Long Live the King: The Importance of Content in Modern Marketing

September 21, 2020 Jason Semenek

Long Live the King: Why Content Marketing Is Important

The phrase “Content is King” has been around longer than most of us have been marketers. In fact, it was first coined by none other than Microsoft founder Bill Gates back in January 1996! “Content is King” was the title of an essay he originally published on the Microsoft website, where he predicted the future of the internet before there was much of an internet: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet[...]”

This was back when there were only 100,000 websites, “modern” dial-up modems maxed out at 33.6 Kbps, and new “hi-resolution” 800 x 600 screens had just been introduced.

So, you may be asking yourself – is it possible that content is STILL king, even after all these years? The answer is a resounding “YES!” in ways that even a visionary like Bill Gates could not have foreseen.

In today’s hyper-connected world, search has changed the game in the business world, and now anything can be found. And it is deceptively simple: web searches have become the “go-to source” when someone is looking for advice, answers, or services; high value content pages that are properly optimized will appear at the top of search results and get more “free” traffic from search engines. This organic search traffic is driven by sound technical setup and a solid SEO strategy, and can become a primary source of leads if done right. When you add in paid search, the content you produce becomes your introduction to the world and must be given the proper respect a king deserves.

Follow the Money: Invest in Content Marketing
The ever-growing investment in content is proof of its continuing importance. Studies show that year over year, marketers continue to spend more and more of their marketing budget to support content development. Top leaders recognized long ago that consistent, high-quality, and engaging content is one of the most effective methods of growing audience engagement, developing your brand presence, and driving sales. When the content you produce demonstrates your expertise and provides value, your audience begins to view you as an industry expert. Nurturing this trust can impact decision-making more than any other tactic.

The SEO Trail: Content Marketing and SEO
As modern marketers, we are always immersed in content. All our efforts start and end with the content that we create. However, spending more money on developing new content won’t yield improved results if nobody can find it. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) enters the stage! We must create machine-friendly content that is meaty and SEO optimized, so that human readers can find and benefit from what you’ve produced. It is no longer a matter of “more volume” – your content needs to be more relevant, more valuable, and more optimized than the competition in order to win the search game. You need to think beyond the latest features or bells-and-whistles, and focus on solving the problem that your reader is looking to solve. That means, above all, putting your audience first.

Data – A Blessing and a Curse: How to Measure Content Marketing
In order to improve, you need to measure. Modern marketers have the benefit of analytics, often a double-edged sword, at their fingertips thanks to free services (like Google Analytics) and more robust services (like HubSpot Analytics). With this gift comes a price: an increased demand for not just detailed reporting, but a constant push to improve the results of those reports. What better way to show business improvements than through content that outperforms the competition and delivers solid results? This data-forward focus has given birth to an entire “Inbound Marketing” generation, thanks to companies like HubSpot constantly pushing the envelope of what is possible in digital marketing.

Spread Your Wings: Content Distribution Channels
So how do you improve your impact and get more people to see your content? Getting traffic to your content so that it can be consumed by your target audience is a common challenge. As with most digital challenges, there are a myriad of solutions available…for a price! Naturally, your content needs to be placed on your website. But how else can you get more eyes on the prize? There are many digital distribution channels which often outperform your website in terms of driving engagement. Emailing your house list is a given, as is spreading the word via social media platforms. Aside from these “free” channels, you might also want to consider paid channels to help expand your reach beyond those you already know. The new digital distribution toolbox contains paid search, paid social ads, paid content networks, content syndication, and paid placements. Modern marketers need to have enough budget available to invest in the marketing technology needed to allow customers to find your content.

