With so many businesses operating online, standing out from the crowd is essential. Content marketing is a great way to help you attract your audience’s attention.
In this lesson, we’ll look at why content marketing is important, and how you can use it to engage with your audience. We’ll also introduce some best practices to help you create your own content marketing campaigns.
Content marketing is based on the creation and sharing of online material, like videos, blogs, and social media posts. It’s designed to generate interest in a company’s products or services by capturing people’s attention.
It can also help to increase sales by directing traffic to your website, boost awareness of your brand and build trust and recognition amongst your audience.
Let’s journey back to the days before the web, when TV, print and radio dominated. Two-way interaction wasn’t possible between brands and customers and audiences received advertising messages whether they wanted them or not. These days, people can pick and choose when they engage, and content marketing allows businesses to connect with their audiences like never before.
Imagine you run a dog walking business, and want to use content marketing to increase awareness of the company and drive more traffic to your website. To achieve this, you could publish engaging content about dogs on your website’s blog, and promote it across the company’s social media platforms to increase readership.
Great content campaigns are based on understanding who you’re writing for. The more you know about your audience and share their passions, as well as their pains, the easier it will be to engage them on a personal level.
Try considering the challenges or pain points your customers face, and then tailor your content to these insights. For the dog walking business, for example, pain points for customers could include a lack of time, bad weather, or simply wanting to keep their pet happy.
Next, let’s cover some effective content marketing practices. The key to success is creating a content marketing campaign that accomplishes three things: (1) answering your audience’s questions, (2) providing something of value and (3) keeping them wanting more.
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind as you put together your own strategy:
- take the time to get to know your audience better. Look at which accounts they follow on social media to get a sense of their likes and interests
- experiment to find the best types of content for reaching your audience and don’t be afraid to use multiple formats
- choose the right places to publish your content and make sure you’re talking directly to your audience
- throw away the business speak and stock responses, and prioritise natural language to interact with your audience
- make your content unique, interesting and exciting. Use engaging headlines, eye-catching pictures and informative language to capture your audience's attention.
By keeping these pointers in mind when creating a content marketing strategy, you can boost your potential reach and strengthen your presence online.
When starting to write your own content marketing strategy remember the three keys to success mentioned earlier:
- focus on answering your audience’s needs
- create content they’ll find valuable
- keep them engaged so that they’ll visit you in the future for more content.
Now, try brainstorming how content marketing can be used to engage your audience online, and consider what goals it could help you achieve.
The action you want visitors to perform. Examples include ecommerce purchases, form submissions, phone calls, and video views. E.g. “My main goal is for people to book a consultation on my website, but signing up for my email newsletter would also be considered a conversion.”
Actual Cost-per-Click (CPC)
The true amount that a business pays to the search engine when their ad is clicked. Businesses set a Max CPC which acts as a “ceiling”—they can never be charged more than that figure. However, depending on the number and relevance of the other ads in the auction, the actual amount paid can vary. The formula for cost-per-click may vary slightly across search engines, but generally works like this: (Ad Rank to Beat ÷ Your Relevance Score) + £0.01. Let’s see an example. Your competitor, Wanda’s Weddings, has the next-best Ad Rank (that’s the Ad Rank to beat in this formula). Her Ad Rank is 12. Now we need to divide that by your relevance score. Let’s say you’ve scored a 9 out of possible 10. So, your actual cost-per-click will be (1 2/9) + £ 0.01, or £ 1.34. E.g. “I’m willing to bid as high as £1.75 for my wedding photos ad, but luckily my actual CPC is only £1.60.”
The visible or clickable part of a link on a web page. E.g. “If you click the link whose anchor text says ‘Organic Produce photo gallery,’ you’ll be directed to the page with more photos of our fruits and vegetables.”
A nonmobile computer. E.g. “I prefer to use a desktop at home, but when I travel I use my laptop.”
Any link incoming into a page or website from another page or website. E.g. “Our blog posts are very popular and filled with useful information, so we have loads of backlinks to them from other websites.”
Click Through Rate (CTR)
The number of times people click an item of interest, like an advert, in comparison to the number of times people are exposed to that item. For example, if your ad received 100 impressions and 3 clicks, your CTR is 3%. CTR is a crucial indicator of whether your ads are relevant to the people using the search engine—think of it as the difference between the amount of people actually coming into your shop divided by the amount of people stopping outside to look through the window. While there are no specific guidelines, you should always be working toward improving CTR. E.g. “I improved my CTR quite a bit when I added pricing info to my Wedding Photos ad—that clearly made more people want to click through.”
