How to Create Quality Content for Content Marketing
With marketers beginning to look past traditional SEO practices to drive traffic, content marketing (otherwise known as inbound marketing) is set to take center stage. In fact, an estimated 60 percent of companies employ some form of content marketing in their business plan. In 2014, that number is predicted to grow much higher.
Content Marketing Defined
The very definition of content marketing is also one of the reasons it is so successful. Content marketing favors a relationship-focused, subtle approach to advertising. Rather than the “in-your-face” spiel about buying the greatest product of all time (act now while supplies last!) that traditional marketing offered, content marketing delivers creative, informative content that actually benefits the user in some way beyond the sales pitch.
Many traditional marketing practices involve the distribution of content via third-party channels (email newsletters, websites advertisements, etc.) with the intent of redirecting customers from wherever they are to the intended website. Inbound content differs in that the content is published on the intended website, in the hopes that customers will come to the website looking for the content (generally directed to the content via search engine results). In other words, rather than herd potential customers to the intended site from elsewhere, content marketing aims to attract them with the site’s content itself.
Effective Content Marketing
Effective content marketing provides a service (such as an educational article, a funny video, or a trend-watching newsletter) while discreetly plugging a brand. Content marketing, when done well, satisfies a customer’s need. By doing so, you establish yourself as an authoritative source and a trusted advisor to your customers. Customers aren’t interested in what you are doing; they are interested in solving their problems!
Effective content marketing solves their problems (which is the main goal) with reference to the products or services you sell (the secondary goal). Everyone wins.
Search Engines Provide the Tailwind
More and more search engine users are interacting with the search engines in a conversational manner. The days of typing a few staccato keywords into the search bar are giving way to longer, more involved questions. Rather than searching for “best roofs”, users are searching for “what is the best roofing material for hot weather?”
These changes lend themselves perfectly to inbound marketing activities, as the search users are segmenting themselves; they are directly communicating their intent. Content that is tailored to these “long-tail” queries is rewarded by Google via higher rankings in the search results. Furthermore, these customers generally have a higher conversion rate, since your content already addresses how your product or service solves their problem. It’s exactly the information they were looking for.
Sounds easy, right? It is, except everyone is doing it. In order to outrank your competitors, you need to generate “quality content.”
The Biggest Myth about Quality Content
Great! No problem! Inbound marketing, segmented customers, higher sales…sounds good! Let’s do this thing! But what is quality content?
Google has been relatively terse when it comes to their definition of quality content. However, while they revel in their brevity, debate rages within the industry. You may think that quality content involves in-depth studies that leverage large sets of scientifically generated data, presented by a formally trained copywriter. This may be true, but it may not be.
The universal answer is really rather simple, albeit partially circular. Quality content is content that your customers find valuable and which resonates with them to the point that they act on it.
It is that simple. In bullet form:
- Does it solve their problem?
- Does it compel them to buy your product or service?
If the answer is yes, then you’ve generated quality content. If either answer is no? Try, try again.
Do I Need a Professional to Create Quality Content?
Whether you need an expert or not to create quality content is dependent on your skillset and what is needed to generate quality content. If you can tell me with certainty whether the Dow Jones Industrial Average is going to rise or fall on any given day, I don’t care how you communicate it to me, I’m buying your product. Once you’ve proven that to me…scribble it on a napkin, nod your head, wink at me, I really don’t care, I’m sold.
For most of us, our products and services require a bit more tact, a bit more effort, a bit more polish. Great content marketing won’t just deliver the message to your audience–it’ll deliver it in a charming, branded voice and keep them coming back for more.