SEO and Social Media are the Ketchup & Mustard. Not the Burger.

Across every industry, whether selling to consumers or other businesses, organizations are embracing content marketing. Many are evolving their marketing departments to include roles like Chief Content Officer and Brand Journalist. Along with this, the digital marketing industry is fast-developing best practices and new tactics to understand and leverage the psychology behind how users engage with content online.

While most digital operators realize the synergy between content marketing, search engine optimization and social media exists; many organizations still don’t fully grasp how to integrate them properly for maximum effect. As content marketing evolves and does so swiftly, there are also some misconceptions about what content marketing really is.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the realities of incorporating your online marketing effectively. We’ll offer ways to focus on the best of search, social and content marketing and the common myths that keep impactful integration at bay.

Be the Best Answer

In this day-and-age, hungry users are bombarded with information all day every day. But the key there is “hungry”. We can assume people WANT the information, products and services you have, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business. But the digital world is noisy, it’s consumers are busy, and it’s competition is fierce. In order for organizations to be credible, and cut through the crowd of their competition; they’ll need to focus on optimized, socialized and publicized content.  While SEO delivers rich, relevant, at-the-ready answers to buyers via search, social media offers an opportunity to engage and connect directly, and publicity through influencer relations provides credibility and additional reach: they ALL rely on content to achieve success.   

Another assumption we can make, in addition to consumers having a desire for what you offer, is that consumers go to the internet to answer questions. 60% of online consumers START their buying process via a search engine. It is the goal of a search engine to offer the most relevant and authoritative result for any and every possible query. This means, it should be the goal of your organization to “be the BEST answer” to every question related to what you do.

SEO is the Ketchup, Not the Burger

More than keywords and links, search engine optimization is an important part of the success equation when it comes to content marketing. While SEO has traditionally been able to drive online marketing performance on its own, search engine updates to address content quality and the more conversational nature of search behavior have combined with the growing popularity of social networks to change the SEO landscape forever.

We all regularly hear of the algorithm changes happening within Google consistently. While keeping up with this fast-paced chase of cat and mouse can be daunting, this is how Google maintains their household name for the best possible place to answer any possible question. And you want to be a part of that action. Still, while SEO has traditionally been able to drive online performance on its own, Google’s updates have increasingly emphasized content quality as well as addressed search behavior that is able to assist an increasingly “conversational” searcher. Combine this with the growing popularity of social media networks – and Google HAS addressed this too – and the SEO landscape now looks quite different than it did even a couple years ago.

Think of SEO this way: If a customer-focused content marketing program is the burger, then SEO is the ketchup. It touches nearly everything and enhances the overall flavor of the burger. But on it’s own, it’s not something that tastes that good.

Chicken or the Egg?

SEO to drive content, or content to drive SEO? Well, unlike the chicken before the egg analogy, the SEO to Content relationship has transformed to reveal an actual answer/ In fact, content marketers are focused on creating more content or creating content as a means to attract links. When social media became popular in the SEO world, the idea was similar. Social networks and media use was focused on attracting attention to further attract links, not to create relationships, engagement or inspire transactions and referrals – like its clearly utilized for now.

Understanding the difference between mechanical strategies and meaningful results is an important distinction when working on your content marketing strategy. Understanding this nuance can mean the difference between a keyword cluster of shallow content, or a content portfolio that serves real customer interests and proudly represents your organization.

Cultivate Your Opportunities

Your marketing, by its nature, should be opportunistic. At Paramount, we talk all the time about “developing online opportunity”. The truth is, in the universe of online marketing, new opportunities arrive daily. Competitive advantage is more cut-and-dry than ever. Which is why it’s vital to employ an opportunistic approach to your online marketing. For example, at Paramount, each time a major trend in online marketing emerges, from blogging to social media to email automation etc, we have almost instinctually adapted and engineered our discovery to realize every possible and legal workaround or tactic to create a marketing advantage for ourselves and our clients. This opportunism has extended to the not-so-new trend (but new buzzword) of content marketing as well.

Operating within the guidelines of best practices, such adaptability is a highly valuable perspective to have. Truthfully, to have success, this perspective has become a must-have. Too often opportunism bleeds into manipulations outside the scope of search engine guidelines and the risks can turn out to be brutal for a business.

