One of the most difficult things about content marketing is accepting the fact that the field is in almost continuous flux. However, a recent presentation by Jeff Korhan solidified what I believe are going to be four long-standing pillars of any content marketing program.
Jeff Korhan is an author/speaker, and he recently presented at Orbit Media’s Wine and Web program. Perhaps I’m a frequent attendee at these programs because they yield a lot of valuable insight. Or maybe it’s because Andy Crestidona rolls out a killer pinot noir.
Every presentation, if it’s a good one, generally yields an a-ha moment that gets your mind going a gazillion miles an hour. Jeff had a ton of great info, but I really liked how he described the Four Pillars of Online Marketing Success, which he’s detailed in this post. I’d like to add a few thoughts to Jeff’s four pillars:
1. Modern Website
A few years ago, I attended a presentation where the question was posed, “Are websites dead?” The thought was they might be replaced by a blog, a Facebook page, or who knows what. Back then, the answer was a shrug. Today, it’s a definite “Absolutely not!”
Having a website for your company is a given, but only if it’s in the context of what Jeff was talking about. You need a Modern Website. What is a modern website?
Jeff notes it must be optimized for search engines and mobile responsive. The ultimate goal is to build your prospect list.I’d add that your site should be designed and engineered to allow visitors to go where they want to go. It facilitates their visit, making it easy to either gather more information, or buy. It removes buying obstacles, and allows them to complete their journey quickly and efficiently.
Achieving this end requires understanding your website’s user flow. It involves upfront research with your customers to determine what they want, and how they want it. It’s a departure from the standard home page of a gazillion links — the old smorgasbord of information.
2. Intimate Newsletter
Wasn’t it just yesterday that the old, printed newsletters were the focus of communications departments? (Ok, maybe not yesterday. Maybe fifteen years ago.) Today, they’re digitized, but it’s simply the same dog with a different collar.
Why are newsletters, today delivered via email, so important? I’ll link you to a more in-depth answer I gave on why your email list is such an invaluable asset, but in a nutshell, your email list are about as warm a lead as you will ever find. These are people who are interested in what you say, and want to hear more of it.
Jeff refers to your email newsletter audience as “your business lifeline,” noting that you “can reach out to your community, regardless of what’s happening with the social networks.” Deliver useful content that really solves problems for your audience. That’s what helps transition them from email leads to customers.
3. Consistent Blog
We have banged the consistent blog drum, well, consistently for many years. I was always able to achieve great traffic and SEO results by constantly producing content.
The key here is being consistent. You must be able to produce, on a regular basis, so that your subscribers and your social media connections not only rely on your contributions, but they look forward to them and expect more of them.
Google rewards those who post relevant content consistently. And so will your audience.
4. Active Social Media
Conversion rates for social media are a far cry from those of search and email traffic. So what should you be doing with your social media? And why?
I think social media is the most misunderstood channel in content marketing today, primarily because marketing people want it to generate sales – RIGHT NOW. The problem is that social media isn’t about advertising. It’s about talking. About being social.
I think it works best as a branding tool. It connects you with influencers (if you take the time to connect yourself) who can help you share your expertise. Focus on growing your following, engaging in people who are influencers, and using it to drive traffic to your site.
The “active” component here is to be real. To engage in conversation 80% of the time, and worry about posting 20% of the time. It’s not about extra content curation and tons of posts. It’s about talking to the people.
Jeff notes in his post that focusing on one network can pay big dividends, and allow you to truly build community. I think he’s spot-on.
Ok, there are your four pillars. Even though content marketing is in a constant state of change, I think these pillars will be with us for the foreseeable future. Why? Because they’re all based on making quality connections and serving your target market effectively. No matter what new technologies emerge, that’s going to be an immutable factor in your success – online or off.