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Content is everywhere. There’s no escaping it and it seems everyone’s talking about it. So let’s look at why content marketing matters and how you can benefit from it.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is the production and promotion of valuable, free content to customers in exchange for their attention.

Unlike traditional advertising which interrupts people to get noticed, content marketing is designed to attract prospects by giving them want they want. Using this technique, you earn permission to turn readers into customers.

In order to earn their permission to sell, potential customers need to get to know, like and trust you, so it’s crucial that you nurture the relationship with relevant, useful content.

The key to building that relationship is to be able to deliver the right content at the right time. You’ll want to make sure you create different types of content.

Let’s look at this in more detail.

Content Attracts Prospects

Here’s an everyday household object. A funnel.

a funnel

And here’s your website’s sales funnel. You’ll see that they work in similar ways. Your content should attract prospects at the top of the sales funnel, and nurture them down the funnel to the point of sale:

content funnel

Not everyone who arrives at your site will buy from you. As you can see, only a small proportion of the people arriving on your site (at the top of the funnel) convert into customers (at the bottom).

It’s your job to keep the funnel as wide as possible. To do that, you’ll need to create different types of content that appeal to customers who are at different stages of the buying process.

Content attracts

In order to get maximum exposure, ie, lots of visitors, you’ll need to create fresh content that attracts prospects at the very top of the sales funnel.

Thanks to the rise of search engines, there is a near insatiable demand for information. More and more people are using Google, Bing or Yahoo to research and buy products. Online sales increased by 16% from 2011-2012 according to Ofcom.

Attracting traffic, any old traffic is pretty easy. But, gaining the attention of relevant searchers, and getting them to land on your site, is more difficult. You’ll need to publish regular, fresh content that’s relevant to what your target market are looking for.

It’s well-known that searchers are looking for solutions to problems, so you should offer up something genuinely useful; information that reflects what people are looking for in your niche.

You’ll need to provide valuable, relevant and compelling content consistently. Sometimes, but not often, a visitor will buy from you on their first visit to your site. Fantastic! More often, though, the buying cycle will involve multiple visits. Over time, your visitors will start to build a relationship with you. They’ll come to see your content or website as a trusted source. Only once your visitors know, like and trust you are they likely to buy from you.

What content?

Your content can be delivered in many forms – as a blog, videos on your YouTube channel, social media updates– or through a combination of these methods. The important thing to remember is that your content should be targeted and consistent.

Copyblogger is an excellent example of a world class brand that publishes free, authoritative content via their blog, in exchange for the opportunity to promote their products.

15 copy copyblogger

Occasionally they publish direct pitches – but these are crafted in a non-invasive way. You rarely realise you’re being sold to.

Lead generation

Once your content has attracted a visitor to your site, it’s important to establish a relationship, One of the best ways of doing this is by asking for an email address or a ‘follow’ on social media.

Copyblogger offer loads of content marketing goodies. You get them for free in return for your email address:

copyblogger free ebooks

Once visitors have registered, Copyblogger sends out content to nurture the relationship, gently pushing prospects further down the sales funnel.

Types of content that attracts (yours for free)

One way to structure your content is to make sure you’re publishing stuff that continually captures prospects’ attention, provides value and gives your reader something to take away and implement themselves.

Here are some examples of content that have worked for our clients:

  • Answer questions – the mind-set of a searcher is usually to find a solution to a problem. Find out the types of questions that your audience might be asking and create content that solves their problems. This is bound to get you in their good books.
  • “How to” guides – everyone likes something in a neat little package. If you provide free downloadable guides you’re giving a lot of information away for nothing, but substantial authoritative content helps to nurture the relationship with the consumer.
  • Videos – Video content is far more engaging than the written form. Try screen casting a “how to” video.
  • Soundbites and interviews –  Providing content that can be downloaded and listened to by consumers on the go makes their life easier and shows how helpful you can be.
  • Infographics – fun, informative imagery is widely shared.

You’ll find more useful content ideas here.

Content Engages Site Visitors

Relevant content engages your audience by addressing their needs and interests. By providing real value to your consumers, you’ll keep them on your site longer, developing and deepening your relationship.

