can be a difficult thing to do. So give it some time and build up a bank of content focused on specific details of certain areas that combine to make up a collection of information in that sphere of expertise.
Someone may doubt you when you have churned out one piece, but when you have hundreds of results and pieces, sometimes the sheer volume is what cements your expertise in their minds.
Finally, it seems pretty apparent that you will share any published pieces to your following on your social media platforms – I mean this is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to reach people who are already interested in your products and services.
What is not as readily apparent though, is how much easier a bank of content will make your future social media interactions. Roughly 80% of business comes from 20% of your clients, and that 20% is made up of existing clients in most cases – and these are the people who are most likely to engage with you on social media. With each social media distribution, the algorithms, and people’s online habits, will mean that only about 5-8% of your following will see what you’ve posted… so wait a few months and you can share that article or post again.
What you do differently this time though is link the shared article from your website, so that the visits increase your own website traffic. If you have a good bio, with links back to your website, then you can also relink from the main published platform, which does tend to give it more gravitas. Once people are engaged and enjoying the edutainment or infotainment you’re feeding them, they’ll often want more, and so they will click through to visit your website. Just make sure you have the links and bio that make it easy for them to get there.