Tag Archives: publishing content

Does your business need a regular dose of content writing and content marketing?

Should you regularly write and publish content on your website just for the sake of content marketing? Joost de Valk mulls over this question in his recent blog post.

Being a content writer who makes a living off encouraging people to publish as much content as possible I would say yes. Otherwise, I would say, it depends.

I repeatedly write on my website as well as on my blog that don’t write content merely for generating traffic, unless you earn revenue from advertisements (even then relevancy is very important). But I slightly disagree with Joost, and his friend whose post he has referred to. These guys get good traffic on their websites, and they have done their share of content marketing before they can coolly say, “Oh I hate terms like content marketing and content publishing!”

This is precisely the reason I tell my clients not to take rampant advise on the Internet too seriously, and literally. If you need traffic, you need content, and you keep on writing and publishing content until you have traffic, and then, if you think you have had enough content (on your own website as well as other websites) to get web traffic for a couple of years, may be you too one day can say, “Please spare me your ‘content’.”

Fundamentally I’m not disagreeing with the central theme these two gentlemen are talking about. Useless content is, well, useless. Write something meaningful, and if you are really involved in your work, when you really confront problems and work on solutions, you have something or the other to write about.

So does your business need regular content writing to keep the engine of your content marketing running, or at least humming? In order to understand this you have to understand why you need regular content writing for your website in the first place?

  • You need search engine traffic that actually converts
  • You need to establish your expertise
  • You need to engage with your audience
  • You want people to link to your content

There can be umpteen reasons why you may require regular content writing (just as some people and business may not require this much regularity). The unavoidable truth is, if your business doesn’t enjoy a strong presence on the web (search engine and social media) you need to publish regularly. You need to write content for recognition, in order to cover all your keywords, in order to generate longtail traffic and if nothing else, then just to keep your visitors engaged with fresh, thought-provoking content. If you say your business doesn’t require content, so be it. There are some businesses that don’t require the Internet and websites.

The difference between content marketing and content strategy

Difference between content marketing and content strategy

There was a time when I used to think that content marketing is a subset of content strategy, but now I believe that both content marketing and content strategy can be subsets and supersets of each other.

You cannot have a successful content marketing campaign without a content strategy, and a well-define content marketing campaign is an integral part of your content strategy.

So, if they are intertwined, what are the defining differences between content marketing and content strategy? What are the key differences?

In simple terms, the insights and data that you get through content strategy, you implement in content marketing. Content strategy gives your content marketing the needed direction. Without this direction, your content marketing turns haphazard and ineffective.

If content marketing consists of publishing regular content, content strategy is knowing what content to publish, what audience to target, and which platforms to use for publishing content.

As mentioned above, content strategy is based on the metrics and the insights that you obtain through analytics, observation, experimentation and third-party data.

Content strategy

What is content strategy?

What is content strategy?

As mentioned above, our actions must be well thought of if we want to achieve something. Here is what content strategy involves:

  • Knowing what content to publish and distribute.
  • Knowing who is your target audience and why?
  • Clearly defining KPIs.
  • Knowing how to obtain traffic and engagement data.
  • Streamlining content publishing based on goals and insights.
  • Zeroing in on the platforms that you will use to publish and distribute your content.
  • Establishing an audience engagement policy.
  • Figuring out which content type or format best suits your content marketing KPIs.

First, you need to know what is the purpose of publishing and distributing content and exactly why you need content marketing? How it can serve your business and help you promote your cause?

To be a successful communicator, you must know whom you’re going to communicate to. You should know your audience, you should know what they want, what they’re looking for, what their concerns are.

Data insight is a great power. When you set in motion your content marketing strategy, you will need to constantly analyze your data so that you can make timely changes.

You need a content writing and content publishing roadmap so that you remain focused and you always know what you’re going to published to cater to your core audience.

Merely publishing content doesn’t help you much these days. This is where content marketing comes in. You need to promote and broadcast your content so that it reaches the maximum number of people. For that you need to shortlist channels that you’re going to use to distribute your content, for example search engines, social networking websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

You also need to constantly engage your audience. Unlike conventional marketing, content marketing involves two-way communication between you and your audience (your customers and clients). Without meaningful and regular engagement it’s difficult to establish a rapport and make yourself more relatable and identifiable.

Content can be of multiple formats and if you have limited budget, you cannot target all the existing formats. For example, you can have written content (content writing, etc.), videos, presentation slides on SlideShare, images on your own blog, Facebook and Pinterest, sketches, infographics and basically, everything that you can use to communicate data and ideas. You may like to do something like content writing or images in the beginning and later on start focusing on other formats of content too.

This basically sums up your content strategy.

Content marketing

Content marketing explained

Content marketing explained

This involves folding your sleeves and actually getting down to the grind.

Whatever steps you have listed in your content strategy document, you implement during content marketing. Interestingly, there is a reason why there is “marketing” in content marketing.

Yes, sure, you publish targeted content. But, merely publishing content doesn’t bring you success. You need to “market” that content – you need to promote your content so that maximum number of people can access it and are then drawn to your website or blog.

