For content marketing that gets results here’s a summary of what you need:
- A good grasp of inbound marketing philosophy
- Optimized web pages
- Consistent content creation
- A social media strategy
Here you’ll find an overview of each component with links to more information.
East Texas Marketing is Frustrating
I bet you’ve noticed there’s a lot of marketing noise. There are companies with big budgets and huge marketing departments trying to catch the attention and the business of your target audience. You’ve probably also noticed people don’t like to be sold to. What worked in the past doesn’t seem to get the same results.
You cook up your best offer and tighten your belt to make your products competitive even with Amazon and Wal-Mart. You advertise on every channel you can afford. You know beyond the shadow of a doubt yours is the best deal out there.
It’s frustrating when you meet resistance.
People narrow their eyes and back off because their instinct says you’re trying to sell them something. They don’t hear what you have to say. They take steps to block your messages.
You’re the best at what you do, and you invest in marketing that should make it crystal clear, but they don’t want to hear it. Even the ones who do are busy, so they forget to call you back. I not only know why, I can help.
Marketing has changed, but that’s not a bad thing. Once you understand the shift, you can adjust your efforts to achieve better results. The best news for businesses is most of the time it doesn’t cost more, and sometimes it costs less.
What is Content Marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Content marketing involves creating blog posts, longform content, videos, case studies, infographics and other material. Solid content becomes the basis for all your other marketing.
- Social media — your content marketing strategy and social media posting should work together.
- SEO — Search engines see content as food. If yours is fresh, consistent and optimized with relevant keywords, your page ranks higher.
- PR — Your content tells the public how you care about them, how you serve your community and how you can make their life better.
- PPC — Your pay per click campaigns are more effective when tied to your content marketing strategy.
Develop Your Inbound Marketing Philosophy
Step 1 — Recognize Interrupt Marketing is Dead
Until recently marketing has been about the message the business wanted to send. If as a company you sold a product or a service, you developed advertisements that told consumers they should buy your thing.
You hired an agency or had in-house staff who placed newspaper ads, filmed commercials, ran your direct mail campaign, placed billboards etc. You spent thousands every month on radio.
Most of the time those efforts were met with success. When they didn’t companies lived by the widely recognized idea that any advertising is good advertising.
What businesses did then was the most effective way to reach consumers at the time. The problem is, audiences have changed.
You see, East Texas businesses weren’t the only companies pouring dollars into persuading people. Every other successful company was doing the same. Some of them were smarmy. Others just used high pressure.
Many pushed people into making decisions they didn’t feel so good about down the road. The term interrupt marketing was invented. It’s a very negative term.
When telemarketers call during dinner, that’s interrupt marketing. When a commercial cuts in at the worst moment during your show, that’s another example.
Any form of marketing that keeps consumers from accomplishing their goal causes friction. They are turned off and less likely to buy.
Here’s the bottom line. If people think you are trying to sell them something, their defenses go up. For the majority it doesn’t matter how good you make your offer, product, sale or presentation. You’re trying to sell something so they feel manipulated.
Think through your frustrations with convincing people. Realize what doesn’t work and start moving toward what does.
Step 2 — Understand Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing means you don’t chase after customers, they come to you.
It’s not magic, it’s the same amount of work as before. The difference is you get results, and really you get to show your organization’s best side.
Inbound marketing is, according to Wikipedia, a “technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding.” What I love though is the very simple philosophy. Are you ready for it?
Inbound marketing is about being helpful to the people when they need you.
Rethink your strategy from advertising to being helpful. Start with what your target audience wants. Create what they’re looking for. Then they find you online, fall in love and become advocates.
Step 3 — Shift From Interrupting To Attracting
I have a client that said he spent $8,000 last month on one radio ad, and he has no way to see who he reached or how his investment brings a return.
I wrote the ad at his request and it was a good one, so I guarantee it connected with the people who were receptive, but it also provided an interruption to the music. It raised product awareness, but didn’t necessarily make people feel good about the company.
Inbound marketing is human, helpful and holistic. There’s a person or a team behind it, not a corporation. Its aim is to educate, to make life better. It focuses on being there at every step of the consumer journey, each point of contact at which it is welcome. It is never forceful, never pushy, and always seeks the best for the consumer.
Make that your philosophy. Focus your marketing in that direction. You will stand out.
Inbound marketing’s goal is to accomplish the following:
- Attract — Your blogs, keyword research and social publishing draw clients to you.
- Convert — The calls to action and landing pages connected to your content encourage users to take action.
- Close — You follow up with email, messaging and other methods.
