Whilst it may not be the buzz word it was a couple of years ago, is content marketing still a valuable marketing tool in the real world? There is no question that sustained, considered content marketing may be very effective but it is also hard work. Consistently delivering high quality, engaging and relevant content takes planning and application.
Having published over 600 articles over the past 10 years, we understand the challenges so perhaps it isn’t surprising to find that although people start off their content marketing journey with the best of intentions, after a few weeks, or months, the distractions grow and the commitment wanes; yet the basic truth continues:
Sustained Content Marketing is a great approach to cost-effective engagement with customers and prospects
Too often (like so many marketing services) content marketing is pitched as an easy win. I recently saw a brief from a marketing services company that included the phrase:
‘A blog section is really important. It will help (if regular content is added) to improve search ranking
Those 5 words, added in brackets – seemingly as an afterthought, are actually the essence of the statement. Adding a blog is easy. It is delivering well thought out and crafted content month after month that requires planning and persistence. If that delivery fails, the core of the marketing communication fails with it. Also is the sentiment right? Should content be focused on search ranking or should it be about engaging with your market? – As it happens, engaging content can boost search ranking as a spin-off benefit anyway!
Let’s take a look at the real world of the SME business
So what is the situation in the real world? We took an audience of local SME businesspeople attending a recent B2B networking group so presumably aware of the value of marketing themselves and engaging with other businesses – and researched this sample to look at their online presence. Specifically, we searched for their websites and looked at how (if at all!) content marketing was implemented. 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 which 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 with 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; yet in reality, marketing that is actually done 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.
I didn’t feel I could finish a post without mentioning Search optimisation, as 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