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Is Content Marketing Really Worth the Effort?

Despite the rapid changes in the marketing landscape, content marketing is a tactic that will never go away. It’s not only a priority among marketers, but a top initiative in c-suites across industries.

Although highly prioritized, confidence levels among marketers is spiraling down. After all, with everyone creating content, how can we ensure our efforts are standing out in an ocean of articles, blogs, white papers, newsletters, tweets and Facebook posts?

To ask if content marketing is worth the effort is a painfully rhetorical question. If all you do is follow content marketing best practices, you can expect the results you get from ‘doing’ content marketing. In today’s always on firehose of content, rising above the noise requires creativity, variation, and out-of-the box thinking. Let’s look at how you can adapt your content strategy to achieve better business outcomes.

HIGH QUALITY LEADS – LESS IS MORE.

If you were to choose between buying an email list and sending generic messages vs investing in targeted content and sending it to an audience whose attention you’ve earned organically over time, which one will you choose?

Although it requires more effort, it clearly makes more sense to choose the second scenario given that companies publishing relevant, rich, and timely content generate 2x more leads than companies who don’t.

Segmenting your content based on audience will not only drive more leads, but the leads will also be more qualified saving you time and money.

The takeaway – it’s better to invest in quality over quantity. Be a resource before you try to be a vendor.

INBOUND TRAFFIC

By regularly developing content that provides a solution to a need or content that caters to an identified interest, you can generate higher click-thru rates and increase website traffic. Along with the increase in website traffic with each piece of content you are generating brand awareness.

Think about the search intent (keywords) your audience is likely to use to search for information specific to your expertise. Use that research to create a variety of topic segments which guides your content creation for your website, blog, social, podcast, and videos.

Once you publish your content, make sure to add tracking including the key variables (channel, medium, source, title) so you can easily understand which topics, publishers, and types of content are driving business outcomes. If your content isn’t generating inbound traffic, research topics that haven’t been tapped – even if those topics have a smaller addressable audience. The takeaway – if you are just getting started look for niche topics or specific long-tail search queries.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT

Did you know that simply adding more visuals to your content can increase audience engagement by up to 94%?

By enhancing your content with photos, videos or infographics, your audience is more likely to engage with your content, share it with their network, and most of all anticipate similar content from you in the future.

While these tips are nothing new to most content marketers, consider engagement over reach next time you create a social post, blog, or newsletter. While reach is always important, understanding what type of creative drives engagement is critical to judging content success. If a tree falls in the forest does it make a noise? If a post doesn’t gain visibility, you’ll never know if the content was valuable. Always keep the photos, videos and infographics relevant, while using each post as an opportunity to test engagement. The takeaway – test headlines, CTA’s, and creative to drive engagement with your content.

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Good content marketing not only translates to be better sales but establishes your company or brand as a thought leader in your industry. This is why creating and sharing relevant and rich content is critical to driving better business outcomes.

An example of a company or a brand that has established thought leadership through content marketing is SAP. D!gitalist Magazine is SAP’s online tech publication where topics such as big data, cloud computing, analytics, and Internet of Things are discussed. It is targeted at a specific audience – individuals who are leading their company’s digital transformation.

Achieving the level of a thought leader is an ongoing process, but the payoff can be tremendous. A properly executed thought leadership campaign generates influence – which elevates you as an industry expert people turn to when making key decisions. The takeaway –

Improved rankings on search

Practicing good content marketing is not only good for brand awareness and revenue. It is plays a pivotal role in SEO too. As algorithms evolve, websites that have been practicing good content marketing are rewarded accordingly by Google.

While SEO is a consideration in content marketing, think first of how attractive your content is and how well your content can be consumed by your audience. If you can do that, your level of attraction with Google will also follow.

So, is content marketing worth the effort? Yes.

The results of good content marketing may not be instant, but just because it is not easy to win does not mean it is a waste of time.

