For many marketing managers and business owners sitting down and writing a weekly blog is the last thing on your list. But marketers all over Australia are screaming that content marketing is the best way to reach consumers – you need to engage, enthrall and delight them with detail.
It’s true that the results from old-fashioned intrusive digital marketing channels are starting to slow. At the end of 2016 some 650 million devices were running ad blocking software, 62% of them were mobile. PageFair in the US predicts that ad blocking services are growing 30% year on year. It’s the online equivalent of fast forwarding ads on TV – traditional display advertising may not be getting through. The highest concentration of ad blocker users is in the US, but PageFair estimates up to 24% of Australian are actively avoiding advertising online.
So how do you reach them? Word on the street is, content marketing solutions.
How will content marketing help my business?
1. Branded content gets attention – web users are tuning out to display and intrusive advertising online, but they’re desperately clicking on articles that will improve their lives, save them time or fix their problem. Good content gives you the opportunity to speak directly to the user and relate your solution to their problem. Demand Metric research shows 60% of people are likely to seek out a product after reading about it.
2. Content improves brand loyalty – Taking the time to identify your customers and speak to them at various points in the buying process builds trust and loyalty to your brand. Showing your products in use, real life testimonials, sharing your expertise, and empowering customers with product knowledge gives them confidence in the services your offer. And, Demand Metric says 78% of readers perceive a relationship between themselves and a company using custom content. Wow.
3. Content Marketing generates leads – According the Demand Metric, per dollar spend, content marketing generates approximately 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing. Some 68% of internet users spend time reading about brands that interest them and 70% say they would rather learn about a company through articles than advertising.
4. Increases web traffic – owned content brings users back to your website to read more, and this is where you have the opportunity to take them on a journey of discovery that ultimately ends in a lead, such as a newsletter signup or enquiry, or a direct sale.
Do I need a content marketing strategy ?
The statistics are encouraging, but the reality of turning your existing marketing process into a branding content publishing house can be challenging – possibly why 62% of companies outsource their content marketing.
To get good and consistent results you need to setup a solid set of content marketing tools and editorial and publishing processes that ensure you have quality, relevant articles going up on your site and being distributed through your channels on a regular basis.
First put together a content marketing strategy that answers these questions:
- Set a benchmark – existing traffic to your site, how are they finding you, what are they looking at, how long are they staying? Measure soft and hard lead conversions and engagement.
- Put someone in charge of your publishing process.
- List any existing content assets – eBooks, whitepapers, articles – and look for content gaps.
- Define your resources – staff, publishing systems, article contributors.
- Review your competitor’s content marketing efforts. What are they doing well? Where are the gaps? Also look at parallel industries and what they do well.
- Identify audience personas and the different stages of the purchasing journey for each group. How will you speak to them – language, tone, brand personality?
- Define the distribution channels available and which audience personas best fit each channel.
- Create a publishing plan outlining your content categories and an editorial calendar of what articles, by who and when, for at least three months in advance.
- How often will you publish? Who will proofread? Who has final approval? Is there a budget for writing, images and illustrations?
- Define your key messages and set processes to ensure they’re incorporated into your content briefs.
- Get started, or find an expert content marketing agency that can help.
Is your website ready for content marketing?
STOP! Before you start, make sure your website is setup to manage your content. There’s no point sending people off to an ugly site with broken links, and it’s not just as simple as having a news section in place as a home for your articles.
It’s important to think about what happens when people arrive on your article page.
- Is there an obvious call to action on the page – don’t be shy about telling readers what you want them to do next? Make it easy for them to ask for more information.
- Are you able to lead readers deeper into your site? Make sure you have capacity to link to related articles, detailed product information or even lead capture content such as eBooks or checklists.
- Is your navigation clear? Are readers able to quickly find out more about your business? Is your contact information obvious?
- Is it easy for your content team to upload new content and distribute it across your website – your homepage, relevant product pages and related articles – so that readers can find it no matter how they arrive at your site?
- Are search engines indexing your site and linking to new content as it goes live?
- Is it easy for users to share you content through their own social channels?
Having a good Content Management System (CMS) will automate these elements and speed up the process of publishing and distributing your content. Plus, your content marketing efforts will have the best chance of driving conversions.
We use WordPress
WordPress has taken the crown in the world of flexible and robust content management. Originally developed as more of an open-source (i.e. free) blog platform, an enthusiastic developer community has evolved WordPress into a reliable business ready CMS.
Whether you’re using it as a simple publishing platform or for a more complicated business website, it’s customizable functions make it an attractive choice. The administrative area makes updating and adding content as easy as creating or editing a Word document.
At Thirst we use WordPress on many of our web development projects because it is so simple for users and so flexible from a developer’s standpoint. Plus, it’s relatively easy to backup and maintain – if you do it regularly. The separation of the content and design, means it’s easy to create new content templates that can lead readers through their buyer journey and help them find information that’s relevant to them.
WordPress also includes a range of native features and plugin options that help you manage your editorial workflow so you can create and manage writing and loading content, adding images and approvals processes from within WordPress.
Search Engine Optimisation
If you’re choosing a CMS one of the key considerations must be its ability to automate basic on page search engine optimisation (SEO). This includes things like ensuring article titles are coded correctly to show hierarchy within the page, SEO friendly URLs or permalinks, and the ability to rank each article on its core keyword.
Some WordPress plugins will evaluate the readability of your content and remind you to add links – both internal and external – to improve the way your content will be ranked by search engines.
Make sure you put together some basic SEO guidelines for your content writers and ensuring the person who has responsibility for proofreading has knowledge of keyword research and is able to identify and create links within content, and create an obvious “next” call to action for readers.
At Thirst we have professional copywriters, editors and content marketing consultants who love telling brand stories. Contact us today and tell us your story, so we can help you tell the world.