Both direct response and brand-focused marketers can benefit from developing informational or entertaining content that is based on strategic themes. Putting content at the center of your integrated digital marketing strategy can increase your traffic, improve your conversion rate, and build brand affinity and awareness. To achieve these results, marketers have to develop storylines that communicate, either directly or indirectly, the brand positioning and messaging, while creating dialogue with (and among) consumers.
As a starting point for your content strategy, it is important to assess how well your content aligns with the behaviors and attitudes of your target market. An audit of your key competitors' content is helpful as well. By conducting these reviews, you will be able to determine if any gaps exist between your current content and the ideal set of content needed to become a credible industry authority.
Generally, the required content will fall under one of two categories: brand or non-brand. Once you've identified key content topics, you should group the topics into high-level themes within these two categories. These content themes act as a guideline for content development and serve as a reference point in forming an integrated digital marketing strategy. As marketing campaigns are developed, each of the channel experts (e.g., email specialist, SEO specialist, etc.) can reference the content themes and align their efforts with the other channels.
Obviously, the brand and products need to be covered comprehensively in your web content. This content should communicate the brand's value proposition, personality, and core values, ranging from the company's history to corporate programs of interest. Typically this content positions the brand as a responsible and innovative industry leader. It should also humanize the brand and weave in dialogue from brand advocates, influencers, and the broader consumer. Product- and service-specific messaging is also critical. In addition to current product overviews and reviews, content can be developed to support products launches as well.
To capture a broader audience and establish authority, non-brand informational and entertaining content that ties to brand goals must be developed. This type of content is extremely beneficial in driving organic traffic from search engines, as well as in gaining referring traffic through social media promotions. To gain credibility with your internet audience, you have to become an industry resource for valuable tips, checklists, and other information. This content might take the form of a blog post, interview, infographic, research article, image, video, or other content type.
Content marketing integration
Generating and promoting quality content can have search engine optimization (SEO) benefits, enable your company to communicate brand and product stories, and drive brand impressions as the content is shared via email, social media, and third-party blogs. For maximum impact, content within each of these various channels should be aligned with the company's overall content strategy and the designated content themes.
Increasing the exposure your content receives on Google and other search engines is an opportunity to connect with a large pool of target consumers. Optimizing the site content (text or otherwise) for search engine rankings requires keyword research to determine the most relevant high-volume terms that fall into your key content themes. Once the keywords are identified, changes should be made to ensure that keywords are placed in critical page elements.
Email subscriber acquisition and engagement provides a highly effective permission marketing channel to keep subscribers engaged with the brand and lead them to purchase over time. Opt-in subscribers are inherently more engaged and loyal to a brand than the average consumer. Moreover, email provides subscribers with an effortless ways to share content (via email or social media), which turns them into brand advocates. Optimizing the email program starts with aligning email messaging strategy with the chosen content themes.
Increasing the brand's social fan base and engaging with fans on Facebook and Twitter creates additional permission marketing channels that can be valuable in driving ongoing brand awareness, affinity, and conversions. Your fans will amplify your message when you engage with them around topics that are important to them, in places where they research, plan, and share their experiences. Developing and leveraging content themes that are based on customer attitudes and behaviors ensures that your content will resonate with its intended audience.
Blog and blogger outreach
Having an active blog will allow you to capture the attention of other bloggers and increase traffic to the site. Blogs with fresh content create keyword-rich context and links that search engines use as the primary drivers of their ranking algorithms. The content themes you've identified create a great starting point for blog categories. To increase reach, blog content can be promoted on social networks, social news sites, and email.
Multimedia aggregation and curation
Increasingly burdened with information overload, consumers are turning to content aggregators and content curators to seek out relevant content. Content aggregators are sites like YouTube and Flickr, where brands and consumers can upload content for mass consumption. It is important to distribute content to these destinations because they draw huge audiences in their own right. They also feed blended results in search engines. Social news sites that crowdsource content curation are also great places to distribute your best content. Sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and Tumblr offer brands the opportunity to promote informational and entertaining content to consumers and influencers alike. By aligning your promoted content with strategic content themes, you can ensure that even your non-brand content can positively affect brand perception and increase brand awareness.
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