Lee Odden

Why Your Business Needs a Content Marketing Strategy

social media contentGoogle sites handle about 88 billion searches each month. YouTube is the second most popular search engine second only to Google. Facebook is now over 600 million users. Twitter has nearly 200 million accounts. LinkedIn is at 101 million users and FourSquare grew 3,400% in 2010.

The variety of options for customer marketing and engagement ranging from social media to SEO to email marketing to online advertising can be overwhelming. As a result, some of the most common online marketing questions I hear from client side marketers revolve around, “How to decide which tactics are best?”

Answering that question starts with a clear understanding of goals, customers and a flexible online marketing strategy that assembles the right mix of tactics and measurement practices. Most companies are looking for more customers and to retain those they have, but the question is,

“How to acquire and engage customers more efficiently, more effectively?”

A big part of the answer is through the intersection of social media, SEO and content marketing. If Social Media and SEO fit together like peanut butter and jelly then content is the bread that holds them together. Content is a crucial part of a social media strategy and therefore an understanding of customer-centric social content is essential.

Content Marketing

Consumers are not interested in traditional interruptive marketing. They want to be educated and their behaviors for information discovery, consumption and sharing have changed. B2B an B2C customers alike expect to find solutions via search. They also expect to interact with what they find via search.

Consumers expect content from brands. They expect ease of discovery (via search or social), the ability to interact with and socially share content and to interact with others with similar interests (social networking). These aren’t “nice to haves” anymore, they’re expected.

Most corporate marketing is structured to create content around products & services vs. becoming a publisher. As a result, the idea of implementing a content marketing program can seem foreign. However, the abundance of publishing tools and platforms now makes it possible for companies to create content and media that rivals some news organizations.

Content fuels customer engagement at all stages of the customer life cycle from top of funnel to ongoing relationship. Content can educate customers about your products and services. It can help educate about the buying process and how to get the most out of the purchase. It can continue to reinforce the relationship and inspire renewals, upgrades and referrals.

The challenge is for companies to rethink their content marketing strategy and incorporate Social Media and SEO in order to fulfill customer expectations for ease of discovery, consumption and sharing. On top of that, content must educate and make it easy to follow a logical conclusion to buy.  The companies that do those things best, will win the incredibly competitive online marketing race we’re in.

I’ll be talking about this topic today at SES Accelerator in San Diego, providing specific guidelines for companies that want to leverage the most effective tactics for customer acquisition and engagement through search, social and content marketing.  If you don’t catch me there, I’ll be discussing similar topics “Content Optimisation & Integrated Online Marketing” at SES London in a few weeks. I hope to see you there.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. Black Seo Guy says:

    I’m doing marketing plans for all my clients, because they lack the skills to develop one themselves. You must have a plan to know whether your reaching your goals.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  2. Hi Lee, very valuable article. Thanks for linking my post about the Interruption vs Engagement Marketing infographic.
    Best wishes,
    Petya
    http://www.higher-and-higher.com/

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed this post Lee. This part stuck out the most to me:

    “Consumers are not interested in traditional interruptive marketing. They want to be educated and their behaviors for information discovery, consumption and sharing have changed”.

    I couldn’t agree more. Consumers value utility content now more than ever. Let’s not try to tell them what to do/think/feel like traditional interuptive marketing, but rather provide utility content and information that addresses their real needs (whether that’s entertainment, education, etc…).

    • Thank you Ken, your feedback is very much appreciated. I think each type of messaging has its place and the key is knowing the customer. Marketing then follows those preferences.

  4. If you are an online business owner and don’t have a content marketing strategy in place for your business, then you will be very limited on what you will be able to do in terms of scaling up your business.

    • Indeed. Even maintaining current position would be difficult when competitors are making more strategic and tactical commitments to content.

  5. With everybody doing, those with a clear policy, communications, and content strategy will pull away from the pack.

  6. I just wanted to take a moment and let you know how helpful that your advice has been. Your site is full of fantastcic information. Thank you very much and keep up the good work!Regular reader, first time commentor…Thomas FrancoisMarketing DirectorWeb Price Right

  7. Content should be creative enough, unique and consistent to attract consumers and to gain their trust.

  8. Content is such a huge part of anyone’s marketing strategy. And it should not be written by just anyone. If you are great at it, perfect, but if not, hire someone who is, because once content is on the net, it is always there. Better to do it right the first time around.

