What is content marketing?

“Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases.” – Wikipedia

According to Google’s Eric Schmidt “, every 2 days we create as much information as we did up to 2003”. In other words, every 2 days we create as much content as was created up to 2003. That’s a lot of content. And it keeps coming.

With social media, mobile and an all-but-universal access to the web, accessing content is easier than ever before. And with so many tools available now, creating content is easier as well.

While this is revolutionary, it poses a bit of a problem for marketers: cutting through the noise. How can your content make an impact? Where will all of this content come from? And how does it help you reach your goals?

First, let’s establish one thing: quality content is important. This is a fact. There are plenty of studies to back this up. But let’s just look at the announcement for Google Panda, which is the latest algorithm Google uses to evaluate and rank your web site…

“Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible. This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time.” – Google Webmaster Blog, from the Panda Announcement

Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and mindless link exchanges and backlinks. Google Panda has been designed to search the web for quality sites that offer valuable user experiences and rank them accordingly.

So, what is quality content? I would define it as content that offers the consumer something unique and of value. Quality content goes beyond just words; it is information created that empowers the user in some way.

To that end, this post is not about the creation of content. This is about achieving goals, converting visitors online, and growing your brand. How does your content break through the noise? Let’s talk about strategy…Content Marketing Strategies

Matching Content with Goals
If you don’t know what your goals are as a business, stop reading this and go work on that. Assuming you do have a clear idea of where you are heading and what success looks like when you get there, then you are in good shape to start (or continue) to build your content marketing strategy.

Sometimes visual reminders are best. As you start to put together content, be it repurposed or fresh, you will want to cross-reference the content, the approach, and the audience against your list of goals. Having a list of those goals handy could prove very useful.

If you are creating content simply to fill a void or to increase the keyword count on your site, you are missing the point. If you are building a web site first and then backfilling it with content, you are missing an opportunity to convert an online user into a client, member, fan, what have you.

Your content marketing strategy should not be a shotgun approach. Each piece of content should be created to achieve some goal or to promote some aspect of your organization as it relates to the needs of the consumer. This is important because these days the user has more control, so they will need to see what’s in it for them.

Consider your web site. The question is not where you need to “fill in” content. Rather, the question is where can this content live on your site where it will have maximum effectiveness? Where can you use your content on your site to drive site traffic AND increase online conversion?

Maybe certain topics are great for Blog posts, like how-to articles and lists. Some content might work better as a video interview, webinar or white paper. And some of it might be able to be used in various ways across multiple forms of content.

Which brings me to the next point…

“Re-imagine Content”
If you’ve read Content Rules by Ann Handley and CC Chapman, then this term should sound familiar. If you haven’t read it, do so.

Chances are very good that your organization produces content of some kind every day. This could be as simple as an email to a client or as complex as a white paper or case study.

The point is that your organization is not starving for content if you know where to look for it. In their book, Ann and CC talk about ways to think about your content strategies so that you can re-imagine all the content you create for use in other mediums.

For example, if you create a white paper on a specific topic, you could re-imagine parts of that content and turn it into a Blog post or video. Or the inverse, you might have a strong series of Blog posts or articles that could be combined and re-imagined as an eBook.

All of these things can be used as content on your website, since they are content rich with keywords and phrases that your target audience is searching for. But not only that, this is content that they want, need, and will be forever grateful to you for posting.

But this only works if you have an overall content marketing strategy with specific goals in mind. You need to know your audience and what they want.

Your Content Needs Fans
Content needs fans to grow. Think about music or entertainment. Fans of a song or movie or TV show will share it and promote it again and again. This works in B2B too. For example, if you have a problem and find a Blog post that offers a great solution, you will share that Blog post with others, right?

Content cannot exist in a vacuum. Effective content is promoted. As you are creating or reimaging your content, try to also consider how you will be promoting it.

Are you going to post it on Facebook? If so, what do those folks want that will inspire them to come to your site, read (and act on) your content, and like or share your post on Facebook?

Or think about guest blogging. If you are blogging on a regular basis and seeing some success from that, maybe it’s time to venture out a little farther. There are tons of services to look for guest blogging opportunities.

But I would recommend starting closer to home: friendly competitors, trade orgs, etc. Offer your services as an experienced blogger. Owners of blogs are always looking for good content.

There are other ways to promote your content. Here is a list of some very useful content syndication tools:

  1. YouTube.com – start a channel and post all of your videos. Include catchy titles and keyword-rich descriptions. Then, when you post a video on your site, use the YouTube version. This has very strong SEO benefits as well.
  2. SlideShare.com – this is a great way to share your PowerPoint presentations to promote them to users who might not find your site directly.
  3. BizSugar.com – This is an easy way to promote your Blog posts. These are listed in a directory where people can vote on and share this content easily.
  4. Social Media – of course, any social media channel would be good for promoting your content. The trick is to match the target audience with the content and to promote accordingly.
  5. There are more, but I think I will save them for another post.

How are you using content to promote your organization? Share in the comments section below.