What is Content Marketing? And 15 Other Essential Content Questions (Part 2)


Welcome back to the second part in my content marketing essentials series, for those who missed part one I covered some core content marketing principles, like “what is it?”, ‘why you need it’ and ‘what types of content to produce’ among other things.

In this part we look at some more advanced questions around content marketing and SEO, tracking/measuring success, and how you might begin to fit it in with your other marketing activities as a whole.

Can I Ignore SEO if I’m Content Marketing?

No, content marketing is the glue which holds together many aspects of a marketing strategy, and SEO is a massively important part of that. Whilst you’re producing content that provides value to users, never, ever forget that Google (and other search engines) should be classed a user too!

“Never, ever forget that Google should be classed a user too!”

How you cater for search engines in content marketing is going to depend on what it is you’re doing - for example, interactive content can be quite difficult to make ‘Google friendly’ without some expert knowledge - but never forget the power of target keywords and the growing importance of ‘semantic search” and basic “good practice” on-page SEO.

Where Do I Put My Content?

As mentioned previously, if content is going to draw your marketing efforts together (or tell your brand’s story), then it really needs to be found wherever your customers are.

A linear, inefficient way of thinking in the past would see a white paper published only in the ‘white papers’ section of your site and that’s it. This is missing many opportunities as it could be featured on the homepage, written about via the blog, shared by newsletter and social feeds, even have a video made to walk people through its findings.

“A strong content marketing campaign sees different content channels working together to support the main goals of the campaign”

The ‘where’ is dependent on what the goals of your content is. If you’re nurturing leads with your content and you’re emailing out ‘though leadership’ content to build trust, consider whether it’s worth providing more detailed information in a centralised content-hub on your website or maybe recording a podcast with an industry expert in that area to answer common user questions.

A strong content marketing strategy sees different content channels working together to support the established goals - there are no hard and fast rules as to where it needs to be published, but the worst thing you can do is isolate your channels from one-another when you publish any content.

I’m Not Selling Any More Because of Content, Am I Failing?

Whilst you may be failing at selling, you need to question what your content is and whether it’s working on the right task. Not every business can get away with ‘selling’ products through content (directly), in fact content done wrong can even sabotage an entire project because it changes the relationship the audience has with it.

“Long story short, maybe your content shouldn’t be trying to sell”

For example, if you’re looking for someone to start seeing you as an expert resource in your area, trying to sell someone a product too heavily during the experience is going to remove any impartiality from the content - ‘of course you’d say that you’re trying to sell me the product!’ - it reduces the credibility of what you’re doing.

Long story short, maybe your content shouldn’t be trying to sell - at least not directly.

How Do I Track Success of Content Marketing?

To track success of content, first establish what success is - as mentioned above, ‘sales’ as a short/mid-term target may well be problematic - is it driving traffic, engagement, reach, exposure into new customers, email sign-ups or white paper downloads? Each of these goals are important and they all contribute to that wonderfully hard-to-pin-down ‘brand’ that everyone gets so worked up about.

“To track success of content marketing you need to have a firm understanding of your site analytics and what it means for your business.”

Once you know what success looks like, the important thing to consider is how you’ll be tracking that. For the vast majority of online businesses you’ll be using Google Analytics to track customer behavior, make sure it’s working correctly on your site, ensure you’re tracking all valued forms of engagement (email sign ups, white paper downloads, contact form completions, purchases etc) as well as tracking all routes into your website wherever possible - so here we’re thinking emails, social media, paid traffic and more.

When you have this data, you’ve got to establish whether your content is working or not. This could be described in many different ways, from time on site, conversion rate, new visits, goal completions, bounce rate, even device type!

Without getting too bogged down in the details here, to track success of content marketing you need to have a firm understanding of your site analytics and what it means for your business.

What Happens If My Content Marketing Doesn’t Work?

If you’ve got a grip on your tracking and analytics and you still fear that your content marketing isn’t working then you have two options (in no particular order):

  1. Stop
  2. Iterate and try again

You won’t be the first business to find that a content marketing campaign hasn’t worked for them - but the real crucial point here is to establish why it didn’t work.

Stop what isn’t working or tweak/change it until it does work, this sounds painfully simple when you put it like that, but why over-complicate things? The real issue here comes when knee-jerk reactions are made off the back of failures.

Just because your particular content marketing efforts haven’t worked, doesn’t mean that none can and that none will.

How Does Content Marketing Fit Within My Other Marketing Efforts?

In an ideal world, content marketing needs to extend beyond more than just content efforts - depending on the size of your business, chances are that it will effect a lot of different departments, not just your web, PR, dev and marketing teams.

For many working on content, inviting more people into the process to muddy the water may seem like a massively unpleasant thing to do (and it can be!), but if we’re accepting that content marketing is really forming the backbone of your brand’s ‘story’ and how it’s represented to your customers, it needs to run through everything you do.

“How does Content Marketing Fit? However possible!”

The ‘how’ is harder to judge, ‘however possible’ is the only fair answer to give here - you must ensure that everyone is talking to each other, or at least appear like that to your customers.

How Do You Get People To Find Your Content?

By marketing with all available and relevant channels.

Still one of the greatest misconceptions with content marketing is that making content is the battle won - but it’s most often just the start. Truth is, there’s a lot of content out there, a lot of noise that you’ve got to cut through to get the attention you want/deserve.

Be sure you know what channels you have to distribute your content with (blog, social, emails, web platforms, publications etc), how much budget you have to put into it for content advertising and who it is you’ve got to ring or email to secure some vital coverage for your cause.

Which Social Networks Should I Use?

Just to recap on the above ‘where do I put content’: you put it where your audience is!

So for social media that means that you need to understand which social networks have your audience on them. Are they teenagers on Snapchat or Instagram? The growing group of ‘silver surfers’ on Facebook or professionals on LinkedIN?

“Don’t waste time with Pinterest simply because you’ve heard it has more active users than Twitter”

What’s critical here is to be quite sure what networks you won’t use as managing social networks is a time-consuming process. For example, don’t waste time with Pinterest simply because you’ve heard it has more active users than Twitter, if your customers aren’t there, what’s the point?

What is Content Shock? Won’t that Kill Content Marketing?

As we’ve already mentioned, there’s a whole world of content out there - lots of it, really quite a lot.

Content shock as Mark Schaefer outlines, is what happens when one day content production becomes uneconomical (doesn’t produce a positive return on investment). Content marketing can effectively be seen as paying people to consume your content and the more people who are also doing the same will mean that one day the costs for doing so will massively out-weigh the benefits for doing so.

Will this kill content marketing? In short, only if you’re being lazy, and building an over reliance on third party platforms or producing mediocre content.

That’s it (for now)

I hope you feel furnished with a greater understanding of content marketing and how it will likely fit into your marketing efforts. In reality you’ve just dipped your toe into the water, there is a great deal more to cover which we didn’t have room for - that is for another post on another day!

Have a question that wasn’t answered here? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, tweet me at @chrisgreen87 or send us a message!


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