For business owners looking to expand their digital presence and achieve visibility through higher search engine rankings, content is king. It’s a vital part of any digital marketing strategy that establishes a value proposition for existing and potential customers. When done well, content marketing helps to position a business as an expert in their field and makes them a helpful voice for the consumer. When done badly, it creates clutter, noise and distraction.

One of the most useful and effective kinds of content that a business can create to drive value and increase customer engagement is known as “How-To” content. The reason that it works so well is that it is specific, provides new ideas and skills to the consumer and is useful even to those who have had no prior contact with a business. For companies looking to build fruitful (and profitable) relationships with consumers, we’ve created a guide to content marketing that will let you know exactly why your business needs to provide “How-To” content for its target market.

What is Content Marketing?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” In practice, this means a number of things.

It represents an evolution of the age-old approach to generating consumer interest and increasing sales. Instead of focusing on pitching products to consumers, content marketing allows a business to create a narrative journey that leads to a purchase. It’s focused on solving problems for the consumer, rather than presenting nothing more than a promotional message.

Why is Content Marketing Important?

The reasons that content marketing is important to a business are twofold. The first is related to the changing dynamic in the relationship that consumers and businesses have had since the advent of the internet. Online consumers have gotten used to finding detailed and specific information about a variety of topics whenever they need it. That wealth of information not only gives them the ability to make well-informed purchasing decisions, it also makes them a more sophisticated media consumer.

That additional sophistication means that savvy internet users see right through conventional advertising and have become far more adept at detecting thinly-veiled attempts to separate them from their money. Instead, they seek the empowerment that comes from learning all about a given topic, up to and including what they will need to buy to accomplish their given task. This learning process has become a key part of the modern customer journey, and it’s what makes high-quality content like “How-To” articles such a valuable tool for marketers.

The second reason that content marketing is important is that search engines prioritize sites with useful, actively updated pages. They also take steps to punish sites that don’t have enough original relevant content, which in the worst cases results in being removed from search results entirely. This is because the search engines know that their users are looking for specific answers to their queries and failure to provide them reflects badly on the engine itself. For marketing purposes, both sides of the content coin (search engines and consumers) fit together well. By creating great content, a business site will rise in search rankings, thus making that content more available to a wider audience and reaching more customers.

Creating Valuable Content

Now that the reasons for developing a robust content marketing strategy are clear, it’s important to know exactly what constitutes great content. For the purpose of marketing, created content should have all of the following attributes:

  • Must be engaging
  • Must be useful
  • Must be authoritative
  • Demonstrates expertise
  • Shows enthusiasm

As mentioned earlier, “How-To” content offers a reliable framework that satisfies all of the above requirements. They’re easily digestible for the reader and allow the content creator to position themselves as the benevolent sharer of expertise that is there to help. Also, “How-To” articles lend themselves well to establishing a library of information that revolves around a businesses’ area of focus. That combination offers any company the ability to establish themselves as the go-to source of knowledge for anyone interested in topics related to their products or services.

The Importance of Frequency

In addition to knowing the characteristics of great content, it’s also vital to know that website content must be updated often in order to remain effective. Not only is this important for the purposes of establishing a loyal and dedicated following, but it helps to elevate search rankings as well. Although it isn’t known exactly how search engines like Google evaluate the frequency of website updates as a ranking factor, there have been plenty of deep dives into the topic that illustrate the myriad ways that generating fresh, useful content will help a website to gain visibility on results pages. Also, adding plenty of new content to a site on a regular basis gives visitors a reason to check in and creates the impression of a thriving, vital platform of ideas and information.

Changing the Customer Relationship

By now, it should be obvious that creating and executing a well thought out content marketing plan is an excellent way to attract all of the right kinds of attention to a business. Effective content marketing also converts the customer relationship from one that is transactional in nature to one that is mutually beneficial and engaged. There aren’t many other ways for a business to engender such positive feelings from such a wide audience. If you’re still not convinced that content marketing is critical for your business, consider one more thing. You’ve spent the last four minutes reading this article, and that’s the kind of engagement you want for your business.

If you’re ready to create a content marketing strategy for your business, contact us and we’ll be happy to lend you our expertise and talent to help make your business website the place to go for your target market.