They say the only thing constant is change, and that’s certainly true in the world of content marketing. Every month, or so it seems, there’s a new must-do-or-you’re-toast trend in content marketing. So, how do you keep up, or better yet keep ahead, with your content marketing strategy?
Here’s the radically simple truth: Your content marketing strategy must be completely centered on the customer. Forget trying to appease the search bots on Google et al. by using sophisticated keyword formulas that fall flat with the next algorithm update. You need to do only one thing in your content marketing: laser-focus on the customer.
Let’s talk about why this is so important and how to do it effectively:
Here’s Why a Customer-Centric Content Market Strategy is Crucial
At the end of the day, Google, Bing, Facebook– you name it– are focused on creating an excellent user experience for their customers.
So, what does this have to do with you?
While content marketing often works independently of search engines and social media, that’s not to say their paths never cross. In fact, content marketing relies heavily on both search engines and social media for content promotion and exposure to new leads.
The platforms that will promote have a duty to their customers, first and foremost. And even though you may be paying for promotion, you’re not their customer– the user is.
If you’re not creating content that scratches an itch or addresses a pain point, your content is as good as dead. It won’t live into the future. It will not stand the test of time.
However, I come across 10-year-old articles on the first page of Google all of the time. Why? These articles future-proofed themselves a decade (or more) ago by creating customer-centric, authoritative content. You can do the same thing when you have the same focus.
Let’s talk about key concepts to keep in mind when strategizing your content:
1. Offer Long-form Content
I’m startled whenever I come across blog posts containing only 300 words or less. I understand that writing is a chore and doesn’t come easy for some of us, but you can’t have a content marketing strategy without content. And, you certainly won’t future-proof your content that way, either.
To make it to the first page of search engines, you don’t need keywords, you need content– content that resonates with your target audience. Content that feels like the absolute authority on the given topic.
You need one-stop-shop content. Create the definitive resource, the ultimate guide, even the beginner’s guide. The best way to get in good with the gods of Google and Bing is to create the ultimate answer to their user’s question.
If you’re able to accomplish this then magical things happen:
- The user is happy because he found his answer.
- The search engine is happy because the user is happy and will continue to use on their search service.
- You’re happy because the search engine will now promote your content since their users like you.
And all of this can be traced back to creating long-form (1000+ word), high-quality content that aims to be the subject authority– no need to look elsewhere.
This is the easiest way to future proof your content: Write a comprehensive post so that the reader doesn’t need to supplement your information elsewhere.
2. Have a Social Media Strategy
To quote Rand Fishkin of Moz, “Content must reach people in order to reach its potential.”
Your content marketing plan must include a social media strategy. You can create it, but no one will hear about it unless you deliver it right where they are.
They’re on social media. That’s where your promotion needs to take place.
But don’t simply post a link on your Facebook page and expect for it to go viral. You’ll need to open up your wallet and pay for promotion, especially on Facebook where organic reach hovers around 2%.
If you want to promote your content, especially initially, you should have a pay for play and then follow up with a solid email marketing strategy.
3. Win at SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is perhaps one of the most intimidating parts of a solid content marketing strategy.
SEO is important, and should be considered carefully. As I’ve already mentioned, keyword stuffing isn’t a strategy. Long-term keywords are definitely important, but not the only important factor.
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to make a shift in your thinking: from self-focused (here’s what our brand can do) to audience-focused (here’s what you can do with our brand/ product/ information).
Remember that producing content that serves your customer is the most important thing you can ever do for SEO.
4. Use Influencer Marketing
Ever heard of influencer marketing? It’s all the rage now, but it’s not a new concept.
In fact, the Oprah Effect is one of my favorite examples of influencer marketing. During the days of her talk show (and even now), she was a huge influencer. If you were lucky to receive an endorsement from Oprah (in the form of a casual mention or giveaway), it meant instant millions in sales for your business. She was so influential, in fact, that back in the 90s she even got sued for it.
In much the same way, albeit on a lesser scale, you can secure an influential person within your industry to promote your content.
Content marketing experts point to influencer marketing as a crucial component for future proofing your content.
Not only is this form of marketing an opportunity for increased exposure, an influencer can establish trust with your potential customers in a way that you cannot. That’s because the influencer is a third party and his or her testimonial will naturally have more weight than your first person sales pitch.
And, keep in mind that influencers don’t just expose, they push. As Jay Baer posits, “True influence drives action, not just awareness.”
The perfect influencer is someone who is passion about what they do and believe, and is able to inspire that same type of passion in others. The audience’s size isn’t as important as the audience’s loyalty to the influencer.
5. Don’t Give Up
Content marketing is a long-term strategy. Results definitely don’t happen overnight, but they do eventually pay off.
The hardest part of content marketing is twofold: 1) getting started and 2) plugging away even when you think that no one is reading your content. Even though you’re toiling away in the dark obscurity of unrecognized talent, you’ll amass a huge library of amazing content that will benefit your readers eventually when they arrive. But, take heart, they will arrive.
Here’s one of my favorite illustrations of how content marketing works:
6. Revisit Your Content Marketing Strategy Annually
Your content marketing strategy isn’t written in stone. While your focus should always remain singularly fixed on the customer, keep in mind that the customer himself may change. His needs can and should evolve, often in response to the education provided by your content marketing. Be willing to evolve with your customers.