“Content Marketing” is the buzzy phrase on everyone’s lips these days. But, what is it, really, and how can you do it well? Many of us know that there’s a link between good, current content and search engine results, but is there more to it than that? Table XI partner and Think Glink Media president Ilyce Glink walked us through the benefits of creating good content and how strong content marketing can yield real results.
Great Content = Customer Value + SEO Value
Using words with high SEO value is just scratching the surface. Google’s algorithms can now tell the difference between spam content, sales content, and high-quality, informative content, says Glink, so you need to do more than plug in a bunch of rich keywords and hope for the best.
The key is honing in on the stories you want to tell to support your goals, and then telling those stories in the most informative way possible. Start by figuring out how to add value to your customers’ lives. When you help them understand the issues you want them to grasp, you’re one step closer to leading them where you want them to go, whether it’s purchasing a product or service, signing up for your newsletter, or retaining them through another pay cycle.
“Content marketing is about the transference of ideas,” says Glink. “You’ve got your own ideas as a company—about a product, for example—and what you’re trying to do is plant the seeds. Get people to understand that it’s in their best interest to decide to act on the information you’re providing—to buy the product or engage with it—whatever the goal is. We try to elevate the idea of content marketing beyond words that have an SEO value, to words that have an SEO value but a much bigger customer value.”
If all goes according to plan, the customer thinks your goals were her idea. Instead of simply saying “Buy this,” present information that provides context, a framework, and enough insight into the current climate that it spurs a customer to want what you’re selling and decide to act on it. That feeling of making an informed choice is still empowering to customers, even if they know you want to sell them something.
Once you know the stories you want to tell, Glink recommends these five tips for creating great content:
1. Establish your tone and stick to it.
Tone is very specific and should holistically establish and convey your company’s values. Make sure your tone and voice reflect your brand and stay consistent across all media. From the written word on your blog to the images in your videos to the typefaces you use, everything you put out into the world should follow your company’s carefully defined tone.
2. Write for the eyes, not the ears.
People read differently than they hear, so don’t just write how you talk. Think through your ideas and express them with context, understanding, and structure. Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and syntax, and make sure a good copyeditor checks over things before you publish. You’re looking for ways to set your content above the rest, and that level of polish elevates it.
3. Reinvent your “New Newsroom.”
Consumers want valuable information that they can use to improve their lives. Identify stories, statistics, and other news in your industry. Then, think about how that information fits into the bigger picture in a way that will be beneficial to your customer. Present news in different formats (see below) so that it can be utilized, shared, and syndicated—this will broaden your audience and increase your visibility as an expert.
4. Use different formats (but don’t create content for content’s sake).
Blogs, social media, videos, podcasts, slideshows, white papers, lists, quizzes, polls, infographics—there are numerous ways to get your ideas in front of eyeballs. Just don’t do it haphazardly—set your goals, establish a budget, and keep an editorial calendar. Know what you want your content to do—certain formats are good for SEO value, while others lend themselves to viral sharing. Be thoughtful, use your defined voice, and create substance and value wherever you can.
5. Keep it fresh and frequent.
Search engines reward you for original, relevant, SEO-friendly content. Post 3 to 5 times a week at minimum. Lace in keywords appropriately but not overwhelmingly, and understand what effective, long-tail keywords will be important. There’s no substitute for fresh content—it generates social media opportunities, establishes you as a thought leader, helps with communication and public relations, and helps people find you.
Why You Should Consider Outsourcing Your Content Marketing
In today’s 24-hour news cycle, being able to respond to a story or event the same day can increase your visibility, especially if you can do so ahead of others. You want to be able to move fast without sacrificing quality.
“With the disruption of traditional media, companies are becoming their own news engines,” says Glink, who is seeing the trend of hiring staff who are devoted to watching and responding to relevant industry topics. But that’s not a realistic option for every business, and it’s not necessarily the ideal one, either.
A professional content marketing team can be your eyes and ears on the ground, and they’re experts at writing, editing, approving, and publishing items quickly and efficiently. What’s more, many former journalists have joined firms like Think Glink Media, so they are adept at quickly identifying news opportunities and telling client stories in an educational and value-driven way, as opposed to an advertising perspective that’s not as engaging.
Regardless of how you create your content, in the Internet age we’re bombarded with information at every turn. Executing a strong content marketing plan can get our eyes and ears focused on you.
Ilyce Glink is president of Think Glink Media, a content marketing agency that specializes in business, financial services, real estate, and technology, for both B2B and B2C companies. They help companies understand what stories they should be telling, design communication strategies that tell those stories, and write the content that gets them there. Their clients include Yahoo, CBS News, AOL, Edison Awards, Hub International, Discover Card, and Equifax.