The idea of making online content that is useful to people as well as easy to find and share applies to any organization whether it’s a B2B software company, a non-profit association or a government organization. There’s so much information being produced and promoted plus a growing array options for consuming content that standing out can be a real challenge.
I recently did a Google+ Hangout with a group of Chamber of Commerce executives from all over the U.S. talking about the role of content in marketing for small businesses. We dug into the fundamentals of what to talk about and how it can create a mutual benefit for SMBs and their customers. We also discussed the notion of empathy for our audiences and how important it is to invest in quality content as well as efforts to make that content easy to find and share.
Here’s a “cliff notes” version for our conversation, which was organized and led by Frank J. Kenny:
What’s more important, content or SEO?
Content is the reason search engines exist and if they didn’t, content would still be what people use to connect online.
In the modern digital marketing mix, it’s a holistic and customer centric approach that wins. That involves objectives and planning but also an understanding of the topics that matter to customers through the buying journey. Knowing how customers seek out answers online and what content formats they prefer is important too. Understanding how to create useful, entertaining information that moves the buyer along from awareness to purchase is how investments in content pay off.
SEO plays a role for discovery across the entire sales cycle to surface brand information that helps buyers come to know your company as the “best answer” to their problem.
How do you decide what to write and how much is enough?
Intuitively, content creation should come from a place of passion about what your company stands for and how it helps customers. There are many reasons people buy a product or service and that translates into stories to be told. As long as different people buy a company’s products and services for different reasons or applications, there will be reasons to create content.
I think it’s important to understand that Content Marketing is not a project. It’s a commitment to your customers that you’re there to help them get the information they need to feel confident about buying from you.
Logistically, content should be planned in an editorial calendar that focuses on the topics, frequency and channels that matter most to potential customers and any other audience you’re trying to connect with: existing customers, the media and industry influencers.
Crawl, walk, run and base the transitions on your goals, resources and monitoring of what’s working and what’s not. Always be optimizing!
How does social media work with search and where does content fit?
I like to say SEO is peanut butter, Social Media is the jelly and content is the bread that holds it all together. Except this sandwich is in more than one dimension.
Content is where your stories get told and both SEO and social media are ways to amplify the reach and engagement of those stories. Insights from SEO keyword research can review topics in demand that you should probably write about to attract customers that are actively looking. At the same time, monitoring social media can reveal topics and trends that can drive your editorial plan by covering issues, topics and especially, answering questions that your customers and buyers are interested in.
Understanding customers, researching relevant keywords, planning, creating, optimizing and promoting content are all part of a process that any small business owner can begin to tackle through a blog or contributing articles to other blogs and industry publications. Think about what kinds of questions customers have when they buy and then create content with answers that is easy to find and compelling to share. Become the best answer for what your business is best at, make it easy to buy and your sales will grow. That’s a win for everyone.