In the first article of our new series on”content marketing”, presented by Skyword, Patricia Travaline, Skyword’s Marketing VP, casts a first look on what content marketing really is, how it works and the best ways to address a content marketing strategy.
Advertising alone isn’t sufficient to reach the modern consumer anymore. In an online world driven by search and social, savvy brands have realized they need a mix of paid, owned and earned media to reach their consumers.
Content marketing falls under the owned media heading and it’s becoming a vital cog in consumer outreach, in part because it delivers on the twin consumer behaviors of search and social. Content marketing often takes different shapes and forms – it can be a branded web series, a webinar, a white paper, a podcast, a blog with how-to information on your products or more.
Content marketing has proven to be an effective tool for brands ranging from Autotrader to IBM to United Way. They use it to connect with consumers, find new customers, and grow their revenue.
How to drive a successful content marketing program?
There are many best practices that drive a successful content marketing program, and one of those is frequency. Because timing is everything. With the proper timing and the ability to strategically push out content based on real-time trending topics, a brand can achieve “content velocity” which refers to the speed at which something catches on.
The biggest benefit of content velocity lies in the ability to grow share of voice over the competition. Social media spikes only last a short while, so driving a long life for content is a wise pursuit.
Consider consumer behavior today to better understand how and why the speed of content matters. Search and social are the gateways to B2B buyers with 115 billion global searches every month on Google, and 36 billion social shares each month in the United States.
Content is particularly key to connecting with B2B buyers because 60% of B2B buying decisions are made before engaging with a sales person. Also, 70% of the content B2B buyers read or study before making a purchase they find on their own
(Source: 70% stat comes from “Strengthen Your B2B Brand With Better Content Distribution,” a Forrester Research, Inc., blog post dated May 8 that buyers search out.)
But how much content do consumers truly want and how often should a brand serve them?
Bear in mind the first rule of content marketing – keep it snackable.
The average consumer has an eight-second attention span to devote to your marketing. So you need content that will engage buyers in social mediums, but it’s also important that you send out that content strategically.
At the right time. How often?
That will vary by the brand, but a good guideline is to create as much relevant content as possible because B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on average than firms without (Source: Social Media B2B 2012).
Also companies that blog 15 times per month generate five times more traffic than those that don’t (Source: Hubspot). As such, posting in the company´s blog at least four times a week is deal and will help ensure enough content to share on social media a few times a day.
You want your content to catch on for the long-term, rather than fade away.
Remember then that content marketing opportunities increase with spikes in searches, shares and social chatter on a trending topic. When this happens, search and social can drive traffic back to your site, and engagement with your brand.
While it can be tempting to grab these real-time spikes and latch onto them, be wary of pursuing the brass ring of a big spike. You can’t plan for it. However, with regular publishing and frequency you can develop the right momentum and catch hold of vital search and social topics. We advise marketers to monitor real-time trends and endeavor to feed them when feasible with existing content that matches the topic. Overall though, a well-stocked content cupboard will have both news and evergreen content.
Blog posts can help service topical issues, but deeper dive pieces on evergreen trends can boost long-term traffic and links and drive strong search results.
Have a an arsenal of content ready to go and if a topic spikes to push out an article on it. But also be prepared to publish regularly on the topics that matter to your audience. To do that, know your audience, know the keywords, and understand the searches they do on Web sites and social for topics that matter to them and you. Serve up content that aligns with their interests, and do so with SEO top of mind.
With the IBM midsize insider news program Skyword helped IBM build a large pool of news writers well-trained in finding their own topics and turning assignments around quickly enough to capture the interest of audiences searching and sharing around these issues.
The goal was to educate midsize business owners and IT decision makers on IBM’s offerings and increase the brand’s digital authority around topics relevant to the mid-market.
Key to achieving this mission was to differentiate IBM’s brand from other solutions providers.
Using Skyword’s platform IBM treated this project like a newsroom, publishing about 10 professional, search-optimized articles each day. The results demonstrate the power of well-timed content velocity. The IBM site has published more than 3500 articles, has now gained acceptance into Google News as a reputable news source, and has generated more than 280 million social impressions, 64,000 social engagements, and 712,000 page views. The engagement rate is well above average with a nearly 21% social sharing rate and a 1.8% average click-through rate from MidsizeInsider.com to IBM.com solution pages, which is 35 times higher than the average for banners.
Content velocity is great, but ultimately a brand will benefit most from creating high quality content that establishes its leadership in a specific category. In this way a business can simultaneously grow the number of ranking keywords relative to the competitions while providing lasting value to consumers who are searching for products, services, or information.
This series of articles about “Content Marketing” is brought to you by Skyword. Skyword provides a wide range of services so that companies may connect with their audiences and generate a higher degree of engagement via top-quality contents for online search and social networking, currently the two main sources for content consumption.
Other articles of the CONTENT MARKETING SERIES: