Having an online presence is no longer merely an option, it is quickly becoming the major component in a successful marketing strategy. This enhanced importance is perhaps due to an increasing number of people using at least one form of social media and spending more of their time online every year. In addition, Google still reigns supreme among search engines so ignore search engine marketing at your own risk. Employing social media and SEO (search engine optimization) drive your online success and greatly contribute to your offline marketing efforts. Changes to the algorithm Google uses to determine your rank in results from a user’s search heavily favor companies with a sound content marketing strategy that focuses on creating valuable content on a consistent basis then creating engagement around that content across online and social media channels. However, content marketing requires a slightly different approach from traditional marketing techniques. As such, if you are not particularly internet savvy or do not use social media yourself you need to either hire skilled help through employees or 3rd party service providers so you optimize your content for search and social. Alternatively, if you have the bandwidth, you can learn techniques supporting online optimization. To make that easier, here are 5 ways to maximize your content marketing and SEO strategy.
1. Know your USP
Know your USP—that is, your unique selling proposition. Your USP helps you stand out from the crowd of competitors and is perhaps the most crucial point of marketing your product. The rest of your marketing strategy flows from your USP.
Here are questions to ask yourself (or existing customers) in clearly articulating your USP:
- Why should customers use your product or services?
- What do your products or services have that your customers can’t find anywhere else?
- What are customer attitudes toward your brand and how do they frame the most critical features/ benefits that result in choosing your brand?
To use an example, the USP of the online skills learning platform Masterclass is that classes are taught by world-renowned experts, such as creative writing taught by Margaret Atwood and filmmaking by Martin Scorsese?
Once you identified your USP, you found the hook around which your content marketing hangs.
2. Define your audience
What type of person do you envisage using your products or services?
What problem do you solve for your audience and what messaging/ images help them identify with your brand?
One mistake a lot of small business owners make (and even large businesses aren’t immune to this problem) is assuming that because they developed a product, there is automatically an audience for it, and potential customers will find it.
However, that is not the case—you are not the audience for your product, so building a product with no sense of your market is putting the cart before the horse. Instead, accurately define your target audience by carrying out research about them, their lifestyles, their attitudes and values, their social spheres, and get to know how they think.
The data result in developing several customer profiles to help you tailor your content marketing in a way that helps you reach and resonate with your target audience. If, say, your business is an on-trend makeup brand with a USP involving cute packaging, your primary customer profile might be a girl between the ages of 14 and 18 who is just getting into makeup and who has the interest and disposable income needed to experiment with different brands. They likely respond to chatty ads with glossy pictures and trendy images placed on Instagram and Snapchat by influencers. Likewise, your secondary customer might be a parent shopping for birthday and Christmas gifts for their teen daughter, who is more likely to be found on Facebook, so develop a different message for this market.
3. Take advantage of apps
Effective content marketing and SEO take time, which, in an already packed schedule, you cannot really afford, so doing marketing right the first time and optimizing your marketing approach are critical.
Fortunately, there are several apps that make the research task a lot easier. Mailchimp, for example, is a marketing automation service that helps you build lists and send email marketing campaigns to every contact in your address book with ease.
Search engine optimization and everything that comes with it, from keywords to metadata, can quickly become overwhelming if you are not very technologically minded. The downside to your lack of understanding is, of course, that your content does not work as hard as it might, and as a result, your digital marketing strategy falls flat. MarketMuse is an app that helps you maximize your content marketing and SEO by analyzing competitor research to suggest the most effective topics around which to craft your content and the keywords to include to ensure that your content ranks highly on search engines.
4. Diversify your social media business outlets
According to data, 50% of the global population uses social media in 2020, an increase of 9.2% since 2019. Of this, video is the top media format, and 90% of users watched at least one online video in the past month. Hence, crafting high-quality videos, such as explainer videos, supports your marketing efforts.
Facebook is the most widely used social media platform in much of the world, and it’s popular is not restricted to the younger end of the spectrum, with 78% of users being over the age of 34. In fact, the fastest growth in Facebook users right now is among the population over 65 and users outside the US. Instagram, an image-sharing platform owned by Facebook, boasts over one billion active monthly users a number growing rapidly and expanding from its origins with younger users.
It’s essential to target the social media platforms specifically used by your customer profiles, recognizing that many markets, like the makeup example used earlier, have primary and secondary consumer markets (or even additional types of consumers) so a presence on social platforms where each of these markets spends their time is essential.
However, if you decided to extend your social media presence into other platforms, make sure you spend time working on your strategy for individual platforms and the markets you’re trying to reach on each. What is effective content marketing for Facebook might not be quite so successful on YouTube.
5. Take time over devising your strategy
It is essential to have a clear content marketing and SEO strategy in place to maximize the growth of your online influence. Having a plan provides goals and develops tactics to reach each goal. Review your strategy, at least every year but likely much more frequently, to assess which marketing campaigns were successful and which less so. This allows you to adjust your strategy for the upcoming period to optimize business success. It is essential, however, to set goals that are achievable for your business, to avoid certain failure and disillusionment.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.