The remarkable rise of content marketing is a direct reflection of a digital, globalized economy. As borders fall, clients, products, and services can come from anywhere.
While this can be a boon for all types of business, it also means that competition is no longer local or even national.
Your product is competing against products from all over the planet. Combine this enormous shift with the exponential multiplication of advertisements that we are exposed to, and it just might be harder than ever to market a business and obtain new clients.
Content marketing is a way to overcome this hurdle by building authority and trust between potential customers and a company.
But it’s much more than that.
Content marketing also serves to acquire new customers via the all important SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and social media channels. However, content marketing is not a solution in itself — the difference between optimized, high-quality content and empty, forced content is growing.
Taking extra time to provide high-quality written content takes your business much further over the long run.
Content marketing for acquisition: the SEO game
Content marketing is one of the best ways to draw attention to your site and business. Writing about relevant topics help interested people to find your blog, share your content, and eventually get to your product pages.
But it’s not just about keywords and links, Google is focused on quality. Google wants to deliver high-quality results to people who search. The higher-quality the results, the more people will come back to use Google again for their next search.
Google constantly updates its algorithm depending on what it determines is the most valuable and relevant content.
The higher the quality, the more likely your site will show up on the all-important first page of search results.
If you don’t create fresh, high-quality content, your site is essentially static, and will suffer by missing out on traffic.
This is where the importance of the written word comes in. YouTube’s enormous popularity is a testament to how marketable the video format can be for content marketing.
However, videos are harder (and much more expensive) to produce than writing. Videos are also more difficult to consume, as certain situations prohibit being able to listen to sound and poor connections can result in reduced quality and choppy buffering.
Written content can be consumed almost anywhere you find a screen. Content marketers even recommend writing out the transcripts of videos on your pages to improve indexing and enable more people to benefit from that content when they can’t play the video.
Cultivating trust and authority with written content
If everyone in your field looks to you for answers and advice, your potential customers will too. Again, just writing things and sharing them on the web is not enough.
Anyone can write an article about anything after a quick visit to Wikipedia and copying and pasting from a few other sources.
A true thought leader brings in-depth analysis and original information based on unique experiences. People can see through short, empty posts.
The better the content you produce, the more people will respect you as a thought leader. This respect establishes trust, which shortens the bridge between interest and purchase among your future customers.
Be unique and original
One of the ways to differentiate yourself and your content marketing efforts is to find your unique voice. Like well-known authors, content marketers must hone their craft to produce one-of-a-kind content that stands out.
Generic writing feels flat and is not recognizable. It gets lost almost immediately. Finding your voice boosts your content by ensuring that it’s not copied from somewhere else.
Just as important to writing in a unique voice is to find a unique angle for your topic.
The ease of blogging and online publishing has caused a veritable tsunami of information. Chances are you will be writing about something that many other people have already written about.
The challenge for the high-quality content marketer is to tackle a subject from a new point of view. Do your research. What’s already been said about this topic? Who said it? What’s something new that you can bring to the table?
Delivering valuable content, and getting people to read it
The best practice for producing high-quality content is to deliver value.
Is the content that you are producing something that someone would be willing to pay for? Are you divulging useful, actionable information that not everyone has access to? Would you read what you wrote?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you are on the right track. When people see you giving away content that has value, they become appreciative.
They recognize the value and do what anyone would do, they share it! This is the viral effect. When content breaks out of your immediate networks and crosses into different networks.
Low-quality content does not get shared, it does not get referenced highly by Google, and it certainly does not help you achieve your business goals.
All hail the headline
One of the most important aspects in creating high-quality content is the headline. According to KISSmetrics, 80% of people will read your headline, only 20% of people will read the content.
The headline will determine who clicks on the article, especially as it is spread across social networks.
The headline should reflect your original point of view on a subject, respect SEO guidelines, and inspire people to click. Spend at least enough time to come up with a few different headlines to see which one has the most pop.