- Delight — Once consumers have your product or service, you expand their knowledge base and encourage feedback so they can fully experience what you offer.
Wait, Isn’t This About Content Marketing?
Inbound marketing involves a wide range of strategies. It includes your website design, your event marketing, your analytics and a whole host of things that aren’t just content. The idea is to attract clients who are looking for you instead of chasing down people who aren’t interested.
Inbound marketing needs content to work. The idea behind all of your marketing should be to be helpful and provide something of value to your audience.
Content Marketing Starts With Optimized Web Pages
Search engine optimization is the process of drawing people to your site by making sure your pages rank near the top on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Google holds the largest portion of the global search engine market share (90 percent as of April 2018). There are over 200 ranking factors that have to do with your domain, your backlinks, user interaction, on-page and off-page factors and so much more.
Google changes its search algorithm sometimes more than once a day, with major updates happening often without notice. There are things you can do to make your site more attractive for search engines, but that shouldn’t be your only goal.
Some marketers focus on what search engine algorithms see, but the best way to attract visitors is to create material that will help your target audience.
Don’t focus on how machine learning evaluates your site, make it useful to the actual visitors. In the process you’ll also make it more search engine friendly.
Ask yourself how you can best serve the customers that visit your pages. What problems or needs bring them to you? How can you solve them? What do they want to see when they click on your link?
User-Friendly Pages Contain These 6 Things
Start by making sure the text related to your page clearly describes what it contains using the keywords people are most likely to type into search. Evaluate these elements on every page.
Title tags: This is the blue part users click on to get to your content from search engine results pages. People and search engines use them to evaluate relevance to their query, so title tags should use just a few words to describe what your result is about.
Meta descriptions: That’s the brief description of what is on the page. Use your keywords in the meta description so people can see your page contains the words they typed into search, but make sure your page delivers on the promises you make.
Headers: On your page, break content into sections that contain no more than 250 words in each. Use a header that describes what each section is about so users can quickly get a sense of what’s on the page and go right to the information they want. Don’t just make your text bold and big, actually use header tags so search engines “see” headings more like people do. The header for this section is, “User-Friendly Pages Contain These 6 Things.”
Simple URLs: The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is the same thing as your web address. In the above image, it’s the part that’s in green. Don’t make them a long stream of random letters and numbers. Keep them relevant, compelling and descriptive.
Optimized images: If people have a slow internet connection or a visual impairment, sometimes they can’t see the images on your page. Search engines can’t see images either. Alt tags are text that describes what’s there in words. Use keywords where appropriate to let people and Google bots know what’s really there. Image tags are the ones that pop up if you hover your mouse over an image.
Optimized videos: your title should contain relevant keywords that help your audience understand what they can expect to see. Your video description should be written to address their needs and also include keywords to set expectations.
Content Marketing Means Blogging
When I first heard about blogging I had some misconceptions. I thought it was just for people who wanted to write about their travels or showcase their baking skills. Many people do maintain a personal blog, but that’s not the same thing as using a blog as part of your content marketing strategy.
When I was first learning to write professionally I worked for an agency that took pretty much any type of writing assignment. Whatever the client ordered, we would create it.
It was fantastic experience. Many of our clients were marketing agencies that wanted content for the businesses they worked for. Some of them just wanted words to post on a website. They didn’t really care what it said as long as it was related to the business and error-free.
Others had specific requirements because they understood the difference between just creating posts and using a blog as part of their content marketing strategy.
How Brand Blogging Is Different
Brand blogging tells your company’s story and makes you human. It provides that useful, helpful information that reaches consumers at each stage of their buying journey.
We’ll explore blogging more detail in a later article, but for your content to reach your target audience it needs these things:
- Keyword research — Whether you outsource content creation or hire it in-house, your writer should research what words and phrases people are most likely to use and are possible to rank for.
- A method for SEO analysis — Tools like Yoast SEO evaluate headings, meta descriptions, readability and other factors so you don’t just think your content is optimized, you have proof.
- A call to action — Every post should make it clear what the user should do next. If you want them to subscribe to your newsletter or give you a call, flat out say it, and include a link so they can do it right away.
- A connection to other posts — Posts are important to your site architecture. Write longer posts related to your most important products and services to serve as pillar content, then link supporting posts to it. Search engines see how ideas are connected and users spend more time browsing your content.
- A plan for sharing — When you first start posting content, no one knows you’re doing it. Even once people realize how good your material is, they’re busy. They’ll forget to come back. Part of your East Texas content marketing strategy should be how you will publicize posts.