Brand Social Media Management Strategies

What is it about social media that makes brands pay so close attention to it? Why are brands focusing their marketing efforts in identifying, planning, and implementing different social media strategies? Social media is a deep well of brand growth opportunities. Social media gives brands a voice to engage with and influence their customers. Social media assists in driving leads and closing sales. Social media makes or breaks a brand.

Social media management is much more than just creating a post, attaching a photo, and posting it on your Facebook business page. To generate awareness, engagement, and, ideally, sales, content strategy must be in line with the business’ social media goals before posting on multiple social platforms. Posting content randomly and frequently without a goal should not be the way marketers do social media marketing.  Look beyond Facebook and maximize your reach with Twitter, G+, and other popular social channels. 

Facebook, Twitter and G+ Aren’t Created Equal

What works for one social media channel may not work for another. Each platform has its own guidelines and restrictions, its own marketing tools and tips. Marketers are asked to put a lot of effort in acquiring an extensive knowledge in identifying and targeting audiences of, running ads in, and optimizing content for a specific channel to come up with a sound digital marketing strategy. Each platform is different from the other so it is up to digital marketing companies to figure out how these differences can work to their advantage.

Facebook

Marketers can create and maintain multiple Facebook business pages. They can design and publish different types of content – text, links, photos, videos – although image posts tend to do better than text-based posts. Facebook’s News Feed algorithm favor visually appealing and mobile friendly image posts, which get the highest amount of engagement. Facebook’s paid advertising tools include audience targeting, calls to action, and streamlined ad buying.

Twitter

Twitter was designed for the mobile audience so it lets marketers reach the audience through engaging tweets (limited to 140 characters) and rich media content. Brands can build their personality in Twitter where they can converse with their followers in real time and follow their audience back. Marketers can target more users through Twitter’s paid product offering, Promoted Tweets.  

Pinterest

Pinterest allows marketers to create and curate content by “pinning” original photos and infographics and “repinning” content from other users. Brands showcase their product offerings and drive traffic to their website by attaching a link on the pins. Companies in the business of art, fashion, and beauty, industries that appeal to their market with a constant stream of visuals, have become prevalent on the site.    

Adoption, Engagement and Conversion

Social media management strategies is essential in advancing a company’s marketing campaign. Brands must be engaging via social media but the function of social media management is not limited to a conversation between brand and audience. An effective social media strategy converts their target audience into actual customers purchasing the product or service offered by the brand.

Small Business Content You’re Missing

Content is king, and everyone, especially businesses, knows that by now. Small businesses, however, sometimes have a tougher time pumping out content that competes with big name brands and national companies — mainly because they have such large budgets with which smaller businesses can’t compete. It sometimes boils down to a misunderstanding, though: long-form articles do well for SEO purposes, and videos entertain and go viral, but these often expensive forms of content are not the only types available for small businesses.

A Robust FAQ

It seems obvious now, but many small businesses don’t realize that customers have a lot of questions — even if the answers are already scattered across your website. Collecting all the questions that customers have (even the not-so frequent ones) can do wonders for both SEO and customer satisfaction. And it benefits the business, too, in that you won’t be fielding phone calls and emails answering questions that can be easily found on the website. Customers don’t want to call or email, either — you’ll save everyone some time.

Real Customer Testimonials

Potential customers always want to know what others think — it’s why Yelp is so popular. There are a lot of places to collect reviews, such as Google Places, LinkedIn and Facebook; you can also solicit review from customers yourself. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more common for unhappy customers to review a business than a happy customer, so offer some kind of incentive such as a discount code or a sample pack of your product in exchange for a review.

Put these customer reviews directly on your website. If you’ve got a little extra wiggle room in your budget, ask a particularly satisfied customer if he or she would be willing to be interviewed briefly about the experience with your company. Videos have become more and more important in regards to content, and hearing a positive review straight from the horse’s mouth can be more convincing than a written review.

Curate Some Content

Let’s face it: sometimes other companies create such great content that you’ve just got to share it. But don’t just plop a link to a blog post or infographic on your website’s blog and call it a day. Explain to your readers why you think it is an important piece of content and, if possible, analyze any data that comes along with it. Even better — if you disagree with the article, infographic or other type of content, explain why your company has a different viewpoint (and why you’re right, of course).

