In this article, we discuss content marketing, what it is and how you can use it to gain more traffic to your website.
What Is Content Marketing?
Your company obviously needs a website where you can present your people, your product or service, your contact information and your terms and conditions.
After creating a wonderfully designed site, you have to address a few other problems which include:
- How am I going to be found by people?
- How can I direct traffic to my website?
- How can I make sure my website has visibility and good ranking on search engines?
- How can I attract real leads (potential customers) to my page?
- How can I turn plain visitors into customers?
The answers to these questions are a lot more complicated than you think and involve several different areas of expertise and disciplines.
Let’s start with a couple of definitions and examples and then let’s move on to defining and trying to understand what is content marketing.
How visitors are directed to websites?
The first and most effective way to direct visitors to a website is to be found by search engines and by people who perform a specific search related to your field.
The way search engines arrange and rank pages is extremely complicated to describe and grasp.
Let’s just say that relevance and quality play an important role but the way search engines assess these two parameters vary from platform to platform and also changes over time.
The idea is that your website has to be constructed in a very clear way so that search algorithms can understand and classify your product or service.
- Your website needs to contain a certain amount of text (used to define your company and what you offer) and this text needs to contain a certain amount of keywords and key phrases to tell search engines and visitors alike what you’re going to talk about.
- On top of that, the whole structure (pages, links, pictures and so on) need to allow both visitors and robots (sent by search engines) to navigate through your pages in a very natural way.
- Besides, there are plenty of techniques which can be put in place to gain more “points” and therefore be considered relevant and be found by users on search engines through organic search. Such techniques might require your site to build some quality inbound and outbound links, integrate social media, utilize plain programming language, be optimized for mobile devices, have a certain speed….and so on.
SEO (search engine optimisation)
What we just described falls into the category of SEO (search engine optimisation.) This discipline has a lot to do with web design and it makes sure that your website is created according to certain standards.
Your SEO strategy needs to be planned by professionals, who use lots of specific tools to research, analyze and adjust parameters from day one.
You can’t just add some stuff to your website: your pages need to be intrinsically designed in compliance with your SEO strategy.
You need to plan ahead according to keywords and search phrases your users will be likely to use and structure the whole page accordingly.
SEM (search engine marketing)
Since being found by search users on search engines is so important, you can also broaden your strategy with other SEM (Search Engine Marketing) tactics which might include paid advertising.
You can obviously pinpoint a few keywords which are relevant for your product or service and pay a certain amount of money to show up in search results.
Search engines clearly identify these results (they are located in a different box, have a different colour or a tag.)
You can pay according to how many times your website will show up in connection with a relevant search (PPM strategy) independently from how many times people actually click on it or you can pay per click (PPC strategy.)
Again, also in this case, if you aren’t familiar with SEM in general, you need professional advertisers who can create a proper campaign which will make sure that you actually show up for the right searches and that the people who click are actually potential customers.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Platforms (such as Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook…) are extremely important. And here we can mention just a few reasons why you should be active on social media:
- There are a huge amount of people on these platforms. The number of visitors is only slightly lower than the number of people who access mainstream search engines
- These people spend a lot of time on social media
- Information and users are categorized and segmented
- For some topics, social media actually replaced RSS feeds (the way people used to stay in contact with news and information) and search engines
- You can communicate directly with your existing or prospect customers
- People are organized in communities which are often very committed and active
- As mentioned, being popular on social media (active participation) influences your ranking
- Once you managed to reach a certain amount of selected people who decide to be part of your world, you can engage them and you can communicate with them promoting your services, asking for feedback and even offering direct customer support.
Once again: if you don’t know how to manage these kinds of communities yourself, you need a specialist who can manage your social media marketing strategy (channels, communication, brand, design…)
You need to be present and consistent and you need to know how to engage audiences. That’s extremely time-consuming and taxing. However, a proper social media strategy will help you attract lots of precious clicks to your website.
Also in case of social media marketing, you can opt for an organic strategy or you can go for paid strategies, which again can be designed according to the number of impressions (how many times your ad will show up) or clicks.
