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The Coming (and Going?) of Content Marketing

Panda and Penguin came as a big shock to the SEO industry, as unorthodox link building and content managing practices were punished severely with these new algorithms. As a result, a lot of SEO companies have apparently moved on to the concept of content marketing, but their main goals, such as hard, short-term metrics like traffic and backlinks, have remained the center of their campaigns, and that is quite a shame because content marketing is not a fancy name for link building, but rather a wholly new attitude toward content.

Few could argue that the main aim of the content on a business website is to increase revenue by attracting customers. Although the smaller goalposts, such as backlinks to the website, user traffic, and social buzz are related to increased revenues, the focus on SEO should not shift from creating long-term assets for the business to achieving short-term goals. This is most apparent in deciding whether to build or to attract links. With the first, the emphasis is on a conscious effort, while the second portrays link as a sub-product, not the main product, of a process: content creation. Finally, content creation simply as a link building exercise will have negative ROI, as many benefits will go unclaimed.

Proper content marketing (CM) is a full-fledged campaign with a detailed plan, actionable goals, and review and improvement procedures. Your CM should have goals closely aligned with your core activities and help the business prosper. The overriding principle should be to add value, and to offer this value to new customers in exchange for their patronage. Naturally, a content creation plan will be tailored to the CM so that users feel trust and respect for the business’ expertise.

Content marketing must deal with customer analysis and put the intangible business assets in the correct context. Naturally, the company should be familiar with its primary audience and its characteristics. However, frequent interviews with partners, potential and current customers, and PR employees can give valuable insights. A lot of businesses feel that marketing is similar to throwing away money as its effects fade quickly. Therefore, a CM must focus on long-term sustainable and value-adding activities to make the business stand out. For example, an interactive map of the world with tourist information can continue attracting new customers for a hotel chain, whereas a similarly expensive advertisement might have a more transient effect.

Most strategies will not succeed if they are not properly funded and do not have access to the required resources, and that includes CM. Because the CM will work closely with social media marketing and content planning, it will require external services from strategists, consultants, developers, designers and PR managers. Therefore, it is important to secure a budget big enough to cover all needs, as a half-baked campaign will be extremely unproductive, a waste of time and money, and sometimes may even do harm. Be careful to budget expenses for creating different types of content: articles, guest blogs, pictures, videos, pitches, infographics and dynamic contents.

A CM will take into account how the content will be delivered to the audience. The most common way is through social networks and social sharing, so this could be featured in your plan as well. However, in going one step further than the completion of the campaign, consider using offline mediums such as outdoor displays, newspapers, radio stations, and even physical handouts. Ideally, all of these activities will be cleverly combined for a coherent strategy.

Finally, the CM must have easily measurable goals that can be directly influenced by modifying the strategy. These will include number of referrals, sales through different channels, specific levels of ROI and amount of social following generated.

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