This article originally published on Forbes SEP 14, 2017 @ 08:30 AM
Creating high-quality content that has real value to readers but also furthers marketing goals can be a significant challenge for small businesses. Before we get into the how, let’s talk about the what and the why. What’s the premise behind content marketing (aka “inbound marketing”) anyway?
What Is A Content Asset?
Content can be defined as almost anything you put on the web: blogs, social media posts, emails, graphics, videos — it’s all content. Meanwhile, a true content asset is an in-depth resource that goes beyond a simple blog post and provides additional value to your audience. White papers, data studies, how-to guides, and even long, detailed blog posts fall into this category. Rather than just providing general information, assets give a comprehensive overview of a subject. Such assets can be expensive to produce, but done properly, they are well worth it.
Why You Need Content Assets
Content creates value for customers and prospects. More than 80% of shoppers say they research online before they buy, and 84% say they are looking for product information. These behaviors hold true for both B2C and B2B buyers. If you provide the answers readers are looking for with content, you elevate the audience’s perception of you from peddler of goods and services, to authority site and influencer.
Better yet, many search engine ranking factors are related to content. This means websites with high-quality content also generally have strong SEO. Note:
- Google’s primary purpose is to provide the best possible answer to user queries. When you provide comprehensive answers, you rank higher in search engines.
- Traffic is another metric Google uses to measure rank, and great content attracts more web traffic.
- Great content accrues backlinks, another key ranking factor in search engine optimization.
- Location specifics are essential to mobile search. Content gives you the opportunity to include plenty of local information.
- Being truly relevant to a niche means your site covers a topic wholly and completely; going beyond just using “keywords” and, instead, covering a topic wholly and completely. This works wonders for your on-page SEO!
Content makes your customers happy and makes Google happy. The better your content, the happier everybody is, including you, the content marketer.
How To Create Content Assets
All content is not equal. Valuable content is detailed, insightful information visitors want to share and link to. To generate that level of interest, you’ll need to share insider knowledge. And, like everything else, you should start by crafting a strategy.
- Define your purpose. Will your asset be free to access? Will it be downloadable in exchange for signing up to a mailing list? Are you creating a report, e-book or step-by-step guide? Are you hoping writers and bloggers will backlink to your content?
- Profile your audience. Your purpose will define your audience, which may be customers, prospective customers or industry influencers (who may also be prospective customers).
- Allocate your resources. For best results, you’ll need a talented writer who can establish or mimic your company voice, a layout/graphics artist, and a promo budget for social and search pay-per-click advertising.
- Flesh out your topic. Start with relevant terms (short and long-tail keywords) always with your specific audience in mind. Your content should be designed to thoroughly answer questions frequently asked by target readers. If you’re exploring a business topic, demonstrable results such as facts, statistics and research results add credibility and value, and also make your asset stand out from similar efforts.
- Pull it all together into a polished, informative piece and publish your masterpiece online. Where you post it is another detail to carefully consider. If it will be the center of a content marketing campaign designed to build your mailing list or generate leads, you’ll need a landing page with an email signup. To drive traffic or build audience awareness, you might consider posting it on a high-traffic site.
How To Promote Content Assets
The next step in the process is Promo, with a capital P. Once your asset is written, illustrated and polished to perfection, maximize your investment with a promotional blitz.
Email (before and after). Before you publish, email journalists and industry bloggers with a sneak peek and ask them to write about or reference your asset. After it’s published, email your target audience, and send a reminder or thank you to your journalist/blogger contacts. If you don’t have an email service in place, you will need one, along with a good customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Share on social networks and in groups. Contact influencers — people who interact with you on social media — and ask them to share. Use minimum viable tests to find the best strategy for social traffic, then concentrate your efforts on the most successful distribution channels.
Keep it going. Content assets should be evergreen information that will be valuable for a long time. Keep promoting on social media and in feedback. For example, if a customer tweets a question, give a brief answer and add “if you’d like to know more, we have a free e-book on this topic.” Remember, whenever you engage a customer, their audience sees the interaction as well.
If your asset is truly valuable, interest will grow over time, and with it, traffic to your blog. Add to your content library as often as your budget will allow, and you’ll gain a reputation for authority, reliability and knowledge. Follow these steps closely and any small business can attract traffic with content.