This is a guest post by Secta Security’s Yvette McKenzie
There are so many types of content out there in 2017 so what should you focus on to gain the most engagement? Your digital marketing strategy for the year should be well underway but there are many opportunities to follow through with various content solutions to connect to your customers and new audiences in a variety of ways by using these three disparate content types.
Let’s have a look at three of the cornerstones of most contemporary content strategies; blogging as a platform for content; video as a means of brand awareness; and infographics; those visual summaries of information that retain their popularity for a number of reasons.
Why it’s important to focus on content strategy within digital marketing
According to a recent study, 60% of marketers create at least one piece of content each day – but how can those interested in Return On Investment (ROI) know that these content formats are proving their worth within a marketing strategy?
The good news is that tracking content results is becoming more refined, thanks to Google Analytics dashboards, tools such as SEM Rush and the popular SEO tool, the MOZ bar, which allows users to track performance across several metrics such as domain authority (DA), traffic, bounce rate and earned links.
The US-based Kapost blog recently featured another study commissioned by digital agency Aberdeen that found that year-on-year growth in unique site traffic was nearly eight times greater for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs 2.5%).
2016 stats reveal that up to 71% of customers were influenced by a custom-content strategy and this number is prospected to grow towards 2018 and beyond. Put simply, a contemporary digital marketing plan will make use of a robust content strategy to raise the core website’s SEO metrics, to influence buyer behaviour, build consumer trust and to reach new and diverse audiences.
But what should your content strategy focus on? Is blogging still relevant, and what other types of content should your engagement plan focus on in the coming months towards 2018? Let’s examine three of the most well-known and user-friendly content types for their effectiveness.
Blogging, longform content and traditional articles (whitepapers, eBooks and mini sites)
2017 saw the rise of many websites publishing articles (ironically often in blog form) that posed the question, “Is blogging dead?” The answer is an unequivocal: “No!” In traditional marketing, reaching the consumer via written content has always been a cornerstone of any engagement activity and today is no different, except for the fact that publishing became (and remains) more accessible to all types of businesses, no matter their size.
The problem is: not everyone was blogging with a strategy in mind.
Towards 2018 blogging is still one of the best ways to organically raise your website’s SEO metrics by targeting user-friendly content around your core product to connect with your audience. Good, strategised blogging with the end result in mind is still one of the best ways to build consumer trust via Brand Awareness, by focusing on Top of the Funnel (TOFU), Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) and Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) content, to draw your customers through the consumer journey towards the end goal.
Reaching new audiences via different channels is impossible without serving them something of value, whether it’s a blog post, study, eBook, brand differentiation promise or other “hook”. Blogging also allows a creative approach to tell an authentic story to segregate you from your competitors. It is via a thought out, well planned and strategised blogging plan that your business can cover broad topics to engage and delight.
Recent studies from 2016 reveal that 23% of all time spent online is focused on social media – and reading blog content related sites – put simply, your users and customers spend a lot of time online and getting valuable blog content in front of them is a cornerstone of a successful marketing strategy.
Benefits of video; branded, user-generated, motion graphics
Although generally more expensive and time consuming to produce, videos in their various formats are still a terrific way to engage your customers towards 2018. According to Lindsay Kolowich from HubSpot, “Video is no longer an ‘up-and-coming’ marketing tactic – it’s here, and it’s a powerful way to communicate your brand story, explain your value proposition, and build relationships with your customers and prospects.”
Recent statistics from 2016 indicate that including video on a marketing landing page is likely to increase conversion rates by approximately 80%. Other stats reveal that 92% of mobile video consumers share videos with others, making video an essential string in your marketing strategy bow.
Let’s face it; some people are time poor and/or visually focused, making video platforms a great way to engage them. Video also allows digital marketers to target different markets. Some brands are experimenting with different kinds of video, such as subscriber channels, user-created content and branded vs. non-branded. It’s also becoming (relatively) easier to create quality content on a lower budget than was needed previously as technology and platforms become more refined.
Benefits of infographics; static, animated and responsive
Usually seen in a simple JPG or PNG format, infographics can also be animated or interactive and are increasingly being designed to perform satisfactorily on various types of devices, from mobile, to tablet to desktop.
Infographics are a visual representation of an idea, concept, journey or other piece of content and some marketers believe them to be underused in a contemporary digital strategy. Infographics can therefore have essential “cut-through” and wide consumer outreach.
They also perform well for community outreach, where they can be shared, go viral and even be republished with minimal chance of “duplicate” penalty, so long as they have a unique and well thought-out journalistic and valuable intro, relevant to the consumer and/or platform.
Infographics also offer many digital marketing benefits, for example, their value to email campaigns, where they can relay complex information in a user-friendly format. “Today, SEO and content are inseparable and dependent on each other,” according to Indago Digital. “For SEO to be successful, you need high quality engaging content… sales copy, blog articles, infographics etc. and your content needs to reflect your brand and stand out.”
According to a recent social media report, after blogging, visuals were ranked as the most important content type, ahead of videos by 34% of marketers. Quality infographics can be created relatively easily and with some planning, can be evergreen or time-sensitive depending on your business needs.
The importance of a split regime for your content strategy
A robust content strategy will be planned well in advance but with room to move. Nothing you do or plan should be set in stone, as market and business conditions shift and change. Allow your content strategy to have room to move to reap the best results.
An effective content mix is essential. Peyman Nilforoush, a marketing CEO, entrepreneur and visionary, writes that “85% of consumers regularly or occasionally seek expert content (such as credible, third-party articles) when considering a purchase.”
In-depth, unbiased knowledge of the brand or product they are considering is now part of the consumer journey. Your content strategy should be flexible but also include different content types, platforms and formats to keep your brand fresh and agile.
Tracking and measuring results
A content strategy without data tracking will be ineffective, or at worst, counter-productive. Remember to reassess, track and tweak as the year progresses and don’t be afraid to experiment, and to cut what simply isn’t working. That said, great content takes time to work – you should not expect things to happen overnight in all instances, although that can often be the best-case scenario.
A recent annual B2B content marketing trends report revealed the worrying metric that only 42% of content marketers believed they were being effective in their strategy. The report also indicated that only 44% of marketers have a planned content marketing strategy, which might go some way as to explaining why content marketers felt so overwhelmed.
Data reporting should be done at set points throughout the year, always at the quarter but often more frequently. Using a range of tools to achieve this is an imperative function of your marketing plan. Try out new tools and products and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your users and customers – that’s all part of the content marketing journey.
All set for 2018? What’s next for your brand?
Using a mix of blogging, video and infographics is still hugely relevant to your content strategy for 2017 and beyond. Get the mix right and drive better, more informed customer buying behaviour. Experiment, plan and measure – and ascribe your content strategy the budget it deserves to achieve optimal results.
Yvette McKenzie is a writer for Secta Security. She works for a leading online educator and has a background in broadcast media, with a passion for digital marketing, SEO, promotions, journalism and content strategy.
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