I recently posted about using Content As A Sales Tool and thought it would be good to follow up by outlining what we see as the greatest benefits in this approach.
We have used various types of content marketing, from automatic aggregations to print magazines. Each has a role and a relevant context. But whatever form you use, there are three key benefits that should guide and focus your planning. The intended outcomes should be defined using at least these three main goals, with tactics for how to achieve them, and a way of actually measuring the achievement!
A good volume of quality content enables a brand to be much more visible online, especially in search engine listings and in sharing on the major social networks. Need a first page ranking for relevant keywords? Content is the answer.
Unfortunately for purists, content volume plays a huge role in this, a fact on which content factories like Demand Media build their business. Search engine visibility comes from regularly publishing a LOT of relevant content. And ongoing social network visibility comes when your audience becomes familiar with you, which requires a decent content output.
Tactics to increase your content output might include:
- Setting content volume goals as an organisation
- Including more people in the writing process
- Embedding content creation within the job descriptions of the employees that demonstrate great ability
- Soliciting guest posts, from clients, suppliers, partners, and customers
There are easy ways to measure visibility, including monitoring the search engine rankings for your top keywords, and the number of ‘sharers’ or ‘shares’ on social networks.
Many brands are completed disconnected from the online conversation in their marketplace. Creating relevant content starts building those connections, and positions the company as an authority in its field.
By talking to the vocal members of your audience, you will start to build relationships. These relationships can be very low-touch, but enable you to build a position of prominence in your chosen field. Your company has a huge amount of tacit knowledge in its marketplace, and the simple process of starting to turn this into simple, small, content assets can be a great way of building authority. Create “How-Tos”, User Guides, and best practice Case Studies. Your company, and its staff, also has an opinion. When relevant breaking news is happening, why not publish your thoughts on the issue. The opinions shared within your organisation are usually very well-informed and insightful. Get them out there.
It is hard to measure authority, but it can be partially measure by the number of people referring to you, whether in terms of links from other websites, or links from content shared on social networks. You know you have built authority when your target audience defers to you on an issue, or solicits your opinion.
Content provides the foundation for deep and long engagement with potential customers. It requires little of the end-user, and in fact meets their informational or entertainment needs. This engagement forms the basis for initiating customer relationships on a large scale.
Many companies try and force regular email broadcasts to their customers, in the hope of increasing purchases. And it works, but the conversion rates are very low. Instead of continually pushing offers and product announcements down their throats, using relevant content can not only increase the value to the end user, but also provide valuable information.
By asking customers to subscribe to a news feed (with opinion, market news, etc), you lessen the buy-in needed from the customer. You also open up other very interesting opportunities. For example, rather than delivering one set of content to everyone, why not segment it by stated preferences to make it even more valuable?
Whatever engagement your content is achieving, it must be tracked to be useful. Monitor engagement closely, and identify the content types and behaviours that increase it. This enables you to make informed decisions about the content you serve, the product messaging you use (and its personalisation), and the products you promote.
And of course, if your one reaction to the above is “ARGH more work – we are not a media company and creating content and tracking engagement is not our competency,” then ping me an email. Hopefully we, or someone we know, have a solution that is right for you.
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