Updated: Jan 31
It’s no secret: we live in the age of performance metrics. Right now, it’s never been easier to get instantaneous, data-driven feedback on the performance of our content marketing as measured by viewer engagement. It sounds like a dream situation, right? Yet, as anyone familiar with the old fable of the Tortoise and the Hare should know, quickness is not always better than well-paced and consistent effort. As we look forward, it’s now more important than ever to think a bit more carefully about how we leverage these new tools for metrics into our strategies for content marketing in 2020.
The key to running a successful content creation campaign is centered around developing a relationship with your community. And what does this mean? How can we do it? Well, the best place to begin is by understanding the unique needs and desires of your consumers. As Gary Vaynerchuk has said time and time again, we need to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes before we start putting together our business model. By showing them that we know what they want and can deliver, we can build trust, which is the foundation of all relationships. And to be seen as an authority is important because 94% of consumers conduct some form of online research before purchasing anything. People are generally more savvy these days, anyway, so it’s not easy to fool them with cheap and quick content.
The next strategy we want to pursue is to shift our focus away from short-term, viral-marketing campaigning and think in with a long-term perspective. Content marketing is, in fact, a long-term activity. The folks at Fractl have estimated that it takes approximately six months to see the results of on-site content marketing, and about one year to see the results of off-site marketing. Time is the soil upon which all authority and trust is built, and it won’t be any different for content marketing in 2020. This is why it is important to think about creating content that can be reused many times, and looked back upon in the years that follow. If you can generate a lasting catalog of material, it will prove to be increasingly useful over time. The compounding returns are real.
An illustrative example of this benefit can be found in the intellectual resource blog, Brain Pickings. This website started in 2006 as a weekly email with a circulation of exactly seven people. However, as time wore on, it’s reader base grew exponentially. Because Maria Popova, the woman running the site, has such an extensive catalog of material to draw upon, she now sends out a mid-weekly newsletter which re-hashes some of her earlier material for re-viewing. This was made possible exclusively by her consistent, high-quality content generation. And this is deeply dependent upon the enduring relationships that she has built with her readers.
Boost Your SEO Optimization
Another benefit of relationship-based content marketing in 2020 will be that it increases the effectiveness of your brand’s SEO optimization. For example, if you are able to build a wide catalog of content for your website, there is a wider variety of searches that will land on one of your pages. People don’t necessarily search for “gaming consoles” on Google. Instead, they’ll search for something more specific, like “which gaming console is optimized for 4k TVs” or “how many exclusive titles are coming out for the Playstation in 2019”. The more articles and blog posts you’ve created that address these queries, the more likely your website will be the shores that the wandering masses on Google land upon. A kicker would be to include images wherever possible, as the numbers show that 20% to 60% of all page visits result from Google Image searches. And in addition to the SEO optimization benefit, consistent content generation will allow you to create more internal links, which will serve to keep readers on your site, instead of drifting elsewhere.
An excellent way to boost your longevity in content generation is focused on what is known as “content pillars”. These are well-researched themes that interest the consumers in the field that your business serves. For your brand, you’ll want to form a specific opinion about one or more of these content pillars and build a library of well-researched content around them. These library pages can be saturated with internal links and boost your SEO profile, as you begin to claim your unique authority on the subject. And the forms of content that can be used to fill these pillars can range from posts, articles, and eBooks if desired.
Bust the Block
Many successful content campaigns have chosen to focus on creating blockbuster content. In other words, the kind of articles and posts that take significant time to research and develop, but often pay off very well in the end. LinkedIn, in fact, has vouched for this type of approach. There is a risk, however, in devoting so many resources to these kinds of major success posts that are designed to earn you the credibility as a thought leader in your field. And that risk is found in the fact that major efforts need to be particularly well-balanced. Any underperformance and the whole thing could backfire, leaving you to pick up the pieces of a wasted effort.
In the end, every business is different. Should you focus on creating a massive catalog of internal links? Or go for the blockbuster? Or spend most of your time researching the needs of your customers and building a repertoire of content addressing those needs? There’s no clear answer because every marketing strategist has their own unique needs to meet. However, businesses pursuing content marketing in 2020 need to stretch beyond mere performance metrics and consider, in a more comprehensive way, all of the strategies at their disposal to create long relationships with their customers based upon a solid foundation of trust.