So you’ve been told that your business needs content marketing, but are you still hesitating? With all the content hype out there, it can be hard to separate out real advice from thinly veiled sales pitches for a tool or service. Truthfully, there is no ‘secret recipe’ to online content success, because good online content looks slightly different for every business. But there are definitely some universal business reasons to create digital content. Here are nine compelling reasons why online content is a good idea for your business, and why it’s a strategy that will pay off big time!
Content consumption is at an all-time high
People are consuming online content at an exponential rate, with millennials leading the way. Mobile, tablets, smart devices: people are accessing online content everywhere. They are also consuming content in a variety of formats, from videos and podcasts, to PDFs and blogs. It’s a great time to be investing in online content: there are so many places to create and be found, and businesses and bloggers of all sizes can have a real impact.
- Commit to creating frequent quality: this is a commitment you have to take seriously.
- Explore which channels and content formats are going to work best for you, and decide how you want to mix up native, sponsored, and user-generated content.
- Focus on audience relevancy by creating content buyer personas.
You can quickly change direction
Online content is a great medium for marketers thanks to its short feedback loop. If people aren’t liking your tweets, or your latest blog post gets no views, shares, or comments; you can change things fast. Throwing out your entire editorial calendar just because one post didn’t perform well is a bit extreme, but you should definitely approach content creation with flexibility and immediacy. Always listen to audience feedback. (And if you mess up like Pepsi…own up and apologize).
- Something bubbling up amongst your users or customers? Address things head on in your content, rather than just pushing on with the next broadcast. By addressing issues openly and airing an important issue, you will get kudos and potentially defuse a PR nightmare.
- Establish an agile content team: give people ownership, and don’t introduce so much complexity that nothing ever gets done.
- Learn how to effectively track content metrics: they can teach you a lot about your customers and business. (Don’t forget to get to grips with Google Analytics for content tracking).
Content is a renewable resource
The great thing about online content is that it’s more or less permanent resource. Even after a campaign has ended, you will still reap traffic through search and social shares.
- Some of your oldest content will also be your most valuable. Keep recycling and sharing old content, and always update popular, evergreen posts on an annual basis.
- Make the most of a batch of content research and creation with some clever recycling and transformation: break down big content resources into bitesize article series, podcast shorts, tweets, graphics…
Become a publisher
Online content gives you a platform where you can react to global events, cover industry events, and jump on trending topics. Many brands and businesses are becoming media publishers in their own right, solidifying their long-term brand legacy beyond simply their products and services. This is a great position to be in when it comes to managing media relations, and it also puts you in a better position when it comes to pivoting.
- Haven’t tried the publisher approach yet? Try to approach about 20% of your content production like a journalist. Cover interesting industry events, people, and trends. Try to find compelling stories and weigh up popular arguments, even if they don’t 100% support your commercial goals. (Covering a controversial topic can bring you a lot of engagement, if you can handle the heat…)
- Let other people (carefully selected of course), post on your blog. Open up your doors to create a sense of community and buzz.
- Cultivate great relationships with media outlets through the power of good content: share your posts with relevant stakeholders, and comment frequently on other publications and blogs.
- Creating different publisher personas on your blog for different writers will reinforce your domain as a place for encounters (and it looks better than all the posts being authored by ‘admin’).
Discover your brand voice
Creating online content is the perfect way to find out who you are as a brand. Without blogs and online content, many brands would still be confused about who they are.
- Create professional content and social media guidelines, even if you’re only just starting out. Documents like these will help you outsource content creation when you grow, but they will also get you to start content creation in the right way.
- Finding out who you are online and where you fit in within your niche is one of your most important tasks as a marketer, writer, and blogger.
- Working with bloggers and influencers online? If you’re own content isn’t up to much, they won’t want to work with you. Creating awesome branded content will help others connect with you, and seek you out for collaborations.
Low barrier to entry
Every small business or entrepreneur can access the benefits of online content: all you need is a clear idea of what you want to say! And even if you’re not so sure what your core messaging is yet, start somewhere and start creating.
- Some of the best content comes from simply addressing what’s on people’s mind. You don’t always need fancy processes or extensive research to make great content: sometimes speaking from the heart is enough. If people can relate, they will like your content.
SEO benefits of online content
Online content is important for SEO, and without it neither search engines or users will be able to make sense of what it is that you actually do. So many brands focus on cutesy euphemisms, without really thinking about what language their audience will respond to. By creating a robust online content library, you will be able to tackle user topics from many angles, encouraging diverse keyword rankings.
- Keyword research should be niche-specific to give you a broad understanding of the niche vocabulary. Make sure that go beyond just repeating phrases to really analyzing user intent and delivering on the promise of the keywords used.
- Utilize resources like Quora to help you create a better SEO content strategy. Q&A’s and how-to’s are powerful SEO-friendly content formats.
Great content doesn’t cost the Earth
Great content doesn’t have to have all the bells and whistles: some of the most successful content has been created with little or no budget. You can go live on Facebook on your own mobile, post a simple blog, or create a graphic for free on Canva. Don’t put up monetary barriers, just get out there and do stuff.
- A great idea out there is always better than one that’s stifled: sometimes you have to go live with a MVP (minimum viable product), and refine your content later.
- Learn how to do things for yourself to free yourself from external providers wherever possible when start up budgets are tight. (At the same time, you will probably save money in the long run with strategic outsourcing. Know when to save time, not money).
- Ride on other people’s content success and bring the best of the industry to your audience. Content curation is free and incredibly effective. Feedly is a brilliant way to semi-automate content curation.
Your secret sales weapon
If you’ve ever dreamed of selling products online, you definitely need to invest in online content.
- Want to become the next successful ecommerce brand? Use a simple solution like Shopify and customize your store, or go all-out with a WordPress plugin that fits onto your current website or blog. Even if you start from scratch with your store, great content (and sharing it on social media) will set you up for success. Don’t overcomplicate your brand and create a culture of consistent and compelling content from day one.
- Your online content will need to balance sales with altruism. Don’t fall into the trap of plugging your products or offers every five minutes: you need to leave space for people to dream and feel inspired.
- Different forms of online content will be appropriate for different stages of the sales funnel. Don’t sell too soon.
From SEO and sales, to branding and user-experience: do you really need any more reasons to invest in online content? What’s your favorite content mantra right now?