Engaging, high quality content is central to successful marketing and key to attracting and retaining customers. The phrase ‘content is king’ has been heralded in digital marketing circles for a good few years now. But what exactly does it mean and why is it so important for online businesses?
Content and content marketing
From an online perspective, content is essentially all the information you communicate to your customers and prospects. For example in terms of a web page content is the text, design and images used to convey information. If your content is interesting and engaging you are more likely to attract and retain customers, hopefully achieving repeat visits.
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Content Marketing Institute
In the past marketing messages were primarily ‘pushed‘ out to customers through traditional media channels such as print, TV, radio and direct mail . The onset of new media has enabled businesses to interact directly with their customers, creating what is essentially a two-way dialogue. It is now primarily customers who are in control, since they actively seek out information on the web and are often the first to initiate contact. Visibility and interaction are key as online businesses need to find ways to ‘pull-in’ customers to their web presence. Content is an integral element of any online marketing. Whatever marketing tactic you are using, be it SEO (search engine optimisation), branding, PR, social media, inbound marketing or email, content is central to its effectiveness.
“Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed“ Google Search Engine Optimisation Starter Guide
How to improve content – where do you start?
A good place to begin is to spend some time looking at your current offering. This would mean evaluating all the elements that make up your content – from web text and graphics to sales, product and marketing copy. Is your content:
- Useful and informative to your customers?
- Up-to-date, relevant and accurate?
- Professional, with no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors?
- Interacting and engaging with your customers?
Since content is central to pretty much everything you do online, it is worth looking at your content as a whole rather than as lots of separate bits and pieces of information. That way you have a complete picture and can formulate a strategy for your content. And remember, content needs to be reviewed and managed on a regular, on-going basis.
What makes good quality content
Although link building and keyword optimisation still important for SEO purposes, the days of keyword stuffing your content have well and truly passed. It is quality content that determines how a website is ranked by the likes of Google.
“interesting sites will increase their recognition on their own” Google Search Engine Optimisation Guide
When creating content always keep your existing and prospective customers in mind. If you are generating content for them you are likely to be ticking the ranking criteria for search engines. Good content is essentially about engaging your customers and encouraging them to share. You can do this through keeping your content informative, engaging, easy to digest, fresh, interesting, interactive, relevant, original and useful. There is a great infographic from Skyword that summarises the essentials of good content as the ‘Three S’s of successful content: Searchable, Snackable and Shareable’. Essentially this means content should be optimised for relevant keywords and phrases (again, this does not mean keyword stuffing!), it should be catchy and bite sized so it meets the demand for ‘on-the-go’ information and compelling enough for readers to want to share.
Ideas for creating quality, engaging content
There are lots of ways you can generate quality content for your customers. SmartInsights have created a ‘Content Marketing Matrix’ that is packed full of content ideas to help “Entertain, Inspire, Convince and Educate” customers. It has lots of excellent ideas so is well worth a look. Outlined below are a few ideas to get you thinking about how your business can create fresh, engaging and interesting content that is relevant to your customers and prospects.
- Engaging in interactive social media such as Facebook or Google+
- Creating a blog that contains interesting, digestible information that is appropriate to your market
- Publishing market research findings such as trend reports and providing downloadable whitepapers
- Regular, informative email newsletters informing customers of your latest news, offers, products or services
- Entertain customers by running competitions or quizzes
- Online press-releases to keep your customers, potential customers and industry contacts informed of developments within your business
- Creating interesting infographics and visuals
- Producing online videos such as useful tutorials or demonstrations
- Introducing an online community discussion forum
Content looks set to remain a key factor for any business looking to succeed online, so spending time making it as engaging as you possibly can, is time very well spent.
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