The Internet has disrupted the way people and companies do business. “In the digital age, every business is in the publishing industry.” If you’re running an online business, content marketing is absolutely essential. If you avoid it, you’ll be left behind.
Content marketing is the practice of creating informational or entertainment content that supports your customers’ needs. You can use it to sell anything: physical products, digital products, services, SaaS products, and everything else.
Content marketing is less aggressive than traditional advertising. It’s an “inbound” approach that attracts customers who are already looking for solutions you provide.
When you create thoughtful, quality content that seeks to provide value, you’ll gain some powerful benefits…
1. Content marketing improves your search engine position
Search engines use the text on your website to determine where you show up on their results pages. A website about classic cars that frequently uses the term “classic cars” will appear much higher when someone searches for that term than a website about bee farming that happens to mention “classic cars” just once.
By creating more content, you’ll give the search engines (and truthfully, we’re mostly talking about Google) more data to work with.
If your website sells leather wallets, but only uses that term a few times in your product names, Google will catalog you correctly, but will never display you as high on the results pages as your competitor who blogs every day about leather wallet topics.
Of course, you’ll need to implement solid SEO practices. SEO is structuring your content in a way that helps search engines understand what your page is about by spoon-feeding them the data they’re looking for. SEO used to be about exploiting Google’s algorithm, but modern SEO mirrors a strong user experience.
2. Content marketing gives people something to link to
One of the most important factors Google uses to rank your website is the number and quality of backlinks that point to your site. A backlink is like a road on a map. Google figures the more roads that people build to your site, the more trustworthy and quality you may be.
If your website consists of a home page, a few product pages and maybe a contact page, you don’t give users much to link to. There’s nothing interesting about those basic pages, so most people won’t bother creating a link.
But content that’s packed full of value will make people interested. They’ll link to you as supplementary information on their websites to benefit their audiences.
In fact, Google gives more weight to links that point to “interior” pages than home pages or product pages. If someone offers to link to your website, request they link to an inner page (like a blog post, FAQ page, or landing page).
3. Content marketing makes people trust you
People like to make purchases from experts. If I hire a consultant, I want to know that he can do a great job, because I don’t want to pay him or someone else to fix a mistake. So how do I pick the smartest consultant?
I could interview every consultant on the web, but that’s not practical. A quick Google search shows tens of thousands of agencies. How do I choose?
The business that offers information content is the one most people choose. They are displaying their expertise and experience right on their website. I can browse his blog and see that he clearly keeps up with his industry and can solve my problem.
Let’s say you sell home theater equipment. Your competitors all sell the same products (because there’s only a few manufactures making this high end, niche gear) and everyone sells at the same price (because those manufactures force standard pricing).
Your customer just wants a home theater, but doesn’t understand what he needs or how to set it up. He’s much more likely to buy from the site that offers detailed product information, how-to guides, eBooks that take him from start to finish, and blog posts that addresses common challenges. He looks at this wealth of content and thinks, “Wow, these guys really know what they’re talking about.”
4. Content marketing draws in new users/customers
People are always searching for answers to their problems. Everyone is looking for a solution to something that they’re willing to pay for. The most successful businesses need only find the customer and offer a solution.
By creating content that directly addresses your potential customers’ problems, you set yourself up as solution maker. You can do this through a standard post/page that provides information or with a harder selling landing page.
For example, let’s say you offer design services. You notice (through keyword research) your customers are searching for “how to create a business logo.” If you create a page that answers this question, searchers will find it and execute your advice. Yes, some will take your information without hiring you, but others will decide they’d just rather pay someone – and look, they’ve already found a vendor!
This is called lead generation. If you’re clever, you keep those leads engaged by getting them to follow your social media profiles and joining your email list. Even if they don’t buy that day, they can buy another time.
It sounds like a lot of work, but keep in mind that your content stays on your site forever, always working automatically, with only occasional upkeep.
5. Content marketing increases page views
If you’re in the business of selling advertising, every piece of content you create is another page for visitors to find. More page views means more ads get seen and clicked, which turns into more money in your pocket.
If you found a non-competitive niche, you may only need a few pieces of content to start getting page views. Those types of niches are highly valuable for Internet marketers. But if you’re like most businesses, you’re in a moderately or highly competitive niche, which means you have to produce loads of content to gather views.
Look at the giant content websites like Huffington Post, Forbes and Mashable. They sometimes post 40 or 50 pieces of content every single day, covering countless topics. They understand that the crux of content marketing is lots of quality content.
Before you can begin creating content, you need a sound strategy. Your content marketing strategy has to consider your audience, your available tools, and the metrics you’ll use to evaluate your effectiveness.
Once you’ve developed your strategy, create an editorial schedule to keep you on track. Creating content is a never-ending process, so I recommend finding ways to fold it into your business operations.
With persistence and hard work, you’ll reap the benefits of content marketing and bulldoze your competitors.
Do you use content marketing? What have been your results?