Since that auspicious day when the first caveman spread his newly crafted batch of spearheads out on a flat rock, hoping to trade them for a juicy mastodon steak, marketing has been about traffic. After all, our hairy knuckled friend didn’t stand a chance of moving his product if some of his neighbors didn’t just happen to wander by and see his wares.
The same is true today. Brick-and-mortar stores count on foot traffic if they’re to thrive. Businesses with an online presence live or die by the volume of web traffic they attract.
Content is King
It may be a cliché, but clichés thrive for a reason; usually there’s a nugget of truth buried somewhere under that stale, over-used verbiage. Content on the Internet, it turns out, really is king. People browsing the web will only come to your site — and stay there — if something grabs their attention and holds it. That something is content. Search engines spying on your site will weigh the value of your content and how people interact with it, as well. That data determines how your page will be ranked alongside the thousands of others vying for the attention of online shoppers. High-quality content simple must be the core of your website.
On the Internet, marketing techniques turn on a dime. What worked fabulously well today can be fabulously ineffectual tomorrow. Social media trends burn brightly for an instant then fade away. Google releases a new algorithm and the whole page-ranking scene changes.
How can you stay ahead of the curve in the marketing maelstrom that is the Internet? Consider these points as you plan your content marketing strategy.
- Offer real value – Traffic to your website translates directly into page views, higher search rankings and, most importantly, sales. Give the visitors who find your site a reason to come back over and over again. Offer them real value for the time they invest in your site. Value can be nearly anything: a cash-off coupon, a recipe, an online-only sale, a funny story or a series of articles offering useful how-to tips. Even silly little things like jokes, quizzes and cat memes can appeal to your audience.
- Change it up – It’s important to keep your website up to date. Visitors to your site will expect something new each time they take a look. If they don’t find it, they won’t be back. Change your images from time to time. Add new blog posts frequently — daily, if possible. If you offer sales items, change them frequently, too. Nothing is more appealing to the buying public than a limited-time opportunity. Make sure your links are active and your inventory is up to date as well. Don’t frustrate your potential customers with that annoying 404 message.
- Appeal to the senses – While much of the content on the Internet is, of course, written content, page after page of unbroken text can be off-putting. Add content of all kinds to your website, especially your landing page. Use bright, engaging, relevant images. Offer videos and sound bites, as well. Be sure to provide your users with a “mute” option, however. Nothing will drive your visitors away faster than a nerve-grating GIF that they can’t shut off once its novelty has worn thin.
- Stop the bounce – In the vast world of the web, just getting your website noticed can seem like a Herculean task. Once you’ve accomplished that, however, you’re home free, right? Wrong. How long your visitors stay matters, too. This is called your bounce rate. Do visitors find your page then simply “bounce” off and wander away, or do they stay and browse? You can stop the bounce by making your landing page clear, simple and appealing. Don’t be coy about what you’re selling, either. Internet surfers are notoriously lazy; if they’re not sure they’re in the right place, they’ll quickly leave. Have a large banner announcing your company name and its services. Clearly label your links, as well: “Buy Here” or “Continue Shopping.” Once someone decides they want your products or services, don’t make them work too hard simply to place an order.
- Make it personal – Technology can be isolating. People who used to work in an office can now work from home. Shopping — even for groceries — can be done with a few taps of the keyboard, without ever leaving the house. Now, more than ever, people need an emotional connection to feel engaged. Make use of that. Personalize your business image if you can. Include pictures of yourself or your employees on your website. Share your struggles and triumphs, when appropriate. Answer questions that come from your potential customers, as well, and respond if they leave comments on your blog.
- Take Google’s advice – There are literally thousands of articles online offering advice on how to beat the latest algorithm in the Google zoo of penguins and pandas. Increase your search term density, they advise. Add long-tailed keywords. But, Google itself has some advice to offer that’s a bit more intuitive. Some of the simple tips for increasing your page rankings from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines include having a clear site map, limiting the number of links on each page, and focusing on offering real, organic content — not SEO-laden nonsense.
- Track your progress – Often, in the world of business, you must go with your gut. You know that market forecasts will only get you so far. The same is true when you’re designing your content marketing plan. You have to pick the things you think will be most effective for your products and your business style, then run with them. But, don’t let it end there. Track the progress of the processes you have put in place. What is your bounce rate? Is your blog generating likes and shares? Are online sales increasing? These numbers will tell you whether your new strategies are working or whether it’s time to try something fresh.
What are some tips you feel should be added to a web content marketing strategy? Any that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.