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Content marketing – the latest buzzword in Internet marketing.

This article is going to explain what it is, what it is not, how you can use it to drive traffic to your website and ultimately generate extra business. But only if you do it correctly.

What is content marketing? In summary, it involves providing content via your website, or blog; content that will be of interest to potential customers and cause them to treat your website as a rich source of information. The idea is that they will see you as an authority in your field and be more inclined come to you rather that your competitors. Content can take the form of text, image, video or audio. 

I cannot emphasize more strongly that content marketing is not about writing so-called “keyword-rich” content that will be picked up by search engines and give your site a boost in the rankings. That might have been the case five years ago but, following Google’s Penguin/Panda/Hummingbird updates over the recent past, that simply won’t work anymore. The idea is to provide content that will be of interest to people not to search engines.

Contcontent_marketing2ent marketing is also not about writing self-aggrandisement posts, articles about your company, news about your latest company award, or that Brenda in accounts has just got married. No one is interested in that stuff other than your staff, and they probably know it already. Neither is it about direct selling.  Content marketing is all about trying to make your website the best source of information on the web about your field of business so that customers will be attracted to you. 

So what does content marketing mean in practice? What do you have to do to implement a content management approach on your website? The first thing you need to do is decide who your target customers are; in other words who you are writing the content for. You should already have done this when you first had your website developed but, if not, it’s imperative you do so if your want content marketing to work for you. How can you write something that will be of interest if you have no idea who you’re trying to interest? 

But what should you write about? Start by making a list of all the questions that you’ve ever been asked by customers. Then, for each question, write an article that answers each one in depth. Prioritize the questions first because you’re not going to be able to address every one at first.

All these articles need to be posted on your website in such a way that visitors can find them. How you do this is up to you, and your web developer. Some some sites list them as blog articles organized into categories. Some sites, have a section called “Information Centre or Library”. The important thing is that visitors can find the information. A good search facility will help here.

Of course no one is going to find this content if it isn’t promoted online. This means search engines, social media, newsletters (yes you should have an opt in form for a newsletter on your site) etc. I’m not going to go into detail here because promoting your content will be a topic for a future post on this blog.

Still confused? Let’s look at some examples. Take the case of a gardening centre business. Most people who visit garden centres are amateur gardeners. Before buying they want information to help them decide what to buy. They need information about what to plant where, when to plant things, how to enrich soil, and so on. Most are amateur gardeners who are keen to learn and the amount of information that they need is endless. Consequently, the possibilities for content marketing on a garden centre website are enormous.

Talk another example; a carpet business. This one is close to my heart because my partner and I have just gone through the process of choosing a carpet. At the start of the process, we knew very little about carpets – twists, loop pile, cut pile etc. We visited carpet showrooms without the first idea of what to buy. If we’d found a supplier’s website with all that information we would certainly have been inclined to visit that company’s showroom first.

By now you’re probably thinking that content marketing is all a bit daunting? If so, then you’d be right. It’s not a quick fix. It’s not a something that can just be bolted onto a website overnight by writing a couple of articles. In monetary terms it’s cheaper that direct advertising or pay-per-click advertising, but it take a lot of time and effort and, therefore, is not for the faint-hearted. 

You can get help. Encourage your employees to write articles or blog posts. Enlist help from outside, but if you go down this route be careful, anyone who is not part of your business or who doesn’t know your industry is not going to know enough to write the type of content you require. At best they can act as ghost writers with you providing the content in note of verbal form. So, which ever way you do it, you are going to have to dedicate some effort to the process.

So there you have it. Knowing all this, is content marketing for you? I’d be interested in hearing your comments.

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