Learning Hub | Content Marketing
What Is Content Marketing & Why Is It Important?
April 14, 2016 | Jon Teodoro
Content marketing, SEO, Google analytics. These keywords have taken the place of billboards, yellow pages and word-of-mouth. For someone new to the Internet world of marketing, the modern vocabulary and ideas that people bounce around are dense and often a little intimidating. That’s where we come in.
At Verde Media, we can help small and large business owners reach their target audiences through the multitude of online avenues available to us. Though we have the know-how to help you with these processes, we think it is important for business owners such as yourself to know a little about what we are saying and doing behind the scenes.
What is Content Marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “content marketing is 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.”
Well, that’s pretty straight forward, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. The overall idea may be simple, but there are several intricate drivers that ensure the online traffic of that clearly-defined audience winds up on your web page.
It is clear that content marketing is the present of the advertising ages, but many say that it is the future as well. Why has this come to be so quickly?
With all of the modern technology that allows people to fast-forward through commercials or bypass cable all together, receive news online instead of in a paper with ads and block telemarketer calls, businesses are struggling with ways to advertise their products to consumers.
Enter content marketing.
In laymen’s terms, content marketing is essentially utilizing any content anywhere – from back links to blogs and articles to every single word on your website – to attract customers by matching their online searches with your page somehow. All of the content must be relevant and valuable to your company’s identity.
Content is not simply words. Images, videos, links and page layout all play a role in getting hits on your page and eyes on your product. You may think someone simply wrote the paragraphs of text that you see on websites, but if it is well done, it is likely that a team tackled the content aspects of the page fully aware of why they chose each word they wrote, picture they used and topic they blogged about.
Content marketing is an ongoing process that “focuses on owning media, not renting it,” according to the CMI.
“Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.”
Content marketing relies on the belief that if businesses deliver consistently valuable information to their consumers, in turn they will receive their loyal business as a reward. Though in many ways, it is a sales tactic, time and energy are put into deciding how to best inform consumers instead of condescendingly teaching them like many advertisements of yesteryear. Head’s up, ‘50s housewives.
So, now that you know a little more about the what of digital marketing, let’s get to the how.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
Every agency probably has a different tactic for going about deciding on content, and it may vary from client to client. Some campaigns are easier than others, and some companies already have an online presence while others don’t.
No matter how they do it, you can be sure that it is a process with many steps forward and backward, several revisions and a lot of research. Until robots take over and write content for us, we’ll be on our own with that step. Luckily, there are several online tools that help marketers complete the research portion.
A major component of content marketing is SEO or search engine optimization. It’s an industry buzzword that gets thrown around a lot these days. This idea is so prevalent that you don’t really have to be a tech nerd or work with the Internet much to be familiar with it.
SEO is crucial to online marketing because it single-handedly decides your company’s placement on Google search returns. Let’s look at an example.
Say you own an art gallery in Southwest Detroit. You have been successful locally for a while and picked up enough buzz to have some more prominent traveling shows come through your space. You need to target fine art lovers in the area with heavier pocket books to come to shows and buy expensive pieces.
Here’s what I see from a content standpoint:
- Target audience: fine art lovers who can and will spend money on art
- Target area: Southwest Detroit and surrounding areas
- Possible Google searches from audience: fine art shows in Southwest Detroit, Detroit art exhibits, art shows in downtown Detroit, Southwest Detroit art exhibits…and then possibly some hits where people are searching for the studio name or the names of specific artists that may be coming through.
Taking this information, I would then use some tools to find out how many hits per month these possible searches are getting on average. The higher, the better obviously.
Say that people search “Southwest Detroit art exhibits” 140 times in one month. I would then want to make sure to include these words in prominent spots on the website, say in headlines or page titles, so that Google will pick that up and connect the studio’s site with that specific search.