Evergreen content that lasts (and lasts and lasts)
Evergreen content is non-news related information that usually discusses best practices and how-tos.
Examples include glossaries, case studies, white papers, and interviews.
This type of content is evergreen because it doesn’t go stale after a few days or weeks. The format is longer and more in-depth. White papers can often run into the hundreds of pages.
The deeper the content goes, the more value it can deliver to potential customers. Ann Handley, a well-known marketer and blogger, averages 1200-1500 words per post on her blog. This lengthier format allows her to provide more background information and examples for her readers.
Listicles for the share
Listicles are rising in popularity because they tell potential readers exactly what they can expect.
The bigger the number the better. An article titled “4 Tips to Content Marketing” will gain a lot less traction that “104 Tips for Content Marketing.” The reader will surely not be able to identify 104 aspects of content marketing, and so the title in itself creates a gap in their knowledge.
This knowledge gap wins the click. A high-quality list gets the share. The only type of content more shared on the web than listicles is the infographic.
An inspiring example of a successful small business
Among businesses succeeding at content marketing is Ozone Coffee Roasters. Instead of simply positioning themselves as independent coffee roasters, they drilled down into ethics on their blog, discussing their various sustainability efforts and chronicling the trips to different areas where their coffee is sourced.
This message appeals to their ethics-conscious target audience and shows why they should support Ozone with their coffee purchasing decisions.
How to find your own inspiration
It’s not easy to continuously find interesting topics to write about or travel to Central America to meet with your coffee growers. Oftentimes a blog will start off with a few really good posts and then the quality will start to slip because the original ideas have dried up. Luckily there are many resources to help.
First, you can set up Google Alerts around the topic that you write about. This will give you news and articles in your inbox once a day so you can keep up with what other people are writing.
You can easily take an article that you disagree with and write the counter argument according to your original point of view. Make sure to back it up with stats and relevant links.
Also, look to Google Trends or Twitter’s Trending Topics to see which topics are buzzing around the world or near you. Best practices dictate that a blog should feature new content between once and three times per week.
Get the help you need
Finally, if you feel at all uncomfortable with doing the writing yourself, don’t risk producing poor-quality content.
There are many resources from writing forums to professional copywriters to help you reach the next level. The general rule is that the price you are able to pay will determine the quality of the writing.
If you’re going to pay someone $5 for a blog post, don’t expect much more than a quick listicle. If you have more money to spend you can tap into the experience and knowledge of excellent writers.
Content marketing isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it is only gaining speed and becoming more popular with each passing day. There are some big predictions out there made by very respectable people in the content world about content marketing.
Joe Coleman, CEO of Contently, said that “the concept of a content-first approach that we’re currently seeing in content marketing will spread throughout the entire enterprise brand. Organizations have traditionally oriented themselves around the department that is communicating: HR, internal communications, sales, public relations, or marketing. That will shift in the next few years. Content won’t just be a department within marketing, it will become the source that feeds all departments. Executives will demand the technology to support the creation of high-quality content throughout the company.”
Storytelling sells. The greatest service in the world will go unused if there is no story behind it. On the other hand, a mediocre product that has endless competition may very well explode in popularity if it has a great story.
A great story has always been a driving force behind whether or not a product succeeds or fails. Today, this is crucial. Years back, a vast majority of companies were only able to reach people in their direct vicinity.
Now, the whole world has access to products and services, regardless of where they are located. Combine that with the dozens of different online platforms to promote the beautiful stories and you have a recipe for success.
Content marketing is already a $145 billion per year industry that is forecast to become $300 billion by 2019 according to media research firm PQ Media.
In an age of information overload, the differences between high-quality content and low-quality content become increasingly noticeable. High-quality content builds upon itself over time, helping to drive you up the search rankings and new customers into your corner of the web.
It’s worth the extra effort. Your business will reap the benefits.
Content marketing is the future and the written word will guide businesses to success. Finding the right way to tell your story is the best way to put you ahead of the competition.
This article was co-written by ArticleBunny