Most marketers understand that content marketing is no longer optional – it’s a requirement. So nearly all of us write blogs, publish white papers, and create a variety of eBooks and PDF’s that are available for download on our websites. At SXSW this year, Jay Baer of The Content Marketing Institute said the biggest content marketing challenges revolve around creating and publishing content.
He reported that the institute’s surveys show that the biggest content marketing challenges include:
- Producing the kind of content that engages prospects or customers (41%)
- Producing enough content (20%)
- Finding the budget to produce content (18%)
- Lack of buy-in or vision from top management (12%).
Unfortunately, just producing great content is only the first step. Promoting the content once it’s produced can seem like an even bigger challenge, especially in marketing departments already stretched thin by several years of recessionary budget cuts.
There are many ways to promote content, but if you face common time and budget constraints, here are five high-impact, free content marketing tips that can dramatically increase traffic to your site, and build a loyal audience for your content.
SEO / Keyword integration
Making it easy for the search engines to find, rank, and report on your content is the first step. Do this as soon as you have a final draft of your blog post, white paper, or landing page.
Scan through what you’ve written, and pick out the main topics it covers. Then plug those terms or phrases into Google’s free keyword suggestion tool. (eHow has a basic tutorial on how to use this tool if it’s new to you.) Once you’ve taken note of the most popular search terms and variations in phrasing and wording, go back and beef up your title, meta description, and tags with those popular terms/phases.
You’ll want to repeat the keywords you select two or three times, but don’t overdo it. SEO optimized copy doesn’t have to be stilted and packed with keywords to be effective. Content marketing, after all, starts with well-written content – so don’t ruin the flow of your prose by packing in too many long-tail keywords and phrases.
If you blog, you have access to a built-in tool that’s both powerful and widely misunderstood. That’s the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. RSS lets you automatically feed content to many different places, including many social networking sites.
All you do is plug your RSS feed into social networking sites or profiles. So when you hit “publish” on a new blog post, content is automatically “pushed” to those sites. This expands your reach and saves hours of time compared to manually posting content.
Best of all, it’s a one-time set-up. You can set up automatic syndication for Facebook Business Pages, LinkedIn Personal Profiles, Google+, and many other social sites, from Ning Community Sites to smaller business networking sites like Plaxo.
A few years ago, social bookmarking – that is submitting your content to popular social bookmarking sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit and the others was a sure-fire road to high traffic. There are no guarantees anymore, largely due to the sheer volume of content submitted to these sites every day, but it’s still a source of great traffic, backlinks, and overall exposure.
Social booking sites are like peer-reviewed content – it others bookmark your content, it lends credibility and importance to it. This is also true of some kinds of “content scrapers”, such as the ScoopIt and Paper.li “publishers” who aggregate content. You have the choice of opting out, but many content marketers find it better to allow (or even court) these well-meaning people to share content. Almost 20% of the traffic to this blog, especially the ongoing traffic to older posts, comes from content aggregators and social bookmarking sites.
How many people in your company use a marketing or IT-generated email signature file on their messages every day? Adding a link to the company blog or resource library to those signature files is a powerful way to reach people who might not otherwise find your new content.
Some email platforms have apps that will automatically put your latest blog post headline into an email signature file – Wisestamp for example, adds links to social media sites and new content automatically to various webmail platforms, and has announced a version for Microsoft Outlook.
But even if you have to do it manually, it’s worth doing. A routine email to a prospect, vendor, or client might lead them to content that creates a real opportunity for you.
And don’t forget to send email to specific customers you think could really benefit from what you’ve posted. You don’t want to spam people several times a week, but few people mind an occasional email that says, “I was thinking of you when I wrote this – it could really help your business.”
Include content links in an eNewsletter
If you publish a monthly eNewsletter, include at least some of your blog content in each issue. (If you don’t publish one, why not? It’s one of the lowest-cost ways to build an opt-in email list, keep in touch with prospects and customers, and build traffic for your content.)
The analytics for your newsletter, your website, and your blog will combine to show you which posts get the most clicks. It’s a great way to identify topics that really resonate with your audience, so you know what to write about in the future.
Those are our content marketing tips for this week — what did we miss? Share your best content marketing tips in the comments!