24 Aug Wanna Build an Internet Audience To Grow Your Business? “Content” is King
What is Content Marketing?
It’s not a sexy word, and neither is it, normally, the stuff of viral headlines. However, trust me when I tell you, although the word itself isn’t particularly stimulating, when it comes to generating internet “buzz” and building an audience, there’s no better way than through solid, dependable content.
In fact, in the world of internet marketing (also known as “inbound marketing”), the creation and distribution of compelling content is crucial to brand success. How so?
I’ll answer with an anecdote from the marketing world of yesteryear.
Long Ago, Before the Internet Age, Outbound Marketing Reigned Supreme
As it has done with many other aspects of life, the internet has revolutionized marketing. Before the web came along, the marketing of products, services and/or companies was far simpler.
Generally, the old marketing model—a.k.a. “outbound marketing”—worked thusly:
1) A hypothetical company (we’ll name it ACME Gears) would create a product (we’ll call it the Widget X2020)
2) To raise awareness of and sell the Widget X2020, ACME Gears needed to advertise.
3) ACME Gears would buy advertising time/space through TV, radio, print publications, bill boards, etc.
4) An ACME representative would also contact print publications, TV channels, and radio stations with an angle regarding why the X2020 was relevant to the audience as news or entertainment. Many times, said publication or channel would generate a story about the X2020. This story amounted to free advertising for the X2020 and for ACME Gears.
5) ACME Gears would then await sales figures (ROA) on the Widget X2020. The company would receive only limited feedback from customers regarding the X2020 or customer satisfaction. Often, ACME would receive no feedback.
This example is an abbreviation of outbound marketing. The process can be more nuanced and complicated, but the example offers a fair encapsulation of how outbound marketing works at a basic level—note the use of the present tense, too. Outbound marketing is far from dead. In fact, it continues playing a significant role in modern marketing. However, this decidedly old-school method has long-since begun playing second fiddle to:
The Star of Inbound Marketing
If you own a business with any significant online presence, you may well have encountered the term “inbound marketing.” HubSpot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan invented the term to describe a model driven by content.
Although most modern companies haven’t abandoned advertising (far from it—just ask Google) the inbound model requires companies to reach out to existing and prospective customers with meaningful content. To be effective, said content should be relatively free of overt advertising—if not completely free—and instead focus on providing value to the target audience. If said content does indeed provide value, users will, in theory, reach out to the company, thereby converting themselves into leads.
What is content marketing? It’s the undisputed star of the inbound model. If you’re determined to generate internet leads and to convert those leads into sales, high-quality content is the starting point.
What is Content Marketing? A Domain of few—if any—‘One-Hit Wonders’
Companies that are serious about content marketing mustn’t approach it as a “one-and-done” proposition. Any effective content marketing strategy must encompass a long-term plan. In other words, the most important factors in this model aren’t just quality content, but also consistent content. The goal is for your audience dependent on you as a source for valuable information.
What Should Inbound Marketing Content Be About?
Companies still working from an “outbound mentality” will probably require time adjusting to the content-centric focus of inbound marketing. In this model, the goal isn’t to sell a product—or rather, the goal isn’t just to sell a product. Instead, the driving idea behind a content-driven approach is to help current customers and leads solve challenges or problems.
The content marketer’s job is to discover those challenges and problems and create related content. The next step is convincing the audience that these problems/challenges can be solved with a specific company’s products and/or services.
The content marketer must always remember, however, to strive not to sell overtly. In this model, the content should provide genuine value—news, entertainment, educational, etc. Developing such content can be research intensive and time consuming. And content creators will sometimes tread a fine line between selling and informing.
However, a well-done content-driven strategy is worth the time and effort. In fact, companies with an internet presence that don’t provide their customers and potential customers with insightful, valuable, unique and/or entertaining content will miss out on sales—guaranteed.
What is Content Marketing? Its Forms Include: What are the Forms of Content Marketing?
Adding Social Media to the Content Marketing Mix
Suppose a content marketer working for ACME Bug Repellers, Inc., created a compelling piece of content about insect repellant. Upon initial release, the post reaches a handful of customers and prospective leads.
Now suppose that these initial readers are so impressed by the content they start sharing it on their social media feeds. As a result, many of the friends, fans, and followers of the initial group of readers share the article on their social media feeds. Faster than you can say “DEET,” the content goes “viral” (another future blog topic). Word of ACME’s product explodes across the internet. Sales of the product will probably spike, too. This is content marketing at its most effective.
What is Content Marketing? A Shift in Information Flow
In outbound marketing, customers and leads depend on the company and its representatives—especially the sales team—for information. In content marketing, this no longer holds true.
Obviously, inbound marketing and content marketing haven’t abolished the importance of sales teams. However, the inbound model has definitely changed the sales job. No longer are customers and leads dependent on sales teams as a primary sources of product-related information. Neither do consumers need to seek information from shopfronts or companies. In the internet era, comprehensive product research requires only a computer, an internet connection, and a search engine.
Search Engine Optimization: The Final Piece of the Content Marketing Puzzle
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of ‘optimizing’ a piece of content to be as reachable to search engines as possible. No piece of content is ready for posting until it’s reviewed and formatted for search engine optimization. Why is SEO important?
Whether you’re talking about a company or an individual blogger, virtually anyone posting content to the internet wants it viewed and interacted with by as many people as possible. This is true for blogs, videos, newsletters, press releases, websites, books or any other content type (all of which can be part of a content marketing strategy).
If search engines—especially Google—can’t find a piece of content, it’s won’t garner many viewers. Regardless of how good or useful said content may be, without some degree of SEO, audiences can’t find it.
What is Content Marketing? Rainman Creative Can Answer all Your Content Marketing Questions
At my San Antonio web design company, Rainman Creative, we love creating content. From blogs, to social media, to SEO and beautiful, responsive websites optimized for mobile, we are experts in content marketing. We’re here to help companies like yours achieve all their creative goals for social media, web design and digital brand management. Contact Rainman Creative today and let’s do a free consultation about your content marketing needs.