A lot of things go in and out of style in SEO but content never does. And neither does content marketing. In fact, if recent findings and various industry experts are to be believed, content marketing has never been trendier or more important.
Consider this: Econsultancy recently published its findings from its State of Search Marketing Report 2013, in which 45% of participating companies say that content marketing is “highly integrated” with their SEO efforts.
Furthermore, in an article for Forbes, Benjy Boxer cites some interesting stats from the Content Marketing Institute, namely that 93% of B2B brands and 90% of B2C brands use content marketing to increase brand awareness. Unfortunately, 55% of B2B content marketers think that their campaigns are ineffective.
So, how do you climb on the content marketing bandwagon and ensure that you are among the marketers who think that their campaigns kick butt?
The trick is that there is no trick. All gains in SEO are hard won and winning in content marketing is no different. There isn’t a secret either. But if you’re the kind of person who likes tricks or secrets then pay careful attention:
It all starts with a plan.
And it ends when you provide your audience with something of value.
(Actually, it doesn’t end because there is monitoring, measuring, analysis and evaluation and reporting, learning lessons and improving on the next campaign, but you get the drift.)
What types of content work?
Anything published online can be considered content, so you’re not limited to articles or guest posts. Some content examples include online video, social media status updates, podcasts, webinars, case studies, photos, guides, ebooks, infographics, research papers and even apps.
In a recent article for the Guardian, Chris Trimble, who is director of content at Axonn Media, says that video is the way to go. Trimble cites Cisco, which says that by 2017, video will make up 69% of all consumer internet traffic. He also cites Nielsen, which says that 64% of marketers will put video at the forefront of their future content marketing strategies.
Some of the reasons why video is becoming so popular are its easy digestibility, its inherent engagement, its ability to captivate, and its sharability.
Creating quality videos for content marketing purposes can still be quite daunting, however, especially for those who think that you need a budget like James Cameron to produce anything that stands a hope of going viral (this isn’t true, but some people can’t be swayed). So what other types of content work well?
According to Nate Dame on Search Engine Land, a rich deep resource always goes down well. Think ebooks, research papers and case studies. It’s a labour intensive process because not only do you need to conduct or have access to heaps of research, but you need the skills and time to put that research together in an informative and easy-to-read resource that will engage your audience, and you need the right marketing channels to promote it. Dame suggests partnering with experts in your field if you don’t have all the skills and resources to manage a project this big on your own.
Jenny Corteza suggests that you indulge in a little curiosity journalism. The term refers to the weird, wonderful and downright bizarre bits and pieces that travel the net but which can’t technically be called news. For example, Corteza says that all of those weird personality quizzes that pop up on Facebook (which Bing Bang Theory character are you? Is currently trendy) can be considered curiosity journalism. At the very least it can be considered curiosity content and that’s exactly the kind of content you want to create. Another great example is the Oatmeal’s quiz on how many Justin Biebers you could take on simultaneously, which is topical considering the poor lad’s shenanigans.
Value value value
Make value your watchword, no matter what type of content you decide to create. Be objective when it comes to determining value. For instance, telling people that they could take on 26 Justin Biebers has a great deal of ego and entertainment value, but is it the kind of value that you’re looking to add? If your client or your company is more concerned with weightier matters, then perhaps content of more substance is required. Although you should never underestimate the value of showing your lighter side, it’s sometimes better to build a reputation as an authority figure first.
Finally, value is also subjective in that it depends very much on your audience. So, as with all things marketing related, if you want to succeed, you have to know your audience.
Content marketing always has been and always will be an important part of SEO, but relying on one strategy alone is dangerous. So don’t be afraid to experiment a little to find out what works for you. Who knows, you could discover your very own niche.
Written by Sandy Cosser
Image credit: Microsoft Images, Royalty Free