Insightful information focuses viewers’ attention, pushing them closer to that all important sale. Your content can educate visitors or entertain them. For example, if you’re in business-to-business marketing you may need to educate your visitors. Explain why your services are important. It might take time for someone to purchase a product because they might not initially understand how it works. Or they may not recognise that they have a need.

Either way, when visitors spend time on your site, they’re getting to know, like and trust your brand.

Top tip: always add a call to action

When you’re creating content, always add links to relevant sales pages and include a call to action. This way, if your consumer likes what they are reading, they know you offer a service too.

Here’s how I positioned our SEO services at the end of my article about “10 shameful  SEO mistakes

10 shameful SEO mistakes

After listing the most sinful SEO mistakes, I’ve made our services available for anyone who thinks they have committed these heinous crimes.

Content creates conversions

In the final phase of the funnel your content creates conversions. Once your site’s visitors know, like and trust your brand, they’ll be ready to buy.

If your articles, infographics or newsletters have helped or entertained your visitors, they should be day-dreaming about how your product or service will fill a void in their life. Or they might need a little convincing to seal the deal.

The type of content that’s appropriate at this stage is product/service specific; like answering typical questions a customer might ask about a product.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Your audience might want to know how easy it is to purchase/install your product
  • Are there any limitations to the service/product
  • Can they return the product

All of these questions are very close to the point of sale and wouldn’t be appropriate to distribute on your blog as your fresh content.

Here’s how Not On The High Street has made their point of sale content and interesting and compelling:

Not on the high street

They’ve used image heavy content, plus an item available on their online shop to fortify their ethical fair deal for small business – one of the main reasons why many people are looking to support and purchase from Not On The High Street.

OK, so let’s put the funnel back in the kitchen drawer. Why else does content marketing matter?

Content marketing provides SEO benefit

For every piece of content you publish, it’s another piece of information that will get indexed by Google. As a general rule, the more content you have, the more traffic you’ll attract. Content is ‘a good thing.’

Let’s take the vintage clothing market. I’ve conducted a search on the Google Keyword Planner Tool using the phrase “vintage clothing”. The search bought up 801 keyword ideas. Here are a few:

keyword ideas

In simple terms, let’s imagine you were to create one blog post a week targeting the keywords in the list, you’ll have targeted 52 really important keywords over the year. That’s 52 more pages of content that can be ranked in Google.

That’s not the only benefit. Creating new content can positively impact your website in other ways:

  • Content allows you to create internal links to your important sales pages. The links will help those pages rank well
  • Content attracts links, which will help your whole site rank better
  • Content attracts social shares, which help your site rank better

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

Of course, content is only useful when it’s written for a specific audience with a clear purpose. Content written for the sake of adding posts to your blog is worthless. You’re creating rubbish that benefits no-one.

Content attracts all sorts of traffic

After all, creating great content is only the first step in getting noticed. Once you have content you’ll need to promote it. Here are some ideas.

Sharing your content via your various social media networks will make more people aware of your business and what you offer.

Similarly, producing a video and uploading it to YouTube is a channel that many people overlook. Video is an incredibly engaging medium and with each video you upload to YouTube, you’ll be able to include a link back to a specific page on your site. You’ve now created another traffic stream to your site and increased the possibility of more people sharing your work.

I previously mentioned the SEO benefit of creating keyword targeted content. If your site starts ranking well for keywords in your niche, and they have decent monthly search volumes, you should see a lift in organic traffic.

And if your content has been particularly useful, someone else may write about it.  Better still, they may link to your content, citing it as a source (just as we did with Copyblogger earlier in this piece). This is known as a referral and is a sign of quality in Google’s eyes. When an authoritative source links to you, Google sees this as a vote of confidence. As a result, it promotes your content up the search listings.

Content gets social shares

What’s your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest feed full of? Content! And the content shared never links to homepages, they link to content. The best content naturally gathers links and shares, allowing others to do your advertising for you.

Even if only a few people share your content, they’ve shared it to all of their followers, and their follower’s followers after that. That’s quite a large multiplication, but it shows how much you can widen your audience with consistently shareable content.

So remember, people are very unlikely to share a homepage as it’s static and isn’t changed often. So content is essentially your number one shareable asset. It’s brand building and raises awareness.

 

Content Marketing will only continue to gather pace for 2014, so there’s no use in ignoring it any longer.

If you want to make sure you’re maximizing your site’s potential, get in touch with Receptional today.