If you are a brand and have recently forayed into the Digital Domain, chances are you will be completely swamped by the sheer magnitude of strategies that your Digital Agency might be bombarding you with.
From PPCs, SEO, Social Media Marketing, to Content Marketing, you might not even know what the best way to proceed is. Most brands get confused and pump money into channels that will never be profitable for them.
One of my brands, which my agency had helped launch on social media in India, ran a campaign on their posts, without even having any followers or likes on their page (We suggested a Follower Campaign and a Like Campaign), but the man was adamant that he wanted post likes.
Whenever I am pitching a Digital Marketing Strategy to any of my prospective clients, or even updating some of my regular clients, the first thing that they want to know is about Paid Campaigns.
Even when I try and explain to them that Paid Campaigns can only help certain aspects of your business in the short term and that there are other methods to increase long term viability, clients still are most interested in paid promotions.
I started wondering what can be the reasons that businesses and brands, including Marketing and Brand managers, have started giving preference to paid promotions over more robust and long-term channels like Content Marketing.
Why Brands like Paid Promotion Campaigns:
Brands like paid promotions for a variety of reasons. For starters, it means that they are spending money or budgets, which for many mean, that they are doing some real work. PPCs also ensure faster results and metrics. The importance attached to things and numbers and analysis cannot be undermined in any way.
Almost all the brands are looking for quick solutions, and they are not afraid to burn through their marketing budgets provided they see results. This has made PPCs as one of the most favoured digital marketing solutions that are there in the market.
For Digital Marketing companies, PPCs mean a straight commission cut, which goes right into their pockets (10%-15%). A Media Specialist at the agency virtually runs the entire campaign on his own. For a detailed explanation on why digital agencies favour paid campaigns, you can read more here.
The Beauty of Content Marketing:
One of the most misunderstood forms of digital marketing solutions is Content Marketing. For many reasons, people and brands steer away from a strategic Content Marketing Campaign. The reasons are both justified, as well as non-justified. In this article, we look at both the reasons, as well as other things that make Content Marketing one of the best digital marketing strategies ever.
To begin with, we should first understand what Content Marketing stands for-
1. Blog Section of the Website:
In this era, almost all brands maintain websites to maintain their digital identities. This is the very least that they can do. However, not all of them have a blog section. It is imperative that brands, no matter which industry they are in, should maintain and regularly update their blog section.
A good blog section works as a platform for keywords for your website. In other words, if you have strategically used ranking keywords in your blog articles, it improves your discoverability, your search and Google improve the ranking. All these processes happen organically.
2. Publishing on other Platforms:
A good Content Marketing strategy should involve cross-publishing the brand’s content on different opinion and content sites. Yes, this is a paid model of marketing, but if the content is created and curated in an organic way, chances are, that your brand would end up offering a viable and positive solution to a potential customer, rather than shouting your brand name out.
This is a subtle way, of marketing your brand digitally, and does not come across as abrupt, obtrusive or in your face. The reader who is reading the article consumes the content in an informative manner, and if it is good enough, follows the link back to your website. End result? You acquire a customer through the right means.
Google ranks websites according to certain metrics, some of which are simple, while others are complicated. If your website has a good number of backlinks, it will have a higher Domain Authority (DA from Moz), and Domain Rating (DR from Ahrefs)
Link building has several issues built into it, and the quality of links always matter, no matter what your Digital Marketing Agency will tell you. If you do not seed content and create backlinks on reputable sites, chances are that when Google next updates its algorithm, it might just de-index your site as Google found it to have links on content sites where the DA rating was 3 or lower! (P.S. Google has already started deindexing many non-credible link-building sites!).
4. Building Reputation and Providing Solutions:
Do you remember a time when good blogs were written by content creators and bloggers just to share with the world their stories, hopes, and experiences? Many travel bloggers, just shared their life through content, helping people, giving them information, and curating wonderful and non-commercial content.
This period of idyllic bliss translated into so much reputation and credibility building, that people would directly contact these bloggers, and ask for details, or travel planning tips on their own. Nothing else matters, no sponsored content mattered, and both the content creator and the reader/consumer were happy!
The ear of sponsored posts meant that people became skeptical of clicking on links that would take them to brands and company pages. Paid links and paid content created a huge doubt on the minds of consumers, who started questioning the genuineness and credibility.