You can basically try to bootstrap your own community on each specific social media platform or you can pay to gain some more visibility.
Other Forms of Online Marketing & Advertising
There are hundreds of other ways you can promote your website online. Classic banners are usually not that effective but you can participate in an AdSense program with Google or you can introduce some affiliate marketing schemes, you can use Q&A and wiki platforms, you can advertise on video platforms such as Youtube or Vimeo, you can utilize promotions offered by URL shortener websites…
The list is extremely long and it’s not my intention to describe all the possible online marketing tactics here since we need to quickly move on to our main topic.
As always, the idea is that you need to work with team members or with an external agency who knows how to manage all the infinite series of opportunities in order to let people know about you.
You need to define a proper strategy that will clearly explain your site and which will convince people to visit it.
Also, in this case, there are a few options which will force you to allocate a budget and other options which will only require you to invest time.
Of course, we can’t forget the power of classic advertising. This set of strategies include classic media such as TV, radio, billboards, POS (point of sales,) sponsoring, trade shows and plenty of other channels which can be used to distribute a well-designed message in order to promote your page and attract visitors.
Classic advertising is still effective even though you’ll almost certainly have to invest much more money to pursue such a strategy.
Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing
All the areas we’ve described so far can be separated into two specific areas of marketing: outbound and inbound marketing.
Inbound Marketing involves a series of marketing activities that lead visitors directly to your page without marketers who need to go out and deliver a proper message to attract the attention of potential customers.
It’s a long list of tactics which can be put in place to have visitors to come to your website instead of using the classic promotion to actively bring prospects to view and evaluate your offer as it happens with outbound marketing strategies.
How To Use Content Marketing Efficiently
The greatest and somehow most complex and varied series of tactics within an inbound marketing strategy utilizes unique, useful and relevant, free information (content) which can be used to attract prospects and leads to our page.
What do you need?
- The main point, obviously is that you need interesting content, which is:
- Relevant to the field in which you operate
- Perceived as extremely useful by your prospects
- High quality
- Constant with your brand
There are different forms in which content can be presented: blog articles, white papers, booklets, entire microsites, slideshows, podcasts, videos….The list is quite long and I’d like to redirect you therefore to a specific post we wrote in which we try to define the main forms of content you can include in your website.
Once you started to create proper content, you need to distribute it.
Content marketing is not a discipline which is completely disconnected from all the previously mentioned strategies.
Content marketing is directly interconnected to your SEM and Social Media strategies.
You can use different channels to attract leads and prospects directly or to your content or you can use such channels to actively promote your content.
For this purpose, you also need to create a proper mailing list which will allow you to inform subscribers about your newly generated content besides engaging your audience on social media.
Presenting, delivering and promoting your content is again a whole other set of skills, which might require specialists.
The main idea is that either prospects spontaneously find your information through search or that you promote this information actively so that visitors access your pages in order to take advantage of the precious information you created.
Link to your product of service
Once you managed to attract leads with your content, you can then direct them to your link or product.
How does content marketing work:
Ideally, after accessing your content, visitors feel compelled to know more about you and therefore immediately click on you “about” page in order to discover who provided them with such useful information and from there they continue browsing through your website in order to find out more about your product or service.
Don’t count on that too much though!
More realistically, you need to either embed information about you and your products within the content you distribute so that you can also promote your company while presenting a specific topic or
You need to include a proper call to action within the content you distribute. In this case, you need to add a link and convince your audience to go one step further (find out more, subscribe a newsletter, participate in a webinar, chat with you directly, receive more information….) and ultimately to get in touch with your company and start building a relationship
The main idea of content marketing: you provide customers with useful and great information which leads them to your website and which can even be shared to spread your links.
Once you managed to attract proper leads to your website, you can redirect them to your product or service.
Your Content automatically boosts your SEO and ranking while social media marketing and SEM will help you promote your content
The whole strategy works if each step is carried out properly. You can read an article here that presents a few mistakes which can occur within your content marketing strategy.
And most importantly, your content needs to be unique and offer great value for your potential customers.
Blog posts such as this one, are a great form of content which you can easily integrate within your site and distribute through social media.