Good news! The folks you already trust to spread the word about your business can help you grow organic site traffic and conversions!
That’s right: Propllr offers content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a kind of low-key, backdoor marketing that lets brands get in front of their target audience in non-sales settings to raise awareness, create goodwill, and build credibility in their space. The “content” can be anything from articles to videos to infographics to data-driven reports to a series of funny tweets. It can even be material a person encounters offline.
How does content marketing work?
Maybe the best example of content marketing is Michelin’s Travel Guides. Michelin is a tire company, remember, but thanks to a pretty ingenious content marketing campaign (which is now more than 100 years old), its name is also associated with guides to the world’s best restaurants, hotels, and destinations.
What’s brilliant about this campaign is that it achieves so much so elegantly:
- Offers useful information to prospective Michelin customers, thus building goodwill.
- Associates the Michelin brand with quality and excellence.
- Creates demand for travel, which creates demand for what Michelin sells.
- Generates income for the company (you have to pay for the guides).
Today, the internet means companies of all sizes (and all budgets) can use a similar strategy. And while it’s easier than ever to publish and distribute the kind of content that can help you win and retain clients, it’s important to note that the results you see from content marketing are directly proportional to the effort you put in. So just because you can slap together a few blog posts that have some keywords in them doesn’t mean you should – or that you should expect anything in the way of ROI from doing so.
What does content marketing look like?
That depends on what you’re trying to do. Here are some effective strategies:
- Optimizing websites for search engines: At its simplest, content marketing can mean making sure a company’s website is visible to search engines and the people using them. Optimizing a site typically involves performing a site audit to identify opportunities to improve UX, content, and technical SEO, then recommending strategies to reach established goals.
- Filling information gaps: Identify an area where people are looking for information (but can’t find it) that overlaps with your area of expertise, and you have a prime content marketing opportunity. Finding these gaps starts with a competitive analysis of your space, which reveals opportunity areas where your competitors aren’t performing well. Then comes a content plan that aims to fill the gaps with the biggest potential ROI.
- Creating “10x” pieces that drive coverage, links, and shares: “10x” content (also called “skyscraper” and “hero” content) is content that’s 10 times better than anything else out there. This is effective if you’re in a crowded space and need a way to stand out from the noise. To create 10x content, identify areas where search is decent but existing results are ho-hum. Cross-reference opportunity areas with the data you have or can create (from customer information, external sources like the BLS, surveys, etc.). From here, create compelling, interactive, and well-designed content that will blow the competition out of the water.
- Building useful tools: Sometimes, people just want answers to their questions. If you can build a tool to solve a real problem, you’ll win people’s gratitude (and possibly, down the road, their business). Tools you may have seen and used include mortgage calculators, HTML converters, budget builders, and time trackers. (Tools may also be considered 10x content.)
- Gathering & analyzing original data: Publishing original data can be a powerful content marketing strategy. Original data helps establish you as a thought leader in your field, encourages others to link to your site (which is helpful for SEO), and generates interest among media. You might find data in surveys, in customer records, in website or email performance, and in many other places.
- Establishing thought leadership through think pieces: Most of the above typically involve publishing content on your own website. But sometimes, it makes more sense for content to live where your target audience is already looking, rather than trying to bring that audience to you. Building your thought leadership involves placing articles in publications your target audience reads. Often, building these pieces around your company’s proprietary data helps earn placements.
How does content marketing convert?
Really important question! When done well, content marketing has a much higher ROI than channels like SEM. This is mostly because content costs money upfront but then yields results indefinitely, whereas SEM and other paid channels cost money for every conversion.
To make sure you’re actually seeing a return on your investment, it’s important to establish a clear path to conversion for every piece of content you create. (More on measuring ROI for content.)
Here are some common conversion metrics you can track for content marketing efforts:
- Organic traffic to site: If people are finding your content in organic search, clicking your results, and visiting your site, you’ve got an amazing opportunity to win their trust and eventually turn them into customers.
- Traffic from social: In many cases, it makes sense to promote the content you create on social media. Done right, fans of your content will share it with their networks and you’ll see a spike in traffic from social media websites. Huzzah!
- Engagement on social: Earning likes, shares, comments, and new followers is a clear indication that your content is helping grow brand awareness and engagement among your target audience.
- Conversions from organic & social: Traffic is nice, but conversions are more important. Still, they’re both worth tracking. Some content isn’t meant to convert right away, so expecting every piece to result in a sale is missing the point of content marketing (remember those Michelin guides). The key to understanding results from this metric is defining “conversion” for every piece of content: signing up for an email list? Using a tool? Downloading a guide? Know what you want people to do when they see your content, and you’ll have a much easier time getting them to do it.
- Media coverage & inbound links: Compelling data often catches the attention of reporters and others who might link to your website. Both the coverage and the links can benefit you by increasing brand awareness, sending additional traffic to your site, and signaling to search engines that you’re a destination for important information.
- Number of keywords ranking in search: If you’re just launching a content marketing program, may see keywords ranking before you see traffic. Results from SEO-driven content marketing can take three to six months to appear, so tracking early-stage measures of success is crucial to understanding how your efforts are progressing.
- Client retention / repeat business: Not all content is about helping strangers discover you. Content marketing can also be an effective way to nurture existing customers.
Want to Learn More?
If you’d like to hear how content can boost your marketing efforts, get in touch with Brenna Lemieux, Propllr’s director of content marketing (firstname.lastname@example.org). Brenna has been a content marketer since 2007 and loves figuring out whether and how content can help a company flourish.