How Your Blog Creates Traffic and Revenue
When you invest in creating helpful, well-written articles that focus on engaging and providing value for your user, you’ll receive a number of benefits.
For East Texas businesses, blogging creates a huge boost when it comes to local search engine ranking. Let’s say you have a hardware store with a fantastic lawn and garden section.
This time of year, a lot of East Texans walk outside and realize weeds are starting to take over their lawn and flower beds. Many of them will search for something like, “how to kill weeds.”
Google serves up solutions like an Easy Weeder from Home Depot, suggestions from HGTV and herbicides from Lowe’s. Those businesses all have a nationwide reach and can be hard to compete with on SERPs.
However, if you have an informative, optimized post on the topic, that also turns up in search. The real magic happens when people search on mobile.
Search engines assume when people search on mobile they’re on the go, so it serves local results. The latest data from Statista says 52.2 percent of worldwide online traffic comes from mobile phones. People use mobile when they want to know, go, do and buy. Much of the time, within 24 hours they make a purchase based on what they find.
Google says mobile searches for “best” grew over 80 percent in the past two years. Use your blog to tell them what categories your business is best for.
Sixty-nine percent of smartphone users say they are more likely to buy from sites that offer material related to their questions and concerns. Your blog provides a place to do just that.
Blogging provides these revenue-generating benefits:
- Attracts customers to your website
- Builds relationships and nurtures conversions
- Keeps current customers engaged for repeat traffic
- Helps your business stand out from your competitors
- Provides insight into your other products and services
If you want to create blog posts in-house, get tips when you read How to Write a Blog for your Business. Many East Texas business owners just don’t have time.
That’s when it’s time to hire a content writer. Often outsourcing can be the most cost-effective way to receive consistent, well-written posts, and that’s a large part of what I do.
Social Media and Content Marketing
Social media and content marketing go together. When clients request, I’m always happy to provide a Facebook blurb to go with blog posts or other content. That way business owners can automate Facebook sharing for the month.
Content marketing is about creating and sharing material that is helpful and engaging to your audience. It’s made of articles, videos, e-books and other material that’s meant to be read, viewed and shared. Social media is where people go to interact, share opinions and find out what other people think.
Content marketing and social media marketing have the same goals. They both seek to help people understand what you do or sell, to entertain audiences with related content, to educate users on topics they’re interested in and to provide customer service.
Both also serve to raise brand awareness, inspire customer loyalty and increase sales.
Maximize Blogging and Social Sharing Effectiveness
For best results, use content marketing and social media together. Make the goal of both to provide helpful content that adds value for the user, not to push people into buying what you sell.
Over the next few years, content sharing on social will continue to change. Some of the most popular apps already include features that have users consuming content within the app rather than navigating away to a website.
Social media is becoming less of a pass through point and more of an end destination for reaching audiences. They’re still a way to distribute content and get more people to come to your site, but the way your users interact with posts bears watching.
Paid advertising through social media isn’t necessarily interrupt marketing. When you boost your most helpful and informative material or have an ad designed with the user in mind, it improves your relevancy.
It’s All About the User
Whether you’re posting in your blog or on social media channels, your brand has the same core values and offers the same products and services. There are key topics your users are looking for. The best small business marketing ideas start from there and work forward.
Your blog provides the long form content and in-depth information users are looking for. Social media posts are short, so they don’t provide the opportunity for going deep. Share your blog posts on social channels so people know what you have to offer.
Use other content like images and text updates to drive engagement and provide further insight on key topics. For example, a car dealership with a blog post on safety features might create a Facebook Live video on how to correctly install a car seat or an infographic with safe driving statistics.
The goal of each piece is to help keep drivers safe. What users take away is that the dealership cares about their safety.
When people like and share your content, it creates social proof. Social media also provides data that’s helpful in generating future content. Analyze your most viewed posts to find out what resonates with your audience. Create more of that type of content for ongoing success.
Add share buttons to your blog so there’s no effort involved when users think their friends might be interested in your helpful material. Add ClicktoTweet to posts. Tweet statistics and short quotes from your blog so your Twitter followers are attracted to your content.
How to Get Started
Content creation takes time and money. The effects are only realized over time. Build on a solid foundation when you take time to do the following:
- Know your target audience.
- Define your goals.
- Spell out your brand values and personality.
- Identify pillar content.
- Create a plan for content creation.
Content by Missy creates blog posts that connect with East Texas audiences. Access well-researched, SEO friendly content on the topics that matter to your business. Connect with local audiences. Get in touch today to find out more.