Organic content alone won’t drive your business, but strong content marketing can fuel a digital strategy that will.
“Content goes beyond words on a page.” This is a phrase I pontificate ad nauseam to anyone that will listen. That’s because I’ve seen good content go to waste for a variety of reasons. I’ve seen it suffocated by bad design; I’ve seen beautiful prose ruined by keyword stuffing; and I’ve seen great pieces wither due to a lack of a marketing strategy. I’ve also seen content programs cut because decision makers couldn’t put a singular number on content’s monetary contribution.
Yet the irony is this: content is an integral part of the digital experience and a vital component of marketing campaigns. When used strategically, it can be a valuable contributor to an organization’s bottom line.
You may not realize it, but good content enables other digital initiatives that are more easily quantified than the page value of a blog post, which is often subject to last-click attribution in analytics anyway.
When thinking about content creation, digital stakeholders not only need to think about what’s being said, but also what they plan to do with the content. Why are you commissioning that page? What is the purpose of that blog post? And they also have to think further than organic growth. Well-structured and relevant content will — at a minimum — establish your website as an authority in Google’s eyes, but its uses go far beyond about pages and cat videos. Here are some ways you can use content as part of your overall digital strategy.
Integrate Content and Marketing in Digital Advertising
As symbiotic as it may sound, both content and marketing need each other to meet their respective goals. Marketing is paramount to content strategy — and content to marketing strategy. Yet often the two disciplines can be siloed.
Today’s digital landscape doesn’t reward search results on the basis of organic content alone. For a content initiative to be effective, it needs promotion. The organic real estate available in search results is changing, and often pushed out in favored of digital advertising, making a dual paid and organic strategy imperative.
Yet for a marketing campaign to be effective, it also needs to be backed by a strong message, and in the case of digital advertising, a strong landing page. Getting a user to click on an ad is an important part of the equation, yet so is the content of the landing page where they land. If the landing page doesn’t meet the users needs, you can lose a sale in an e-commerce campaign, or diminish the returns of a longer-term acquisition strategy.
In a similar fashion, content is a key component of a brand’s social media strategy. Content is what keeps users scrolling for hours on end. Yet it’s not only about the engagement. Social media platforms are the perfect breeding ground for your content strategy to flourish. By sharing — and promoting — your web content through social, you are both giving your content a new platform in which to thrive and making use of the innate referral capabilities that make social a key marketing platform. Once you’ve got a user engaged, the field of marketing opportunities widens.
Use Content in Retargeting Campaigns
One of those opportunities comes in the form of retargeting, which markets to users that have already visited your website, interacted with ads, or your social channels. A former colleague — and a retargeting genius — described the practice as such, “You know those shoes you looked at online that are now following you everywhere on the web? That’s retargeting.”
When done well, it’s an especially effective marketing strategy. Yet it’s also one that requires a solid bank of content to pull from, as well as an astute sense to pick the right content to use in the retargeting campaigns. The larger the pool of content and the depth of its subject matter isn’t only beneficial for the user, but it’s useful for the marketer. A deep repository of content allows marketers to make more informed decisions, while making sure the user gets an ad that’s actually relevant to them.
Make Content the Focus of a Gated Strategy
While content is often used as an underlying bridge to various digital initiatives, it can also be the main attraction. Think of every time you try to read an article on the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal without a subscription — up pops a paywall. The content forces a transaction, and often times a subscription (Netflix applies here, too). In the case of these digital content platforms, it’s a monetary transaction, however, money doesn’t always have to be exchanged. Content can also be the impetus for a user to sign up to receive an ebook or guide, as well as future materials from the creators.
Although users willingly release personal information such as their name and email address in exchange for information, remember this: if the content ceases to meet the users needs or the marketing blasts become overwhelming, a business could easily lose a subscriber. Taking care of your audience should be priority number one.
Because content has become such a necessary piece of the internet, it’s easy to overlook how fundamental it is to the digital experience. Yet in a sea of seemingly infinite search results, it’s become even more important to perfect that experience. So treat your users like you would want to be treated — and give them good content.