To be perfectly straightforward, content marketing is giving people what they want when they’re searching the Internet so they end up buying your product. What is it that people want online exactly? Not a sales pitch or blatant product peddling. Not right away, at least. They want funny cat pictures, touching family-oriented videos, compelling stories, informative articles, easy-to-follow infographics, etc.
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Whatever the tone or the format, netizens will be attracted to good content. That has always been the case since the Internet gained mass appeal, and it has become even more important now that the Internet is the information hub of the 21st century. With so much stuff out there in the digital jungle for web users to consume, you can’t just expect any kind of content to attract attention, rank highly on search engines and gain traction on social media.
It has to be good. Great, even Awesome, if you want it to reach as many people as possible, and more importantly, to convince them to actually spend their hard-earned cash on what you’re shilling.
So how exactly does content marketing help your business in real-life practical terms?
First of all, you get closer to your customers. One major ingredient of creating good content is knowing what your target audience wants. Soulless, run-of-the-mill content that doesn’t cater to their sensibilities just won’t be as effective as content that makes them think “that’s EXACTLY how I feel” in persuading them to pull out their wallets.
In fact, 68% of consumers enjoy content that speak to their likes, and 55% would be more likely to purchase products from companies who provide such content, according to a study by the Custom Content Council.
It also makes it much easier for people to know about your business. Nowadays, people who want to know something about anything, they use search engines. The catch is that they usually only click on the first couple of links, and they rarely go past the third results page. Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the rest make sure that their users get the best content possible, and that’s what they put up on the first page.
Since content marketing is all about making the best content for your business, and applying it in your overall marketing strategy combined with good link building (which we’ll elaborate on later) will result in ranking highly in those search engines.
Good content will also lead to much more traffic to your website. This is partly because of the previous benefit of being in the top ranks in search engines, but it is also due to the fact that good content gets shared at a high rate. Whether it’s because it’s highly entertaining or informative, it can make the rounds in social media or get linked to as a resource by other websites thereby generating a constant stream of visitors.
Content marketing doesn’t just end with one piece of viral content, so the consistent creation of good content helps build your business’ influence and authority. When your business is offering quality content regularly and it’s getting a lot of shares, people will start seeing you as one of the industry’s leaders. Your brand is established, and everyone will take notice of your content as well as your products.
Lastly, content marketing reveals opportunities for new relationships because of the communication lines opened by good content. You can leverage the influence you have over the industry by reaching out to other influencers who will be willing to give you the time of day simply because they know that you have something of value to offer. Get them to promote your content in exchange for their own websites to get a piece of your audience’s attention.
What’s even better is when you’ve strengthened your brand enough to get fans who will do your marketing for you, thus becoming your brand advocates. Social media makes this possible as people can just share or retweet your content so their friends, families, colleagues, etc. get to know more about your business. Reward these fans with exclusive content as well as promos and discounts, and they will vouch for your business till their dying breaths.
If these benefits still haven’t convinced you to try out content marketing, the following real-life examples should do the trick:
Sears – This major department store chain found out that a good number of its customers bought a lot of fitness equipment. The company maximized this subsection of their entire target audience by starting an online community called FitStudio where they had fitness experts create the best content. One of their major promotion channels is social media, and their customers responded well to the idea.
Johnson & Johnson – As a popular multinational company, you’d think J&J wouldn’t have any need for content marketing. Surprisingly, they employ that very strategy through their microsites concerning baby needs. They sponsored the creation of informative and relevant content with the help of actual experts in the field.
KISSmetrics – The incredibly useful website performance tracking service focused on creating the best “how to” content on their blog, tackling specific issues of their core audience of entrepreneurs. Doing so netted their website a million unique visitors in the course of 10 months. All those people and they didn’t use paid search!
So if content marketing is this good, does that mean you should just forget about that old and tiring process of link building?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: You still need to do the dirty work of reaching out to other bloggers and website owners and convincing them to link back to your website. This is especially so when you’re starting up and have no influence to leverage. You need to get your good content out to the people who can help give it exposure.
Besides, there are still enough benefits to it that will make your efforts worth it.
By getting good inbound links, you also get the attention of search engines. They believe that content that a lot of quality websites link to must be quality, too. As a result, such content gets high rankings and this in turn raises your brand’s visibility.
This method also lets you rank better for target keywords because you can make the content you’re outreaching with to other bloggers and website owners have the exact keywords you want to rank for be the anchor text for the inbound links.
Another great benefit is it helps increase your online presence when you’ve successfully outreached to plenty of other websites. People start seeing all these blogs linking to you, and they make the logical conclusion that you must be worth checking out.
Naturally, you’re also going to get a nice boost to your website’s traffic simply because of the fact that you’ve built a lot of relationships with other website owners. Their audiences will take an interest in your own website to see why exactly the publishers they love are linking to you.
Content Marketing vs. Link Building
Content marketing still holds an advantage over link building for a number of reasons. Biggest of all is that the links you get from content marketing are all natural. There’s no need to constantly email bloggers with the possibility of getting rejected, and you don’t even have to worry about slipping in the search engine results page when Google unleashes another algorithm update.
It’s also easier to handle in terms of scaling and simple expenses. Hiring good link builders and training merely competent ones are more costly than hiring good copywriters as well as utilizing other content creation skills your team already possesses.
One big problem some link builders have is building mediocre links. Having a lot of merely OK links can bring in good traffic, but it’s never as effective as getting high quality links even if they’re only a handful. Mediocre links are also vulnerable to algorithm updates, so it’s not exactly the best foundation for your website’s online presence.
The thing is, these two strategies don’t have to be completely separate. In fact, they can work together to bring in even better results.
Content Marketing with Link Building
As I said earlier, you need to do some link building first if you want your good content to get seen and realize its full potential when you’ve got no clout online to wield. With content marketing, you’re just focusing on getting high quality links from the influencers in the industry, and you can do this with confidence because you know you have good content to offer.
One link building strategy is to dig into communities that are part of your target audience and offering your expert insight in the industry. You offer links to your content once you’ve proven yourself. In the context of content marketing, you can interact with people in social media platforms where you’re directly communicating with your target audience in an even broader spectrum.
Let your fans and followers discuss your awesome content freely, and do your best to answer their every concern. You want to make them feel that you care about what they think. In the end, you’ll find them linking back to your content on their own whether it’s through their own social media accounts or on their blogs/websites.
Integrate the two strategies to get the best of both worlds – a foundation of good quality links from your outreach to get your business’ name out there, and the limitless potential of quality content getting shared all over the Web.