Everyone is talking about content. Content drives sales! Content generates leads! Content feeds the hungry! Content heals the sick! It really seems there is nothing that good content can’t do for a business. There is a wealth of information about the benefits of content marketing and the metrics it will improve. There is, however, very little information about how to generate good content. Especially as content about good content may or may not be good content… my head, it spins.
The creation of content is a process that may seem like something of a black art to those of the extreme technical mindset, creative writing cannot always be fully dissected with metrics and keywords. If it could, of course, we would have machines writing it, not people. In fact we already do, spambots, who populate the internet with hilarious nonsense composed purely of keywords in a not-quite-human monologue.
So in the first of a two part special, I’m going to look to the leading humans and corporate entities whom have established themselves as thought leaders in our field… and investigate some examples of what they have highlighted as something to look out for in effective, interesting content.
Trevor Young highlights MYOB. An Australian accounting software company might not sound like the most thrilling place to be, but the folks who run MYOB.com.au looked at who their core customers were, and created a blog designed especially for them. Known as The Pulse, it hosts a number of experts in fields that relate specifically to small business owners, including financial planners, marketers and digital strategists. These business pros output an abundance of content that is of great help to MYOB’s customer base, and is essentially a knowledge base designed for their customers but free for everyone.
- Identification of the customer base, and by providing relevant content, supporting that customer base in daily operations, which both attracts new leads with positive buzz and supports existing customers, reinforcing brand loyalty.
A site well known to many people is Airbnb, and is an excellent example of high-quality content driving sales. Airbnb puts a great deal of effort into producing content that can be consumed by visitors to the city in question, to help them make their choice in regards to where to stay and what to see. In this case the content does not merely help the company sell their product, it is an integral part of the selling process, without it Airbnb would have a completely different business model that might not be as successful.
- Visible integration of content into the marketing funnel, for an effective combination that can generate sales leads by itself.
Rand Fishkin pointed out the innocuous looking halloweencostumes.com, which from the homepage looks like a pretty vanilla sales website. However, scroll all the way down and you’ll find their blog, and that blog is fantastic. It is in depth, it is of interest to their existing customer base and also to potential customers, is a fascinating read and offers information that on the face of it would be freely available, but is not at all common knowledge. The website might do well to read a little about content amplification because from the structure of the homepage I can imagine a tiny minority of visitors even know that there is a blog, and they’re selling themselves short to not promote such good content.
- Tell the story behind your product(s). These blog posts help reveal a deeper world behind the comic- and story-book characters which carries a lot of weight for these customers. Yes, you can do that even for CRM.
- This case also highlights the importance of amplification, which we will look at in the next post.
For a company as enormous as Google, you would expect them to have a pool of the best talent in the land and to turn out excellent content. You would be right, and this Christmas just gone Google’s Santa Tracker was the best yet, with attractive visual design, smooth operation and fun for any age group. Google is in the enviable position of being so ubiquitous in the modern marketplace that it doesn’t even really need to market it’s core functions anymore, and so is free to produce content that is simply of a high quality on it’s own merits. This can also be witnessed by Doodles, Google’s homepage acknowledgements of holidays and the birthdays of various historic figures, especially those in the fields of literature and science.
- An off-brand exercise, offering a little something that is both great content and is a good public relations exercise, helping the brand come across as family friendly.
- The concept of a Santa Tracker neatly plays into Google’s core services of Search and Maps.
And of course, this.
This post is the first in a two part series on the nature and implementation of good content for marketing. Look out for the second half on Friday!