Variety is the Spice of Life: How to Create a Content Marketing Plan
In addition to a variety of distribution channels, marketers also need to think about what kind of content to create for each channel, and for each consumer. The web may have started as a series of long text-based articles (think whitepaper format), and there is still much great content in this format. But as the capabilities of the web have grown, so has the demand for varied content. Studies have shown that there are different types of learners – some of us learn best by reading, some by watching a video, and some by listening to a speaker. Some of us like to dive deep into a topic all at once, and others prefer short snippets of information. Many like to see the “story,” and some like to see the pictures. As digital content producers, it is up to us to provide content in the format and style that the reader expects. After all, the key is engagement. If all of the content you produce is in the same format, you will inevitably leave some of your audience behind. It is time to start thinking about shorter content, videos, podcasts, infographics, and more! Let your creative side shine!

People Buy Experiences, Not Things: Mapping Content to your Personas and the Buyer's Journey
This twist on a common Instagram meme holds true for marketers: your customers buy the experience you provide, not just the thing you are selling. To put it another way, your customers don’t care about your product…they care about how your product can help them. In the end, the content you produce has to be focused on the consumer, not on what you want to say. And this is where the buyer’s journey (the steps a prospect takes towards making a purchase), personas (the specific traits of your ideal buyer), and your content intersect. In order for your content to be useful and effective, it has to be part of a potential customer’s journey towards purchase and be based on their persona. In the modern purchasing journey, a significant part of the decision-making process can happen across multiple digital channels without the prospect ever interacting with a salesperson. Having the RIGHT content is the key to leading your ideal prospects towards a purchase. But you can’t just blurt your content and throw it to the wind! Your content needs to be part of a bigger experience. According to Forrester, a consistent customer experience helps build a trusted brand, and the content you produce is a big part of that experience.

Content Marketing Strategy 101: Plan, Produce, Analyze, Repeat!
There is so much to think about when producing content that it is sometimes overwhelming. So, where do you start? With a plan. You need to conduct a content audit to understand what you have, and how it fits into the big picture. This will allow you to identify the gaps, which can then become the priority for future content. But it doesn’t end there! A common mistake is developing content but not taking the time to assess the content. Without this critical step, you’ll never know if your efforts are making a difference. Using data to evaluate your content allows you to identify successes and failures (or as I like to call them – successes and opportunities for improvement) and incorporate those learnings into your ongoing strategy. Remember, content strategy is a long game. By having a plan and reacting to the results, you ensure that your short-term strategy fits with the long-term needs of your content development plan.

Long Live the King: Summary and Content Marketing Services
A lot has changed in the almost-25 years since Bill Gates’ prediction that content would rule the internet. We have a world of information at our fingertips, and we can find that information faster than ever. And as predicted, quality content has become the driver of success.

Remember: solid content attracts real leads, which generate true ROI. Don’t let all your hard work end up in the content graveyard, quietly wasting away with nobody engaging with it. Instead, it is your job as a modern marketer to turn content production into a selling machine by providing the right content to the right audience at the right time. Heard that before? Sure, but cliché or not, content is still the king when it comes to digital marketing.

Join us on a content discovery journey. Watch for more great content as we dive deeper into what makes good content (for both machines and people), how to distribute that content, and strategy development & analysis. We’ll even take a look at the future of content, and how the landscape is changing to meet the demands of the next 25 years.

If you are ready to take the next step in your content journey, Tegrita can help! We’ve worked with clients across multiple industries to audit their existing content, review the content production process, and help them develop a robust strategy for content that goes beyond a simple calendar. Our experts go deep into your content, considering your unique personas and buyers’ journeys (or even helping you develop these critical items). Then, during a 2-day intensive onsite workshop or over the course of several weeks remotely, we’ll work closely with you and your team to identify gaps and opportunities, discuss best practices and technology possibilities, and help your team come away with a clear plan for your content.

Contact us to learn more about Tegrita’s Content Marketing and Content Experience services – designed based on what works for our clients and refined using proven practices.

Did you know? Tegrita is an Uberflip partner, and can help you with configuration and customization. If you are looking to supercharge your content experience, our team of experts is trained and ready to manage and optimize your Uberflip hub to provide your visitors with the best content experience possible.

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