A listing’s position on a search engine results page. E.g. “With a lot of work, I’m hoping to get my website to the #1 ranking on search engines for my relevant keywords and audience.”
Search Engine Marketing
A form of advertising that allows you to bid for your advertisement to show along with search results for keywords that people are typing in. This lets businesses be seen by people at the very moment they’re searching for the things a business offers. E.g. “SEO is a long process, but using SEM helped me get a lot more website traffic really quickly.”
Average Ad Position
The position of your ad on the search engine results page (SERP). Search engines typically denote the highest position as “Position 1.” If your ad appears half the time in Position 1, and half the time in Position 2, your Average Position would be 1.5. E.g. “My average ad position for my pet photos ad improved from 7 to 3—I’m thrilled!”
A programme designed to systematically browse content on the Internet and collect information about it to help searchers find what they’re looking for. E.g. “I’m scared of spiders, but not the ones that help my website appear in search engines.”
The process of attracting visitors—often referred to as traffic to websites, mobile apps and other digital assets. E.g. “My acquisition strategy focuses on targeting people who have recently bought old houses.”
The specific term a user searched for before they reached your website. E.g. “The keywords “luxury romantic getaway” are performing great for my site.”
Optional extra information that can be displayed below a search ad. E.g. “We added sitelink ad extensions to our ads, giving our customers extra options to click through to on our site.”
The unique address of a page or piece of digital content on the Internet. E.g. “Max, you can access my website by typing the URL into your browser.”
A group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. For example, a single session can contain multiple page views and ecommerce transactions. E.g.“My website got 2,000 visits last month, but what I really care about is whether those visits resulted in sales.”
Links from one page to another page within the same website. E.g. “Website visitors can click on internal links on the homepage to see the web pages in my fruits and vegetable gallery section.”
Content created by users of an online platform such as videos, comments or posts. E.g. “Most social networks rely on user-generated content for posting and sharing.”
The introductory or “main” page of a website. E.g. “On my home page, visitors can see examples of my most beautifully painted houses.”
The ratio of conversions to visits, often used to measure digital performance. E.g. “I’m not sure why, but my conversion rate on external painting is very low for male visitors.”
The first page on a website that a person usually sees—not necessarily the home page of that website. E.g. “I’m directing people who click my ad to a landing page with a discount coupon so that these visitors will be encouraged to buy.”
A form of advert found on web pages and mobile applications, available in a variety of formats (such as images, animated GIFs and rich media). E.g. “I’m using banner ads to bring new customers to my website.”
A searchable catalogue of web pages and digital content used by a search engine to provide relevant results. E.g. “Before my site appeared in the search engine’s index, people couldn’t find my website when they searched for foyer murals.”
Your maximum cost-per-click (CPC), or bid price, is the highest amount that you are willing to pay for 1 click on your ad. However, you will not necessarily be charged the full Max CPC. For example, if your Max CPC is £1.25, you may only pay £1.04 for the click, depending on competitive factors. However, raising a bid might increase the likelihood of a higher ad position on the search engine results page. E.g. “I’ll bid as high as £2.25, but that’s my max CPC—I’m not made of money!”
A sponsored result that appears on a search engine results page, or SERP. Ads are typically formed from a few lines of text, and may include additional elements like a street address, reviews and phone numbers. E.g. “My ‘Beautiful Wedding Photos’ ad is already bringing in tons of new business.”
A programme designed to run on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. E.g. “My house needs painting, so I used a local app to find a reputable service near me.”
Results from a search engine that are not paid adverts. E.g. “The higher my website ranks in a search engine’s natural listings, the more website traffic I’ll get.”
Content such as text, images, or videos, created by individuals and shared across the Internet. E.g. “Social media changes all the time, so I hired someone to help me create a social media strategy.”
A list of results appearing in a search engine in response to a user’s search query. E.g. “After I searched for ‘buy high gloss paint in bulk’ I noticed that the SERP had both natural listings and paid listings.”
Tactics that optimise web pages for users, not for search engines. E.g. “I only use white hat tactics to help search engines find my website www.blakeproduce.com.”
Bid Management Software
Software that can be used to automatically manage a search campaign, often to pre-set rules.
