Understanding effective content marketing

Woman working on her laptop

What is content marketing?

“Content is king” according to Bill Gates and I agree.

Content has the power to bring new customers to your website and entice them back, again and again. This power is dependent on the quality of your content, and just like kings, good content can do much good and bad content can do much harm.

Content marketing is the creation and sharing of content to acquire customers. Although it’s been an effective marketing strategy for more than a century, the internet has given content a much larger role.

The internet has been integral in changing marketing from ‘push’ or ‘outbound’, where businesses send one-way, uninvited communications (advertising, cold calls, direct mail) , to ‘pull’ or ‘inbound’, which draws customers into two-way relationships.

Content is the marketer’s main tool in pull marketing because its relevant, entertaining, educational and conversational style invites and encourages customers to develop relationship with businesses.

Good Content Marketing

Good content marketing converts visitors into warmed up leads

Educating customers about your products and services in a friendly, entertaining and involving way makes them feel valued, included and empowered, which ultimately leads to customer loyalty and sales.

Customers who enjoy your content are more likely to link to other pages in your site, visit your social media pages, and register their details via requests for email alerts, e-newsletters, special discounts and promotions, and feedback and testimonials.

Rather than making an immediate sale, content has a conversation with customers which can lead to them purchasing your product or service.

So how exactly does content do this?

Some businesses think that once their website has been created, it’s a finished job, a task they can tick off the ‘to do’ list. But for your website to constantly attract customers, you need to add new content regularly. This is how to really make your website a successful marketing tool.

And writing just anything to fill your site isn’t good enough. Your content needs to be original, honest, valuable and engaging. Google advise that your site should be ‘useful’ and ‘information-rich’.

Content marketing includes all of the following: informative articles, photos, videos, competitions, special offers, testimonials, feedback, and other incentives to bring customers back to your site.

Content is a powerful marketing tool when it’s relevant and engaging

Here are five Do’s for creating effective content:

Deb looking at the camera

1. Be consistent by regularly loading new original content onto your site to keep it current and to keep your customers coming back. Email your existing customers to inform them of new content and post about in on social media. Not updating content on your site is the same as an editor publishing the same magazine every month.

2. Within your content include keywords that users would type into the search engine to find your site. Your page’s content title therefore needs to be descriptive and accurate.

Remember though to use keywords that are in context to the content. Google advises to make your pages for users, not for search engines, meaning you write for your customers and not for the crawlers’ attention.

Google will penalise you for stuffing your content with too many keywords. It also discourages lists, groups of words, words that are out of context, or are repeated too often.

Create Quality And Original Content

3. Create content that enhances customer service and develops customer loyalty by asking their opinion and requesting feedback. Involve and retain your customers by encouraging them to join an online ‘club’, follow you on social media, subscribe to your e-newsletter, or sign up for email alerts to receive new content, special offers, competitions, discounts and information on new products and services.

4. Link your new content pages to social media sites and invite conversation about them. Sites like Facebook and Twitter can then be used as distributors of links back to your content.

5. Lastly, remember to create quality and original content. Tell interesting stories about your products/services or about people who have benefited from them. Seven billion stories and counting, SBS TV’s marketing strategy, successfully engages everyone.

The Don’ts Of Content Marketing

And now, The Don’ts of content marketing

Google has strict guidelines regarding content to ultimately benefit and protect everyone – businesses and customers alike – from online deception, exploitation and, on a less serious note, from wasting our time.

Breach Google’s guidelines and your site could be removed from their index or affected by an algorithmic or manual spam action, which means it may no longer show up in Google results.

How to keep within Google’s guidelines …

Don’t employ tricks to improve search engine rankings. Google will quickly pull you up on this. Tricks include hiding text or links to manipulate the search rankings.

Don’t use automatically generated content, which often consists of text that makes no sense to the reader and offers no links to other pages in your site.

Don’t do Scraping, which is taking content from other more reputable sites. Scraped content does not offer any added value to your users and is basically content theft and may infringe copyright laws.

Don’t do Cloaking which is presenting different content or URLs to users and search engines. This is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines because it provides users with different results than they expected.

So get writing, keep your content marketing original, honest and entertaining and remember, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a small start-up or a global corporation, the web is level playing field as every business can create and share good content and every business has to play by Google’s rules.

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