- Content marketing
Many of the reasons companies use content marketing are obvious but there are also some that are less clear. Here are four content strategies that might not have occurred to you…
Companies cite brand awareness and sales as the top motivators behind their content marketing efforts. The senior marketing decision-makers we meet on a daily basis are always looking over their shoulder. There's pressure from above to justify the spend, to show results and ultimately to show ROI. Companies that see content marketing as a brand-builder will truly reap the rewards.
1. Combat negative PR in search
A quick search for the brand John West and in particular "John West fishing" threw up some interesting results. I chose this because I knew that as well as producing tasty tuna, the brand does have to contend with negative press about its fishing practices, but we don't want to get caught up in that (sorry). John West is certainly missing a few tricks in terms of share of search. Seven of the stories have negative connotations and I include the Wikipedia page snippet, one is neutral and the other two are positive content provided by John West itself.
Organic search - Greenpeace is clearly on John West's case and first impressions are that the environmentalists are winning the share of voice on Google when it comes to getting their message across via organic search. So here's an example of an organisation (Greenpeace) using content marketing extremely effectively to achieve its aims. It's important that John West look at improving their positive SEO which can only help from a PR perspective. The strategy should be to push the negative stories completely off the first results page, although to do that will need time and careful planning.
Paid for media - You'll see below that a search for "John West" or even "John West Tuna" produces results that Greenpeace have also 'hijacked'. In this instance they're using PPC to win the SEO war. John West could combat by promoting positive content that addresses the route cause of concern: its fishing practices. These paid for stories could direct traffic to owned media or even earned media. The point is, having a positive presence is necessary.
Results from a simple Google search for the term "John West"
2. Create content that builds trust
I think it's fair to say that the more expensive the product or service, the more time and research you put in before parting with cash. I'll give you an example from my own recent experience: I've wanted to get laser eye surgery for years but for one reason or another have always put it off. I decided to take the plunge and hit up a bunch of London laser eye surgery websites as well as gathering up as many first-hand tales and research as I could get my bespectacled eyes on.
After much research I finally settled on a clinic in central London (www.focusclinics.com), but I needed reassurance. I wanted to hear from people who had used the company before and I went over the website with a fine toothed comb trying to get a feel for what the experience would be like. At this point I realised that their content had to work incredibly hard. At the end of the day I was going to trust them to point a laser at my peepers. So what did they do so well?
Focus did a great job of providing easy access to independent customer reviews in a variety of forms from star ratings, produced video, through to user generated short forum content (Trust Pilot Reviews and Google Reviews) and even long form content. In addition to the overwhelmingly positive reviews there was also content to answer my questions without me needing to bother them. In short they won me over through great content and I've now got perfect vision. You could call it content that changed my life!
What I've mentioned above though translates to any purchase process. Useful, meaningful content at the point of purchase is critical to converting website visitors into shoppers.
3. Create a platform to speak with, but not sell to, your audience
Business to business sales cycles can be long and complex. Deciding to commit millions of pounds to a supplier isn't something to take lightly. This can be for a number of reasons, but at the highest level it's about establishing that the relationship is going to work. Once again, and I refer to my previous point, it's about building trust before sales.
Here's an example: The Digital Banking club does what it says on the tin. It's a coming together of all things digital in the banking space, providing regular news, research, opinion and blogs. Hosted by banking software provider Intelligent Environments, the aim is to host both a virtual and physical community of digital banking professionals. First and foremost it's about providing regular, relevant and useful content through a website portal and associated promotion across social media. By organising regular face-to-face events and hosting "The Digital Banking Club Power 50", Intelligent Environments has been able to have engage in regular conversation with their potential customers. Not about their software specifically, but around industry matters in general.
It's an example of content marketing at work. By building trust over time, Intelligent Environments ultimately has access a host of user interest data that can be fed back into both product and sales stories, not to mention easy access to the decision makers behind the companies they are targeting. Through subtle association (and this is key not to over egg things) they have the opportunity to put their business front of mind. By hosting debate and leading thought and opinion on the subject of digital banking, Intelligent Environments are able to lead the way in their sector.
If in time a company learns to think of you as a key advisor and an industry authority, it's much easier to make a sale further down the line. Ultimately the aim is to contract the sales cycle, saving both time and money for both parties.
4. It's a great recruitment tool
Companies large and small create content. Potential employees, particularly the talented ones are hard to find and people will choose carefully when changing jobs. That means researching both your online and social presence and making sure you're getting your company's values and ethos across through the content you create.
The process of content creation itself is also a motivational tool to get existing staff engaged and thinking about both what you offer and the industry you operate in. Given people a platform to talk passionately about their work not only benefits you but also benefits them in terms of building a profile internally and externally within the industry. There's nothing like getting your name up in lights to give people a buzz from being a published author.
I'm really hoping that in a year's time this article will appear on the first page of Google for "John West Fishing" searches and somebody from John West will pick up the phone and find out how we can help them. They certainly need to change their tuna (I'll get my coat).
Are you looking to take a fresh approach to your content strategy? We'd love to hear from you - firstname.lastname@example.org.