We’ve already talked about some appealing online marketing strategies that every small business should employ but now it’s time to talk about one of the newest and emerging marketing channels; content marketing!
Although content marketing is considered a new discipline it has, like most other marketing tactics, been around for a while though informally. John Deere has been heralded as the grandfather of content marketing with the launch of The Furrow, a magazine dedicated to helping their target market of farmers become better farmers, in 1895. Today The Furrow still stands as a great content marketing example and has millions of subscribers in dozens of countries and languages.
Ok, you can come back now; history lesson over. In the last Site Renovators post we talked about conversion rate optimization with specific mention to on-site content. In this post we’ll touch/reiterate/expand on-site content and then briefly move to off-site content. Sit down, keep your arms in, hands on the keyboard, and enjoy your read.
ON SITE CONTENT
Part of our recommendations to increase conversion rate, we talked about making sure your website copy/content is more focused on why someone should do business with you rather than what the company does. Telling the benefits of your business, over simply stating what it does, helps your consumer to internalize and conceptualize what you can do for them and the problems you’ll help them solve.
While you might truly provide many benefits, pick the top three most compelling benefits and list them in order of importance. You most compelling points are those that make you different than your competitors and are important to your target persona.
Your number one benefit should be relevantly articulated in the header of the home page with a goal to draw site visitors to the main content area. The main content area should then lead them to where they want to go with a clear call to action; when this is missing they have to go back to the site navigation, the footer or elsewhere to find their next action.
For HermannComm.com we found their current site content briefly mentioned having more than 20 years’ experience in food and nutrition communications, their field of work; this is quite compelling. In addition to many years’ experience they have worked with several, if not most, of the largest food related companies in the U.S. including Dannon, General Mills, Jolly Time, LA Times, National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics, NY Times, Weight Watchers and others.
At present these companies were listed alphabetically on the clients page. We recommended slimming down their client list to the most relevant ones and then speak regarding the benefits they’ve provided; again, focusing on the three most compelling benefits as previously determined.
While images aren’t typically considered part of the copy they are certainly a very large part of the content and even play a primary role. Across most social networks images are consistently the most engaging type of content because the message is quick and easy to digest. In website heat map results, which measure where people are clicking or looking, the images on the site are typically the “hottest” content.
Images are the first thing to tell the story of your site so, as you might guess, your most compelling point should be portrayed clearly and directly through images.
HermannComm.com used a nice icon set on their services page but needed more on the clients page (we suggested logos or icons representing the benefits provided to that client). We also recommended including pictures of the founders among other visually appealing elements on the page about their company.
Add a Blog
Blogs have been around for a while due to their obvious benefits to SEO and consumer engagement. Although search engines have been overhauled a few times since the benefit of blogs was introduced, they still love fresh content full of rich and relevant information.
Company blog posts should be targeted to your audience especially surrounding your products and/or services. While you don’t want to directly talk about your company in every post the 80/20 rule applies well here; 80% of blog posts are original content intended to benefit with no self-references and 20% are underpinned with content to get customers and feature what you do (these posts could include highlighting a current project, answers to common questions/problems, or product features).
Google AuthorRank and Authorship
Recently, SEO experts have uncovered Google’s effort to feed higher quality content more frequently by following content authors themselves. Called AuthorRank, Google essentially credits authors who produce high quality content regardless of the location/website. While there are certainly many factors in play with AuthorRank the moral of the story is that if you write good content you’ll be rewarded.
Currently (this will likely be outdated the day it’s published) Google tracks authors based on their Google+ profile and the “rel=author” variable. Simply put, authors should have an author bio that includes a link to their Google+ profile ending in ?rel=author.
We’re not going to take the time to explain integrating this in detail because the following few references explain AuthorRank and Google Authorship quite well; check them out!
OFF SITE CONTENT
While this project involved renovating a website, we can’t talk content strategy without mentioning what happens off your website. Just like a brick-and-mortar business sends physical mailers and buys billboard space, a large part of any digital marketing strategy involves working with other website owners, platforms and communities.
Recently guest blogging has become a popular strategy to increase links, reach and AuthorRank. Guest blogging is as simple as writing one someone else’s blog; however the way to get there varies.
The most effective way to get guest blogging opportunities are through your network. The adage to never burn a bridge is especially applicable here because you never know when you’ll need someone or they’ll need you.
If you’re new to the business world, or have been a recluse most of your career, there’s still hope to find opportunities through individual people. Start by researching other blogs that talk about similar things and have a community of engaged people on your topics. Once you find someone you feel is a good fit for your content simply contact them, let them know your intentions and pitch the opportunity to blog therein. There are several websites to quicken your research; a couple favorites (although a little pricey) are GroupHigh and Vocus.
In addition to your network there are websites built around guest blogging wherein blog owners can opt into accepting guest blog posts. Essentially, as a writer, you upload your content and offer it to the community; in most cases someone will pick it up and post it to their website. Favorites are Blog Dash and Guest Blog it.
Naturally we couldn’t go into every aspect of content marketing but the above tactics are proven methods to increase your company reach and external perception.
In our next and final post we’ll show the home page redesign of HermannComm.com.
Anything you’ve done to the content on or off your website? Please share in the comments.
ABOUT JAKE NEELEY
Jake Neeley is a content marketing and social media geek who loves learning, outdoor sports (especially those in Utah mountains), and time with the fam. Connect with Jake on Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.