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Keep content marketing relevant

Brands must leave behind bad content marketing practices and focus on those that add real value to the business, which means honing in on the ways that content marketing can build the brand as well as better customer relationships, says DIANE CHARTON.

After years of hype about content marketing, we’re seeing a backlash against the concept from consumers and brands alike. But this doesn’t spell the end of content marketing. Rather, it means brands must leave behind bad content marketing practices and focus on those that add real value to the business.

That means honing in on the ways that content marketing can build the brand as well as better customer relationships.

Many brands think that content marketing is cheap – it’s not. It can be valuable, but making it work for you demands some level of commitment and investment. Here are four ways that you can ensure that your content marketing investments give you good returns.

1. Invest in quality rather than quantity

There are more people in the world creating content than ever before – professional media organisations, brands and individuals. It’s fair to say that a high proportion of that content is poor or useless.

In that context, there’s no point in trying to make yourself heard by churning out more content than all the other organisations and people competing for attention. Instead, set yourself apart by creating high-quality content that is useful and interesting to your reader.

2. Focus on the customer’s needs

Too much content marketing is from a broadcast-led mentality rather than a customer-led strategy. Many marketers start out thinking about the product they’re trying to sell or the brand image they want to cultivate. Rather than starting out by thinking about the messages and content you want to get to the market, go back to your customers’ needs and wants. Who are they and what do they care about?

Create content that will mean something to them, content that is valuable and relevant to their interests. Also, where possible, use your CRM databases to personalise the content you distribute to customers through your direct marketing channels – everyone likes to feel they are treated as individuals.

3. Align content marketing with SEO

Many brands have yet to pull SEO and content marketing into alignment. Your content strategy and generation teams should work closely with the search agency or team to optimise the results you get from both practices.

Again, put yourself in the shoes of your customers – what content are they looking for and which search terms do they use to find it? With the right search terms backed up by high-quality content, you can turbo-charge your content marketing and search strategies alike.

4. Spend money on making content visible

Thanks to the way the likes of Facebook have changed their algorithms to push advertiser content, it’s harder to get visibility for your content on social platforms than it used to be. There’s no guarantee that users that follow you on Facebook will see as much of their content on their feeds as you’d like them to.

You can rebel against this situation by trying to use other platforms (your own web site, mobile apps, email) to interact with customers on your own terms. But it’s not that easy to build an audience on your own platforms, especially with users so caught up in the networks of the social media channels they use every day.

That means you may need to spend money making your content visible, whether through Facebook ads, promoted posts on Twitter, paid search or even display. There’s no point in creating great content if no one knows about it. Content marketing doesn’t replace advertising – advertising complements your content marketing by bringing users to your own content channels.

* Diane Charton, marketing and communications course lecturer at Red & Yellow.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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