But here’s the good news: Google is a battleground for optimizers and those with real experience have been able to adapt successfully can become some of the most valuable marketers you will ever find.

Being both creative and analytical as well as lateral thinkers, marketers with an opportunistic (and optimized) state of mind are particularly good at finding solutions to complex marketing challenges. But there are still many optimizers that are stuck on content marketing as “more fuel for keywords” or social media as link building. Both should be avoided. If you hear this often from your digital marketing team, you may consider challenging your crew to update their approach.

Social + SEO Focused Content Marketing

There are plenty of benefits for engaging a SEO focused agency for content marketing and social media implementation. They each play essential roles for content amplification at all stages of the buying cycle. Here are a few common characteristics of each:

SEO Focused Content Marketing

  • Organic amplification is “built-in” to content creation
  • Content promotion, link building and social promotion
  • Good SEO is good user experience
  • Technical optimization
  • Performance is focused on search KPIs and conversions
  • More content equals more search presence
  • Topics derived from actual search demand and real-world FAQs
  • Keyword managed content plans tied to performance
  • Continuous cycle of performance improvement using search analytics

Social Media Focused Content Marketing

  • Amplification is often organic but increasingly paid
  • Influencers engaged to co-create and promote through social
  • Performance is based on views and engagement
  • Conversion and ROI are more difficult to measure with confidence
  • Topics focused on brand and messaging
  • Shorter form content: status updates, blog posts, image tiles
  • Topics managed by social content calendar
  • Social monitoring surfaces new, real-time content opportunities

So, what should you focus on?

We preach goals and accountability. For an integrated approach, here are three of your most important considerations to ensure content works for your customers and your brand.

  • Attract –  How will your piece of content attract exposure? Will it function as an on-going narrative? Will it be a part of a sequence tackling a complex explanation? Will it be connected to other content objects through links, curation, or repurposing? Where content is promoted on social networks will matter for attraction as much as what phrases and questions are used for search engine optimization.
  • Engage – How will you make the content object meaningful to the reader? So meaningful that they interact, react and respond to it?  What context needs to exist in order for it to be so relevant that it inspires action? Social Media and Search both play a role in developing the context for engagement. When they interact with what they find, does the customer think, “That’s exactly what I was looking for”, or something else?
  • Convert – Often overlooked is how the optimized content object will persuade the viewer to take the next step? Each content object can play a role in walking the reader from one stage to the next in a genuine but automated customer relationship. From awareness to purchase to advocacy, conversions are happening at each stage whether it’s a simple as social share, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a white paper, or more committal as in signing up for a webinar, filling out an inquiry form or making a referral.

Within your content plan, explore and implement ways to make these actions easy and intentional for the target audience.  An optimized content plan means being accountable to the customer’s discovery of you. Don’t inspire them to consume your content and leave them hanging. Make sure you’re always looking at better things to do with your viewership once they arrive at your content.

IN SUMMARY

Remember, content is the reason search engines started in the first place.  Taking an  optimized approach to integrating search engine optimization, social media, publicity and influencers with your content marketing programs means you are always searching for ways to increase performance. This process of always refining your strategy will ensure your content is accountable for attraction, engagement and conversion. With that focus on accountability, an investment in high quality, optimized and socialized content will pay returns for years to come.

Jumpstart Your Content Marketing: Digital Goals

Content-Marketing-Goals

TEXT VERSION OF INFOGRAPHIC:

Set your content marketing goals, and track them properly.

Start with the BIG PICTURE goals and work your way down to your department or sphere of influence. Set goals high enough to rise above the crowd of competition.

Organization Goals:

• Increase organic search engine traffic by X%.
• Improve repeat visits/registrations by X% year over year.
• Drive down customer cost/acquisition by X%.
• Decrease bounce rate for top pages to X% below site average.
• Increase new business sales by x%.
• Decrease customer service costs by x%.
• Shorten the sales cycle by X amount of time.

Content Marketing Goals:

• Brand Awareness
• Moving Leads through the sales funnel
• Client retention
• Establishing authority in your niche
• Education your audience
• Audience engagement
• New client leads
• Solving problems for your audience

TIP: Validate your goals. Collaborate with your team to adjust these appropriately and get investment into the goals. Set up software to measure and track resultsMeasuring is so important because it validates your strategy and tactics and proves your ROI.