Some small businesses shy away from content curation because they believe it leads consumers away from the business itself. Of course, you’ve got to give credit where it’s due, but they’ll still be reading the content on your website. And you’ll show that you’re keeping tabs on the industry.

Recycle & Reuse

Old content is still good content. A blog post you’ve written months ago may not have been seen by everyone, so turn that content into a list-style post to share on Facebook. Tweet out some stats from an article that has been languishing on your blog for weeks. And you don’t necessarily need the Photoshop skills of a professional graphic designer to create a simple meme (that’s a simple photo with some words, in case you’re not with the times!).

A Nifty Newsletter

A newsletter not only gives you the opportunity to collect email addresses, it can help showcase your insight. While this does require some budget, not all content in the newsletter has to be completely original — and it doesn’t have to be a fancy layout, either. Scour Twitter for relevant, funny or interesting tweets about your industry from well-known people, and link to some content created by industry analysts that will resonate with your audience. Add some recent statistics or other data in big, bold letters to capture attention.

Interview Everyone

You can interview anyone for a quickie blog post or even a video if you’ve got the equipment. It doesn’t have to be a regular customer: interview a local celebrity that happens to use your business or one of your suppliers for some industry insight. You can even interview your own staff so that locals can really get to know your company — and when they see that staff member in person, it’ll be like meeting a celebrity!

With the rate at which businesses are expected to produce content, it can be difficult to strike a balance between really good content and an appropriate budget. Small businesses often run into that problem — after several months of weekly (and for some, twice-weekly) content, the money and ideas run out. But with a little creativity and an open mind, small businesses can beat out even the biggest brands — and become king of their own content.

Branded SERP Optimization through Rich Snippets

Increase Brand Authority through Amazing SERPs

How can you increase click through rates (CTRs) for organic search results without having to rank first? The answer lies in two words: rich snippets.

Rich snippets came into play when Google decided to make it easier for users to understand what a page is about even before clicking on it in the search results. With a short and concise summary of what a user can expect to see on the webpage, websites become more visible, more attractive to click on. Rich snippets, which does not affect ranking in any way, can increase website traffic dramatically thereby giving lower ranking sites a chance to compete with higher ranking sites on the SERPs.

Search engine optimization (SEO) remains a major player in improving site ranking and driving quality traffic. However, the underutilized advantage of rich snippets offers an improved appearance of your listing resulting to an increased CTR, reduced bounce rate, and increased time on site. Large businesses such as YouTube, Microsoft, and Amazon has Wikipedia, which places first in many keyword rankings, as the information source from which their rich snippet data is pulled from. Brands can use enhanced SERPs to their advantage in order to guide searchers in their decision making before they click on a competitor site’s listing. 

Using Rich Snippets to Your Advantage

Rich snippets add variety, color, and distinction on Google search results, which also makes it an excellent way of establishing brand authority. Depending on the type of content featured, websites can display sitelinks (internal pages of the primary listing’s website), author’s Google+ profile, review star ratings (for movie and product reviews), images, or video stills.

For eager brands seeking to take advantage of rich snippets, here is a quick overview of how to get started.

1. Choose a markup format: microdata, microformats, or RDFA.

2. Mark up your content accordingly (reviews, products, people, music, etc.). Markup should be relevant, up-to-date, original, and describe or summarize the page’s content as it actually is.

3. Test the content using the structured data tool if it renders a rich snippet for the web pages or not.

Start Optimizing Your SERPs

Rich snippets may not directly affect your site’s rankings but it certainly adds value to your site as it comes up on Google results. With meta tags out of the picture, the structured markup of rich snippets supplies search engines with information about your website. It differentiates your site from other listings with the expectation of higher CTRs and increased number of qualified visitors once it appears in search results. All these benefits make rich snippets a worthwhile area for marketers to pay more attention to.