15 Things You Should Know about Content Marketing

Content Marketing Cycle

Content marketing was a big, big buzzword for 2013, not least in Orange County. By the end of the year, as luck would have it, some very good pins were stuck into the bubble of people thinking that content marketing is the answer to everything. “Content marketing will never work” is the must-read for 2014, and the comments at the bottom are a must too. But before we get too contradictory right up front, keep in mind that Content Marketing was never the be-all-end-all for quick, impulse purchases and throw-away relationships.

If you’re thinking of content marketing for your Orange County business, you should also think of the multiple ways that content marketing is construed. Content marketing really is, simultaneously:

  1. Education Marketing
  2. Relationship Marketing
  3. High-Information Marketing
  4. Repeat Business & Referral Marketing
  5. And Membership Marketing

It’s all of the above at once, and all at the same time.  Any given Content Marketing solution is going to combine all or most of the above.

What content marketing is not though, is a quick fix to otherwise failed SEO solutions. Marketing is about creating demand where none exists. SEO is much more about competing in a crowded competitive atmosphere where lots of people are already demanding what you’ve got.

The main point, to “Content marketing will never work,” is that content marketing is not scalable and the results can’t be verified and repeated. If you want quantifiable sales numbers from content marketing, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere. Content marketing is not about the quick, anonymous purchase but about repeat business for relatively high information products and services.

Funny enough, the products and services that require higher information are also those which tend to do better on the internet.  You probably can’t expect to do a lot with content marketing for hair barrettes or post-it notes or the things you see in the checkout aisle. Impulse purchases are (usually) inexpensive and don’t imply much risk. Higher purchase prices require higher risk management techniques for which content marketing provides the due diligence environment and funny enough, the marketing environment, too.

Keep these 15 pointers in mind before embarking on your Orange County Content Marketing project.

1)       Your FAQ. One very good way to start on a content marketing project is to build, elaborate upon and fully flesh out a good Frequently Asked Questions section for your business.

2)       Use the building of your FAQ to complement the keyword research you’re still doing. Keywords still matter even if they don’t show up in your Google Analytics. All the searching – for the answers and the questions in your FAQ – should get you closer to a more complete list of keywords and phrases.

3)       Just like with boring, spammy old SEO, you’re going to be optimizing all your pages with those keywords in the right places – meta-titles, meta-descriptions, page titles and copy. But don’t repeat them.

4)       Bounce rate is still one of the toughest nuts to crack, so interesting engaging content and a good call to action are going to matter too. If you haven’t got one on every page, a call to action that’s easy to read and enticing, you need to get one.

5)       300 words don’t cut it anymore. Today’s good content articles (those that rank) range from 700 words to 2,000. Not every page, but those that require it – go for it.

6)       Mobile matters and your site needs to be responsive. How well you do on mobile search will affect all aspects of how all your content shows up so pay attention and launch that mobile friendly site.

7)       Authorship – specialized markup may be among the most important changes coming down the online marketing highway. Get used to it by starting, understanding and learning to fully implement your “author” tag.

8)       Backlinks today are an extension of online relationship-building. Don’t try to automate them. Grow and cultivate them by being a decent online personality.

9)       Start your new persona on a fully-fledged Google Plus page for your business. Your author will need another one. And make it count, with original content on your blog or site, and on your Google+ business page too.

10)    Beyond the often spammy Google+ arena, being a cool person or brand or persona is also a good thing to do in a real community. You can find yours on Facebook (B2C) or LinkedIn (B2B).

11)    The connection between content marketing and social media is this: Excellent, proactive and helpful customer service. It’s perfectly ok to start sharing around some of those FAQ pages. They work and, when you consider that they’ll be shared, you’ll want to make them a bit more fun and engaging.

12)    All of this leads us to Brand Development. You can start to see what it actually means now. Your brand is the living embodiment of your business – as a person (see the next point). Nothing more. Nothing less. Making your brand into a living breathing person is something like building a really cool robot in your basement. No joke. But look at it this way…

13)    People buy from People – Not From Businesses! This is probably the most important thing left out of the anti-Content Marketing article above. Keep it in mind. You can use graphics to set a tone. But in large measure, your success in content marketing depends on the long form, and the long understanding of your business, your market, your customers and the personality that appeals to them.  Even if you don’t end up using all the content you come up with, the value to really exploring and regularly discovering more about your business can not be underestimated.

14)   Emphasize what you do – Differently. Too many content marketers just copy the same material from somewhere else. You can’t possibly succeed that way. On the contrary, distinguish everything different, highlight and make it stick.

15)    Ask for referrals, reviews, write ups and make access to your social profiles easy. To bring it back almost full circle, all the attention you can garner is valuable, but some five star reviews are just absolutely necessary, keep after them. They’re also far more valuable and cost effective than any other advertising or PR you will do this year.

Content marketing is getting refined, and it’s getting better. There are some very good arguments against just pumping out cheap articles one after another. But pay attention to all of the above, work with a very good writer and you’ll see remarkable success in short order.

Image via: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Content-marketing-cycle.jpg

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