Take the Two-Way Street

In Traditional Marketing, the relationship and communication between the advertiser and the audience is only one-way. You’re rarely able to measure results directly, relying on eventual sales metrics to analyze success. With digital & content marketing utilizing social channels to increase engagement, there can be plenty of direct contact between the audience and your organization. This includes valuable feedback that you can measure and use to improve your products or services.  Measurement is vital because it validates your strategy and tactics and proves your ROI.

Adaptability

Traditional marketing tends to be planned out for a while – sometimes seasons ahead of time. The campaigns typically covering a long period of time following a specific rollout schedule. Once the campaign is set, it must run it’s course, and little adjustment can be made. Though digital  and content marketing does involve long-term planning of scheduling and initial campaign strategy, there is much more room for maneuverability along the way. Data is used from existing campaigns to optimize and adapt for better performance.

Whether you’re looking to gain authority in your niche and strengthen your brand, or find a way to connect with and attract new customers, a content marketing strategy is an integral part of an overall online optimization strategy. Collaborate, do research, and listen to feedback to create the most impactful content marketing streams for your audience.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Jumpstart Your Content Marketing: What is Content Marketing?

CONTENT MARKETING VS TRADITIONAL MARKETING?

We get the question all the time here at Paramount: What is content marketing and how is it different than traditional marketing? Well this guide is intended to help answer those questions. We often say that traditional marketing talks AT people, content marketing talks WITH them. At its core, content marketing is all about creating content that helps people. By developing content, you’re helping your customers understand your business or your products. Rather than “renting” space on a billboard, or radio spot via traditional advertising, you depend on the online footprint that you own to inform, educate, and entertain your audience.

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU

Talking about yourself too is considered self-focused and rude. In contrast to traditional marketing, where it’s all about you, content marketing is all about your audience. What content can you create that will help them answer questions? What customers really want and need today is information that speaks to their needs, their problems, and their current challenges. With your content marketing strategy, give them what they’re looking for.

PICK A COMMON QUESTION, HOT TOPIC, OR RELEVANT ISSUE

Content marketing can be highly topical and should attempt to ignite conversations on social media platforms. Your content can also be more functional, addressing the common needs of your audience. The goal is to keep your content marketing relevant by highlighting the issues that really matter to your customers. Write about these issues specifically. Explain them. Unpack all the details for your potential customers. Let them see, hear, and experience how you explain complex challenges. Getting content of this kind out there helps potential customers know the “why” behind your business and start to form a relationship with you.

Real World Example: In the building materials industry, “what are the most energy efficient building materials?” is a question that has generated millions of dollars in sales because Fox Brothers Company decided to answer that question in a blog post. That blog post continues to pay off today.

Don’t forget that it is the goal of a search engine to find the most relevant possible result for EVERY possible query. These days, it’s extremely common for internet searchers to use full questions in search engines as their query. This means, if you’re actually ANSWERING questions, your content WILL show up on search engines.

BACK IT UP

Many people believe things because they read it on the Internet. But that doesn’t mean you should be that company that uses data and doesn’t source it. Add credibility to your content by sourcing your stats. This makes your content – and you – more credible.

TAP INTO SATISFACTION

A picture is worth a thousand words… so is a satisfied customer. Make sure you are encouraging your best customers tell their stories about experience with your company. Use photos, quotes, and their narratives to support your products and services. When people are making buying decisions, they want to know why others have made theirs. Reviewing online has become the modern day word-of-mouth.

CAPTURE ATTENTION

Article titles on the Internet leave much to be considered. Along with SEO potential, as well as industry relevancy and varied platform presentation; You’ve got to get the user’s attention with a captivating headline. Proper titling is one of the most important aspects to content marketing. You want to not only capture their attention, but keep it. With our attention spans shortening every day, keeping your audience’s attention long enough to show your value can be even more challenging. If you have a long article, break it up with images, videos, bullets, and subheadings. Otherwise, it will look like a research project and you’ll lose your reader.

This is just Part I to the Content Marketing Jumpstart Guide. Check out Parts II, III, and IV for the complete guide (Coming Soon!) For any questions, or to talk with one of our experts, just reach out to us!