How Content Marketing Wins Over Fans and Followers
Shane Snow, the cofounder of Contently.com, recently contributed an article to the
high-profile online magazine Mashable.com. Snow's article provides details about the recent shift in SEO strategies from algorithm chasing to high quality content marketing. Since the dawn of the dotcom revolution, businesses and corporations have been struggling to find foolproof ways to draw consumers to their websites. Online sales and marketing make up the vast majority of commerce and consumer action occurring in today's markets.
In the past, SEO strategies involved understanding what the search engine algorithms were looking for and trying to tailor websites and social media presences to align with search engine preferences. This was great for ranking highly on the search engine results pages, but it did almost nothing to improve consumer relationships and generate consumer fans and followers. Today, as Shane Snow points out, the common ground between content that ranks well and content that appeals to consumers is much larger. Businesses and companies that employ backhanded SEO strategies are losing ground in the Internet marketing war. Businesses that use content marketing to win followers and fans, on the other hand, are watching their sales skyrocket.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a term that is being bandied about by SEO strategists, marketers, and business executives around the world. Still, the term is relatively new to the marketing industry. Content marketing simply refers to the process of marketing a brand, company, product or service by creating high quality, readable, and shareable content that will appeal to consumers. Content marketing may take the form of interesting articles, popular eBooks, blog posts, shareable videos, infographics, photos, and press releases.
How Does Content Marketing Differ From Traditional Marketing?
So, how does content marketing differ from traditional Internet marketing? The difference lies in the underlying purpose of the strategy. Traditional marketing was created only to sell products and services. Marketing strategies may have included flashy billboards, high profile television and radio commercials, advertisements on popular websites, and other types of sale-focused strategies. Content marketing, on the other hand, is designed to create fans and followers. Instead of focusing on selling to consumers, content marketing requires businesses to focus on attracting consumers on a broader scale.
With content marketing, brands very rarely have to advertise a specific product or service. Instead, they simply generate high quality and interesting content about subjects, ideas, and news items that are relevant to their industry. A jewelry company might generate content about non-conflict diamonds, the white gold trend, and the popularity of birthstones. None of this content explicitly "sells" the jeweler's products, but the content is interesting enough to attract and hold a consumer's attention.
Content Marketing and Google
Content marketing is preferable to traditional marketing because Google and other search engine bigwigs are starting to recognize the value of high quality content over "black hat" SEO strategies. In the past, search engine optimization required businesses to stuff articles with keywords, buy links from other websites, and create content that was useful only to the algorithms. This was effective in boosting a website's search engine ranking, but it was practically useless for consumers. The content generated was cheap and difficult to read. Consumers may have been more likely to stumble across a website, but once they arrived, they weren't likely to stick around and make a purchase.
Today, however, Google is starting to recognize the importance of content. Google and other major search engines, after all, are trying to rank websites based on the helpfulness of the website to consumers. When consumers follow websites, share content, or discuss content, Google assumes that the website is doing something right. Content marketing is becoming the best way to increase page rankings and increase consumer interest.
The Content Marketing Cost Scenario
Many businesses, however, are still dragging their feet in the face of the content marketing trend. Content marketing has proven to be successful at increasing the number of fans and followers associated with a brand, but businesses are still hesitating because of the cost factor. Bad SEO strategies like keyword-stuffing and link-buying were preferred by many brands because they were cheap. Businesses could pay pennies for articles that were stuffed with high quality keywords. The articles were cheap because the content didn't matter. Anybody could write these articles, and the cheap price was apparent to consumers.
Content marketing, on the other hand, requires businesses to hire talented writers who are able to engage an audience, perform industry research, write with style and flair, and generate content that is interesting, shareable, and advanced. Naturally, it costs more to hire this type of content creator.
The Modern Consumer Wants Content
Why, then, would a business want to pay more money to invest in content marketing? The answer is simple. Content marketing increases consumer awareness and brand loyalty because the modern consumer wants content. Today, people are using the Internet for just about everything. Businesses that promote content that entertains, informs, and interests consumers will be viewed by customers as industry-leaders and trusted resources.
High Quality Content Generates Regular Followers
When a consumer consistently visits a website and discovers new, fresh, and interesting content on a regular basis, that consumer will begin to associate the brand with the content. The fusion of brands with high quality content encourages consumers to become "fans" or "followers" of the website, social media profile, or blog. The larger the fan base, the more potential customers a business can reach.
Content Marketing and the Conversion Funnel
When a large number of fans begin to regularly visit a website or blog, businesses can start to guide them through the conversion funnel with high quality selling content. Because the brand is trusted as a resource for information or entertainment, consumers are more willing to follow links, check out products and services, and even make purchases through an online store.
Content marketing is time consuming and expensive, but consumer behavior is proving to businesses that this newfangled marketing strategy is the preferred way to make sales, increase revenue, and make money and drive profits to greater heights