When you focus on growing your blog, site, or social media reach, you’re bound to see and hear the words “content marketing” everywhere. Everyone suddenly seems like an expert, offering their advice on what strategies work best. But if content marketing is a new skill for you, it can be hard to know what advice you should follow and why.
The first step to creating a sound content marketing strategy is to understand how all the moving parts work together. Then you can build the strategy that works for you, and you can be the one giving advice.
Please note: This is a contributed post, but all opinions are my own. View full disclosure policy.
What it is:
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the process of creating written content and other media, such as podcasts, videos, and social media posts, to attract, engage, and retain a target audience. It influences where your content shows up on a search engine results page (SERP).
Content marketing is designed to convert prospects into clients, but to do this, you need to establish domain authority. Domain authority, which is covered more in depth below, is a coveted score that predicts how well a website will rank on SERPs. The higher the score the greater ability to rank highly.
Why is it Important?
Content marketing has been used for decades to generate interest in a brand by creating relevant industry content. While it’s part of an overall marketing strategy, it’s cheaper and more effective than paid ads. Why? Because quality content builds more trust with your audience than an ad.
How Content Marketing Works
In an effective strategy, content synchs up with the different stages of the sales cycle: awareness, consideration, and closing. You help engage customers, then direct them to paid products and services.
At the awareness stage, you can write content focusing on the customer’s pain points. At the consideration stage, offer informative insights. Finally, closing stage content focuses on why the business is best overall.
Let’s say you’re in the business of selling industrial and commercial embroidery machines. You might dedicate a few pages or blog posts on your website to articles about them. Starting with the needs and challenges your customers likely have, you can offer information to help solve those problems. Even if they don’t make a purchase, your audience will feel they’ve gained something of value. And with a well-placed call to action, you can direct people to your products.
Content Marketing Strategy
Creating a strategy is not as scary as it sounds. It’s all about setting goals and deciding what content will deliver traffic through the right channels. But without setting those goals, you won’t know what will work best.
When creating content, you need articles and media that offers insights, value, and content that nurtures target leads. That’s its short-term goal. In the long-term, after the 6-9 months it takes for new content to rank on SERPs, you should be increasing your domain authority.
SEO and Social Media
Creating content is important, but it also has to be the right content: optimized SEO content. After finding the right keywords, incorporating them into your content supports long-term growth in organic qualified traffic.
Social media channels can also help identify and reach your target audience, but it’s not always necessary. The ins and outs of adapting a marketing strategy to constantly changing algorithms for each platform is an advanced skill. Thankfully, if you don’t have the time or staff to dedicate to it, you can grow your website’s reach without it.
Why You Need it …
Build Domain Authority
Domain authority, as mentioned before, is a search engine ranking score that predicts how well a website ranks on SERPs. The score ranges from 0-100. When just starting out, your goal should be to get your DA up to 20. For small businesses, a score between 30-45 is very good. Larger businesses and corperations are more likely to achieve a score over 50.
This is important to understand so you can set realistic goals for your content strategy. If you’re selling industrial and commercial embroidery machines, like in our earlier example, you could probably work your DA score to 50 or higher. YouTube has a DA of 100.
But if you’re a freelancer, independent artist, blogger, etc., the highest score you’re likely to get is around 45. In fact, that is a massive achievement.
There’s more good news: you don’t have to pay for a fancy tool to keep track of your DA. Free tools from Moz can help you check your domain authority, and see your competitors’, as well.
Note: Moz didn’t invent domain authority. However, they did come up with proprietary algorithms to compute those approximate values. The only company that knows exact scores is Google, and there’s no current way for outsiders to access them. That said, the scores calculated by Moz are widely used and highly trusted. Find out more about your domain authority here and start exploring Moz’s tools to help you develop your content strategy.
Build Brand Awareness
Brand awareness and brand visibility are central to the success of your brand in the short and long terms. You need to make sure you are visible and relevant in your niche so people associate your name with the right products and values. Try to be the first one people consider.
Content marketing builds brand awareness by focusing on the brand values. Again, this is another form of content marketing designed to develop the brand in the right ways. It tends to promote the qualities of the brand over others.
Content Marketing Feeds Organic Growth
There are two ways to grow a business online: using paid advertising, and using an organic growth strategy based on content marketing. An organic growth strategy is cheaper. It is also more effective over the long term since content tends to improve over time.
A good content marketing strategy will integrate keywords into the articles that help users to find the business, products, and services when they are relevant. Coupled with a paid advertising strategy for short-term traffic, content marketing is a powerful and fast way to generate leads.
Improve Conversion Rates
The conventional wisdom is that more qualified traffic creates more quality leads and conversions; content marketing helps to narrow the leads and increase their quality so that the right people are finding your website. Content marketing also targets prospects at the right time.
If you can target the right people at the right time with the right information, you have a better chance of converting a lead at a lower cost; it’s for this reason that content marketing is so highly prized within the world of digital marketing.
If it gets too overwhelming to handle on your own, there is always the option to outsource the work.
Retain Valuable Customers
Quality content marketing has many applications. It generates traffic and improves conversion rates, but it also helps retain valuable customers. The goal of content marketing is to create content that has valuable insights about the industry so people keep coming back. Ideally, you want your customers to see your brand and associate it with quality, save your articles and content for later, and use your website to buy services.