Content has always been a part of marketing, whether it be ad buys, direct mail pieces or hitting the pavement with pamphlets for some good old fashioned guerrilla marketing. Within the past few years however this term, “content marketing,” has become quite popular among marketing industry pros, and with the introduction of inbound marketing, content marketing is now a strategy in and of itself.
Content Marketing, best described by Joe Pulizzi and the team at Content Marketing Institute (great resource for those who want to stay in-the-know with new media marketing), gives any business the ability to be a publisher. This has been made possible by one of the most powerful marketing tools to have ever been adapted by business: the blog.
A blog gives you the ability to write and publish content surrounding your business, industry, products and services creating a narrative for your brand, at no or relatively low investment, other than time or labor (if you pay marketing staff or a consultant). Traditionally, mainstream press has been the only option for this, and opportunities were (and still are) few and far between.
Two Questions Immediately Come to Mind
1) Well that’s great, how is anyone going to see it?
2) Where am I going to get ideas and material to create this content?
The first question can be answered easily enough: SEO and Social Media.
SEO: People are searching, so why not optimize your website and content to be found? While the manner in which search engines operate is extremely technical in nature, maintaining good SEO is not as difficult as you might think. A good SEO plug-in (All-in-One or Yoast) and good on- and off-page practices will make your website easy for search engines to crawl. The real challenge is building authority, which largely involves social media.
Social Media: In essence, social media is the answer to the first question. It provides a means to distribute your content as well as access to your audience, at no cost! Sure it may take some time to build a following, but that following will be far more loyal and involved than any “touches” resulting from ads stuffed on newspaper pages or the commercials everyone skips over now that they can DVR their favorite shows.
Beyond a content distribution channel, social media creates incredible opportunities to brand and build goodwill around your business, generate and nurture leads as well as open up new avenues to handle things like customer service.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Where am I going to get ideas and material to create this content?
Another easy answer: You already have it.
Your FAQ page is the place to start when putting together and organizing ideas for your content marketing program. Your website visitors are already going there to learn more about your business. Further, as you receive more and more questions via social media or other interactions like conferences, workshops or networking events, you can continue to compile and develop your content pipeline.
The problem with FAQ pages: They can sometimes hurt more than they help.
An FAQ page is what you link to when discussing something that you know the average person might need to know more about when they get to certain points of your website. It is a listing of all the questions someone might have about your business or specific products and services. It’s also probably the most popular exit page on your site.
Sure when FAQ pages were first used they were probably the best thing since sliced bread, however the way people use the internet has changed. If I am reading something I might not understand and thus you have directed me to a page that contains a text listing of all the questions someone could possibly have about your business, I will be annoyed. Not only will I now have to muddle through these questions until I find mine, but with my terribly short attention span I will probably start reading other questions and answers, get overwhelmed and leave your site.
The Solution: Content Marketing!
Instead of forcing readers to one page with way too much content, why not start writing short articles that answer the question while giving it some application to the reader’s situation and solving some basic problem or pain point in the process? Not only will you have answered the question but delivered real value in the process. This builds your brand, keeps the reader focused, creates good will and leaves visitors wanting more.
After you’ve published these articles on your blog you then distribute them via social media, getting good content in front of your audience and potentially mitigating some concerns and answering questions people have before they even visit your website.
Don’t delete the FAQ page, but don’t rely on it either. Augment it by creating interesting and relevant content that educates and gets readers and prospects more involved with your business.
Once you’ve got a good system underway and a solid pipeline of questions to answer, branch out and experiment with different types of content. Not everyone likes to read, so create short videos or infographics to visually represent data or make a point. Work in consumer reviews when you can, the more social proof you conjure, the better off you will be.
Eventually you might realize you’re putting out several smaller pieces of content that speak to a larger problem or theme. At this point think about putting together some larger involvement pieces like eBooks, Whitepapers or Industry Reports. These take far more investment then smaller weekly articles, but are valuable tools that can be used in developing and nurturing leads both online and off.
While still relatively “new,” content marketing is here to stay. It works well with how people use the internet, pointedly search engines and social media. The content you publish will break down informational and awareness barriers for your business in a way not possible with traditional sales and marketing. With a blog, and nest egg of good ideas, as well as the skills and expertise to create content from those ideas, any business can become a publisher, educating and nurturing leads while developing their brand via the web.
Have a content marketing plan up and running already?
Want to see how it’s working for you? Request a Free Web Marketing Audit Today.