This guide contains every thing you need to know about content marketing.
If you have studied business studies as a subject the first thing they teach in schools is the definition of business. “Exchange of goods and services between two or more parties with the aim of making profit” is the most basic definition of business defining its characteristics.
With industrial revolution happening and much later with the rise of social awareness and much later origination of concepts like HR and Marketing changed the face of business 360 degrees. But as of today all these concepts also seem like history as internet and digitization initiated a totally new era for business and its operations.
Today having an impressive web presence for a business is imperative for its success.
Your website defines your identity as a business on the web and if you wish to even step in the competition, question of winning it is comes later, make sure your business has a complete dedicated website.
You are missing a very good opportunity because if you are in business today everyone expects you to be on web as well. On the web everything goes viral and if your idea has substance, being famous and making a brand of yourselves will be a cake walk.
This gives rise to a lot of questions top one among them is how to become popular? How to make your presence known without making it look like a scream for attention? The answer is – Content Marketing. Let’s understand this terminology.
Definition of Content Marketing
Content Marketing is a form of marketing in which content and media are created, shared and published in a proper format for the purpose of gaining customers. The formats in which content marketing is done are various.
They include sharing news, videos, whitepapers, blogs, guides on how to solve a problem, Q&A articles, images, electronic books etc.
Purpose of Content Marketing- How it can take your brand to places
The purpose of content marketing is not selling stuff, rather making it a mode of communication with the existing and prospective customers. The concept of content marketing actually arises from customer relationship management, which is another high in the field of marketing.
CRM in the virtual world to a greater extent is done with the help of Content Marketing. The concept of shaking hands with each of your customer without meeting each of one of them in person has been originated by CRM and content marketing acts as a bridge between customers and businesses.
The idea is not direct selling but telling the customers why they should buy from you. Businesses generate loyalty and revenue from buyers providing them consistency and updates in terms of information with substance. There are plenty of examples that reflect how correct and intelligent content marketing has taken brands and businesses to a higher pedestal.
If we go back to old times in the year 1895, John Deere circulated the magazine named ‘The Furrow’ which is in circulation till date. It was based on helping farmers in giving information on techniques of farming for making it profitable.
As of today the magazine has 1.5 million readers and the magazine is circulated in 40 countries in twelve languages. This example reflects how old the concept goes back. But the term was coined in the year 1996.
Types of Content Marketing
News, Videos, pictures, Q&A articles the how to articles and White-Papers etc are various types of content used for content marketing. Let’s have a look at some of them.
News as a content marketing tool
News is something that every aware individual likes to browse through, be it in the form of print or visual media. Due to digitization things have turned out to be even easier, news can be checked anytime and anywhere online.
In fact it’s the most preferred way to go through the current affairs lately. Stats reflect its one the most favorite American pastime, 75% of Americans read news online. Internet news is becoming popular among all the groups and all kind of consumers.
There is also a sect of social media followers that are actually addicted to news, more commonly known as news junkies. They have a share of about 21% in news followers, which is quite a big number.
Why news for content marketing
- Gives you the reason for updating content frequently
It’s a blessing for SEO because every other second something new is happening and it gives you the opportunity to add the valuable content frequently plus the web indexing factor helping in making frequent updates, example of which is Google Caffeine.
Your brand gets promoted as a thought leader and attracts your audience to your website to catch up with the latest developments.
- Best way to do email marketing campaigning
It’s a very intelligent method of doing content marketing because people love to stay up to date via their email boxes. When emails provide industry related news they come out as valuable to customers and prospects. The people receiving these mails will consider the brand leaders as thoughtful.
- Social media feeds on news to a great extent
Don’t be surprised to know for a fact that 47% of share of all the tweets is news related and news is the major contributor of driving the Facebook traffic. If you wish to circulate your content like fire on the social media do it in the form of news content.
It will spread like fire in the woods because user’s friends, friends of friends and circle will give it the shape of an industry related discussion themselves. It’s proven that consumers prefer doing business with social media active names and brands.
White papers as content marketing tool
White papers might not be a hot tool of content marketing but it really plays a big role in it. They are the authentic reports and guides issued in the name of the companies and the purpose of issuing them is to help the users resolve an issue or understand its nitty-gritty so that it facilitates them in coming to a decision.
White papers are also known as grey literature. They are mostly used in the government arena and B2B marketing.
Why white papers for content marketing
- White papers educate you about your business
White papers are collections of facts and findings and they will help you in learning all the facts and figures, the rumours, what’s ‘IN’ and what you are missing out there. For example learning which social media platform is more rapid and effective for business. These form of information help you take action on the marketing strategy of your business or make modifications to it.
