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What Is Content Marketing & Why It Matters

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what is content marketing why it matters via juliaemccoy

Editor’s Note: This post is from Search Engine Journal’s new guide Content Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to What Works. This ebook covers the essentials that you need to know when implementing your own content marketing campaign. Want your copy now? Download it here or scroll to the bottom of this post for more details.


44,000 years.

That’s how long humans have been sharing stories, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.

From ancient Indonesian cave art to cutting-edge infographics – fast forward a few millennia, and people are telling more stories than ever.

We’ve just shifted the medium.

Our digital world is evolving at a breakneck pace.

Content gathers dust like fossils, and today’s trending hashtag is tomorrow’s ironic meme.

Attention is at an all-time premium.

In a recent projection, data giant Seagate estimated that by 2025, over 75% of the global population will interact with data every 18 seconds.

Why are users so distractible?

The modern web is noisy: promotions, clickbait, flashing banners, subscription pop-ups, and plain old spam all clamor for notice.

In the deluge of information, it’s easy to see why savvy consumers are using services like AdBlock to streamline their browsing experience.

Unfortunately for your brand’s carefully calibrated marketing campaign, 2020 marks the start of an annual trend that will send 35 billion global advertising dollars right down the drain.

The culprit? Adblockers.

So how does a modern brand reach discerning customers whose attention is their most valuable resource?

How do you earn the interest of an audience who could just as easily ignore your advertising?

By giving them what they want:

Content that matters.

What Exactly Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is relevant and useful storytelling that captures the interest of your specific audience and helps them solve their problems.

However you define content marketing, the main takeaway is this:

It works.

Here’s why:

Awesome content – that is, great content marketing – is legitimately engaging.

Your audience doesn’t need to be convinced to read your content.

They seek it out.

They can’t help but consume it.

They may not even realize the content they love is actually marketing.

Or, if they do, they appreciate the goodwill shown by a brand that helps them make decisions pro bono.

Let’s say you’re a brand with deep pockets.

You could shell out over $5 million for a 30-second Super Bowl spot and reach 100 million prospects at one time.

Or, as Joe Pulizzi suggests, that same budget could instead be put toward building a consistently engaged community of organic, voluntary brand loyalists through long-reaching initiatives.

70 issues of a print magazine? Check.

Large-scale customer events? Check.

Tens of thousands of blog posts, thousands of white papers, and more? Double-check.

Wait, what happened to content marketing?

Believe it or not, these wallet-friendly, easy to actualize, Google-ready methods mentioned above can pump up your SEO and captivate your prospects.

Let’s take a deeper look at what successful content marketing looks like.

Way Beyond Blogging: What Content Marketing Looks Like in the 2020s

Blogging may be a key aspect of content marketing, but it’s not the name of the game anymore.

Instead, it’s all about being dynamic by reaching audiences on all types of platforms.

If your business is only using one avenue, you may be missing out on a huge potential audience.

Consider adding another form (or two!) of content outreach such as:

  • Ebooks
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • TedTalks
  • Social Media Posts
  • Email Campaigns
  • Influencer Updates
  • Online courses
  • Videos

A 2020 analysis from Entrepreneur predicts that this decade’s content marketing will expand to encompass these essentials, too:

  • Live-streaming.
  • Content that is voice search-optimized.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) experiences.
  • One-to-one conversations with customers through tools like Facebook Messenger.
  • Personalized content that adapts to your audience based on collected data, such as location, online behavior, or demographic.

As you can see, the scope of content marketing is virtually limitless.

What remains the same across all successful channels is the dedication to including audiences in the brand’s story, and through that, laying the foundation for a community based on trust.

90% of all modern businesses use content marketing in some form, from industry leaders like John Deere and Red Bull to the smallest indie brands.

Curious about how it all works?

Now that we’ve laid out what exactly it is, and what forms it covers, let’s take a deeper look at what content marketing can do for you.

The Power of Awesome Content (& Why Your Audience Will Love It)

It’s Anything But Superficial

Whether your brand is big or small, readers have come to expect your content to be in-depth, well-sourced, and unabashedly authentic.

In the era of deepfakes and heavy Instagram filters, your audience is looking for something a little more genuine.

Something worth their valuable time.

Longer content – content that dives in deep, provides more information, and cites more research – has a higher perception of value than shorter content.

It’s Uber-Personalized

Everyone uses the internet a little differently.

Many users have come to expect algorithms to accurately track their interests and guide them to what they’re searching for.

With the same ethic, content marketing caters to individuals.

Take YouTube, for example.

Rather than offering calls to action, or using traditional television’s appeal to the popularity of well-known actors to drive sales, YouTube’s algorithm instead considers a tapestry of data and recommends ultra-individualized content.

And it’s working.

