For many digital marketers, content marketing is a proven tactic to increase website traffic. In theory, by creating and promoting quality content, you can earn referral traffic to your website and valuable inbound links that contribute to SEO.
If you think purely in those terms, you may achieve moderate success with content marketing, but you’d be missing the true potential. By taking a broader strategic view, your content can achieve referral and organic traffic and, even better, customers too.
Is your content off-brand?
When marketers take a blinkered view of content creation by being purely about building organic and referral traffic, the content they create tends to stray off brand and becomes disjointed from the overall marketing objective.
You end up gambling a lot of time and energy creating content that has very limited goals. The content tends to be made in isolation; things like one off infographics and visuals, rather than as a consistent series of content campaigns pulling in the same direction.
People may become more aware of a brand through this type of content, but building brand awareness is an overrated measurement of success. For me, brand awareness equates to making noise. You can get people to hear you, but there’s a difference between hearing and listening.
When content marketing misses the point
Content marketing can slip away from the overall marketing strategy when you become so focused on earning links and traffic that you lose sight of why you actually want that traffic.
Are people visiting your website at all likely to become customers or advocates? Not all traffic holds real value to your business.
So, what’s the alternative to this approach?
The starting point of compelling content marketing
The alternative is starting with a brand mission, which your company should already have. What purpose does your business serve? What are you trying to achieve besides making money?
Whatever your purpose, it doesn’t matter, so long as you have one and it goes beyond commercial ambitions.
Create mission-minded content
With this mission in mind, it fuels your content marketing activities. For example, if you run a vinyl e-commerce store and your mission is to empower independent artists, every piece of content should support that goal.
With this form of approach, you create material that isn’t specifically aimed at earning links. You create something that your tribe will love.
Build your tribe organically
You’ll naturally build an audience (as long as you do a bit of promotional work too) because you’re creating compelling material with a consistent theme. You build an audience (i.e., tribe) because they love what you’re about.
The tribe shares your on-brand, mission fueled content, movement snowballs and you’ll earn all that traffic you wanted (plus a whole lot more). Now your content is helping you get customers too. They don’t just hear you, they listen to you. What’s more, when you work with this approach, you don’t need to create expensive content to have a real impact.
Dispelling content marketing myths
The myth of content marketing is that you need fancy infographics, data visualisations or videos to attract the attention of customers and influencers who share your work. Content marketing isn’t exclusive to big companies with large marketing budgets.
Any small business can build a portfolio of great content, particularly when they’re working to a clear marketing purpose. The less money you have available, the more creative you need to be. In fact I’d argue that, the smaller you are, the bigger the opportunity.
You can create campaigns that bigger businesses never could because you have fewer decision makers to appease. Small businesses are much more likely to have a clear purpose that resonates with a niche or tribe. What’s key is that you use your in-house skills, be it illustration, writing or whatever you can do on a budget.
Examples of affordable content marketing
Here are some examples of great content marketing pieces that were created on a minimal budget:
This is a fantastic article from James Clear on lessons of success from famous composers, artists and athletes. It fits in with the theme of his blog objective, earned him over 1,500 social shares and over 75 linking root domains. I doubt he spent a penny creating it.
This lip balm recipe from Inlight Skincare, an organic skincare products company, is a great example of content with a purpose. Their mission is clear: to help people improve their health and well-being through natural skin care.
Whilst they don’t aim to sell anything directly through their content, they’re creating something that connects with their target market. If they follow this up with similar pieces, they’ll grow a following amongst their tribe, and pretty soon the audience will start sharing the content amongst their friends (many of whom no doubt share the same organic lifestyle choices).
This Spying Samsung TV piece was created by a journalist, but there’s nothing to stop a business from taking the same approach with their content. The journalist read through Samsung TV’s terms and conditions and found that Samsung may be recording private conversations you’re having in your home without you even knowing.
The piece blew up across the Internet, and news outlets like the BBC shared and reported on the findings, not just online, but on TV and radio too. What’s stopping you taking this type of approach? What interesting stories do you think you could uncover and share? It’d cost you nothing to do this, just a bit of evening investigative work.
Great content marketing doesn’t require a big investment. Stick to a clear purpose, consistently create, learn and improve, and with time you’ll see the benefits.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Liam Curley is a digital marketing consultant specialising in developing and implementing digital and content marketing strategies for small businesses. He also blogs on digital marketing for small businesses. Connect with @liamcurley33 on Twitter.
© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.