Patrick Brightman - 01/11/2017
There has been a lot of discussion surrounding content marketing and how it fits into the sales cycle, and with good reason. Emphasis is on driving traffic to websites, landing pages, et al with the objective being lead generation. To achieve this goal, a digital marketing strategy should have two equally valuable components. The first is a plan to push your target audiences to your various owned properties. Second, those visitors need to be pulled in and converted to prospects via fresh and relevant content.
That is why more and more companies are instituting content development strategies. According to the 7th Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report, 89% of respondents said their organizations use content marketing. Of those companies who have not initiated a content marketing program, more than half plan to launch such a campaign in 2017.
The benefit of owned media increases with an effective content marketing program. The questions become what is a valuable content marketing strategy, what does it consist of, and where should it reside? Answers to these questions help determine whether your strategy is driving the right people to information they want and need.
Develop a Strategy
Without an effective strategy, content is simply a bunch of words, video clips, or images that have no connection. The first step is to determine your target audiences, as well as their goals and interests to help you develop key messages.
Next, conduct an analysis to understand which are the most effective keywords and how to use them. For this step, the content strategy should work hand-in-hand with the paid digital campaign. This can shed light on the most effective keywords that will drive the most qualified traffic to your site. With this information both the digital program and content marketing will be optimized.
Everything works more smoothly when it operates on a schedule. Content development is no different. There should be a calendar established (the easy part) and adhered to (more difficult). Preparing a timeline will help everyone know what they have to write and when. It also provides a nice snapshot of the content so you can ensure main messages and keywords are being used effectively for optimization.
To make the process most effective, re-purpose the topics across all owned properties – your website, blog(s), and social media. Of course, the content needs to be re-worked to fit the format of each avenue. As importantly, editing needs to be done for SEO purposes, as the search engines will penalize your pages unless the content is dramatically different. So, while the topic can be the same, the way it is said must be altered – upwards of 70% – for your content strategy to pay dividends in your organic search investment.
What Kind of Content?
To truly engage with your audience in 2017, video must be a large part of your content approach. Leading organizations ranging from Google and Facebook to Nielsen and Forrester all agree that video is imperative to conveying a message. Finding a full-service video production studio, such as our affiliated company Changebridge Productions, that understands how the visual medium works in today’s Internet world is imperative, as more people watch online. It’s not just on YouTube or Vimeo, nor is it simply for entertainment. Consider these facts:
- Including video on a landing page can increase conversion by 80% (source: Unbounce).
- 96% of B2B organizations use video in their marketing, of which 73% report positive results to their ROI. Plus, having a video on your homepage can increase conversion rates by 20% or more (source: ReelSEO).
- 59% of executives would rather watch video than read text (source: Forbes).
Video + Copy = Success
Now, this is not to say you should rely solely on video, especially since you want your SEO rankings to improve with a content marketing program. After all, none of the search engines’ algorithms have advanced to the point where they can hear the audio on a video. So, while one minute of video equals 1.8 million words, according to Dr. James McQuivery of Forrester Research, written prose still has tremendous value, if used properly.
Transcribing videos is one way to leverage the powers of video and copy. The video will appeal to visitors, while the copy will help in organic search to put more eyes on your finished production. You can’t forget keyword-rich tags and descriptions, too.
Writing content that complements, supports and builds off video is a cost-effective means to leverage your key messages while keeping people engaged. Striking this balance will result in your web presence meeting its two masters – visitors and search engines.
We alluded to it earlier – your content marketing initiative must spread across all of your owned properties. Too many companies allocate a large chunk of their budget to a shiny new website but don’t work on keeping the engine that drives it (read: content) up to date. That includes proper tags and descriptions in the back-end, as well as regular updates to the front-end that can draw people in, improve dwell time, and increase brand awareness and perception amongst target audiences.
A blog is typically housed on a third-party platform, such as WordPress, or integrated into the existing company website. There are pros and cons to each approach but we have found that it’s easier to go the third-party route rather than deal with corporate IT groups. Either way, the best practices are the same. Blogs must be posted regularly (anywhere from twice a month to every week) and they need to have a balance of long- and short-tail keywords.
Blog length is also a valuable element. While most people will read about 300-400 words, for SEO purposes blogs should be 1,000+ words. Again, to maintain that balance of creating a positive user experience and satisfying search spiders, use best practices that include subheads and bullet points that make it easy to read and locate points of interest.
Social media certainly can’t be overlooked. It serves as an ideal connection to customers, prospects, employees, and other target audiences. Frequency is critical, as is consistency in messaging and posting. Here is where a content calendar can come in very handy. Each platform has its own idiosyncrasies that must be understood to achieve success but they are so numerous they can take up their own blog entirely – and will in the near future right here.
The key to any content marketing program is to develop a strategy, create and adhere to a calendar and prepare relevant content on each platform that entertains, educates and engages. Let us evaluate your content, especially as it compares to your key competitors. Simply visit our brand virtual footprint audit page and let us know how we can help you reach our marketing and lead generation goals for 2017.