Maybe you're not a writer, but that doesn't mean you can't write. Content marketing, and blogging in particular, is something every business should be doing. Don't ignore it because you're not a Pulitzer Prize Winner. Content marketing is beneficial, but what's the secret to success? How do you become good at content marketing?
For starters, you shouldn't start creating more content for the sake of more content. Don't be an ape with a typewriter. The Internet already has enough frivolous and duplicate information. Rather, it means to use content to create connections with readers, who in turn, may become customers.
Readers want content (blogs, infographics, emails, guides, ect.) that entertains, educates and empowers them to make informed decisions.
Just so you don’t think I’m making all this up, here’s a comprehensive study conducted by Google about optimizing website content for search. It’s 32 pages long. This blog post is about 1,000 words. Reading this post will save you the time and still provide you the important takeaways. Let’s take a look at how you can use content to benefit your business.
Create content primarily for your readers, not search engines.
Google wants your traffic to come from increased user engagement, not some sort of SEO gaming of the Google algorithm – and this is more than just a passing thought.
In an article by Marketing Land, the publication says that Google’s new search algorithms are taking aim at low quality content. Specifically, Google is punishing websites with thin content, duplicate content and “machine-generated content“.
With this focus on delivering unique, quality content to users, how should a small business approach content marketing?
Are you not entertained?
No, don’t go all gladiator on your audience, but their enjoyment is crucial. Put on a good show, as they say. I spent a few years as full-time minister (now I just volunteer). In my years of ministry experience, I’ve learned that just because people listen does not mean they want to listen. In fact, many church goers would rather I stop preaching! They'd rather get on with the more important parts of their day...like lunch.
So I flipped the script. I decided to do five minutes of stand-up comedy at a local club.
It was the most terrifying experience of my life.
Unlike preaching, comedy forced me to think about how the information would be received and enjoyed by my audience. If they weren't enjoying themselves, I would know.
I began to write my content from their perspective, not mine. Regardless of the different relationships, experiences or circumstances I wanted in my material, it had to be delivered in a way that my audience could find relatable and entertaining (and hopefully they would laugh until their stomachs hurt).
The key to comedy is to cut 90 percent of everything you write. In order to keep your audience entertained, you have to focus more on quality than quantity. If you work hard and deliver a handful of really funny jokes, your audience will be remember you more than an if you performed an entire set of so-so jokes.
The same principle applies for a blog post. Often, you only have one chance to make a great first impression. Treat every blog post like it's your last joke of the night. You have to leave your audience with something they will keep thinking about.
Remember, you are writing for the fulfillment of your readers, not the search engine. Set your business's content apart from the Internet's mind-numbing stream of consciousness by listening to your audience. They will let you know what content they enjoy. Study the most visited pages on your website. Check out which blog post is being shared on social media. Keep an eye on popular search terms for your industry. This information will help you write content that better resonates with you audience.
Take your audience back to school.
Everything you could ever need to write hundreds of blog articles is already tucked away in that head of yours. Readers come to your blog because they trust you as an industry expert. You’re the authoritative voice. Make sure you use that to your advantage by providing useful and insightful content. But, with that being said, translating information from your head to the page is not an easy process.
The hard truth is that it will take about ten times longer for me to write this blog than it takes for you to read it. And if you are part of the 80 percent of readers who only read the subject headings, the ratio becomes even more defeating (not that you will care, subject heading reader!)
So why do it? Why take the time and effort to give people entertaining and educational content? Because it will pay-off.
Think about what your readers want to know. What are the FAQs that your business answers on a daily basis? "What steps can I take to save money on my heating bill?" "What are some things to keep in mind when buying a house?" "Should I be concerned with the sound my car makes when I hit the break?" Your content should answer these questions. It will build trust and loyalty. Quality content solves problems and answers questions.
Make your audience act.
There’s a great quote by Zig Ziglar that goes, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
Now that you have informed your readers by writing an entertaining and informative blog, what do you want them to do after reading your blog?
This isn’t a trick question. You should have an actionable goal in mind. Readers won't always take this action, but you should always prepare like they will.
If you readers are not entertained, then they won’t stick around long enough to be educated (hello, high bounce rate). If they aren't educated, then they will not feel empowered to act. These components are all connected. The best action a reader can take is moving to the next step in the buying cycle – join an email list, download coupons, view plans and prices, schedule a consultation, etc.
The key is to use content to convince the reader that your business’s personality is attractive and relatable. You also need to demonstrate that your thoughts and ideas carry authority. Then, and only then, will a reader think about taking the next step.
If you are looking for the bottom line, here it is: quality content is king. Make it user focused. Make it engaging. This will help you bring new readers in and old readers back. And eventually, if you keep employing the three “E’s” (entertain, educate and empower) in your content, you will turn readers into customers.