Pair advertising with content marketing for better ROI

Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal.

Combining the strengths of advertising to attract customers and content marketing to keep them engaged is a powerful combination not all companies are leveraging effectively.

Both advertising and content marketing seek to pull the audience toward your business, but together they can pull more.

Both practices center on a sales funnel that starts with awareness, interest, consideration and then conversion. Content marketing can, in many cases, keep pulling them to conversion more cost-effectively.

Information-heavy web pages, blogs, emails, posts, etc.

If prospects land on a web page that doesn’t have much information, they are likely to leave the page and go back to search. While creating content can be tedious and time-consuming, it requires less out-of-pocket resources than paid media to keep prospects in the sales funnel. And, the results can be increased ROI for many companies and startups.

Content experts like Andy Crestodina, who spoke recently at the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association, points out in his book, The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketers, that search engine optimization (SEO), social media and email marketing are the three main channels for pulling prospects to your website – and, therefore, your business – by serving up relevant content.

He also warns: “Don’t expect to be relevant overnight” and, while launching a content rich website is a great start, “it is only the beginning.”

The “secret sauce” of content marketing is a customized recipe for most business offerings, and should begin with an overall “purpose or mission.” The relevance of that purpose to prospects should be based, at the least, on experience and interaction with prospects and, at the most, on sophisticated data models of your targets derived from your current or aspirational customer and prospect data. The mission should be documented, traffic and conversion response measured against it, optimized as needed.

Three main marketing channels for content

What follows is some good advice for your content creators for each of the main channels that lead to your website. These are just snippets of what you can optimize, because the opportunities are numerous.

On SEO, a question to ask your content creators is: How often do they measure the performance and replace key phrases that aren’t working well? It’s not a one-and-done type of business. We are not only in a world of writing for SEO, we are in a world of testing and rewriting our relevant content. Google Analytics is an amazing watchdog – as long as it is watched closely.

On social, while the opportunity is to promote content to a large audience, a major goal is to network with the absolute top influencers of your industry in the social world: bloggers, journalists, podcasters, academic researchers and the like. These super content creators want to start conversations with other relevant content resources for their audiences, and when they consider you in this category your rankings and traffic can skyrocket.

Email seems like a no-brainer, but it is actually very complicated. Bottom line: Most marketers of relevant content don’t email enough. If the content is good enough and relevant to your prospects and customers, two emails or more a week will perform better than one.

Relevant and authentic headlines and subject lines

The three words advertisers historically have tried to use in headlines are “now,” “new” and “free.” For today’s headlines – and particularly email subject lines – free is not as popular, because your email subject lines need to point to authentic, helpful information, and not appear overly promotional.

In the upcoming months, we will delve into more helpful information about content marketing for each of these channels.

There is always new research in using content that can help pull more prospects to your website and your business. Staying a step ahead with relevant content used together with paid media is a definite competitive advantage.

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