Marketing is a proactive activity. You need to take steps so that the visibility of your content increases. You improve your search engine rankings. You broadcast newsletter updates. You engage audiences on different social media platforms. You closely watch and follow trends and publish content to leverage them. You make sure that you stick to your content calendar.

Why is content marketing important? I mean, why not simply advertise and promote your business the way people have been doing for decades?

There is a reason why a greater number of businesses are adopting content marketing rather than sticking to the old ways of business promotion. People these days don’t like being sold to. They want you to gain their trust. This is done through publishing valuable content.

On the Internet (and in real life) it is not physically possible to interact with thousands of prospective customers and clients on daily basis. Your content on the other hand can do the job seamlessly.

Content marketing is also called inbound marketing. Inbound marketing means your prospective customers and clients come to your website on their own after accessing your content or while trying to access useful information. It is their decision. It is they who find your link somewhere, click the link, and come to your website.

Outbound marketing on the other hand is a traditional form of marketing where you interrupt people while they’re doing something else.

You assume that they are going to be thrilled at receiving your marketing message, whereas this is not the case. People are annoyed when you are urging them to buy from you while they want to watch their favorite movie, or read an interesting blog post, or watch an enchanting cat video. You’re interrupting them, and you’re not just interrupting them, you’re also urging them to part with their money on an item or service that they may need, but right now, psychologically, are not prepared to buy.

Through content marketing you are simply there. You solve their problems. You keep them engaged. You seed conversations. They become familiar to you. They become comfortable to your presence in their lives (or on their screens). The more familiar you become, the more they trust you.

Here is a good definition of content marketing from this Forbes article (slightly old)

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly-defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

What should a small business focus on, content marketing or content strategy?

Frankly, there is no use doing content marketing without content strategy. Without strategy, your content marketing is going to be haphazard. It will be like throwing darts in the darkness. You may succeed, or you may not succeed.

Creating a content strategy may seem intimidating in the beginning, but it is not. Even if you spend 3 hours every month strategizing your content marketing, or at least, this is what I think, especially if you’re a small business, it is more than enough.

What is strategy after all? It is being aware of your environment, analyzing your environment, and then controlling your actions accordingly, to reach your goal.

For example, a strategy has a swot analysis – your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You may already have good content you can leverage by reusing and repurposing. There may be many gaps you need to fill. There may be some really good and useful topics you can write and publish content on. How is your competition faring? What can you do to beat your competition?

Using your analytics data is also a part of your content strategy and based on that you can give a direction to your content marketing efforts. If you use Google Analytics, your dashboard tells you the type of traffic your content is attracting. Is this the right kind of traffic or you need different traffic?

If you’re thinking in these terms, you are already using content strategy to make your content marketing effective.

What makes your content click

Content writing is not as challenging as it seems sometimes. With little bit of dedication you can create 3-4 blog posts or webpages for your business, and you can also get an unending stream of topics and ideas by visiting other blogs and subscribing to their RSS feeds (you can also search Twitter and Facebook and stumble upon some really good stuff).

The real challenge is to make your content click. What does that mean? Your content publishing and content strategy has an objective or an agenda, right? Why are you spending so much time on creating and publishing content for your website? Fine, the quick answer would be to increase your search engine rankings. But are you really achieving that?

Very few people actually sit down and think about what they are doing when it comes to writing content and implementing a solid content strategy. Your content clicks when it has the desired effect. When you are publishing content you are trying to achieve the following (you may have different priorities though):

  • You want to increase your search engine rankings
  • You want to provide great and valuable content to your visitors so that they keep coming to your website
  • You want to maintain a lively buzz around your online presence
  • You want to educate and inform your prospective customers and clients so they are not in double mind when it comes to doing business with you
  • You want to establish yourself as an authority so that people trust your judgement, respect your knowledge and believe in you when you ask them to do something

These are but a few things you want to achieve through content publishing.

Here I am not talking about the base content on your website: your home page and other business pages. I’m talking about all the extra content that you continuously publish because eventually it is that content that increases your search engine visibility and keeps people hooked on to your website.

So how do you achieve the objectives mentioned above (and many more that you may have in mind)? Here are a few things you can do:

Have a consistent theme

Your visitors must know what they are in for when they visit your website or blog. Then they already have receptive by the time they start reading your content (or watching/viewing in the case of images or video). For instance, if you have a content writing and content strategy business, and if you want to publish a business blog then most of your blog posts must be centered around content writing and content strategy. This way people who are interested in your topic can relate to your blog or website.

Having a consistent theme also shows that you have a lot to say about your business and your expertise. In fact, you have got so much knowledge, that you can constantly share it with your visitors for a long time. Always remember that having a niche is always better than writing for a highly broad audience.

But having a theme doesn’t mean you cannot write on something else. For instance, some of my blog posts talk about SEO, social media and social networking, blogging and even web design and web structuring. I write these posts because I believe that they can help my business as well as my clients.

Provide solution-oriented content

Does your content solve a problem and makes life easier for your visitors? Does it give them what they are looking for? For instance, what do people look for when they come to my website or when they read my blog? They are either looking for a content writer or trying to figure out how they can write content on their own in a better and effective manner. They might also be interested in reading about content strategy – how to formulate it, how to establish it, and then how to implement it.

