Content marketing will transform your digital strategy, regardless of the industry you work in.
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By creating meaningful and informative content, you can educate your audience, build trust and add value to your campaign.
Often, marketers fail to appreciate the value of content marketing, and instead focus on one area, whether that is SEO, digital PR or PPC.
However, content is crucial to all of these areas, as it supports the baseline goals of every campaign and ties together several elements of digital marketing. Content marketing lies at the heart of every successful digital strategy.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”, as defined by the content marketing institute.
And great content isn’t restricted to one format, instead, it can take a variety of forms, including blogs, articles, infographics, whitepapers, interactive maps, quizzes, calculators and more.
Content marketing enables you to share relevant and engaging content with your audience and other people in your industry, positioning you as a thought leader. Notably, although content marketing can help generate sales in the long run, this shouldn’t be one of your immediate short-term goals.
Instead, a successful content marketing strategy will help you gain backlinks, improve rankings on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), and build brand awareness. This may in turn generate sales but content marketing should never be used specifically to increase revenue.
Content Marketing Statistics
Just like the world of marketing in general, content marketing specifically is an ever-changing industry, with new trends popping up regularly, so it can be difficult for businesses to stay ahead of the game, and stay relevant. It’s important to keep your content consistent, timely, interesting, and as unique as possible.
The Content Marketing Institute has conducted a range of studies, from which I have taken a number of insightful statistics, as listed below.
It’s worth noting that although these statistics sound promising, this study considered social media posts to be forms of content marketing, so you may want to take some of the following information with a pinch of salt. The stats are still interesting nonetheless!
● 89% of B2B marketers already use content marketing, and of the 11% who don’t, 52% are planning to start implementing it within the next year.
● Only 37% of companies have a solid content marketing strategy in place. This means only 37% document their content marketing strategy and determine long term goals.
● A massive 45% of businesses have admitted that their content creation is not consistent and is done on an ad-hoc basis.
● 36% of respondents don’t measure the ROI (return on investment) from their content marketing efforts and 19% say they don’t know how to.
● The most common reasons respondents gave as to why they don't measure the ROI are: they need an easier way to do so, they don’t need to formally justify their work, or because they find it too time-consuming.
● Of those that do measure ROI, 83% can confidently demonstrate how audience engagement has increased, 68% can show an increase in leads, and 49% can show an increase in sales.
Therefore, from these statistics, it is clear that a lot needs to be done to encourage cynics who aren’t sure of content marketing.
Content Marketing and SEO
A fundamental element of SEO is conducting keyword research to identify content gaps. Typically, this results in new landing pages, blogs or articles that answer the questions users are looking for answers to. According to a recent Databox poll, more than 35% of marketers use keyword research analysis as their main source of content ideas.
This can be extended to larger content pieces too. For example, let’s say that you work for a company that arranges hen parties across the UK, and you’re going to create an interactive map about the best hen party destinations in the UK. The map should focus on a number of large cities, including a list of the best things to do, and the best bars, clubs, restaurants and accomodation nearby.
When the interactive map is published on your website, it will be published as a landing page, therefore you need to include some copy to accompany it.
It’s important to optimise your copy for keywords which have a large amount of search volume, so that your content is useful for the reader. In this instance, it would make sense to optimise for keywords such as “Best hen party destinations UK”, “best hen party locations UK”, and “hen party getaways UK”.
But keyword optimisation doesn’t end there. There are plenty of other smaller content pieces you can create in addition to your interactive map which can link back to your main landing page (and vice versa). Smaller content pieces such as blogs can be powerful in helping you to rank higher, through your internal links, as this makes it easier for Google to crawl the new pages.
In this example, it would be a good idea to write some blog articles for some or all of the cities you have included on your interactive map. These blogs should be informal and lighthearted but informative, covering in more detail further things you can do in each location.
Ultimately, a technically sound website is absolutely necessary when it comes to SEO. However, once you’ve achieved the main goals from an SEO perspective, the way to increase traffic to your website is through implementing a successful content marketing strategy. And that’s why content marketing is absolutely crucial for the success of SEO.
Content Marketing and Digital PR
Digital PR and content marketing go hand in hand. One of the main reasons businesses implement a content marketing strategy, is to build links, and the same goal often applies for digital PR. Articles, blogs and whitepapers can all be outreached to the media, but let’s return to our interactive map idea.
So, you’ve listed things to do in each city, in addition to a range of recommended places to eat and drink - which you’ve linked to. In terms of outreach, you should contact everyone you’ve mentioned and ask if they’ll link back to you, and even share your content on social media.
Link building in this instance is a two-way-street. The fact that you’ve not only mentioned them, but linked to them too will most likely mean that they’re more than happy to link back to you.
Now it’s starting to become clear how content marketing ties other aspects of digital marketing together; as external links are a direct ranking factor for SEO. Why? Well, Google views it like this: if credible sites are linking to you, then that must mean your content is of high quality. High-quality content which is engaging to others, positions you as an authoritative figure in your industry, meaning that you rank higher.
Nevertheless, don’t forget that on average, the same study found that long-form content pieces receive 77.2% more backlinks than shorter articles, with the optimum word count being between 1000-2000 words.
Other sites will only link back to your content if it’s interesting, engaging and valuable. So, spend time creating your content to give it the best possible chance of being linked to by other sites and ranking in the SERPs.
Content Marketing and Social Media
Content marketing is also closely linked with social media marketing. Social media performance is crucial for long-term SEO success, and this is where content ties the two together.
Social platforms are the perfect space to interact with your audience and potential customers. Posting a range of interesting content, relevant to your brand on social media encourages users to engage with your brand and interact with each other. This in turn increases brand awareness amongst a wider audience.
By sharing engaging content and interacting with your audience, you position yourself as an authoritative and trustworthy brand. Therefore, once your brand is in the back of consumers’ minds, they may begin to think about your brand automatically when considering making a purchase. Similarly, if they search on Google for a product/ service that you offer, and you pop up in the SERPs, it is likely that they’ll head over to your website straight away.
Want some tips on how to create engaging content for social media? According to data collected by Buzzsumo, top-performing B2B headlines include “the future of”. While Backlinko found that titles ending with a “?” get 23.3% more shares than those with headlines that don’t feature a question.
If you’re a marketer who hasn’t yet ventured into the world of content marketing, ask yourself why. Is it perhaps because you think it’s not relevant to the industry you’re working in? If that’s the case, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Content marketing works for any industry, from manufacturing to fashion to life sciences. Just remember to keep your content relevant, informative, engaging and consistent.
Alex Jones is head of content, social and digital PR at Hallam.