Manipulative or deceptive SEO tactics that optimise only for search engines and not for users. E.g. “I was especially careful to avoid any black hat SEO techniques; I didn’t want to hurt the ranking of www.mydeliciousorganicveggies.com in search engines.”
Hypertext Markup Language. A language used by web developers to create websites. E.g. “My website was written using HTML.”
A text or image that provides a link from one web page or website to another. E.g. “When a major home decor blog linked to my website, I got a lot more visitors.”
A tool that indexes and returns relevant digital content in response to users’ keywords. Popular Internet search engines include Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Baidu, Yandex and more. E.g. “I use search engines to look for trends in home decor.”
The keyword or phrase a user types into a search engine in order to find what they’re looking for. E.g. “When people use the search term ‘hairdresser’ they might be looking for tips on how to do it themselves or a service to do it for them.”
A set of rules used by computers to solve problems. Search engines use algorithms to determine the rankings of a page for a specific search query. E.g. “I hope search engine algorithms match my relevant web pages with my desired audience.”
The video version of a blog, where updates are new videos rather than written posts.
A programme designed to browse the content on the Internet and collect information about it to help searchers find what they’re looking for. E.g. “When I launched my website, I made sure that the pages were visible to search engine bots, so they could index my pages.”
An advertising system in which advertisers pay for users to click on their advertisements. E.g. “I’m going to use payperclick adverts to promote my new faux finishes.”
Search Engine Results Page
A measure from 1 to 10 of how relevant your ads and landing pages are to the keywords you’re bidding on. Improving your Quality Score can help you achieve better ad positions and lower prices for clicks.
When a person visits your site via an ad. For most SEM campaigns, you only pay when the searcher clicks your ad. E.g. “My ‘Cute Puppy Photos’ ad gets substantially more clicks than my ‘Cute Kitty Photos’ ad.”
The process of using email messages to share information and promote products and services.
The full, exact word or phrase that a person types into a search engine in order to find what they’re looking for. It may or may not exactly match the keywords advertisers are targeting. E.g. “The search term ‘pet photographer Cardiff’ is performing well for me every month.”
The process of improving your digital strategy in order to increase the percentage of visitors who complete your goals. E.g. “Once I add a new line of faux finishes to my website, I’m going to start focusing on conversion optimization.”
The number of times people click on an item of interest, like an advert, in comparison to the number of times users are exposed to that item. E.g.: “My clickthrough rate on ads about external painting is 2%, but my CTR on ads about indoor murals is less than 1%.”
A platform connecting advertisers with publishers who want to host their ads. The advertiser pays the network every time an agreed event takes place, such as an ad impression, a click or a sale. The network then shares the revenue generated from the advertiser with the publisher, after deducting the network fees. E.g. “We chose an ad network for our display campaigns, so we could get our ads out to a wide range of websites quickly.”
Creating online content such as blogs, videos or infographics to attract and engage a defined audience.
The title of a web page as indicated in the HTML of a page. Also often used as the title of your page in a search engine results page. E.g. “I pay careful attention to the title element of my web pages, to help search engines understand what the pages are about.”
The page being linked to from another page. E.g. “If you click the link to “Gallery,” you’ll see a destination page chock full of images of our fruits and vegetables.
The practice of making changes to web pages, content, and the promotion of that content to improve visibility in the organic —or unpaid—search engine results. E.g. “Investing in SEO helped my website get a higher ranking in search engine results.”
Cost per conversion
Often referred to as cost per acquisition (CPA), this ratio measures how much money you spend on advertising relative to the number of conversions received from the ads. For example, if you spend £100 and receive 4 conversions, your cost per conversion is £25. Your cost per conversion should be lower than the value of a conversion. For example, if a conversion is only worth £20, then a £25 cost per conversion is not profitable. E.g. “My cost per conversion was too high, so I started spending a little less on online advertising and reviewed how I could improve my ads for future campaigns.”
A listing of web pages on your site that helps search engines understand your website. E.g. “Adding a sitemap helped search engines understand the pages on www.blakeproduce.com.”
The sale of products and services online.
The process of encouraging high-quality, relevant incoming links to a website through the creation of unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. E.g. “Because our content is relevant and engaging, other websites are more likely to link through to our pages, thus helping our link-building efforts to improve our search engine positions.”
A computer programme used to navigate the Internet on computers, tablets and smartphones. Examples include Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. E.g. “I’m not sure why my website looks different depending on the browser a person is using.”
