Four Reasons Why Content Marketing Drives Traffic (and Revenue)

Many experts predict that 2015 will be a big year for content marketing. According to recent studies, more than half of content marketing budgets will be increased in 2015, and content marketing alone will be a $100 billion industry sometime in the near future.

There is no question that content marketing is increasingly being adopted and expanded across a wide range of industries and economic sectors. The real question is: why?

The bottom line is that content marketing has proven to be an effective way to drive both traffic and revenue to companies, often at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing efforts. The following are a few of the specific ways that content marketing can help drive both traffic and revenue to your company.

High-quality content is essential to getting ranked on Google

Over the years, Google has made constant updates to its search engine in an effort to serve better results to their users. One of the ways Google has accomplished this is by directly combating marketing firms that tried to “game” the search engine by simply “keyword stuffing” low-quality content. In the past, these low-quality articles could often find themselves at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), even though they were clearly not the best result for users. In response, Google has changed their algorithm to highly value quality of content over simply the right quantity of words.

These ongoing changes mean that it is increasingly important for marketers to produce high-quality content that provides useful and unique information. Doing so can mean the difference between being highly ranked on Google and not showing up at all.

Content marketing is a one-time cost that results in long-term benefits that aggregate

Content marketing is one of the most cost-effective methods for building web traffic and sales, when looking at the long-term. While it can take some time for the benefits of content marketing to really show themselves, it is important to remember two characteristics of content marketing:

  • Content written is paid for once, but the benefits essentially exist in perpetuity, as the content will remain on the Internet for a long as a company chooses to keep it there.
  • As the number of content pieces builds, a company can provide an increasingly comprehensive store of related information, which is valued both by a company’s target audience and by Google’s search algorithms.

Content is an effective way to convert traffic into revenue

Studies also increasingly show that Internet users (and particularly Millennials) do not like, and will not respond positively to the “hard sell”. Content marketing allows a company to position the benefits and rationale for a product or service in a non-threatening and non-aggressive way. At the same time, content can provide a powerful and convincing argument for an idea, product, or service without coming across as simply a sales tactic.

Content marketing is a great way to engage with your audience and build brand awareness

Content marketing is one of the best returns on investment in any marketing budget because the brand awareness it can help generate is long-lasting and comes at far less cost than more traditional paid advertising. At the same time, content marketing encourages an audience to engage with the company, and with each other, through a commenting system or on social media platforms.

At the end of the day, content marketing is popular because it is an effective way to reach your target audience in a friendly and engaging, yet also informative and persuasive way.


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Why Google Makes Content Marketing Better For Everyone

Google is perhaps the most well-known Internet company on the face of the Earth. It is by far the largest search engine in the world (by a large margin), and where a Web page ends up on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) can be the difference between success and failure. With such importance, it stands to reason that Google has an impact on a wide range of business aspects, including the content marketing industry.

Ongoing Evolution

Google’s search engine is constantly being updated, the most recent series of updates being known collectively as the “Penguin” updates. Google’s primary goal is keeping and growing its share of the search engine industry, particularly because Google’s search engine remains its primary revenue driver. This means that Google is in a constant battle with individuals and organizations that want to manipulate Google’s search engine algorithm to their benefit.

Google has constantly made updates and iterations to its algorithm with one primary goal in mind: improving the quality of search results. Over time, this has meant an increasing focus on high-quality, unique and lengthy content as opposed to generic content filled with the “perfect” cocktail of keywords.

These changes are a good thing for everyone (except those who were used to exploiting Google’s algorithm). Google benefits because it is able to provide a higher-quality experience for its users while the users themselves are able to find better content from their searches.

That being said, the question of companies that do not aim to “game” Google’s algorithm but simply want to generate traffic through Google searches should be considered, as well.

How Companies and Marketers Adapt

Back in 2013 and 2014, when Google made major changes to its algorithm, many companies were terrified to see that their website traffic dropped dramatically. It seemed like overnight, the number of hits their pages were receiving from Google cratered almost to nothing, and many were frantic to understand exactly how this could happen. As it turned out, many companies had trusted their Internet marketing strategies to companies that had simply posted low-quality, generic fluff on their clients’ websites while charging exorbitant premiums for the content. While this strategy had worked in the past, Google’s algorithms were updated to no longer allow this type of practice to be effective.

The digital marketing industry was forced to adapt. Those who were unwilling or unable to do so lost business (and ultimately went or will go out of business themselves) while those who were able to adjust to the new reality of “quality and quantity” were able to thrive. This, in turn, caused what could be called a renaissance in the content marketing industry.

Quality Is King

Content marketing in 2015 looks completely different than it did just a few short years ago. Today, content marketing is all about providing high-quality, unique, shareable content for readers. Instead of trying to game the system by keyword stuffing, content marketing is about providing real value.

It is worth noting that the ultimate goal of content marketing has remained largely unchanged. That is to say, content marketing is still about driving traffic and conversions for a company. However, the method for accomplishing that goal is now audience-focused instead of simply focused on how to manipulate Google’s search engine algorithms to artificially boost a website’s traffic and SERP ranking.

For companies willing to adjust to the new realities of content marketing, the future is certainly bright. The key is learning to evolve alongside Google’s constantly improved algorithms. While it might seem like a lot of work, it truly is a win-win for everyone involved.


