Content Continence

Content is king unless it is crud.

There is no grand magic to content marketing. Yet many promotion probationers manage to muck it up. Long ago Google established that relevance was what people wanted in search, which really means they want relevant content. Producing relevant content and putting it where your target market can “discover” it makes content marketing works. Producing irrelevant content and forcing people to trip over it will cause you (and your company) to fail.

Many content marketers work on the volume of content, assuming that a large number of keyword rich pages will cause customers to connect. Such “strategy” once produced high traffic but low conversions. With Google constantly refining relevance filtering, voluminous content it isn’t even producing much traffic these days. Yet when it does, the outcome isn’t conversions, but annoyed ex-prospects who feel their time was wasted chasing the promise of meaningful information and being rewarded with mass-produced pap.

If they wanted that, they could watch Friday night sit coms.

For content (and its dance partner, search optimization) to work, content has to be targeted, relevant, spreadable and sharable.

Targeted: Knowing your audience and knowing the topic better than they do is key, otherwise your words, infographics and videos have no real destination and the content is aligned to nobody.

Relevant: The keywords that make your content findable must then deliver real, understandable, palatable, digestible information. Never serve content that people don’t find appetizing or that leaves them hungry (a little hungry is good and creates a great place to leave a call-to-action).

Spreadable: Content should syndicate, but lead always back to your stable. Posting content on other people’s sites or through syndication services works well when you have content that creates a desire for people to know more about its source and provides links that make easy work of finding it.

Sharable: This shouldn’t even need mentioning, but making content easy to pass along is more important than making it spreadable. One reader can, through the chaining effect, put your content in front of thousands and in a way that pre-selects your target audience.

Silicon Strategies Marketing and Marketing Memos is a good example (go figure). Our content marketing program has resulted in about 50% of our new business coming from inbound contacts (people finding us, then contacting us – no sales or other promotions involved). This despite breaking most content marketing “rules” – blogging only weekly and writing in long-form. Syndicating narrowly through channels has built our brand recognition, which led to my personal LinkedIn profile being in the top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012 (this despite me not being a LinkedIn connection collector, maintaining a mere 266 touch points).

The marketing lesson is that content is powerful and produces well if you make it matter to the right people in the right way. Otherwise, you’re just wasting electrons and people’s patience.


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