In any market, a good product rarely needs advertising to sell well. People will love any product that does well what its description says it will do. In the online business world, content is the good product that delivers a great return on investment, allowing businesses and individuals to gain publicity and make sales without spending a dime on traditional forms of marketing. The publicity gained also comes with brand loyalty as people interact with the content. Indeed, as of 2013, content marketing has become the biggest technique used by anyone who wants to dominate a particular niche in the online marketplace. Although it all appears merry on the outside, content marketing is not an easy endeavor, and any mistake done at the initial stages may cost you a chance at converting your visitors into customers in future. To aid your plight in understanding content marketing, here is a complete beginner guide.
What is content?
The first thing you need to know is what entails content. As per this guide, content refers to any multimedia or text that you place strategically on the internet to direct or inform people about your business or organization.
The content can be:
– a video
– an audio file
– or a combination of all.
Content is the substance that holds your marketing message. It does not matter whether the message is hidden or direct, whether it’s long or brief, as long as it’s contained therein, then you are talking about content.
Where should you place content
The next thing to note is where the places that should hold your content are. Once you have your video, or article, you can place it on your website or on other websites. Placement of content affects the reaction you get from the target audience. If you place content on a popular site, you can expect to get more reactions and views than you would when you place the same content on a relatively unknown website. You also need to have a home that will act as an anchor on all your content online. As you place content on popular sites, link those pieces with your anchor. Anyone who has an interest in your content will then get to your anchor for more.
For best results, your anchor should be your primary website. Have the most relevant content about your niche and products placed on your primary website, and then use other sites as signposts to direct people to your website. You can then place various ‘call-to-action’ messages on your primary website. For example, you can have a YouTube video that provides a link to your website. As people watch that video, they will learn about your website and may visit it for more information or entertainment. Social networks and blogs also act as great places for placing your ‘signpost’ content for people to consume and eventually land on your primary website.
How do you create content?
By now, you have an idea of what content is and are wondering how one comes up with great content. The simple answer is that great content fulfills an appetite for information or entertainment. Your content has to deliver value to the audience, irrespective of where you place it. To create such content, you need to pay attention to what people are looking for, what they keep talking about, and what they think.
Practically, it is impossible to just wake up and decide that a particular subject captures what people are looking for. You need to engage people to know what they want. To do this, you will need to hang out where the people are hanging out online and learn how to use various analytical tools for interpreting web trends.
The tools include:
– Google analytics tool for monitoring and analyzing web traffic, available at http://www.google.com/analytics
– Google Trends web app available at http://www.google.com/trends
– Market Samurai keyword tool available at http://www.marketsamurai.com
Trace the traffic that is getting to your website, and take note of the content that is contributing to that traffic. Notice whether such content has a seasonal demand or is timeless. Create profiles on discussion forums and social networks and then participate in those sites. If you are a firm, you may have different employees handling specific sites, to gather information on what is relevant to your niche. They will also tell what is likely to benefit your target audience. Once you have an idea, create content based on that idea. Remember that the purpose of your content is to help someone in need of that information or entertainment value.
Telling good and bad content
You can tell good content by the attention it gets after you publish it. An informative video will get many views and comments because people find it useful. It may also go viral on social networks as people share it with others. Bad content, on the other hand, tends to stay static. No one shares with others or comments on it. This is not to say that you need to remove bad content from your website or online profiles. You may just have to assign a different purpose to the content. You can use it as link bait, so that is becoming a source of inbound links to your website. This will help your website rank. You can repackage together with your good content to provide fresh content for distribution in easy to consume formats such as eBooks that will refer people back to your primary website.
A big chunk of content marketing involves monitoring and evaluation. For every content piece that you place strategically on guest blogs, article directories, social networks, your primary site, video sharing sites and web directories, you must be able to tell how that content is a contribution to your marketing and SEO goals. Traffic tools such as Google Analytics and Google Trends that are available online (see links above) can show you how the particular links on the content are driving people to your websites, as well as give you the sources of those visitors who interact with your content.
As you take up content marketing, you need to know that this form of marketing does not interrupt the user but instead offers them what they are looking for, in return for the permission to include sales pitch within the content. The goal is not to sell a product on the first interaction but to create a positive association with your brand so that it will be the first choice when the targeted person wants to buy.