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Online Marketing Trends in 2015

Online marketing, or digital marketing, has grown rapidly in recent years.  Two things are clear: online marketing is here to stay, and its growth is only set to accelerate in the future. The following are four of the trends expected to show themselves in 2015.

  1. Content marketing will become increasingly important
    Content marketing was one of the stars of 2014, and 2015 is set to continue and accelerate that trend. According to recent reports, more than half of business-to-business marketers are significantly increasing their budgets for content marketing in 2015. In addition, the type of content will shift toward long-form content, such as white papers, long blog posts and in-depth articles. Content marketing is becoming a vehicle not only for companies to market themselves but also to establish themselves as thought leaders in their niche or industry while also generating a loyal community or readership.

    At the same time, there will still be a significant market for short-form content, which will primarily be utilized on social media platforms as a way to generate viral content.

  2. Social media marketing will increasingly focus on mobile marketing
    There are now more than 1 billion smartphone users worldwide. These users represent the most important segment of the Internet economy, as they are the ones who use the Internet the most, are the most engaged, and are most willing to post and share content – thereby contributing to content going viral. As a result, online marketing will continue to focus on content that is optimized for the mobile format, which includes short-form content marketing, as well as social media advertising that is focused on the mobile platforms.
  3. Email marketing will evolve
    Email is one of the oldest technologies of the Internet and is sometimes overlooked by marketing agencies and departments that might prefer to utilize flashier and more cutting-edge digital marketing strategies. Nevertheless, email remains one of the most important marketing tools available, and 2015 promises to be another big year for email marketing.

    That being said, email marketing will also see a significant increase in the number and quality of tools available for marketing campaigns. One of the most significant trends is an increase in email analytics data, which helps marketers determine how often emails are opened and how often the links within those emails are clicked. The ability to determine which emails are most effective can then be used to create more effective email campaigns.

    Email is also increasingly being used as a gateway to social media channels. In the past, email was largely considered its own section of an overall marketing strategy. However, the goal of email marketing campaigns is increasingly to drive traffic to social media platforms, where that traffic can be presented with a company’s social media marketing campaign.

  4. Digital marketing budgets will increase
    Perhaps the most fundamental trend in digital marketing is the fact that the industry is growing rapidly. With the number of Internet users increasing and knowledge about how to monetize that traffic increasing at the same time, it makes sense that budgets directed toward these efforts would grow as well.

    According to recent reports, about 80 percent of companies are expected to increase their digital marketing budgets in 2015, with the vast majority of those companies expecting to increase their budgets between 5 and 15 percent.

    At the same time, the number of workers in the digital marketing industry is expanding as well, with digital/social, content creation, data/analytics and mobile strategy among the skills most highly valued by marketing agencies hiring new employees.


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Seven Tips to Get Sales and Marketing Working Together

While there will probably always be some good-natured joking about whether the marketing division or the sales team is more important, ultimately both have to be in synch. After all, all teams within the same company are on the same side. Facilitating an effective marketing and sales alignment can be one of the greatest communication difficulties managers and team leaders are likely to face. These tips will help keep everyone working together and focused on sales enablement.

  1. Funnel stages should be defined by the entire team
    Since sales and marketing are looking at the sales pipeline from somewhat different perspectives, each is likely to develop their own take on the various funnel stages. This can lead to a radically different distribution of resources, emphasis, and overall team focus. To prevent this, get the entire group together to define these important stages.
  2. Work out a service level agreement
    This tip has a lot in common with the first. Being very clear about the KPIs for each team as well as remediation activities if these goals are not met will help prevent some of the misunderstandings that can hamper team effectiveness. Even if this agreement appears to have little to do with, for instance, content marketing or other campaign particulars, providing both teams with the same information is important.
  3. Communicate campaigns
    The particulars of a campaign can be lost through poor communication. Members of the marketing team need to provide their sales counterparts with all the details of new, current, and on-going campaigns. This will help sales members effectively communicate with customers and other target audience members.  Internal newsletters can be used to communicate campaign activity as well as share wins, solutions, and new ideas. These short bursts of information encourage engagement, too.
  4. Provide talking points for follow-up
    Providing email templates and talking points drastically improves the effectiveness and efficiency of your sales force as they follow up with their prospects. Also, these simple steps ensure that everyone is communicating the same differentiated points and messages. In the end, everyone wins.
  5. Share performance indicators across teams
    Marketing and sales are going to have slightly different key performance indicators and will, therefore, see a somewhat different set of results. Keeping both teams informed of what their partners’ KPIs are and about the various goals reached will help strengthen the communication between groups. Less catch-up will have to be done during meetings since this important topic is already somewhat familiar to all members.
  6. Score leads
    The goal of alignment is to ensure that the sales team receives warm leads that are in the buying process. Make sure that lead activity is tracked and scored appropriately. This will help keep everyone motivated to nurture weaker leads into strong ones.  There is not a perfect scoring process so continuously adjust your lead scoring program to improve MQL to SQL conversion metrics.
  7. Be open to feedback
    Effective communication flows more than one direction. Marketing leaders need to tap into the sales force’s intimate knowledge of the customer.  Incorporating the feedback into sales collateral and marketing programs improves the performance for everyone. Most importantly, adapting demonstrates responsive leadership skills and the ability to respond dynamically to changing circumstances.

These seven tips might be some of the first tools in your kit for marketing-sales collaboration but they certainly will not be the last. As these two important teams become aligned, leaders will discover many other ways of promoting collective synergy.

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