By John Thyfault, Vice President of Search & Social Strategy, Beasley Direct Marketing
Content Marketing Tips
In our first blog about content marketing, we mentioned that sharing original content is important. The whole purpose of content marketing is predicated on having original content, because it is intended to demonstrate expertise, insight and knowledge in your particular field to customers and potential customers. “Curating” other people’s content does not accomplish this objective. Publishing someone else’s content occasionally is fine as long as it underscores your own messaging, but the bulk of your content should be original and unique.
Why Does My Content Have To Be Original?
“Author authority” is a concept Google developed to assign value to sites and social media streams that feature original content, content that is developed by you and is unique to your site, blog, etc. Author authority is more valued by Google and other search engines than content that you share from another source. So you get SEO brownie points for original content.
The more SEO brownie points you have (not a Google term; blame it on Beasley Direct Marketing), the greater your visibility on the Internet. Visibility combined with demonstration of your expertise leads to several very good things:
- Increased traffic to your site from sites on which your content is posted
- Increased reputation on the Web for your person-to-person communications (sales team, marcom team, etc.)
- Increased visibility within search engines, resulting in higher ranking and more search traffic
- Increased visibility and authority within social media
- Increased trust
- Increased revenue
Above all, your content must be targeted to your audience, relevant to their needs, and accessible.
Elements of Good Content
Can you tell your audience something that no one else is telling them? Good content is quality information with unique insights—which is not quite as easy as it sounds. It means you need to know what other people in the field are saying, and avoid merely repeating it. It means you need to know what your customers are thinking and feeling; what problems are they trying to solve? What issues have they faced trying to solve those problems—can you tell them how to avoid these issues? In particular, do you know what difficulties or issues people face when dealing with your competitors? Can you show them that you are different? Can you “make it stop hurting”?
Timeliness is also important. Are there changes in your industry that customers need to know about? Keep abreast of industry news and news in general. Is there something going on in the world that directly affects your business and its customers? For example, let’s say you sell automotive parts used by long-haul trucking firms. A strike by Malaysian port workers will adversely affect deliveries of palm oil, which is used to make biodiesel. A shortage of palm oil will lead to decreased production of biodiesel, followed by an increase in the price of conventional diesel fuel. You are not affected by the palm oil shortage, but your customers certainly will be, and they will be grateful to you for calling their attention to the issue. If you happen to sell a fuel system that increases miles per gallon, so much the better!
Use language with which your intended audience will resonate. If you are selling cosmetics, language such as “fresh and flirty!” works. This would not be as well received by an audience seeking financial advisory services. Know when to use informal language and when to stick to more sedate prose.
The importance of good headlines cannot be over-emphasized. Headlines must serve two purposes: SEO and getting your audience to read the content. For SEO purposes, you must have at least one keyword in the title, and more is better. More is better, that is, unless it forces you to write a boring headline. If the headline is uninteresting, your audience will go on to the next thing, assuming that the content will be as stultifying as the headline. Let’s say you have written a blog piece on the cost of biodiesel in the U.S. You might have written a headline such as “An Analysis of the Cost of Biodiesel in the United States.” This has the right keywords, but it also could be used to aid someone coping with insomnia. How about “10 Reasons Biodiesel Costs Too Much”? It still has good keywords for SEO purposes, but sounds like a more interesting read.
Keep Content Short and Sweet
For the purpose of content marketing, content should tend towards the short and sweet end of the spectrum. Keep your articles focused and if the content needs more detail, write a second article. Some experts advocate 2000 words, or about 4 to 5 pages of content., as your target.. Remember though that this is a rule of thumb and well written content is your goal, not an arbitrary number of words.
Content must be easy to share. Make sure you have social media buttons on all your social media feeds that allow people to instantly post the location of your content to their own followers. If you are promoting a longer piece such as a white paper, use short-form urls to make it easy for people to click and share. Short-form urls can be generated at no cost at https://bitly.com/. Hootsuite users can use Hootsuite’s built-in url shrinker when posting.
Ensure that every piece you publish is identified with the author or the organization to establish author authority. Have the author’s name and bio with links to the website and other social media streams. Don’t forget to point to the content from the author’s profiles on Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and other locations. Anything and everything that points back to the author/authority will add to your luster as an expert and authority in your field.
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About the Author
John has more than 18 years of marketing, sales and product development experience, and he brings a proven track record of successful campaign, program and product development expertise. His knowledge of search engine optimization and marketing, combined with an in-depth understanding of customer identification, market analysis and segmentation, allows him to deliver high returns on our client’s marketing investment for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business markets.
Prior to working with Beasley Direct, John was Senior Client Services Project Director at ThirdAge.com, a first wave baby boomer lifestyle and community website. At ThirdAge he successfully led major client sponsorships for Fortune 100 companies in healthcare (Tylenol), financial services (American Century), technology (Intel & IBM) and consumer products areas (Revlon & Viactive). He was responsible for strategic and tactical goal setting, project management, new product creation and web site production. John previously worked in Channel Marketing and National Account Sales for IDG Books Worldwide, the publishers of the immensely popular “…For Dummies” book series. Additionally, he managed the wholesale distributor sales channel for Tor/Forge Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.
John is active in local marketing associations, including the Direct Marketing Association, the Business Marketing Association and is currently serving on the board of directors for the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association.
John has taught search engine marketing fundamentals extensively. He has led workshops for the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association, Northern California Direct Marketing Association (DMAnc.org) and the Business Marketing Association. He also teaches Search Engine Marketing at UCSC’s Extension in Silicon Valley.