You may have heard the phrase “content is king.” It is often a phrase that gets thrown around, but not everyone utilizes the principle correctly.
Coming up with content is easy, but coming up with quality, valuable content that web users (aka potential customers) are looking for, on the other hand, require some planning, thought and strategy.
Why is Content Marketing Important?
In today’s online, digital world, consumers are barraged by information. The instant access to all their answers has made consumers more powerful. When they search for something online, they want the exact information they’re looking for. They want immediate, specific and credible answers to their questions.
This is where quality content marketing comes in.
Marcus Sheridan, who spoke at the last SLC|SEM conference mentioned that every business is, in essence, like the car dealership. Car salesmen are not held in high esteem by most people. They are seen as unethical and only seem to care about getting a commission rather than meeting the needs of the customer.
Customers hold the same view of other companies or products. While their response may not be as apprehensive as interacting with car salesmen, the plethora of sales-infused information on the internet is often enough for customers to distrust brands online.
What is the remedy?
In the above example, Sheridan told the story of how CarMax was able to assess this perception of car dealerships and take steps to correct the notion.
To gain the trust and respect of customers, your website must have authority. That authority can be gained by great content.
How Content and SEO Work Together
In order grow your business, you need to get substantial traffic to your website. This is done through a varied combination of search engine optimization (SEO) tactics.
Quality content is one such SEO tactic.
Search engines like Google strive to provide the users with the best search experience as possible. To that end, their algorithms are constantly changing so they can promote the most effective content to the top of the rankings where it will appear for the relevant search query.
Search engines know that web users today demand an immediate answer to their queries. They don’t have time to wade through websites looking for an answer.
They also don’t want to constantly go from website to website trying to find information.
Content has, therefore, great weight in the search engine ranking factors.
That means the content you provide had better be able to answer some very specific questions in a very short timeframe.
The companies that are able to do that are the ones that research their ideal/potential customers and customers to come up with what content to feature on their website and in their blogs.
When you can provide useful, valuable content, your company’s website will appear to have authority and web users will come to trust your brand when searching for information on a particular topic.
As your content gains the trust and visits of web users, it will have an impact on your rankings. The more people like, share, and engage with your content, the higher the rankings and greater page authority search engines will give your site. This, in turn, will increase traffic to your website even more.
According to Sheridan, platforms (social media channels, content marketing, SEO) change. They come and go. Principles, such as customer service and providing valuable content to customers, will never change or go away.
Customers will continue demanding valuable content and superb customer service no matter what the next big social media platform is.
Why Content Works
Good content isn’t sales heavy, though it does play a big part in the sales process. Consumers don’t want to be sold a product. They want to be sold a brand. While some content needs to talk about a company’s product, most of it needs to be about answering consumers’ questions, addressing their needs, and encouraging interaction.
With information so readily available today, consumers know they are in control and they demand a lot more from a brand.
Content allows companies to create valuable interactions, dialogues, and relationships with current and potential customers.
How it Relates to the Buying Funnel
Content has a lot to do with sales. Valuable, honest, transparent content will alleviate any negativity your online customers experience going through the buying funnel.
As in the case of car salesmen, businesses are often seen in a negative light because they attempt to push customers through their sales funnel. Instead of meeting customer needs and providing honest answers and information, these types of businesses solely focused on selling the most cars as fast as possible, regardless of the customer’s wants and needs.
Your website’s content should answer questions and concerns, engage the customers, and be informative, transparent and honest.
Sheridan listed six things to keep in mind concerning the modern day online buyer and how they interact with your brand:
1. Understand the difference between “principles” and “platforms.”
As mentioned earlier, a generic content marketing plan is usually just trying to take advantage of a platform, which will change over time. Providing a continuous stream of quality and useful (the principle behind the activity), on the other hand, will attract customers and give your website more authority.
2. 70% of a decision is made before the first contact.
Customers are looking for relevant, clear, authoritative answers. They will do their research on your company before they engage and begin the buyer’s journey with your company’s products. Good content will make your company more appealing. And since you providing their answers, they’ll provide you a little more business.
3. Management and employees need to buy in.
Asking management and staff to participate and contribute to the content marketing efforts will better enhance your company’s content, which will boost trust and authority. Content written by someone within the company who has extensive expertise on the subject will more likely catch the attention and gain the respect of customers.
4. Don’t treat digital like a beta test.
A content marketing strategy with great content is an all or nothing endeavor. Half-hearted efforts with content just for the sake of content and keywords will not impress anyone. Consumers can easily identify and see right through such disinterested efforts.
5. Understand we’re all media companies, whether we like it or not.
All things digital are constantly changing. We must embrace and utilize current platforms and be ready to adapt our content to fit whatever is coming next. We shouldn’t change what is said in our content, but we need to change the format of the content to fit the appropriate platform.
6. Understand this is a “sales” and not a marketing conversation.
While it is important to get the attention of outside customers, it is equally important that your content also gets the attention of your company’s salespeople. Great content that is sold to and received by your sales people will then heighten their passion and enthusiasm for the product or service that they sell to customers.
Content geared towards the salespeople will also better equip them to answer questions customers may have about the product or service which will gain customer trust and loyalty.
In today’s digital world, the customer is in the driver’s seat. They expect immediate, easy-to-find, authoritative content. For your company to gain the trust, respect, and ultimately the business of web users, you need more than a content marketing strategy. You need a well-thought out, specific content marketing strategy that includes quality content that answers consumers’ questions and provides customers with valuable, usable information.
Not quite ready to dive into content production but still need a lot of new website traffic? Check the effectiveness of your AdWords campaign: