1. Philip@SearchBenefit.com
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    Content Marketing Fundamentals

    There’s a study out there that shows 70% of marketers are less than satisfied with the success of their content efforts. So I think it’s great that we've got this forum going. However, I have so far found very little good material here. Moreover, there seems to be much confusion about what Content Marketing is. So I thought I’d write up some basics to clear up some of the confusion. (Other marketers are also encouraged to weight in in this thread, please!)

    I am a seasoned content marketer and have a PhD in editing, so I know a thing or two about various kinds of content. Below you will find my selected pearls of wisdom regarding the following topics.
    • Does Content Marketing Mean Writing Good Content for My Website?
    • What Is Content Marketing?
    • How Is It Different from Traditional Marketing?
    • Why Do It? Why Does It Boost Sales?
    • How Does It Work?
    • Content Strategy
    • Marketing Plan
    • Go for the Low-Hanging Fruit First
    • Content Development
    • The SEO & PPC Angle
    • Content Publication and Audience Building
    • Analysis and Optimization

    But first let us be clear that low level content development, such as outsourced SEO copywriting, is usually NOT content marketing at all, it is the opposite of it! And putting on my SEOchat mod hat, I ask you to please keep this forum relevant to serious content development and content marketing. It is NOT about finding lists of free-for-all sites where you can "submit" trashy articles and press releases. It is not about content spinning, guest blogging opportunities, or any kind of "SEO content link-building." (By the way, all of these are obsolete SEO techniques, they have zero positive impact on your SEO today and can only hurt your site after the latest Google updates. But Content Marketing is now the correct way to do SEO, so read on.

    Does Content Marketing Mean Writing Good Content for Your Website?
    No. In fact, you can stop writing good content: you are wasting your time. Nobody needs "good content," "quality content," it’s worthless. The Web is already filled with redundant information. Don’t waste your resources on content copywriting unless you have done the right research, have a solid strategy, and know why it will work.

    So What is Content Marketing?
    Practically all the internet marketing that we should care about (as distinct from advertising, and from spam), is content marketing. The most successful method of B2B marketing online, and one that also works great for B2C marketing, is all about intelligently providing ample, free, extremely useful information and resources relevant to your business offering, in which your marketing message is embedded in clear, yet subtle, optimized ways. That is what real content marketing is. And once you have set it up, you continue to optimize all the parts of your marketing operation by split-testing them every element and every action and applying principles of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO, a big subject that I won’t address in detail here).

    How Is This Kind of Marketing Different from Traditional Marketing?
    Of course, it's nothing new: there has been content marketing as long as there has been content. What has changed in digital marketing, compared to traditional marketing, is that it has become a science, since the impact of any marketing activity online is precisely measurable if things are set up correctly. Alas, too many corporate marketing departments are still run by old-school traditional marketers who are clueless how to develop a content strategy online. Their idea of online marketing is the old-fashioned company blog and the brochure.

    Traditional marketing is about generating desire. It is boastful, and it's about closing. Savvy content marketing is about removing obstacles to fulfillment. The relevant desire is already there on the Web, in what people search for. Internet marketing is helpful, it's about providing free value.

    Lastly, a technical difference: the very structure of marketing and advertising copy in traditional media is totally different from the content structures that are optimal for digital media, and traditional people are often unaware of the differences. (This is why traditional advertisers often write poorly performing AdWords ads, for instance.)

    Why Do It?
    • Done right, content marketing helps build your brand, visibility, reputation, and trust.
    • At its best, it makes your site go viral, taking your business to the next level.
    • It brings natural links, and Google rankings and referred traffic through them.

    Why Does It Boost Sales?
    • Buyers are 3/5 of the way through their deciding process before they reach out to provider companies.
    • Roughly 4/5 of all business decision makers prefer to learn about a provider from a series of articles instead of a pitch.
    • The methods of modern content marketing allow you to architect, implement, and optimize a wide and effective sales funnel, serving prospects at all stages of the sales cycle, as well as a broader audience. Your marketing is mixed into a free public service, and this is your chance to improve this planet a bit, at least in your area, so don’t take it lightly.

