Category Archives: Content Strategy
Content marketing is growing in interest, there’s no doubting that. The graph below shows the growth in interest over the past year or so. Apart from the holidays at the end of 2012, the trend has continued upwards. The data below is from Google Trends.
A question a lot of businesses are struggling with though is exactly what is content marketing, what are the different tactics used within content marketing and what process tools are available to help you develop and execute on a content marketing strategy and embed a process into your day to day operations?
According to Wikipedia, content marketing is:
any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. Content Marketing’s basic premise is to “provide some valuable information or entertainment – “content” – that stops short of a direct sales pitch or call to action, but which seeks to positively influence a customer in some way
Key words from this definition are: Creation – Sharing – Acquire. Content is created, then shared, with the goal of acquiring customers. The second half of the definition is perhaps more insightful. The content created should not ‘sell’ to your audience directly, but should positively influence them .
Another definition of what content marketing is was recently published by Forbes writer Shel Israel, who called it ‘lame and ineffective as a strategy’. Strong words indeed that were subsequently retracted.
The reason Israel wrote his initial piece was that he was on the receiving end of a content marketing tactic called Blogger Outreach’. When taken to extreme lengths this tactic borders on outright spamming and harassment and has to be used sparingly and intelligently.
…’Content Marketing is the Opposite of Advertising‘…’In short, it is the very evolution of advertising itself into something more effective, more efficient, and much less odious.‘
Content Marketing Tactics
What are content marketing tactics and what tactics work best in terms of generating trust among your audience and ultimately new business?
According to a recent study by Optify, Case Studies is the most popular content marketing tactic.
This is followed by White Papers and eBooks. The content marketing tactics can be very useful in a B2B environment but what about in a B2C business. What type of content works best here?
What about videos of your products, e.g. if you’re developing content for a travel company, video content showcasing your holiday location will work well. Remember, these videos should not be promotional but informative, e.g. showcase local facilities, attractions, accommodation.
The one content marketing tactic on the list that is potentially very dangerous is advertorials. The recent outing of Interflora by Google for using advertorials is a lesson all content marketing needs to learn and heed.
Make sure that whoever is developing and deploying your content across the web, that they understand Google’s SEO TOS and are not inadvertently breaking them.
As part of your company’s content marketing strategy, all employees must be trained in SEO and how to use it.
Content Marketing Process Tools
I’ve previously covered content marketing process and SEO, but here wanted to highlight a couple of the tools used in content marketing.
I think when thinking about process it’s best to think about technology and how technology can make your content marketing process into a simple, repeatable and evolving content machine.
There is a great list of marketing tools over at everything pr. Some of the tools worth checking out:
- Scribe - as it says on it’s site, ‘delivers the exact content marketing process that helped Copyblogger evolve from a simple blog into a software company with 100,000+ customers’ – worth checking out and starts at $97 p/m for it’s professional package
- Intigi - This is a great tool for actually finding content around your chosen interests, video below explains more. Starts at $19 p/m for the Solo package.
Welcome to Intigi from Intigi on Vimeo.
- Divvhq - This is more of an editorial calendar and starts at $29.99 p/m for their Consultant package. This looks like a good tool for managing content ideas and divvying up who actually generates the content.
Content Marketing Strategy – Definition – Tactics – Process Summary
Interest in content is exploding and companies are generating more content than ever. If you’re interested in not only surviving, but flourishing in this new customer centric online world, then you need to:
- Fully understand what content marketing is and evangelize that understanding through out your company!
- Fully utilize all content marketing tactics but don’t abuse some of those that can backfire and ensure all the team is trained in SEO!
- Use content marketing tools as part of your process
What about your approach to content marketing – any tips/tools you’d like to share?
If you’re from a traditional marketing background I’d lay a bet that you’re 99% clueless about html 5 and why it’s important for your content marketing strategy.
If you’re a more technical (see digital) marketer, I’d lay a bet that at least 50% of you don’t know what the main differences between html 4 and html 5 are.
Q: Are Video and Audio Elements included as standard in Html 4 and 5?
A: Video and Audio Elements are new to Html 5
Be honest – are you aware of what a html element is, never mind if Video and Audio elements are new to Html 5?
This post if going to look at some of the new functionality available to developers in Html 5 and ask from a content marketing angle, what opportunities might exist in this new html world.
You don’t have to understand technicalities of html 5 to understand the benefits of it to your content marketing. . Talk to your developers about Html 5 and ask how it can be used to improve the marketing and site experience. Lets look at some of the html 5 major themes and ask where you may find and benefit
This refers to the ability of html 5 to store values on the client side, i.e. store input values from a user in the browser. If the browser crashes or the user loses a WiFi connection while they are competing a form or entering a comment, they will not lose their data. This means that data stored in web storage is always kept on the client side and never transferred to the server.