Google and other tech giants who control ranking, search results and other metrics want to go back to the era of credibility and trust. They want the internet to be a place of information, rather than just paid to advertise.
Content Marketing: What Works and What Does Not?
Ask any good digital marketer about the benefits of a content marketing strategy, and the first thing, that he will tell you is it is a long-term strategy. You will need to invest at least six months to see the results improve in an organic fashion.
However, once you have the structures in place, and are doing good work with good partners, you will see a definite organic reach for your brand. Content Marketing also serves a very important function in establishing your reputation.
A good reputation will help you retain clients and establish brand-client relationships that will last for a very long time. A PPC campaign will never be able to establish relationships, or will even end up ensuring a repeat consumer.
1. Digital Agency with In-house Content Creators:
A great content marketing strategy starts with your brand establishing a professional relationship with an honest and credible digital agency. If you want to invest in a content marketing strategy, you need to ensure that your agency has an in-house team of content writers, with strict quality controls and guidelines in place.
The writers need to belong to the agency, and not be freelancers situated in some other part of the planet. You need to ensure that your agency does not ‘spin articles’ has strict plagiarism checkers in place, and hires content writers on your account who are thorough professionals and storytellers.
2. Start with your Brand or Company Website:
I have seen a negative tendency amongst most brands of promoting their content on content sites, rather than invest in their own sites. The first area that needs to be addressed from a content marketing standpoint is your own company website.
Talk and write about issues that your brand solves, or the products it makes. For example, if you are a brand which manufactures Clean Air Filters, your blog section should have an article entitled- The Top 10 Most Polluted Cities in the World.
Your blog section should be filled with informative content that demonstrates your brand’s ability to understand the issues affecting the consumer in your industry. Once you have established and won their trust, transitioning them to become your clients will not be a very difficult thing to do.
3. Check where your Digital Agency seeds your Links to:
As we have already mentioned, if your links are on content sites which are non-reputable, chances are that the next update of Google is going to de-index it. You need to be aware of the list of publishing sites in which your Digital Agency has seeded your content to and placed your links.
Ensure that the content sites have a DA of at least 25 and above, and that they do not use spun articles on their pages. If you have a smart Digital Agency, they will tell you that you should not have more than two links on one article (ideally, you should aim for just one).
4. Long Format Articles:
According to digital gurus, the exact number of words that an article should have to perform at its most optimal (only in terms of word count) on the web is 1890. We as an agency have experimented with all formats of article writing.
After years of experimentation, and working around algorithms, we feel that articles over 2000 words, with proper sections, divisions and list perform well on the web. With proper keyword integration, images, videos, and infographics, chances are you might do really well than five hundred or six hundred word articles.
Some insiders from the Digital Industry reveal that Google and other tech giants think that five hundred word articles are written just for link building purposes, and serve no credible use to users on the internet.
5. SEO Friendly Technical Content:
Writing SEO friendly articles is an art, and it is not just any art, it is a technical art. Your content writer needs to have an awareness of writing or working in the digital industry to understand how and why things work in a certain way.
With proper coordination between various teams in your Digital Agency (SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing) you will be able to hit all the right notes on the digital domain.
Ensure with your digital agency that the right keywords are being used in the articles about your brand. Also see whether Social Sharing is taking place or not, as it adds significant value to your content.
Is Content Marketing Truly Organic?
If you compare content marketing as a digital marketing solution with other solutions like PPCs, you will find that it is heads and shoulders above it when it comes to organic reach. At the end of the day, brands should strive for establishing organic links and relationships with their fans and consumers.
That is not to say that Content Marketing Services are free. They entail significant costs, especially when you want to do it in the right fashion. However, the extended world, apart from your digital agency and you, will not be able to pinpoint your new strategy.
This can only happen if you ensure and make a brand promise of providing information along with solutions to your consumers, rather than forcefully pushing your links on their screens. Once you have established this credibility, you will get consumers who will stay with you for life.
Content Marketing: The Final Word:
Even though many brands know the benefits and advantages of Content Marketing, they are skeptical to go through with it. This misapprehension about the good that a sound content marketing strategy can bring to a brand needs to be explained in details by Digital Agencies.
As it involves long terms investments, Digital Agencies too, shy away from offering content marketing solutions. However, agencies who feel that they are not just digital agencies, but want to expand into branding and advertising, should seriously consider Content Marketing as not only a viable form of marketing but also one that offers the best returns in the long-run.
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