    How Does It Work?
    You can research many viable approaches. I’ll tell you about my own comprehensive approach, based on long experience. My biggest criticism of most marketing efforts that I have had occasion to review, is that they are incomplete, insufficiently integrated, failing to achieve a synergy of the various parts and channels of the marketing cycle, and largely oblivious to optimization. To me, the major parts of an internet marketing operation are:
    • Content Strategy
    • Marketing Plan
    • Content Creation
    • Audience Building
    • Content Publication
    • Analysis & Optimization

    Content Strategy
    • If you are in business to begin with, you have already done your market research and have a business model – and that’s your first strategy. Your marketing strategy derives from your business model and your offering.
    • Begin with a close description of your product or service offering. Make sure to write it down as accurately as you can.
    • Identify the specific areas of information and knowledge associated with your offering. Make a list of those subject areas. What needs does your offering fill? What problems does it solve? In what markets?
    • For each important market segment, describe the problem and the solution in the language of the market. That’s a classic tenet of all marketing: "Speak to the dog in the language of the dog about what’s in the heart of the dog."
    • This is the foundation of your long-term content strategy. While in business, expect to develop outstanding content that covers all the relevant areas. This will ensure that your sales funnel is seamless and as wide as it needs to be, in the long run.
    • Most accounts of content strategy begin with "keyword strategy" -- and notice how I have not even mentioned it yet. Do not bother about keyword strategy until it’s time. [As an aside to SEOs, we need to break out of the traditional SEO way of thinking, it has become too limiting. A strong keyword strategy is a place (see below), but it is not the begin all and end all of content marketing.]

    Marketing Plan
    • First, define and describe the content that you'll need to create closely describing your product or service. Your will need to start with a description that has the relevant market appeal. It should also name your top markets as well as your lesser markets.
    • Second priority: define in detail the main marketing pages of your site, thinking of them as funnels leading your site visitors from the gateway of broadest relevant appeal (your home page) to specific interests and applications (internal pages) and on to eventual conversion – all in as few steps and clicks as possible.
    • From this core of your website, you will keep widening you marketing funnel by creating layer upon layer of relevant valuable content. From here on, planning, developing, and constantly improving and optimizing your marketing content becomes a perpetual, ongoing process.
    • Now we are ready to approach keyword research. No, I am not yet talking about a "keyword strategy," just in-depth keyword analysis concerning all relevant needs and problems and associated areas of knowledge that you have identified in a previous step. Keyword analysis is a science I am not getting into it here. (Notice that SEOchat has a whole forum dedicated to Keyword Research.)
    • Identify your most relevant "money keywords," be as specific as you can, use synonyms.
    • In addition, generate a list of search terms for each market / knowledge area that you have identified, thinking "in the language of the dog about what's in the heart of the dog." (Talk to your sales people, they are often best aware of the true language of their market.)
    • Collect the search volumes for each relevant term. That’s the gist of your market keyword analysis.
    • You will need to determine the various marketing channels you can use, the optimal market mix. Besides your website and your blog, there are press releases, social media, email marketing, etc. All of them require powerful content to work well. Sometimes you even need to produce different or differently formatted content for different types of devices.
    • Within the relevant knowledge areas that you have establish, determine the types of content that will be most useful to the customer. What genres of writing would suit them best? You can think of free downloadable guides and manuals, free research data, free tips and so on.
    • Perform an Online Information Competitive Analysis. Use your important search terms to run searches and examine the information that your competition has deployed. Make a list of the main free resources available for each search.
    • This is your long-term marketing challenge: to create content that is not only "of a high quality" but in fact immensely better than the rest of the content you find on the Internet in the knowledge areas immediately surrounding your product and service. This is something you plan as a staged process.
    • But first you grab the low-hanging fruits.

    Go for the Low-Hanging Fruit First
    Much of importance could be added, but I will focus on how to prioritize your content development to get the low hanging fruit first, for fastest profits.
    • When running Google searches to find out what free resources are already available on the internet, try to identify areas in which the information and resources available are not redundant. Try to discover what I call information holes (i.e. missing important information). That is the information that your content creation ream should probably provide immediately after creating your site's core pages. Especially if you can show that there is online demand for this information, expressed in Google searches. (Once you have created this missing content, invest in promoting it intensively and extensively to the right audience. If your information is truly useful, they will love it, link to it, share it. This is the content that has a chance of going viral.
    • At last, we are ready to talk "Keyword Strategy." Perform competitive analysis on the search terms in your list. (That’s technical stuff, I won't address it here other than to say, don’t use the KEI – the so-called Keyword Efficiency Index: it is wrongheaded and pretty useless, there are much better ways to gauge the competitiveness of keywords.)
    • Make a selection of the most relevant, least competitive keywords with the highest search volumes. By creating landing pages and killer content relevant to these terms and optimizing the pages for organic search, you can often get a great deal of relevant traffic fairly easily and quickly.

    Content Development
    There is a lot of expertise that goes into effective and viral content development. For now I’ll make the following points”
    • Do not assume that content is cheap. Its pricing ranges on the market from almost zero dollars per page to thousands per page, and the expensive content is worth every penny. Hire the best content experts you can afford. Understand the reasons why expensive content is expensive. Your writers and marketers must outshine those employed by your competition.
    • Always place the call to action above the fold both on the Web and in email. (Not doing so is the worst common mistake I can think of.)