Compare this to cookies, which are stored on the server and are sent back and forth between the client and the server. A lot of the time, the data transferred in the cookie is of no real use and just ends up taking bandwidth – a valuable commodity as browsers impose strict limits on cookie data size. A safe limit to stick by is to store no more than 50 cookies and 4 KB per domain.
The use of web storage solves both the redundant data and data limit challenges. The W3C currently recommends a limit of 5 MB, but browsers are allowed to prompt the user for permission if more space is needed. Current browsers allow at least 2 MB of Web Storage data.
When developing new browser applications and content, why elements of web storage could you build into your app?
Realtime / Communication
Historically when running applications through a browser and using Java script, apps have been limited because Java script is essentially a single thread environment, i.e. multiple threads can’t run at the same time. There are ways around this and developers have found ways to mimic concurrency, but they are workarounds and not a perfect solution.
Web Workers gives developers the ability to run time/CPU intensive scripts in the background while having no detrimental impact on the user experience.
Think about some traditional applications that have proved very popular with your customers but were too computationally intensive to port to the browser. Time to rethink this with Web Workers and Html 5.
You can see a demo of web worker here, screen shot below.
This functionality allows your site use full duplex, bi-directional communication, i.e. both your server and client (users browser) can send data at any time, even at the same time. The key here is that only the data itself is sent, no http headers are sent, dramatically reducing the bandwidth – they both use the same Web Socket connection. You can check out a web socket demo here.
In terms of your content marketing strategy, think about how you can enhance the user experience once they are on your website. If your site can utilize the web socket functionality, how much richer can your customer experience be? What additional real time communication can you have, e.g. video, audio enhancements. What can you call out in your marketing assets/sales chat that will give you the edge over the competition (if only for a limited time!)
This is a really cool feature that can be used to enhance engagement with new content your business pushes out. Imagine you have a user subscriber to you blog and every time you post a new article they get a notification in their browser (rather than their feed or email) that you have pushed new content.
Think of the possibilities on this one! You could segment your users when they are signing up to only show they content they have expressed an interest in. Or, new customers can be pushed notifications when new functionality or insights are available that are not on the website.
The video below gives a demo of how this functionality works and here is another live demo example.
Again another really cool piece of functionality that allows users to drag documents from their desktop onto a web page. How can you use this functionality? Perhaps if you’re running some interactive webinars you could get your audience to share documents they have, or some interactive customer support. Here is a demo of this html functionality.
The opposite to drag-in, your site users can drag documents from your web pages directly to their desktop.
The above are some examples of how Html 5 could impact on your business and how as a marketer you need to be aware of what Html5 means to the overall business. The opportunities and upside are endless, the only real limitation is your imagination.
Have you used Hml5 to enhance your content marketing and user engagement? How has it worked out? Any feedback from the trenches?
My next post will focus on Semantics and Markup changes in Html5 and their impact on Content and SEO.
What would your business be willing to pay when it comes to the ‘Cost Per Click’ on your top keywords? In the example in the title, ‘b2b email marketing software‘ Google Adwords bidders are paying upwards of $217 for a position one click. Is it worth it?
Naturally the cost per sale is going to determine the answer to is it worth it. There are approximately 12 searches per month in the US on the keyword phrase, ‘b2b email marketing software’. So roughly your business may be willing to pay around $2,000 per month to capture the majority of clicks.
That’s $24k per year. Once this budget is spend, that’s it, it’s gone. Google Adwords is ‘Pay To Play’. Now the question is, would you be better off not bidding on the keyword phrase, ‘b2b email marketing software’ and instead funnel the budget into a Content Marketing Strategy, one that keeps delivering after the money is spent?
Keyword Research Tips and Targeting Organic
Let’s agree up front that it’s pointless targeting the number one organic position. Targeting a first page organic listing is a much more realistic target. Obsession with actual position is always going to result in disappointment as Google changes it’s search algorithm so often, e.g Google Panda.
So we’ve agreed to target a page one listing on Google – but how do you go about getting there?
First thing you need to decide on is what keywords you’re targeting. You need to start with a seed keyword. From the headline above, let’s say your seed keyword is ‘marketing software’. You need to pop this seed keyword into a keyword research tool, try Google’s, it’s free.
We’ll only focus on keyword variations that relate closely to the seed term. Also, it’s important to check the ‘Exact’ match type as this gives you the best insights in terms of demand on any keyword (i.e. how many people are actually searching on a particular keyword per month). Below are the top 20 – 40 keywords by demand volume you get from the original seed word.
The list above shows the top 20 – 40 keywords from the total list (there was a total number of 348 keywords returned by Google), you can start to filter by volume and relevance to focus on your particular niche.
From your seed keyword your business is obviously selling some king of marketing software. The whole point of this keyword research is to target keywords that are not as competitive and that you can factor into your content marketing strategy and target long term organic visibility.