  9. Storch Kirill says:

    The new buzzword we keep hearing in the bay is app driven content, that is content that is also accompanied with an app, so we built a graphic design app by our blog to help businesses get branding

    Can anyone who actually tried this let me know- does this help w google rankings? facebook rankings?

    • Content worth linking to that’s promoted will attract incoming links. Links + optimized content = better search visibility on Google.

      Same goes for Facebook. Content worth “liking” earns more likes and therefore better visibility on Facebook.

  10. Great insight. Content marketing is an ever-growing industry and it’s important for businesses to be up to date on the latest social media channels and marketing strategies.

  11. Content marketing is an extremely important part of business these days. I like what Storch Kirill commented on about the direction content marketing is going…apps. I know that I’ve been using a content marketing strategy since the beginning of my online business days and it’s a killer campaign to use.

    I am just starting to get into App creation since I recently got one of these smart phones. It makes the content marketing strategies even easier to apply at anytime anywhere!

  12. Your post is dead on, Lee. Content marketing is key in both getting people to your site and demonstrating your expertise to prospects.

  13. This is great stuff and completely concurrent with a book I am reading by David Meerman Scott, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”. Scott stresses CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT, think like a publisher… and how true it is. Consumers are not foolish, they know what they want and marketers must spend less time trying to sell and more time providing useful information for the intelligent consumer, creating dialogue, and ultimately value for the consumer! great post Lee:)

  14. Alex McMichael says:

    First I would like to say that I really enjoyed reading this comment, I agree and it opened my eyes to things I haven’t thought about. As technology is growing quickly each year, it is important for companies to stay up to date with their social media. Social media is becoming a way of life. Also, I agree when Lee stated, “Content fuels customer engagement at all stages of the customer life cycle from top of funnel to ongoing relationship. Content can educate customers about your products and services.” Content is everything in marketing strategies. Content should be unique and be able to appeal to your consumers.

  15. This post is very relevant to the type of marketing that should be utilized today. Generic newsletters and contests are not enough to keep consumers interested in a company. Content keeps consumers coming back to a website. Old school marketing might interrupt what the consumer is doing and ends up as an annoyance. Content based marketing focuses on what the consumer needs, and, as you said, can even educate the consumer.

  16. Linda Kay Holden says:

    Great tips and advice offering clarity on value-driven content for your website. Good content that offers valuable information and education for consumers will keep them engaged and coming back for more. Plus keeping the content updated on a regular basis will keep the site interesting and alive. It is the key marketing strategy for success in today’s online business world. Linda Kay Holden

  17. Excellent post. One key takeaway here is not content per se, but relevant content. Thank you for pointing out that consumers want to be “educated”, they don’t want to be “sold.” An Achilles heel for many leading manufacturers is poor product detail page content. The product detail page is where the handshake happens, or doesn’t happen, between consumer and manufacturer. Best content practices at the product detail page — clean, concise, user-benefit-rich, non-marketspeak descriptions — pays for itself very quickly in increased conversion, increased off line sales, and decreased returns.

  18. Marketing Gal says:

    Just reading this points and tips, we learn new things everyday to keep our businesses up and running strong. Thanks for the time and effort you put into your content. As technology and times change, so must we to keep on our toes !Marketing Gal

  19. Great post! The chart from emarketer is really interesting. It is also interesting to see traditional agencies struggle to become content marketers. Before the focus was on the advertising/selling message. Now the message itself has to be interesting/useful/entertaining. Fantastic insights!

  20. There are so many marketing channels to distribute the content, analyze the different features of the channels and then write specific content is the key point.

  21. Great post! When doing content marketing a business should decide which niche to focus on. It is important as it allows the business to communicate with people who could be turned into clients, and it helps the blogger be seen as an expert. This is really important for brand building – which is the foundation of ALL marketing strategies, not just online ones.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Could not have agreed more. Content is the King and SEO is the glue which pulls user to this great content. You cannot do SEO on crappy content but a great content will bring you traffic

  23. Content is the blood of internet, people are looking for information or solution to solve their problem. It does bring you a lot of benefits!! Thanks for the sharing. I would like to share one post that explaining why content is the most important element for your blog:

    http://marcus-online-marketing.com/why-content-is-the-most-important-element-in-online-marketing

    I hope the link will help. =)

  24. Kevin Cain says:

    That’s absolutely right. I would say that your content strategy should manifest itself in the form of a content factory, which is something every company needs. Here’s a post that explains why:

    http://blog.openviewpartners.com/why-your-company-needs-a-content-factory/