- White papers add weight to your social media content
Social media is a wonderful platform for representing your brand and business and talking about yourself, but experts of the field advise that whole time blabbering about your own self on this platform might lead to losing interest of your audience, so its highly recommended that apart from making your presence felt on it you must provide some extra value to your customers and prospective ones.
If you cannot produce sufficient valuable information white papers will serve your purpose. Share the facts and findings or post it in totality so that users can download it from your website or the publishers by redirecting them. It will generate traffic for you indirectly, because the number of times your post will be shared because of the substance it possess the more exposure your brand will get and you will end up adding numbers to your connections as well.
Each tool has its own significance and contribution to content marketing. Social media is almost an unsaid tool and as mentioned above through tools like news and white papers we fuel and feed our social media, so it’s more of a platform than a tool to content marketing.
I mentioned above that content marketing goes way back. What has changed in the current times is the way of conveying it to the masses and target customers.
Albeit the massive growth in channels and modes of communication has made it difficult to compete among the competitors but also they have paved way for a plethora of opportunities and techniques of reaching to our existing and prospective customers and wooing them in order to make conversions.
Joe Pulizzi is a very renowned name in the world of content marketing. He is author of the book dedicated to content marketing solely called ‘Epic content marketing’.
In a Q&A answer session held with him, he said there are three foundations of content marketing namely ‘A Leading blog, a book and a well crafted strategy of public speaking’, as per him these are the roots for successful content marketing. I am going to emphasize very strongly on the magical tool of content marketing, which is ‘BLOGGING’.
Blog as a tool of content marketing
Blog is the truncated version of web log is a platform of discussion or a site which provides information on the internet. Till the year 2009 they were written by single authors but since then MAB’s or multiple author blogs are developed which are written by a number of experts of the industry. Blogs act as interactive medium of communication due to the facility of leaving comments and messaging it provides with the help of widgets.
Blogs are a great source of relationship building tools between readers and authors of the blogs and this is the ultimate reason why they are one of the most valuable tools of content marketing.
There a lot of reasons why one must incorporate blogging in the content marketing strategy of his business. In the section below I have tried to formulate the points in a precise and candid manner for easier understanding of the readers.
Why blogging as a tool of content marketing
- Blogs are the most convenient form of Content management system:
Blogs can be written in less time and do not require rocket science training of long duration to get hold on the art of writing it. It’s easy to learn how to write one and acquiring any specific technical skill is not mandatory for writing it.
The other factor that makes it a convenient CMS is that it gives ease of editing and updating the content of it very quickly and without applying much effort. The cherry on the cake is, all this at minimal cost. It’s cost effective.
- Blog is your own baby
With a blog you don’t have to worry that you have to eliminate it someday or it will become a liability to your business someday, because it’s your own baby, you are its owner and it can be easily incorporated to your business website. Blogs are solely owned by you and that’s what makes them different from any social networking or a secondary party post, because you are not under any obligation or fear of their going out of vogue. Blogs can even work in place of your website.
- Blogs help you make a brand out of your content
As you possess the ownership of the blog it acts as a perfect branded setting for promoting your content and all communicative material on your website. You are not supposed to pay to an agent or a third party for the sake of expanding and promoting your brand name. It’s content marketing in the most cost effective and no nonsense manner as the facility of spreading your brand name along with the content of the blog.
- Blogs give the human touch to your content marketing
Along with incorporating brand name and promoting it with the content, due to its conversational and personal touch blogs actually play a separate entity possessing human touch. Because blogs are written as a one sided dialogue taking place between the reader and author, they represent the human side and the voice of your brand and business. But for keeping up with it, the technique of writing blog must be kept in consideration that it must not be too much self promoting and more of business and brand personality depicting.
- Ready-made SEO and content distribution platform
With the facilitation of incorporation of keywords in a rich manner, the correct architecture and linking of the content to other web content, blogs act as ready-made platforms for search engine optimization. Plus the availability of tools like the RSS feeds and Emails, email digests for free along with blogs they act as a great medium content distribution platform as they enhance the delivery scope of blogs.
- All forms of media compatible
When initially I stated about content marketing tools among the most popular tools there were videos and images and other media of similar nature. Blogs are very compatible with all forms of media formats including audio, audio-visual, PDF, images etc. So, it’s one easy way to incorporate all content marketing media tools.
- Social media feeds of blogs to a great extent
Social media actually cashes through the content of blogs because of the substance possessing and informative content they provide to be shared on websites like Facebook, Google+, twitter, linked in etc. Incorporation of icons of these social media websites is must in your blogs.
