If you are a business owner, you have likely been trying to increase business without increasing your marketing budget. Many professional marketers will tell you that in order to make money, you have to spend money – with them. However, one of the most beneficial forms of marketing today has virtually no cost associated with content marketing.
Content marketing, simply put, is writing and publishing articles about your company and industry online. It could be on your website, blog, forum or newsletter. In many circles, content marketing is an arm of search engine optimization with a primary goal of teaching Google and other search engines what your site is all about. Unfortunately, when search engine optimization is the only goal, content becomes spam-like and stuffed with keywords, but no actual information. This content typically drives customers away from your site and back to search engines to refine their search or investigate other search results.
For others, content marketing means writing really great articles that empower readers by teaching them useful information that helps them make better decisions and, more important, helps them solve problems. These articles are typically what searchers are looking for when they surf for information. This form of content marketing requires some patience and dedication to consistent writing, but the pay-off is significant. You establish yourself as an authority, improve conversion rates, increase loyalty, and promote advocacy.
Everything you write should establish you as the authority on the subject without coming across as egocentric. That means you should talk about what you know about your industry and your particular services, not about how you are the best. Think of yourself as a teacher. Educate your prospective customers and they will naturally respect you as an authority and will seek your advice and services when the time comes.
When you write for search engines, you stand to alienate your readers and make them feel like you are not really sharing information but tricking them into seeing your website. When you write actual information about your area of expertise, people will not only read it but they will share it with friends they think would benefit from knowing it. Readers may even take it a step further if you are particularly brilliant: They may subscribe to your blog or "Like" you on Facebook so they won't miss your next article.
While it may take some time for Google to catch on to the fact that your website is about auto repair, roofing, leadership training, or web design, you can be sure that the traffic flowing to your content is legitimate traffic that has a chance of converting to customers versus incidental bounces from visitors who arrived through a Google search.
Content marketing can be as simple as a weekly blog post that you link to through your Facebook account and customers can access it through your website. Or, it can be as complex as writing hundreds of articles across numerous micro-sites that all point back to your main website. Whatever your particular network looks like, make sure your content is of real value to readers, not just search engines.
Consider this: If you were searching for your service or product, what kind of information would you want to read?