If you are a marketer, business owner or decision maker, you’ve read about content marketing. You know that the consumer buying journey has changed and if you want to gain business you must to earn it. Content Marketing allows you to position yourself, your company or your organization as an expert in your industry or field of study and builds trust by providing valuable information.
Do a quick discovery for #contentmarketing or search content marketing on your search engine of choice (we would normally say “Google it” but in all efforts to be non-bias “search engine it.”) You will see, literally, millions of results, about 378,000,000 as of this very minute in time so this article title doesn’t scream “authentic.” We own the whole bland-ish title on this one because, in all reality, everyone in the industry is writing about it.
Every morning I wake up and before I head to work, I read my marketing news curated to content marketing, seo, social media marketing and inbound topics. Every morning I see large amounts of content being published mixing the definitions, purpose and strategies and labeling them “content marketing.”
The most common misconceptions of content marketing are between the actual production of content, the distribution of content and the results of creating awesome content. Content Marketing is part of the Inbound Methodology in which you create content to educate your audience. Once your content is created you distribute your content using social media marketing and as a result of quality content you boost your organic SEO is boosted.
Before I proceed, I will tell you that I believe most inbound marketers know the basic differences of content marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization and marketing BUT use the lack of knowledge and crossover to their advantage to gain sales.
Content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and search engine marketing are three marketing strategies that work together to attract, convert and delight your audience and the four strategies have many similarities but they are not the same and should not be treated the same.
Let’s start with Inbound Marketing…
Inbound Marketing aims to attract, convert, close and delight customers through various marketing activities that attracts and engages the visitor, rather than pushing information out. Inbound marketing earns the attention of the visitor, provides valuable information, provides online presence and drives traffic to your website by producing interesting and relevant content.
Though Content, social media, seo and sem are marketing activities used in your Inbound Marketing Strategy, the methodology and strategy itself is complex. Each technique is important to achieve your marketing goals but cannot be used alone and considered “inbound marketing.”
Content Marketing is the marketing strategy used to attract, engage, and entertain, your audience into customers. Content Marketing is about creating interesting, relevant, helpful and valuable information to the your target audience to increase awareness, and perception.
The goal of content marketing is to provide relevant information to position your business or organization as a thought leader to attract your audience and build trust leading to gaining advocates, not just sales.
Content is can be anything that provides value to your audience and provokes thought. There are varying levels of thoughts on what should be considered “content.” Articles, infographics, videos, blogs are forms of content. Social media posts can sometimes be valuable pieces of information that, if expanded upon, could be valuable content. Personally, if a tweet or post provokes me to find out more information and actively pursue that information, I consider it valuable content.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing is connecting to your audience, joining in on conversations, and showing your human side on social platforms for marketing purposes. Now, just because a platform is social media and created for conversations doesn’t mean the channels are the same. Each channel has a distinct audience using the platform for different purposes and provides it’s own tools for marketing.
Think of each social media channel as a tool in your toolbox to build your desired structure. It burns me up when I see businesses paying for “social media marketing” only to have the same word for word message blasted on each channel.
Social media marketing is great to connect and build your audience and distribute the content you have created. The act of posting in itself is not content marketing. Not every platform may fit your business or appeal to your target audience.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is the process of optimizing your website, content, social media pages, pictures and videos so that it aligns with search engine algorithms which will result in more traffic from search engine result pages. In a very small, somewhat hollow nutshell, seo goes like this: search engines decide how to rank your content based on their set factors (links, keywords, relevancy, etc.) that create their specific algorithm to rank your pages in search engine result pages (SERPs.)
SEO is seriously complex and each search engine has different “rules.” SEO differs from other marketing techniques because it’s complex and technical. It’s important to have an actual SEO specialist handle your optimization.
Beware that there are thousands of companies in the cyber world that will buy you backlinks which will increase your traffic but more than likely it will also kill your bounce rate so it’s better to have quality optimization to give people what they are actually interested in. Trying to cheat the system for seo will do more damage than good in almost every instance. Search engines want organic links not purchased links, you can get blacklisted and significantly downranked for committing a seo crime against their guidelines.
Speaking of bad seo techniques, don’t write your content for search engines. If your content is interesting, appealing, valuable and relevant people will share it and you will gain much more traction than writing with seo in mind. SEO is a result of good content not vice versa.
Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing involves promoting your website by increasing the visibility in search engine results pages through optimization and advertising. Though search engine marketing consists of driving traffic through higher rankings in SERPs, it is achieved through paid traffic not organic traffic. SEO is used in SEM to optimize your website by adjusting and/or rewriting content.
Search engine marketing offers the opportunity to pay based on clicks that direct traffic to your site. In PPC, Pay Per Click, advertising you pay only for each click from the advertisement to your website. Keep in mind that even if your site is optimized and you pay for ads, it doesn’t mean people will stay on your site or guarantee any conversions.
It’s easy to confuse the strategies of inbound, content marketing, social media marketing, seo and sem because they are all intertwined and work together to achieve online marketing goals. You must have an inbound marketing strategy that encompasses all of your marketing channels to attract, convert, close and delight your audience, produce quality content, have the ability to allow people to connect and share your content, optimize each page and channel for search engines to have a strong online presence.
Idea Creative Marketing offers a specialized Inbound Marketing Training Program, a new Social Media Academy and offers many marketing services.
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