- Blogs can incorporate the Q&A tool and other help endeavors from part of the business
Content marketing is also done by answering question people look up the internet for. It can be done by adding the how to articles to drive traffic. Q&A in the form of expert opinions and solution, giving information on products and services is looked as very thoughtful on the part of the businesses and brands.
Blogging along with info-graphics- Another high in content marketing
The positive effect of blogging can be understood by the difference it makes in generation of traffic. 500% is a hell lot of traffic share enhancement. That’s the difference in the share of enhancement of traffic between the companies that blog and that do not.
Simple increment of intensity with one or two numbers in terms of updating blog creates huge amount of difference in lead generation. There are tremendous examples in terms of websites that attract a lot of traffic due to the high quality of content they post in the form of blogs that are informative and well written.
Kissmetrics, Hubspot, Moz, Quicksprout etc attract huge amount of traffic. They post blogs on relevant topics but what makes them different from others? Is it just the intensity at which they produce content in the form of blogs? The answer my of it lie in multiple factors. In order to attract a million visitors daily, websites update their blogs three to four times in a single day, which is commendable.
But who will care what they are writing if they will present frequent filth to their readers. Quality of the content is another key to their success. They post well researched content and do not act like sheep’s in a herd. They are the torch bearers to others.
They do not articulate the solution but sometimes even work hard in finding the solution they are articulating to their readers. That’s what makes them different from any ordinary website and segregates them as the quality bloggers among the ordinary ones.
There are these other websites like Wikipedia, Forbes etc that do no blog exactly, but provide high quality informative and long articles very frequently.
There isn’t a topic that is untouched from these websites, which shows how frequently they are updated and the share they have in terms of traffic generation is simply outrageous. Here are a few facts why I believe blogging is a magical tool for content marketing.
More than 240 million of blogs are present on the web, receiving 25 billion of page views and 400000 comments each day. Don’t be taken aback already, there is more!
- Blogging websites possess almost 100% more links in terms of blogs when compared to the websites that are not into blogging
- More than double and a half is the difference in leads among the websites that generate content on 100 to 200 pages, in comparison of the websites that generate content only up to 50 pages.
- In the United States 61% of the customers rely on the word of blog to purchase a product.
- There is habit among people that are online readers to read around 8 blogs on an average each day that makes your brand a strong contender to come across their eye.
- Want to see magical difference in your traffic intensity? If you are posting 10 items today, make it 20 and see how rapidly the traffic intensity will increase. It makes a difference of up to 45% increment in the traffic diversion towards you website
These are the figures for the current scenario. Experts claim that in the approaching 10 years businesses will stand taller than their competitors because of their excellence in blogging. You need to buck up for surviving and winning this battle.
The secret of successful content lies in the template it’s presented to the readers
It is possible that you are providing a very high quality content through your blogs and articles to the customers and prospective one’s but still your content marketing strategy is not coming out as it should have. This is the time you must start looking for the loopholes in the content you are publishing.
One such loophole can be the structure of your content. Template of a blog or an article or a guide plays a very strong role in making it a success. Here is a list on few tips that will help you in framing the right template for your blog.
The basics are the same for every template. It starts with introduction, some detailing in the middle of it, a few examples and then conclusion. But there are variations in how we present it as a structural manner.
The topic on which the article or blog is being written also determines the template to a great extent. Two experts named Neil Patel and Katheryn Aragon have named some templates in the following manner.
- Example post: The whole description or solution about the topic is given by giving reference to examples. Real life examples motivate the readers, plus the readers find this way of explanation very interesting. It goes as following:
(i) Use numbers if you are giving measures ex- 10 ways to increase traffic, 5 best techniques of baking a cake etc.
(ii)Introduce the topic in an interesting manner.
Example number 1- Give the first example related to the topic
(i) Use pictures or videos, they will attract attention and will make it more descriptive
(ii) Rate the example, was it successful? Why you chose it to mention it in your blog etc.
Example number 2, 3, 4 and so on
Number of examples vary with the length of your content
In longer blogs- more examples with good description will work, in short content a few examples with in depth analysis will do.
Make point, illustrate, evaluate- PIE as abbreviation
PIE is very much alike the example post. In place of examples, points are made with the help of statements about the topic of your blog or article. The blog is divided in sections and every section makes a distinct point and then it is discussed and examples are given on the points being made.
