In the current digital age, it is extremely simple to publish content online. With the amount of free tools available such as WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc., makers and creators have the world at their fingertips. The biggest challenge today is the creation of quality content. There is a lot of “stuff” being published today online, but not all of it is good. In fact, most of it is not good. Those publishers that take the time to write truly great content will shine above the rest. This is why it is important for business owners to establish a well planned content marketing strategy.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as follows:
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
The easiest way to create and publish online content is by writing a blog. Most content management systems used to create web sites today already have a blog feature built in. There is no extra effort in getting it set up. If you use WordPress, which about 30% of the internet does, you already have a blog. Although creating free content and distributing seems like a strange way to attract customers, it has a number of benefits that will help grow your business.
Credibility & Brand Awareness
Creating and distributing content regularly is a strategy that companies have been using for decades in order to grow their business and brand awareness. Writing articles related to the industry you are in will give you a certain credibility to prospective customers. A potential customer who lands on your web site to find years worth of content about your products and services will know that you are an authority on the subject and will be more likely to hire you over a competitor that has no content.
One example of great content marketing is the personal finance site Mint.com. According to entrepreneur Sachin Reckhi, they used content marketing, specifically their personal finance blog MintLife, to build an audience for a product they planned to sell. Content on the blog included how-to guides on paying for college, saving for a house, and getting out of debt. Other popular content included in-depth interviews and a series of financial disasters called “Trainwreck Tuesdays.” Popularity of the site surged as did demand for the product. “Mint grew quickly enough to sell to Intuit for $170 million after three years in business. By 2013, the tool reached 10 million users, many of whom trusted Mint to handle their sensitive banking information because of the blog’s smart, helpful content.”
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Another great benefit of content marketing is that it is a great strategy to use while building up your search engine rank. If you are a business that will rely heavily on search traffic, you will most likely consider SEO as your main strategy. Writing regular content with the right keywords will provide the search engines with more information to index, and therefore provide you with more opportunities for individuals to find you while doing a web search for your product or service. The more content you create, the more there will be for the search engines to crawl, and the more search traffic you will potentially receive.
Generate Leads and Online Sales
Of course, the ultimate goal of most businesses is to generate sales. With a great distribution strategy, your content will reach what is hopefully a highly targeted audience. This very article is being sent out to a mailing list and shared on various social media platforms in order to hopefully end up in the hands of potential customers. One of the great benefits of content marketing is that it creates a certain loyalty to your brand which will bring highly qualified leads versus the lower quality leads more prevalent in other forms of advertising such as Pay-Per-Click, which require very heavy optimization in order to become effective. Content marketing creates a longer tail type of client, usually converting potential leads who have been following your content for some time, only to think of you one day when they truly need your product or service.
The biggest challenge faced by most small businesses with regard to content marketing is finding the discipline necessary to come up with relevant topics and following through with actually producing great quality content. Creating free content isn’t always top of mind on a business owner’s list of priorities, but the long term benefits are well worth the efforts.