Top content marketing tips

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Small businesses need to start publishing great online content in order to market themselves in 2013 and beyond.

Content based marketing is already becoming the most important marketing tool for many online organizations.

Social media has been the buzzword for a few years, but relatively poor returns (or poorly understood returns) have tarnished the social media shine.

In fact, according to Freelancer, the world's largest online job marketplace, "Social media and Internet marketing jobs continue to fall out of favor in the wake of constant platform and search index changes".

This article shows why content is important for business, how to make the best use of it, and how to avoid some common publishing pitfalls.

Why content is important

I doubt there's a Webmaster alive who hasn't heard of Google's Panda & Penguin algorithms that laid waste to poor quality content farms and web-spammers.

One of the consequences of Google's enhanced ability to find and return good content is that high quality information is now more valuable than ever.

Whereas, in the past, black hat SEOs could fool Google into returning their results above other better quality pages, bloggers and SMEs with good info are now starting to see better returns.

This means that the appetite for great content has increased. Not only that, but the volume of good material is increasing as more and more companies adopt SEO best practices.

Without good content, that can be used to drive social influence and organic search traffic, your enterprise will lose online visibility.

Every business needs to start producing high quality material that is focused and relevant for their niche, or risk online obscurity.

Tips

Most companies struggle to create the amount of writing they need in order to make an impact on Google rankings.

Not only that, but SMEs aren't necessarily good publishers, because high quality blogging is a skill that takes time and practice to master.

With that said, here are my top tips:

  • Decide on your goals and objectives: What do you want to get out of your online presence? How much is Web traffic worth to you?
  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses: Are there employees who can write about your niche intelligently? Does anyone in the organization have time to blog? Does anyone have great blogging skills?
  • Create a budget: Whether you are creating content in-house, or hiring a blogger to write for you, it's important to understand what it will cost, and relate this to your objectives.
  • Create a strategy: By looking at your market, and target audience, and how your company fits in, it is possible to come up with a decent publishing strategy that should deliver the right information to the right people, and achieve your objectives.
  • Create: Get started with blogging, video, and any other media that is applicable to you. The sooner you start building up a reservoir of great material, the better.
  • More: Don't stop creating great info. Your publishing efforts need to be consistent and persistent in order to be effective.
  • Analyze & refine: Make sure you understand which pages are popular, which lead to conversions, which doesn't work, and the reasons why. Use this information to refine your publishing strategy in order to maximize the ROI (Return On Investment)

Because the quality of your written material needs to be professional in order to be effective, you either need to invest time and resources in training in-house staff, or find a prominent blogger or marketer that can both help develop a strategy, as well as implement it.

Common pitfalls

There are a lot of ways to go wrong when it comes to publishing online content.

Hiring poor quality marketers

Recognizing that their own companies may not have the requisite skills or time to spend on creating great information, many people outsource to cheap online marketing services that promise to deliver plenty of high quality content with lots of backlinks, etc.

Those marketing firms then spam sites like mine (SME Pals) with guest blog requests.

But, you want to see the dreadful quality of writing that your marketing dollars? Here's a guest blog post request I received from a marketing firm (potentially one that you spend money on?):

"Hello Sir,

How are you? Hope you are doing well...!!!

I am blogger and looking for a blog to post my Content. After seeing your blog, I would like to request you something.

I love to write Technologies articles based on Software/Web Application Development, .NET Development, CMS (Wordpress, Drouple, Joomla), Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, SMO, PPC.

I would like to contribute article for your Blog if you’ll give me the permission. I can give you an original guest post and I assure you that it will be published only in your site.

If you want, you can suggest me the topic also and I will write accordingly."

Is that really the quality of writing that you would like to represent your business online? The bottom line:

Make sure you know who is writing material for you!

Hire someone with proven skills who isn't going to outsource to the cheapest freelancer they can find.

Content marketing isn't formulaic

Most companies give blogging a try. It doesn't bear fruit, so they give up and never reconsider it. The reason blogging (and content marketing in general) fails so often is because of:

  1. Poor quality
  2. Unrealistic expectations
  3. Giving up too easily

Often, businesses suffer from all three at once.

People expect a certain level of professionalism in the material they consume - they are used to reading high quality newspapers and magazines that are created by organizations that specialize in publishing.

And, it may seem unfair to expect a local mom and pop store to create the same level of engaging content - but that's just how it is.

There's no set formula for content marketing success. High quality writing, being useful, funny, engaging, etc, are all prerequisites, but not guarantees.

Finally, I would also add that half-hearted written material is worse than doing nothing because you will achieve the same result and waste time and money in the process.

How have you changed your content strategy in the last few years? Do you agree that content is going to become more important in 2013 and beyond? Would you consider hiring a marketing specialist?

Share your thoughts in the comments.