Provide content people can share

Eventually everything boils down to how much of your content is shared. You might be getting lots of traffic directly from search engines and that is really great, but if you don’t want to solely depend on search engines, then you have to focus a big part of your energies on to encouraging people to share your content through their social media and social networking profiles like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube. But they are not going to share your content simply because you have published it. It should be of great value whether it informs or entertains. People share content mostly for the following reasons:

  • They want to pass some relevant piece of information onto their followers and friends
  • They are curating quality content for later use
  • They want to entertain or make their followers and friends laugh by sharing something funny and amusing
  • They want to trigger a debate or discussion while using your content as a platform and as a central point
  • They want to associate themselves with the standards represented by your content
  • They want to show you that they agree with what you’re saying or disagree with what you’re saying
  • They want to highlight their online presence through the niche you represent and write about
  • They are your parents, siblings or friends who would share anything you post just because they love you and cannot resist that

So if you provide any of the above mentioned reasons people are definitely going to share and promote your content (although the last point may not have much business value but it doesn’t mean it is not important) and be affected by that.

How to fire up your web content strategy

Content StrategyWeb content strategy basically constitutes of publishing what your target audience is looking for, and then making it easily findable.

Are you publishing content on your website or blog for a particular reason? There are two ways of publishing it on your website and leveraging its potential:

  1. Publishing regularly hoping that it will generate enough buzz that will eventually turn into business
  2. Regularly publishing and streamlining it according to your business needs, continuously analyzing the performance of your content and taking follow-up steps

The second way of publishing is what you basically call “web content strategy”. You publish content with a certain intention and continuously try to make sure your web content strategy achieves what it is intended to achieve. Here are a few things you can do to fire up your web content strategy.

What do you want your web content strategy to achieve?

This is a very important question. Don’t simply publish content on your website just because your competitors are doing that. For an effective web content strategy you must need to know what you’re achieving and what are your long-term and short-term goals vis-à-vis publishing content on your website. Do you want to

  • Improve your search engine rankings by publishing keyword-rich content?
  • Make your prospective customers and clients more aware of your products and services?
  • Make your prospective and current customers and clients more aware of the overwhelming benefits of your products and services?
  • Want to keep your visitors engaged?
  • Strengthen your brand presence?
  • Rake up socially relevant issues?
  • Educate and inform your visitors so that they can make better decisions regarding what they should be buying and investing their money in?

Frankly, there can be 1000s of questions you can ask yourself before publishing content but the basic idea is, you should know precisely why you are publishing. The more clear you are, the better direction you will have.

What sort of audience you want to cater to through your web content strategy?

Last year I partnered with a client who wanted to address an audience who remains at the forefront of technology: people who would buy the first iPhone or the iPad or who would start using a pioneering service without waiting for someone else. For instance, people who started using Facebook and Twitter in their early years. The direction of the content was totally different.

So before going ahead with your web content strategy you must know who you’re talking to on a daily basis and then produce content accordingly.

What format of content your audience prefers?

I am a content writer but this doesn’t mean I always recommend text as the most preferred format of producing and publishing content. Different types of content formats can play a crucial role in your overall web content strategy such as video, audio-visual, audio, graphics, images, presentations, slideshows, and of course, text. The format of your content depends on your audience preference and the devices they use. If your audience prefers reading, by all means provide text. If they are more visual types then provide them images and graphics. If their devices can handle streaming video and they prefer that, then provide it.

Make sure that you stay away from the “me too” approach. Just because an XYZ website uses video doesn’t mean that you should use it too. Maybe it works for them, maybe it will, or maybe it won’t for you, or maybe it doesn’t even work for them but they still use it. It’s important to understand what format actually clicks for you and then produce plenty of it.

What channels you use to spread your content?

No matter how outstanding content you’re producing unless people know about it they are neither going to consume it nor promote it. You need to spread your content using proper channels. It can be your website/blog that enjoys lots of traffic. It can be your social media profiles such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. It can be Youtube if video is your primary content format. Nurture different channels and then use them to engage your audience and distribute your content.

How do you track the performance of your web content strategy?

Without tracking performance you are simply throwing darts in the darkness. You need to know whether your web content strategy is delivering or not. Although you won’t have enough data to analyze within a couple of weeks, and you need some ground for scientific analysis, once that initial hurdle is crossed, you need to constantly evaluate how your content performs with different parameters.

You can analyze individual webpages/blog posts in terms of

  • How much traffic they were able to generate
  • What important keywords and key phrases they were able to attract traffic for
  • How many people retweeted and shared them
  • How many people left comments
  • How many people explored further pages of your website after entering through those particular pages/blog posts
  • How many back links were they able to generate, etc.

Please note that these webpages and blog posts may also have indirect effects such as getting you more Twitter followers and Facebook likes and there are surely tools to measure even these indirect effects.

In the end, web content strategy is not your backyard activity. It requires lots of effort, understanding of your own market and figuring out a slew of different matrices.