This type of list is normally a good place to start in choosing a less competitive keyword to build content around. I’d start with a keyword like ‘web based email marketing software’.
This long trail keyword, (long tail simply means that there are over three keywords in the keywords phrase), is perfect to start building content around. The competition is only 0.7, or 70%, as opposed to over 90% for most other keywords.
So back to the start, why would you pay excessive cpc (cost per click) costs for top target keywords, when with a bit of research you can yield longer tail keywords, that will be easier to rank for organically? In the long run, an organic position of four or five on page one, will result in much better prospects to your business in terms of ROI (Return On Investment).
Remember, once you get that page one position, the likelihood of staying there is quite high if you continue to generate relevant and useful content and ensure your internal link strategy is aligned.
How about your long tail strategy? Has your business reinvested PPC dollars in content marketing?
For a lot of businesses this question is very hard to answer. What should our web content strategy be? Where do we start looking when deciding what the strategy should look like and more importantly, who should own and implement the content strategy?
Tough questions as I’ve said, but why? Why do so many businesses struggle with this question? I believe that key to answering this question is understanding who your clients are, figuring out how you can make their lives better and thirdly, picking the right person in your company to own the strategy. Simple right? Well it can and should be…
- Pick the right person to own and execute the strategy. This person must be good at communicating ideas and engaging with people. They need to be the face of the company online and must engage with clients and prospects. They can delegate content generation to others, but they are responsible for ensuring that the company present ideas and knowledge to the world that builds trust and confidence. This person is probably not technical, but they must get the web!
- You need to have a crystal clear understanding of who your customers are. What age they are, where do they live, where do they hang-out online? Who do they talk to? Where are they asking questions? Who is answering their questions? Where are they geographically? What languages are they speaking?
- You need to get to know your customer intimately in terms of their professional needs – what content can you produce around your products and services that will actually make your clients life easier? Whether it be hardware or software, highly technical or non technical, services or products, there are always questions that need answering and indeed some that even your company should be asking in an open and engaging manner.
- Start your content strategy with Social Media. What I mean by this is that you should start to build or increase your online social presence. Starting following the top influencers in your industry and understand what they are talking about. Start engaging in conversations and building both your social graph and your understanding of the marker place. See what type of content generates the most social reaction and what content does not!
- Understand your target keywords. If you understand your customers you also need to understand your prospects. Your customers will search for you online using your company name, prospects who don’t know you yet will search using generic keywords. You have to understand that searchers/prospects do not care a dime about your company and will not want to know you until they are happy they have found a solution to theirs needs. Your web content strategy should be guided and optimized for the same keywords that your prospects are searching for. There are tons of keyword tools on the market to help you with this.
- Your content marketing strategy should utilize all media formats, i.e. as well as text articles you should also embed video,audio and images in your strategy. Obvious question is how do I use video/audio/images and what type of content should I be producing. The simple answer is to keep it short and topical.
For example, lets say you’re at an industry conference. Bring along your video camera (we all have one now!) and try and get a couple of minutes with some of the speakers. Simply introduce yourself and your company and ask a speaker if they’d mind talking to you for a couple of minutes on video. After you take the video, upload it to your YouTube channel and perhaps also your website (you would create additional content around the video) and just promote the video through your social media channels.
- Get a blog – either setup a new one and integrate it into your existing website, or setup a new site with the blog embedded. Developing a successful blog is probably one of the most challenging components of a content strategy. The main reason is that, much like the content strategy itself, most business people do not have the wherewithal to imagine themselves as a successful blogger. They find it hard to think like a blogger!
Again, I say that its only a matter of understanding your customers and prospects and getting into the habit of engaging with them through the blog. Apart from engagement, the other major benefit of writing a blog is that the search engines will index your content more regularly and your site will receive more organic traffic.
- Choose your web partners wisely. Make sure that if you’re outsourcing some of the content strategy that you are dealing with people who understand both your company and it’s KPIs. You need to have confidence that these partners will work to deliver content of sufficient quality that your online reputation goes in the right direction.
- Involve different parts of the business - IT, Sales, Marketing. All these guys should be aware of and feed into the content strategy. The IT guys need to know what the strategy needs in terms of content management systems, the Sales guys will have input into helping understand what the needs are of customers/prospects and the marketing teams will help in driving traffic/people to the right content. Failure to involve key functions in the content strategy leads to a breakdown in cross functional communications and will in all likelihood result in delays with getting the strategy off the ground and lead to missed opportunities.
- Finally remember to measure everything on an ongoing basis and evolve your strategy to meet your customer needs. KPI’s will obviously include leads generated from the site, but also less obvious metrics that should be used to gauge success, e.g number of site visitors, number of returning visitors, bounce rate, average time on site, exit rates, number of followers/Likes..etc
This is of course the tip of the iceberg when it comes to developing your web content strategy. What about your own experience? What are your front lines experiences when it comes to content strategies? What worked for you? What didn’t?