Historically, every business has had to start somewhere. Nowadays, every business has to start somewhere online. But what can a new business do to get its brand out there and start to become an authority in its industry?
Enter content marketing
Most startups don’t have the luxury of investments or being the latest Kickstarter success story to get recognition. Content marketing is the discipline of creating awesome content that’s both relevant and resourceful to your industry — and your target audience.
The end goal is to funnel these customers and provide ROI for your content marketing strategy.
Each time you create valuable, unique content that answers questions in your industry, you take the next step toward becoming a trusted authority in your niche. As users search for those questions and end up finding your content, you begin to build brand awareness and engagement.
The search engine optimization (SEO) industry has termed this type of content “linkbait.” The reason is that, if the content is truly great, people will mention (or “link to”) it.
Authoritative and editorial links are a boon to increased traffic and rankings, but don’t get content marketing confused with link building.
Reasons to invest
Great content eventually leads to inbound marketing as your audience grows. Inbound marketing occurs when you start to see traffic, mentions and links from others in your industry pointing to the awesome content you created.
Unlike PPC, your content marketing will be evergreen, helping to build your traffic and authority over time. Paid advertising is good when you want targeted traffic now, but it doesn’t help you nearly as much over the long term.
Your social media absolutely relies on your content to share something. However, don’t only share your own content! Follow the 80/20 rule for social media, where 80 percent is intriguing industry content that you share to engage your audience, while the remaining 20 percent is your brand’s own content with persuasive calls to action.
There are several reasons to do content marketing:
- Increased Web traffic, search engine rankings and lead generation
- Not just another tactic that will fall into gray and black hat schemes down the road like other SEO tactics
- You want to become a trusted authority in your industry that people return to
- The use of experienced and professional graphic designers, photographers, content writers and internet marketers
- Most importantly, your competitors are doing it. Don’t get behind. If they aren’t doing it, you’re getting ahead
Two options to do content marketing
You have two options:
- Do content marketing yourself
- Find a company that can do it for you.
To do it yourself, you or someone in house need to be a pro in programming, graphic design, videography, photography, content writing, online marketing, search engine optimization, Web development and more. As long as it isn’t distracting you from running your business, you could go this route.
It’s more likely, however, that you don’t have all of those employees at your disposal. You may not be the jack of all trades, in which case you’ll need to find an agency that can do content marketing for you.
Content marketing agencies have decades of combined experience to be the Swiss army knife you need for your online business. It takes years to learn everything about SEO, or to become an amazing graphic designer or to build relationships online for marketing. The list goes on. For most companies, it simply makes more sense to hire a service that has already been doing it all.
If you’re looking for a content marketing agency, find one that not only knows what good content is all about but one that also knows how to build and optimize websites. This is the route to go if you don’t know what you are doing, because you don’t want to commit one of the 28 ways to kill your Internet business.
Optimizing your site for search engines is half the battle. If your site isn’t optimized, you’re stuck in the mud right off the bat. Sites that are best for user experience have low bounce rates and optimized content on page. Along with a great content marketing plan, these sites will rank higher and get more traffic than the site that doesn’t.
The game plan
Whichever route you choose, there are some strategies that your company or agency should be doing.
Engage in social media with your audience but, more importantly, with the industry influencers. As you share their content and interact with them socially, you’ll establish a relationship with them. Down the road when you have content that you’re trying to push out, you can reach out to them knowing that they will return the favor and share it.
Be prepared to write at least one high-quality blog post each week. Preferably, you should write more — as long as they are high quality. As a rule, the more blog posts you write, the more traffic you will get.
Keep in mind that if you are writing them just for the sake of having more content, they won’t have much value and readers probably won’t share them. So make a schedule each month, or even for the next year, with all the topic and title ideas you can think of. With careful planning, you’ll never get stuck with coming up with new ideas. Title generators and writing resources are great to help you generate ideas.
According to HubSpot, your website could get 5x more traffic if you blog 15 or more times a month versus companies that don’t blog at all. The chart below shows the impact of inbound traffic by company size determined by how many blog posts are written in a month.
What kind of content and where to share it
This factor really depends on your industry and what your audience and influencers are sharing. Content could be memes, pictures, infographics, videos, top 10 lists and so much more.
Posting on Pinterest and gaining followers is another way to go. If you’re a consulting firm, share your content and knowledge on LinkedIn. Customize your social outreach to where your audience is for the most impact.
How to know when it’s working
There are two main ways to track results: online and in person.
When a customer calls in, ask where they found out about you … every time. Keep track of their answers so you’ll know what’s working (whether they found you from directory listings, a guest blog post, an infographic or just from a search in Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Online you can track metrics in a multitude of ways. The most common is by looking at your analytics to see your overall traffic and where that traffic is coming from. Your social shares, mentions and links will gradually start to increase.
You can see the referral traffic. When certain sites or social media platforms start bringing in more traffic, you may want to focus more in those areas, since that’s likely where your target audience is.
Rankings will also start to increase; so track them in some way or keep an eye on the reports that your agency should be sending you. You will begin to see what keywords, as well as long-tail keywords, are going through your funnel and converting leads for your website.
It’s so important for your business to do content marketing, and you have several options to make it happen. Take a look at your business structure and decide which option is best for you, then take action towards becoming the authority in your industry … before your competitors beat you to it!
Tom Malesic is the founder and president of EZSolution, an integrated marketing, Web design and IT consulting firm based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His passion has always been helping business owners solve their problems. Tom is the author of two books, “What Your Computer Guy Never Tells You” and “What Your Web Developer Never Tells You.” You can follow Tom on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.