The phrase â€œcontent marketingâ€ is a relatively recent addition to our vocabulary. Content marketing itself has been around for a long time, though. As early as 1900, several well-known brands were publishing magazine articles offering advice to readers. John Deere, for instance, launched a magazine giving farmers tips on how to become more profitable.
The advent of the Internet has done both a service and a disservice to the concept of content marketing.
The Good News
The good news is that content marketing is readily available, both to create and to consume. In the old days, when you had to pay hefty dollars for the privilege of publishing something in print media, only companies with money could afford to reach potential customers in this way. Small businesses, with their limited budgets, had a much more difficult time.
The content marketing landscape is very different today. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can create and publish content online. It is an inexpensive marketing tool, one that is now accessible to businesses of all shapes and sizes.
In addition to being inexpensive, online content marketing is extremely effective. According to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), Canadians are still the global leaders when it comes to Internet usage. The average Canadian visits over 3,700 web pages per month. More than half of Canadian consumers have used the Internet to order a product or service, and about three quarters have based purchase decisions fully or partially on information they have learned through online research.
What this means is that Canadian consumers are an eager audience of content marketing, and this creates immense opportunities for the businesses who want to reach them.
The Bad News
The bad news, of course, is that as easy as it is to create content, itâ€™s not as easy to create content that is appealing to consumers. People who use the Internet are ruthless: if their first impression of a web page is not positive, they will instantly close that website with one swift, brutal click. And there are no second chances. If someone doesnâ€™t like a website the first time they visit it, they are highly unlikely to return.
Content marketers have their work cut out for them, as they strive to create content that stands above the competition. It is no longer enough to simply create good content. The Internet is so full of information that consumers only have the time and inclination to look at the true gems that are unique enough to really stand out.
Back to the Good News
Itâ€™s not all doom and gloom, though. Businesses can conduct effective content marketing by following a few simple steps:
- Know the difference between content marketing and sales pitching. Few things annoy consumers more than looking for information or advice and finding desperate pleas or aggressive demands to buy a product or service.
- Avoid clickbait titles at all costs. Clickbait is exactly what it sounds like: a misleading title that entices consumers to click onto an article that does not live up to what was expected. Businesses that use this tactic do so in an attempt to artificially increase their page views, but it can backfire badly. Not only will it not generate new customers, it can make existing customers get fed up and leave.
- Be careful about listicles. Listicles are content presented in the form of a list, like â€œ20 Random Facts About Marsâ€. They are very popular, but when each point on the list appears on its own very slow-loading page, they can be annoying. One option, of course, is to simply list all list items on one page. Another is to list them on multiple pages, but ensure that the pages are not jammed with content and scripts that take a long time to load.
- Pay attention to SEO. There is no point in creating fantastic content if nobody is going to see it. Optimize your content so that it appears high up in search engine results. If your article is buried on the fifth page of a Google search, itâ€™s probably not going to get a lot of attention.
- Consider hiring a professional. It could be well worth your while to engage the services of an Internet marketing professional, who will take the time to properly analyze your business and the competitive space it operates in, and create a digital marketing strategy that incorporates effective content marketing.