Trying to explain WHAT content marketing is, let alone how it can benefit a business, can be a challenging endeavor.
Most business minds, from CEOs to marketing managers, are stuck in the mindset that all marketing should directly generate leads/sales, or at least directly impact your bottom line…especially when it comes to online advertising. They’re hesitant to spend money on things that are more for branding then direct revenue generation.
At least, this has been true of smaller businesses in my experience. Most big brands understand the importance of branding – after all, it’s usually one of the ways they became a “big name” in the first place.
Content marketing is all about building a name for yourself online, spreading your brand, and become an internet superstar in online communities.
The Fact Of The Matter Is…
I think anyone who knows anything about internet marketing can agree on two facts:
- With very few exceptions, just about every business (both b2b and b2c) can benefit in some way from internet marketing. In fact, businesses who haven’t made an effort to include online advertising in their marketing budget are cutting themselves off at the knees.
- There’s already a TON of content on the web – and most of it isn’t very good. Gone are the days where new content you post gets noticed easily because now there’s just too much of it. Your content has to offer something pretty spectacular to get noticed.
Content marketing is about creating an awesome piece of content, whether a whitepaper, viral blog post, infographic, contest, or video, and promoting it online via social sharing and blogger outreach. It can be useful content chock full of stats, something comical to make people laugh, something heart-warming to get their attention, or some tool that fulfills a need.
It’s most often used as both a branding and SEO tool to improve your visibility online. (There are other definitions of content marketing, but for now the focus is on viral content marketing).
What businesses need to understand is that the audience you’re creating viral content for is NOT necessarily your segment of prospective customers. They may be a secondary target, but not the primary.
The main audiences of most viral content are the communities of people on the web who love to spread, share, link to, and talk about cool content pieces, videos, apps, programs, etc. These are the social media power users, the shareaholics, and the “linkerati” as our friends over at SEOMoz call them.
Your prospective customer base is your secondary audience – anyone who might need your products or services, or could potentially become a strategic business relationship. However, if you’re in a smaller industry, there are not always easily identifiable, prominent web communities for your industry to which you can promote your content.
Occasionally, rarely, in the right industry with the right content piece, they do overlap…and when that happens, whoever created and promoted the content gets lifelong bragging rights!
So What Is Content Marketing Good For?
Just because a piece of content that’s gone viral doesn’t generate leads or sales on your website does NOT make it a wasted venture. Instead, the success of a content piece should be measured in:
- The number of visitors your content piece receives, and whether a traffic spike is evident in your site analytics during the implementation and promotion of the piece.
- The number of backlinks the page on which your content piece is posted receives.
- The number of Shares, Likes, Pins, Tweets, etc. your content piece ends up with.
- Whether your website eventually starts ranking for keywords related to your content.
- Any major media mentions you receive thanks to your amazing content.
There are other ways to measure the success of your content marketing campaign – these are simply the most obvious.
So what’s in it for your business? Well, your business and your website can benefit in several ways from content marketing:
- The SEO effect – viral content tends to generate tons of social mentions (increasing your site’s “social signal authority” to the search engines) and backlinks to help increase your organic rankings.
- The traffic effect – as the content spreads, people are visiting your site on a regular basis, increasing your direct, referral, and organic traffic.
- The branding effect – your brand becomes a more famous name online as people notice your content and start remarking on it, helping to build you into a household name.
- The sales effect – as the above effects take hold over time, you’ll see an increase in relevant traffic to your site, which typically equals more leads or sales for your company!
I was going to end the post with one or two awesome infographics about content marketing – but last year, Joe Pulizzi over at ContentMarketingInstitute.com already put together a post compiling some of the best content marketing infographics on the planet (his words, not mine).