The number of times an advertisement is displayed; it doesn’t necessarily mean someone clicked on it. E.g. “I’m getting a lot of impressions on my Baby Photos ad, but not many people are clicking—I may need to rewrite it.”
A regularly updated website with posts written by an individual or a business, typically in a conversational style and focused on a specific subject.
Techniques that try to cheat their way to the top of search results, like repeating keywords, paying other sites to link to yours, or putting invisible text on the screen. This is considered bad form because truly relevant websites get buried in the results. E.g. “I received email offers to rank first in Google search results but have turned them down because the techniques used are spam.”
The analysis of data generated by people’s activity on websites or mobile apps, for the purpose of discovering ways to improve websites and marketing campaigns. E.g. “I’m using a web analytics tool to understand how to improve certain web pages with the goal of increasing customer engagement on my website.”
The overall “score” an ad receives that determines where it can appear on a search results page (SERP). Higher Ad Rank leads to higher positions on the SERP. The formula for Ad Rank varies slightly across search engines, but generally works like this: Max CPC X Quality Score. For example, an ad with a Max CPC of £2 a nd a relevance score of 6/10 will have an Ad Rank of 12. If this is the highest Ad Rank, this ad wins the top position on the SERP. E.g. “Improving my adverts’ relevance and increasing my bid helped me improve my Ad Rank.”
The number of times an advert is displayed. E.g. “My new marketing campaign for home-baked dog treats received thousands of impressions, but I’m not sure if I’ve made any sales yet.”
Web Analytics Tools
Content that it is similar or identical to content found on another website. Search engines tend to ignore duplicate content. E.g. “We avoid duplicate content by investing in original content.”
An automatic forward to a different URL than the one entered by the user. E.g. “We implemented redirects when we moved the website to a new domain.”
Uniform Resource Locator
A single visitor to a website during a specific period of time. E.g. “No matter how many times Uncle Bob visits my website, he’ll still count as one unique visitor.”
A community of individuals creating and sharing content. E.g. “Social networks could be a good place for me to showcase my beautiful foyer murals and maybe get new customers.”
The digital material available to users, via text, video, audio, images, etc. E.g. “I’m adding more image and video content to my site, so it’ll be more engaging.”
A short list of several words that succinctly describe the content of a page. Not used by any search engine. E.g. “I don’t worry about including meta keywords on my web pages, as search engines do not use this information.”
The URL that is shown on the ad, often a shortened version of the actual or destination URL. E.g. “So that my users don’t see a long url, like “http://www.blakeproduce.com/proucts/specials/italiantomatos.com”, I use a url shortener service like https://goo.gl/, which allows me to create a shorter, more user-friendly display url for use in social media updates.”
Cost per Click
The amount of money required to produce a single click on a digital advertisement. E.g. “Cost per click prices seem to be higher during weekends, so I’m only running my campaigns during the week.”
Search Engine Optimization
A calculation an advertiser uses to try to identify if their online marketing campaigns are profitable. One common formula used for calculating ROI is the following: return on investment = (gain from investment – cost of investment) / cost of investment. E.g. “The sales driven by our display advertising campaigns have demonstrated positive ROI this quarter”.
Text used in the code of a page to describe an image. If an image is broken and can not be loaded by the page, the ALT text appears in a blank box that would normally contain the image. ALT text is also used by screen readers to improve accessibility for blind and visually impaired people, to tell them what is on the image. E.g. “The homepage of my website www.blakeproduce.com features an image of a fruit and vegetable garden. I included the following ALT text in the image code to describe it: ‘Fresh fruit and vegetables picked from Blake Produce gardens.”
An image used to represent a person, business or organisation on social media. E.g. “When I click on my avatar it brings me back to my profile.”
Return on Investment
The description of a web page included in the code of the page. May also be used as a part of the description in the search engine results page. E.g. “I write meta descriptions for each page of my website in case the search engine displays the page in the search results.”
A computer programme that simulates human conversation often over the Internet. E.g. “We created a chatbot to answer common customer questions and help with customer service.”
Use geo-targeting to only show ads to people in a certain geographical area. E.g. “We adjusted our geo-targeting to only show our ads to people within 50 miles of our business.”
Advertisements that appear on search engines results pages. E.g. “I’m thinking about paying to have my website appear in the paid listings, so that I can bring more customers to my website.”
Computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment with which you can interact using equipment such as headsets, sensors or joysticks.
- what content marketing is, and why it can add value to an online business
- best practices for creating your own content marketing strategy.