The principle of good marketing content has been with us for quite a few years now. We started blogging in 2008 but our first post directly mentioning Marketing Content in the title wasn’t until 5 years later, in 2013. It’s interesting how long it can take for ideas to become established – and therein lies the problem. People give up too easily!
Delivering sustained, considered content marketing may be very effective but it is also hard work. Consistently creating high quality, engaging and relevant content takes planning and application. Furthermore, with the rise of social media, the options for both creating and delivering marketing content are growing. The question of ‘which way to turn?’ is becoming ever harder to answer, yet the basic truth continues:
Sustained, relevant content is at the heart of effective marketing engagement with customers and prospects
As with so many marketing services, content marketing is too often pitched as an easy win. Take this comment from a marketing services company:
‘A blog/news section on your website is really important. It will help (if regular content is added) to improve search ranking
Those 5 words in brackets – seemingly added as an afterthought, are actually the essence of the statement. Adding a news section is easy. Delivering well thought out and crafted content month after month requires planning and persistence. This is the real challenge. If that delivery fails, the core of the marketing communication fails with it. Also is the sentiment right? Should you focus on search ranking or concentrate on engaging with real people – your customers and prospects? – In my view, active market engagement is the #1 priority though, as it happens, engaging content can boost search ranking as a spin-off benefit anyway!
The real world of content marketing in SME businesses
We decided to do a bit of real-world research. We looked at an audience of local SME businesspeople attending a B2B networking group. They were clearly taking steps to engage with other businesses as a process to market themselves. We then researched this sample to look at their online presence. Specifically, we searched for their websites and looked at how regularly they added new content. The results make interesting reading….
- The business has a website – 94%
- The site has News/Blog – 56%
- and of the 56%….
- News posted within the past 2 months – 80%
- News posted in the past month – 42%
- Consistent content posted for over 12 months – 10%
These figures tell a story that is extremely common across SME marketing. Marketing gets started but it isn’t sustained. Even to start with, people aren’t posting particularly regularly and within a year, the above figures suggest that 90% of News/Blogs aren’t being updated. The danger is that a company website that looks smart, modern and up to date when it is launched, quickly starts to tell a different story. If you see a website with a news section and the most recent news article is several months old, what sort of impression does it make on you? It is only when new, engaging and relevant content is regularly added that your website as a platform to communicate with your market to ‘tell your story‘ and spread the word that content marketing can truly deliver.
So we have a dilemma. Ask most SME business owners whether they think sustained, proactive content marketing is the right approach and they will answer Yes; However, most of the marketing they do is short term. Businesses are regularly moving from one marketing approach to the next.
So is there a solution?
I believe there is – and the answer is considered commitment. This means making sure that you have a plan you believe in and commit the resources to make it happen. But in saying this, I must stress the importance of not over-committing. If you try to spend too much time or commit to too much budget, keeping your content marketing running will be difficult, if not impossible. Things will slip and the short-termism will be back. By keeping your commitment more modest (even ‘easy’) it is much more likely your content marketing will sustain and succeed.
Get some help with your content marketing…
The biggest risk to a sustained, effective marketing content process is distraction.
As I mentioned above, driving effective marketing content can be hard work, so easy to put to one side if you can find something else to be busy with! If you have someone in your business who can take on the responsibility of content delivery, this can be a great option but you will still need to manage the process to ensure content stays relevant and focussed. Sub-contracting content creation to an external specialist might also sound like a good option but it can be fraught with difficulties. Good freelance copywriters and content creators can be expensive – and it isn’t just about the writing, they also need to stay up to date with what is going on in your business and market sectors. This can double, or even triple the time they need to commit to deliver a good level of service independently.
Unless the cost of a dedicated external specialist can be justified, a better solution can be collaboration – this is certainly our preferred approach. You retain sone responsibility for marketing content but collaborate with a specialist who makes sure it happens! The content delivery process isn’t allowed to slip. You will get a regular ‘tap on the shoulder’ reminding you to put focus on marketing and think about the content you want to promote and you also get help taking your ideas and converting them to good copy. Because you retain some ownership of the process, your marketing stays in line with your wider business objectives but your collaboration ensures you have a regular flow of high-quality copy to use in your marketing communication – all at a more sustainable cost.
I can’t finish without mentioning search optimisation. There is no doubt that content marketing should be at the heart of any search strategy. Within WordPress, optimising content for search is fairly straight forward thanks to the Yoast plugin. It’s free and adds a set of tools to allow you to optimise a post for a given keyword. It is very simple to use and uses a traffic light system to indicate how well optimised the page is, plus a set of recommendations on how to improve it. implementing the recommendations will improve the search optimisation. Take a look here at a case where Yoast was used in the real world for one of our clients.
If you want to find out more about effective content marketing, do get in touch