If you live in Great Britain, you get used to the constant criticism about British food. Great Britain is not noted for its haute cuisine. The French come and sneer, the Germans come and scoff and the Italians come and smugly open their own restaurants. Therefore, it is a little irritating for a Briton that the country measures its finest restaurants by a French yardstick, the award of Michelin Stars. You may have heard of the Michelin Guide. It was first published in 1900. You may not be aware that the Michelin Guide is an early example of content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is about offering quality information to your existing and prospective customers. The aim is to educate customers and thereby build customer loyalty. That was the aim behind the first Michelin guide. It wasn't, of course, back then, referred to as content marketing. That phrase dates from the 1990s. The idea of putting such content as blogs on company websites has been around for some years. However, in recent years online content marketing has evolved significantly
Today, content marketing includes not just blogs, but also videos, slide clicks, images, various types of animation and info-graphics. Social media platforms are an important conduit through which marketing content is channelled. Other conduits like e-mail, pay per click advertising and platforms like YouTube also exist. However, with such a disparate range of media, companies are well advised to have a strategy to pull everything together.
Why You Need a Strategy
You're marketing online principally to reach as many potential customers as possible. This isn't going to happen by chance (unless you're very lucky). Potential customers aren't just going to find the content that you post on your website; they need a bit of help. This is where social media becomes important. The aim with using social media is to provide people with bait that encourages them to follow your company. It works in the other direction, also. Social media is a very good place to find out what your customers want to hear about.
Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) seemed quite straightforward until a few years ago. Keyword stuffing and indiscriminate back linking were central to any SEO campaign. Things have changed; however, especially since Google's search engine algorithm updates (code worded Panda and Penguin). The old techniques are now more likely to be detrimental to, rather than an improvement of, your search engine rankings. Content now has to be quality content. Content includes text and images. The whole user experience is now an important factor.
Put Yourself in the Customer's Shoes
You have no doubt found yourself in the position where you are trawling the internet looking for information and when you find something that looks promising what you get is not information but a sales pitch. When this happens, how does it make you feel? At the very least you'll be irritated and worst incandescent with rage.
Therefore, when you are thinking about your quality content: look at things through the eyes of the customer. When you do this, you realise pretty quickly that quality content is not an advertising pitch. That's not to say that it's not going to be related to your business: it is. It will, though, be content that helps promote customer loyalty because of its quality. Quality content is information that your existing and potential customers will find useful. It will be informative and add value to the customer experience.
Good content marketing does not have the express aim of directly selling goods or services.
Over a century ago, the publishers of the Michelin Guide new exactly what they were doing. They had a content marketing strategy. They knew that by providing drivers with the type of information that was valuable and relevant for them those drivers would talk about it to other drivers, and in turn this would encourage customer loyalty. And that is what social media marketing is all about.
John Gary is a professional content marketer. Gary recommends visiting his blog for latest industry updates on social media promotions & SEO Services.