Through combing out some other aspects like ensuring that the studio’s blog page and social media pages are providing valuable online information to only those patrons who are serious art buyers – voilá! – content marketing has connected this studio with its audience without a single ad. Although, ads do help. Don’t get me wrong.
If this example sounds like one big puzzle to you, you wouldn’t be far off. Moz explains the technical side of SEO as,
“A marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.”
Though SEO is a large part of content marketing, there are many other aspects. SEO helps drive consumers to your page by getting search engines to detect it as pertinent, but once consumers are there, user experience or UX takes over.
The Role of User Experience (UX) in Content Marketing
UX is exactly what it sounds like – what the users of your website experience while they are there. There are whole teams dedicated to UX. We won’t go into a lot of detail here, but here are some things that UX deals with:
- Page layout
- Easy navigation
- Aesthetics of design
- Download time of pages and content
- Easy-to-understand links
- Options for screen readers
- Options for consumers who may not be able to see your site or hear your videos
- Hierarchy of information
- Easy contact
- Search bar
The list could go on and on. But, this just goes to show that though SEO is crucial in driving consumers to your site, there are still many other aspects of content marketing to consider once they get there.
So, Does Content Marketing Actually Work?
Yes, and small mom-and-pops and Fortune 500 companies alike are embracing content marketing.
This process of digital marketing is used by P&G, Microsoft and Cisco Systems as well as many, many other big name marketing organizations.
One of the pros with content marketing is the equality it provides advertisers. Sure, more money can buy you a better marketing company to build your website and launch your campaign, but the principles of digital marketing are the same for mom-and-pop shops and mega-conglomerates.
If the content is well thought out, delivered consistently and intentionally full of value then a small company can rank higher than a large one on Google’s search results. In the past, almost all advertising was purchased, which meant that money equaled prevalence.
In the online world, this is not always the case. Advertising can still be purchased, and it is likely that large company ads like those for Wal-Mart will pop up more often than those for the little market down the street that is owned by Peggy and Dave who are dedicated to selling their customers the best local cheese.
But, if Peggy and Dave can launch a content marketing campaign that focuses on the SEO keywords that their audience is typing into search engines, maybe grab a few positive Yelp reviews and blog about artisanal cheeses for self-proclaimed chefs and foodies, then their site will come up as a search result for their intended audience long before Wal-Mart ever even hits the page.
This is the idea – the genius of content marketing, if you will.
Advertisers have always had to know their target audience, and they had to come up with commercials or jingles to attract those people to buy their product. Advertisements have to step out and slap you in the face, sometimes even creating problems you didn’t know you had (like not being able to make perfect taco salad tortilla bowls) only then to provide you with solutions.
Content marketing is like the sleeping-giant cousin to advertising. People go online and search for what they want or need. They seek out the information, and successful content marketing provides them with answers in the form of your website. This may be the prized possession of digital marketing – that it provides solutions to consumer problems right off the bat. And everyone knows how good it feels to find a valuable search engine result on the first try.
We could talk about content marketing all day, and the truth is by the time we finished the conversation, some new tool would have hit the market and changed something.
The modern climate of the Internet is ever-changing, and innovators are constantly coming up with new ways to navigate through it. It is an amazing cornucopia of fresh ideas, misfires and intelligent dialogue.
In a world where consumers can find anything they want with a touch of their finger, how can we make sure that what they receive is special? A society that is almost always plugged in begins to take the magnificence of the Internet for granted. We often feel like we’ve seen it all or that the experience is extremely robotic.
Content marketing helps etch out a little corner where users can feel special – where they can feel like they are engaging in a conversation, not being yelled at by a one-sided, obnoxious ad. Great content marketing is as much a dialogue as it is a sales tool, and it should engage consumers in a way that feels familiar, in a way that brings humanity to the machine and in a way that ultimately gets them to buy what you’re selling.
If you would like to begin a marketing campaign today or are in need of a new website, please feel free to get in touch with our Verde team. Trust me, we could talk about this stuff all day.