    The SEO & PPC Angle
    SEO and PPC remain indispensable parts of your marketing operation. You need an expert to develop, test and evolve your keyword strategy correctly. Extensive experience is gold in this area. Your whole site and any content that goes on the Web should be SEO’ed by experts. In addition, AdWords provides an unparalleled method of testing the converting efficiency of various keywords quickly.

    Content Publication and Audience Building
    • Distribute and share your content through all necessary channels. Always invest in promoting it. (There is redundant information about this on the Web; I will skip it.)
    • Find out where the users you care about hang out on the Web; target them; give them reasons to follow you. People love it when valuable info is given away free.
    • Having a signup center on your site, an opt-in email-marketing list, and engaging the social media are great engines for audience building. (On email marketing see this sticky: Email Marketing for SEO.)
    • Keep in touch with your audience by sharing more and more freebees. Do not bombard them with overtly commercial information or they will leave. Be tasteful.
    • Reuse uniquely written email marketing content on the Web. That’s great Web content for you at no extra cost.
    • Copyright everything you publish. This helps deal with situations where your content is plagiarized.

    Analysis and Optimization
    • From the launch of your content marketing project, split-test various parts of it, starting with those that most directly affect your sales: the landing page the submission form etc.
    • The elements of a landing page’s content that have the greatest greatest impact on sales are (1) the heading and (2) the call to action. Split-test them vigorously.
    • Avail yourself of all the wisdom of marketing science, whether through rigorous study or by engaging the right people.
    • User behavior data in Google Analytics, AdWords and other analytics software can provide meaningful, precise feedback about every element of your internet marketing. It would be foolish not to use it.
    • Once you collect enough data, you may even need to fine-tune your very business model based on this feedback.
    • Remember, averages lie. Segment the heck out of things.

    [ If quoting from this post, please refer to the source: http://forums.seochat.com/content-wr...em-470077.html ]

    Comments on this post

    • Ann Smarty agrees : Great one
    • abilitydesigns agrees : wow! Thanks Prof
    • ndelia agrees : Thanks!
    • isiagu.com agrees : Great work
    Last edited by PhilipSEO; Oct 14th, 2013 at 10:22 AM.
  2. #2
  3. Philip@SearchBenefit.com
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    Other marketers should feel free to weigh in. How can I improve this post?
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    This is a great post. What probably you could add is the 'don't s' of content marketing. Something like this that I read this morning from SearchEngineJournal 7 Ways to Fail Miserably With Content Marketing | Search Engine Journal x`
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    Originally Posted by PhilipSEO
    The most successful method of B2B marketing online, and one that also works great for B2C marketing, is all about intelligently providing ample, free, extremely useful information and resources relevant to your business offering, in which your marketing message is embedded in clear, yet subtle, optimized ways.
    This seems to be very useful, I was bored about reading the words "good content", "quality content", etc..

    Apart from that, I would like to know why do you separate B2C from B2B in this case.
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    Thanks for this post Philip. One thing: You mentioned about "Nobody needs good content, quality content, it’s worthless." But then you said that "..is all about intelligently providing ample, free, extremely useful information and resources relevant to your business offering." I am quite mislead. How can you make "extremely useful information" when nobody needs quality content? Can you elaborate it, please!
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    First of all, thank you very much for this post. You've been explain it very well and I really agree when it come to avoid linking the exact target keyword on your content.

    But, I am also wondering about good and quality content etc.. I'm very sorry as a newbie. What I understand is this, if I wrote a lot of good or quality contents on my website even though it is very useful, still nobody cares at all since there are a lot of other websites that has all of theme right? So what I need to do is to get the attention of the readers and make sure that what I have to provide, base on my research is more valuable or undiscovered informations and better to be the first one to provide them specially for free. Is that what it is?

    But for example, I am a searching for something at this moment. Then if I am not convince with what I have, I will still going to look for something more to provide to my team or to my friends. Meaning, their contents are still not good enough for what I need to my reports even though that it is already the best information that I can get. Is this what we called marketing? Sorry again.
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    help regarding content strategy

    Hi Philip, I am very new to content marketing/SEO/SEM etc. I have gone through your post in depth and i have some questions related to it.

    1) I have got unique content but i am unable to market it properly and achieve desired result. Probably the reason being that i am targeting wrong websites for marketing my content.
    I write one unique article about the product everyday and after few days i run out of ideas to write about it. If i may ask then, how can i improve the content strategy in my case?

    Comments on this post

    • sp_msp agrees : Yes, i kind of have the same issue. My content is liked by almost all readers, but the number of impressions it makes is pretty low.
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    I love it that you have given how and why. learnt alot.
    thank you.

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