From more than 2 billion logged-in users every month, the Google-owned video giant gathered that it is 3 times more important to viewers to engage with content connected to their passions than content that features Hollywood’s who’s who.

It’s Responsibly Transparent

The modern consumer doesn’t just engage with a brand – they’re part of a brand’s story.

This includes the best of times… and the worst of times.

53% of users expect companies to show corporate responsibility on social media, as well as be transparent about changes in products or services.

It may take a little extra effort, but it’s clear that transparency is well worth it.

In today’s market, high transparency is the key to high public trust.

3 Reasons Why Creating Powerful Content Marketing Is Worth the Effort

Content Marketing Helps You Connect With Your Evolving Consumer Base

Technology is rapidly changing the way your prospects interact with information and make decisions.

In a 2020 study by Statista, it’s projected that by 2023 more than 7 billion people worldwide will own a smartphone.

Let that sink in for a moment.

That’s nearly the entire current population of the world.

Now more than ever before, your content has the potential to reach a truly global audience.

The challenge?

For this, let’s zero in on a population a bit easier to wrap your head around: adults in the U.S.

On average, American adults are engaged with multiple content channels for more than 11 hours every single day.

Yes, you read that right.

More than ever before, the chance to sustain a consistent dialogue with your consumer base is at your brand’s fingertips.

Content Marketing Drives Conversions (Without Being Pushy!)

Nerd out with me for a moment.

Did you know that, on average, content marketing is responsible for 6 times as many conversions for content marketers than for marketers that stick to other strategies? (That’s 2.9% for content marketing, versus 0.5% for traditional marketing.)

Turn your gaze to the B2B slice of the pie, and content marketing accounts for 0.8% to 1.1% of all B2B conversions.

How is this possible?

Take a look at your consumer base.

Whether B2B or B2C, your prospects are craving worthwhile content that stands out from the noise.

Want to catch their attention?

You’ll need to find your content differentiation factor (CDF).

This is your brand’s refreshing new take on content your audience has seen before.

Find your CDF, and you’re well on your way to a huge boost in conversions.

Content Marketing Saves Money (& Drives Sales, Too!)

Every business, no matter the size, is looking for ways to cut costs.

Content marketing is a money-saving powerhouse: it costs 62% less and drums up a whopping 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing.

The past decade has seen astounding growth in the realm of content marketing.

According to Google Trends, worldwide interest in content marketing has skyrocketed to nearly 100%, or peak popularity, over the past 16 years.

Content marketing will not only slash your marketing budget but also drive more sales over time from higher-quality leads.

How?

Through opt-in advertising (a.k.a. subscription-based advertising) you’ll save on lead generation and develop a network of pre-purchase followers who, over time, will think of your brand first when the time comes to make a decision.

Ready for Your Business to Thrive?

With the development of new technology and a steadily growing potential audience, content marketing will only continue becoming more important.

Ready to demonstrate your brand’s value, build a community, and ultimately, convert your audience into devoted action-takers?

It’s time to make marketing human again.

It’s time to develop a content marketing strategy for your business.

Search Engine Journal’s ebook, Content Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to What Works, covers the essentials that you need to know when implementing your own content marketing campaign.

Download it here.

Created in partnership with BKA Content, this guide will help you better understand why content marketing is valuable, what works, and how to make the most of your money and time investments.

Ready to learn how to create and promote awesome, useful, informative, educational, and inspirational content that will reach your audience at the right time?

Get your ebook now to get started!

Download Banner - Content marketing guide

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MARKETING

Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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Salesforce rolls out new edition of Marketing Cloud for small businesses

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Salesforce summer 2023 release: The business executive's guide

Today Salesforce announced Marketing Cloud Growth, an edition of Marketing Cloud designed specifically for small businesses.

With help from AI, this edition makes it easy for marketers to segment audiences, create and execute email campaigns from text to image, optimize campaign performance and create unified customer profiles. It also has a prompt builder that can store and manage known reliable prompts for organizations.

Dig deeper: 70% of SMB marketers willing to pay more for tools with AI or automation

Salesforce developed the new edition by looking at the most common use cases for which small businesses frequenty don’t have the people or resources. This includes things like personalizing campaigns and advanced testing.

The company is also letting small businesses (those with fewer than 200 employees) that have Sales or Service Enterprise Edition “get started with Data Cloud at no cost.” Marketing Cloud Growth will initially be available in the U.S. and Canada and is expected to roll out to Europe, the Middle East and Asia by the end of the year.

Why we care. First of all, small businesses need all the help they can get. This creates an opportunity to start using AI within a centralized marketing workflow rather than importing content from independent generative AI tools. Perhaps it’s also a sign of Salesforce moving to compete with platforms (can we say HubSpot?) that more overtly court SMB clients.

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