Marketing is evolving. It changes with the new technologies and new platforms that become available and especially in digital marketing, these changes can happen daily.
But through every change that’s happened, one thing has remained consistent; the need for high-quality content. Essentially, if you’ve got something good to say, someone to say it to and a reason for saying it, you’re on the right track. Here, I’ll explore how content feeds into modern marketing and where you should be investing your time and budget.
The basics of ‘good content’
Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that you’ll struggle to market a brand that has nothing to say. It’s akin to visiting a networking event with nothing but a business card to push at your fellow attendees; it’s off putting and it doesn’t portray you or your business in a good light.
Modern marketing success starts with having a clear view on what your business is and what it represents. With our clients, we call these brand stories – the things about your business that you want to promote. The next step is to identify how best can you tell those stories, be it through written copy, video, social updates, audio pieces, creative content campaigns and so on.
Google recognises this too and with each update it releases to its ranking algorithms comes another reminder that those websites which have something of value to say will always outrank those with weak or useless content.
The first place this should manifest itself, therefore, is your website. Review your website content – that’s the written elements as well as the images, videos, graphics and so on – and ask yourself whether what you’re saying is truly valuable to your target audience. From here, invest in content which exemplifies your brand stories – if your story is that you’re an expert in your field, create guides and thought-leadership pieces that showcase this, for example.
If content is king, mobile is its throne…
If you work in marketing, you’ll no doubt have heard about the so-called ‘mobilegeddon’ of April 2015. In one of the many updates Google makes to its ranking algorithms each year, the world’s most-used search engine openly announced plans to prioritise websites which deliver a good mobile experience over those which are poor or don’t work on a mobile device.
The ‘mobile-first’ approach to content which some marketers had been toying with became the approach of choice for far more marketers. In modern marketing, creating content which doesn’t work on a mobile is tantamount to printing 100,000 leaflets then throwing them all in the bin without ever distributing.
Modern marketing success is ever-more reliant on the content being easily accessible and displaying as it should on a mobile device, be it a smartphone or a tablet. Make sure you can access and use your website on a mobile device, or use Google’s ‘mobile friendly test’ tool to check it against their guidelines.
As more marketers are investing in content marketing, which I’ll discuss further in a moment, the importance of considering how these more creative pieces will appear on a mobile device is ever-growing. Vicke Cheung gave a really good talk on this at this year’s Brighton SEO conference.
When investing your time and effort into creating great content, make sure it works well on a mobile device and consider the potentially differing needs of a mobile audience.
Email marketing; old technique, modern approach
One of the longest standing marketing techniques of the digital age is email marketing. But what was once a channel to push out as many marketing messages as you liked to what tended to be a fairly engaged audience has become a channel struggling with spam filters and pessimistic recipients who are just as likely to hit ‘delete’ as they are to sit and read your carefully crafted message.
Today’s email campaigns are reliant on high-quality, well-thought-out content to even make it into the inboxes of your recipients. Did you know, for example, that the word ‘dear’ followed by a capitalised noun scored one of the highest ‘spam’ scores according to Spamassassin, a mail filter which identifies spam? That means even using the opening line ‘Dear Laura’ could land you in the junk box.
The importance of content in email marketing today goes far beyond basic considerations like this though. In order to drive conversions, an email campaign must have a single, strong message and it must display it in such a way that the recipient is compelled to act. Canva, a free design tool, has some great examples of email marketing through their simple designs and single calls-to-action.
Creative content marketing
Content marketing is a phrase which has been used for a few years now but really took off with the Google Panda updates, which again emphasised the importance of high quality content in improving search rankings.
Modern content marketing is about taking a more creative approach and investing more in terms of both time and budget into content that will be truly valuable, informative or simply entertaining for its target audience.
We’ve created a number of creative content marketing campaigns for our clients, including this one which visualised the history of interior design to help our client reach more interior designers, and this one which took potentially dry statistics and made them topical and relevant in an interactive football league table.
Another example, not from a client of ours, is the Vanish Tip Exchange, which encourages users to submit their own user generated content to create a genuinely valuable resource for its followers.
What is important to note here is that in each example, a time and budgetary investment has been made in order to create high quality content which represents the messages of the company and is useful and sharable for the target audience.
The History of Design piece was viewed almost 100,000 times and linked to from over 100 different websites, just showing the potential reach a strong creative content campaign can have.
My colleague recently wrote about how to come up with creative content marketing ideas here.
Alongside non-paid marketing techniques is a growing investment in paid promotion channels, such as Google’s AdWords network and social media advertising. Here too, content is king and it is only those ads which display appealing messages to potential customers that will achieve high quality scores and result in conversions for the business.
Paid channels are progressing at a rate of knots at the moment and savvy marketers will capitalise on developing techniques such as remarketing, retargeting and shopping feeds.
Content and the future of marketing
Modern digital marketing is built on high-quality content – which means modern marketers must be investing in their own content.
This means creating content in written, video, graphical, audio formats which convey important messages in a way that is relevant, valuable and appealing to its target audience. Content will only become more important in digital marketing as Google continues to refine its algorithms and users become increasingly demanding of the brands they view online.