March 4, 2011 | Written by Dusty Dean
Content is critical to success on the Web. It’s indexed by search engines and discovered by searchers, shared by friends, family and co-workers in IMs, e-mails and on social networks.From blog posts, online videos and books to podcasts, whitepapers and webinars, content consumption is the reason we browse and love the Web.And perhaps most importantly for companies, content offers a long-term low-cost opportunity to attract new customers and build loyal relationships with them.
Benefits of Content Marketing
- Search engine optimized content drives free long-tail traffic to your website
- Creates a strong online reputation that builds brand credibility
- Utilizes your content repository to accelerate and shorten your sales cycle
Overview of Content Marketing FormatsDeveloping a smart long-lasting content marketing strategy begins with connecting the best content resources with your company’s unique personality and agenda.Review the following content marketing formats and consider ones that best utilize the talent within your company. Not all of the following will be applicable to your company.
- Blog Posts Routinely add value to your company’s website by having company leaders share expert insight about your products, services and company culture.
- User Generated Content/Reviews Call upon your community of loyal customers and supporters to share content about your products and services. Product reviews are a classic example of this format.
- Web Videos Use the power of video to visually and emotionally connect the unique benefits of your products and services with your customers. Additionally, you can offer informative instructional videos about your products and services.
- Whitepapers Educate your prospective customers and help them make informed buying decisions, solve difficult problems or make powerful pitches to key stakeholders with downloadable whitepapers.
- Case Studies Provide original examples of the problems your services or products solve with downloadable, or better yet, HTML-based case studies.
- Podcasts Use the power of broadcasting to discuss your industry and your company’s contribution to it with podcasts.
- Articles Create longer form content with articles and publish them on your website and on professional organization websites related to your industry.
- Presentations Embed relevant presentations into your blog posts and articles, or create a resources page dedicated to sharing video and slide presentations related to your products and services.
- Applications (Social or Mobile) Whether it’s mobile applications or Facebook applications, creating a useful application around your brand, products and services can be very useful for your customers.
- Virtual Events Tap into the interactive power of webinars and training seminars to share content and interact with your customers online. These can be embedded into your website’s pages and shared through e-mail and social networks.
- eBooks Share your industry expertise by creating short downloadable eBooks for your customers. These can be as simple as PDF files, or you can easily convert them into formats for consumption on eBook readers.
Developing a Content Marketing Plan
- Content Management System A website built with a powerful content management system (CMS), such as WordPress, Drupal or ExpressionEngine, is an essential tool in your content marketing plan.It’s important to consider the CMS’s user friendliness and ability to easily edit essential page specific meta-data (useful to search engine crawlers).
- Choose content formats and creators Connect one of the aforementioned content formats with an employee, or group of employees, whose strengths are in those areas.For example, employees with excellent writing skills may be good candidates for frequent blog posts. Or, employees who are talented with video or audio editing skills may excel at developing a low-budget video or audio production.
- Tag and measure your content’s impact After you’ve created search-engine optimized content, it’s time to tag your URLs before you share them across the Web. For example, with properly tagged URLs you’ll be able to measure the success of your content in e-mail newsletters and on social networks.Measuring and analyzing the impact of your content across different customer acquisition channels will give you the intelligence you need to increase your content’s reach across the Web.Google’s URL tagger is an excellent resource for quickly tagging your URLs. To learn more about URL tagging read this tagging tutorial.
Creating Conversions from Content MarketingThe content you create provides an excellent opportunity for you to convert casual readers into customers. These readers will have different interest levels in your company, services and products.You don’t want readers of your content to spend a short amount of time on your website without taking a meaningful action. The following strategies highlight ways you can convert these readers into customers, or in the very least, convert them into useful leads for your company.
- Micro & Macro Conversions Your website should have many conversion goals for your visitors. The most profitable conversion goal, or your most important ones, should be considered your macro conversion goals. These could be an eCommerce transaction or the submission of contact information in a lead capture form.However, since many customers who visit your website are in the early stages of the sales process, it’s useful to offer them easier conversions. These micro-conversions are easier conversions that don’t require them to make a full commitment to buying your product or giving all of their personal information right away.Examples of micro-conversions include, signing up for your e-mail newsletter, subscribing to your RSS feed, watching a sales video or downloading important sales literature. These all can be tracked using event tracking in your Web analytics software.
- Covert & Overt Call to actions (CTAs) After identifying your website’s macro and micro conversions it’s time to integrate them with your website’s content marketing strategy.You can overtly request the completion of a conversion goal prior to the reading, downloading or viewing of your content. This is a tactic commonly used by websites which offer free whitepapers and seminars. It’s an easy way to capture a contact or lead in exchange for the free content.Alternatively, you may take a covert approach by inserting a e-mail submission form, a lead capture form or a highlighted text field within your content, or on the side bar, giving visitors a passive yet clear way to submit their contact information to your company.
- Utilizing Web Analytics Proper tagging of your URLs enable you to track performance across multiple channels like e-mail and social media in your Web analytics reports. Also, with Web analytics you can monitor the success of your search engine optimization efforts.Here’s a few ideas for analysis you can perform on your content to see how well it’s performing on your website and around the Web.– Bounce RateBounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the visitor left your site from the entrance page (your content page). This metric is useful for measuring visit quality.Ideally, you want your visitor to either complete a macro or micro conversion goal upon visit, or visit other pages on your website after the entrance page.You could set a key performance indicator of a low bounce rate for content used in your content marketing plan.– Total Page ViewsThis is the total number of pages viewed per unique visitor session on your website. It’s a useful measurement for reader engagement.An engaged consumer of your content will view other pages on your website and familiarize themselves with your company.– Search Engine KeywordsThanks to the power of Web analytics you can quickly see which keywords are sending the most traffic to your website from search engines like Google, Bing Yahoo.Go to your traffic sources section in your Web analytics software, select organic traffic (free traffic) and segment the data by keyword. It’s here that you’ll see which keywords are sending the most free traffic to your website.You can use the data from this report to determine the effectiveness of your search engine optimization efforts.
March 4, 2011 | Written by Dusty Dean