Introduction of the topic
1. Introduction of the first point- The point can be the subheading of the topic.
2. Give example for the purpose of proving point, explain it and give tips on application of it to the readers
Introduce another topic
Again introduce point or points and make statement and give an in depth analysis of the same
After multiple points well made and explanation given about them, several examples given and made sure the message has sink in, conclude as you feel right.
Syllogism or synthesis- Syllogism is a mechanism in which two premises are taken and deductive reasoning is arrived at in the end. This form of template can be adapted for a web content describing comparative analysis of any two topics. The basic idea of this concept comes from thought leadership. It’s started as a sense making argument keeping premises that the masses are already aware about.
- Introduction of first premises and its equivalent another premises- Premises can be introduced by making a surprising statement or giving a shocking fact to gain attention of the readers and the second premises can be used to back up the authenticity of the first logic
- Introduction of a third premises and reflecting its equivalence with the second premises- Making sense by connecting one more similar logic to the arena of discussion.
- Thereby in the establishing equivalence among first and third premises- Proving the final point. It can be backed up by a true story or results of a well conducted research.
It might sound complicated, but when put with interesting and real life examples and logics, this template is really liked by the readers.
These were some examples on templates of web content. Next I am going to emphasize on the most important aspect of content marketing- Optimization, the ultimate purpose of content marketing.
Optimizing blogs and content to be at the top on the search engine results
Taking legit advantage of the search engines is a necessity along with providing high quality content if you wish to attain success with your content marketing. It’s no rocket science, just a series of simple steps that acts as a guide for success of your SEO efforts, super quick.
- Title heading of the blog or articles: The title of your blog or article is greatly responsible for making you in the top of the search results. If you are promoting ‘candy’, include it in the title and make sure it makes sense. Another important point to be kept in mind the title of a blog is the title of the webpage it is on, you can still optimize it easily. Make sure that the title of your content is clean, precise, accurate and not ‘too smart’ to make sense.
- The Meta description of your topic: The Meta description describes the subject or issue of your topic on Google search. You must have seen the few lines in the search results which reflect what the search result is about and they also help a reader decide whether to check out the search result or not, that is why this Meta description must be set very intelligently.A quick tip, do not forget to include the Meta description in the first line of your blog, article or any other content. The tool called the ‘head Meta description plug in’ does the same job very easily on word press’s non movable blogs. There are short cut codes available too for the non mobile blogs. It can be a ‘DIY’ or help can be hired or an expert can be consulted.
- Submit the sitemaps to search engines: HTML and XML sitemaps help in improving the quantity of search engine index pages. You are supposed to submit a well routed and well created page to the search engines like Google webmaster central, Bing search, Yahoo etc.
- Redirecting links: There are web pages that are differentiated by the presence of www. The name of link looks very much similar and your researchers might get mixed up among the www and non www version websites. This problem can be resolved by inclusion of the 301 redirect in your htaccess.Another technique of segregating your domain from the similar named website, contact the Google webmasters central and tell them which version is yours? The www one or non www one. It’s easy but effectiveness of search engines viewing your blogs and content, lie more in taking action on the 301 redirect addition.
- Get rid of the duplicate content: Duplicate content causes loss of traffic to your website. If your blog or content reflect the content that already exists somewhere else on the web page, this will affect the page ranking and traffic intensity of your webpage. Here are ways you can escape the situation of duplicate content.
(i) Shaping up your page rank: Your page rank determine the importance of your website on the web. Page ranks are allotted inversely. On the scale of one to ten, if your website ranks one or two, it means you are not an important website to the web and your website is not providing quality and informative content to the users.To improve your page rank, apply the ‘nofollow’ link to the pages that are not providing anything significant. This doesn’t mean that you even eliminate the relevant pages and cross links from your page. T&C, terms of service, contact us page etc are a few pages where ‘nofollow’ link can applied blindfolded.
(ii)Add text and information to the images: There are dedicated codes that will help the search engines encrypt your image as the result for the search a researcher is making. How to do that?
(a) Go to the settings tab of the Google webmaster’s central and enable image labeling
(b)Name the images you are loading sensibly.
(c) Attach description headings with the name of the image
(d) Along with the description tag you must add another small description using the alt tag.
(e)Upload large and high resolution images, they are preferred over the low quality and tiny ones.
So friends that was all on the optimization part of your content. Because all good things come to an end I have to conclude my guide too. This is my effort in helping readers understand the concept of content marketing deeply, including its several nuts and bolts.
It’s a concept so rich that I simply cannot stop writing but for now I believe this will suffice as a guide to it, put in simple terms, though learning is an unending process and awareness is the key to it. So keep learning and keep winning.The Ultimate Guide on Content Marketing by Vishal Vivek