At first glance, giving things out for free doesn’t seem like a great way to run your business. But, in the age of social media and access to the internet in our pockets and handbags, marketing has become more about connection than persuasion. And providing your target audience with valuable content is a way to ensure your good deeds will benefit you in the future. In other words, it’s good karma!
Aggressive selling simply isn’t the way to go. Building relationships with your Ideal Clients should be more about making sure it is mutually beneficial – and you have to give before you can take. This is why it has become essential for businesses to captivate their audiences with free, interesting, and relevant content.
Where to start?
Instead of fighting for your target market’s attention with advertising, you can draw them in through a sales funnel. Clearly, this makes for much more authentic relationships. These are the people who engage with you or your business because they want to, not because they were pressured. We tend to tune out most advertising and only give time to media that we care about.
This is commonly referred to as inbound marketing. Using this method makes customers care about your brand, fosters loyalty, and generates revenue.
Captivating your audience with content
But where does this talk of “free content” come in?
The free content is essentially the “good karma” you are giving to the world in hope of a favourable return.
Content can come in a variety of different forms from written blog posts to videos, and even mobile apps. These are all meant to provide genuine, interesting value to your Ideal Clients. This is something they will actively seek out, as opposed to a barrage of ads that eventually can become really annoying.
For example, let’s say you put together a great video that addresses a topic that is one of the pain points of your Ideal Clients. It provides them with a couple of quick fixes to their problem and then because of its value, its shared across your social media. What would the outcome of that be?
People would view it. They would probably appreciate the useful content and might share it with friends. They will likely comment on how much they enjoyed it or even offer suggestions for further topics. They may also check out your website, subscribe to your newsletter, and in turn, provide you with a direct channel for further promotion. And that’s how their journey down your sales funnel begins! :)
But beware! Nobody wants a sales pitch straight-up. In an article for B&T, Nital Shah says “content that is laced with schmaltzy sales jargon and shameless self-promotion sticks out like a sore thumb and is an instant turn-off for readers. Create content that sounds authoritative, but never pushy or hungry.”
What sort of content should you be creating?
Everyone has an opinion on what works best to captivate an audience. Yet the reality is that we’re all different and some people will be drawn in by one thing and others by something else. Therefore, it’s a great idea to try to cover all your bases. The following are some tips that I’ve personally found to work really well with my audience:
- Integrate visual imagery. Whether it’s a short video, a gif, or simply an image that can be easily shared across Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
- Hook them with a headline. Make it enticing, intriguing, or even downright confusing… Either way, they’ll read on. Ryan Scott has a great list of ideas in this DigitalMarketer post.
- Subheadings, lists and bullet points, oh my! Your content should always be easy to read and broken up into chunks so the reader doesn’t get turned off by what seems like a 2,000-word philosophy essay.
- Ask questions. Invite feedback and encourage comments from your readers and followers. Not only will this create a community environment, but it can also serve to gain fresh ideas on what your fans would like to read.
- Expand your horizons. There’s no need to stick to blog content, mix it up! Here are a few options:
- White paper
- Cheat sheet
- Case study
- Sharability. Be sure that your content is easy to share across social platforms. If your readers love it, you want them to be able to share and advocate it in a way that’s super simple.
- And a little humour doesn’t go astray, either. Marc Ensign has a great take on this in this article for SmartBlogger.
Search Engine Optimisation
Not only is free content the best means of inbound marketing, but it helps optimize your website for search engines. This is more important than you might realize.
Google ranks websites based on a complex and highly secretive algorithm, but there are some things we know about how the process works.
The most important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm is the quantity and quality of content on your website. Google’s aim is to help its users answer questions. Therefore, if you want your website to be easily found on Google by potential clients, you will need to regularly create in-depth content that does just that.
Your rankings will also improve if your website is linked to by other reputable websites – referred to as backlinking. Again, this is best achieved by creating engaging content that other websites or your audience will deem worth sharing.
Finally, Google relies on keywords to connect users with relevant websites. The most effective way to integrate keywords into your website is by hosting content which contains them.
A great way to structure your content is by doing keyword research to see what relevant phrases are being searched for. This will draw people to your website, while you’ll also be able to integrate the keywords that Google will fancy.
If you’re keen to learn more, Moz has a great resource (which has been viewed more than 3 million times) called ‘The Beginners Guide To SEO’ that you should check out!
Consistency is important but quality is key
A common mistake made by many is assuming that frequent content posting is all that matters. But, while being consistent with your content is important, the quality is actually what matters most.
A little technical background: Back in 2011, Google implemented ‘Panda’, which penalises websites that publish poorly written, unoriginal or invaluable content. But it also promotes the ranking of websites that publish what they call ‘in-depth’ content.
Analysis has also shown that the best ranking websites share blog posts that are about 2,000 words long. That’s probably much longer than you thought!
Google determines what is ‘in-depth content’ based upon the expertise, authority and trust that is exhibited by your work. It must be original, extensively researched, and equally well written. This generally means, though not specifically stated, that the content should be longer than 1,000 words.
That being said, you shouldn’t be writing longer and better content just because Google will rank you better for it. You should be doing it because your audience will see it as much more valuable. So, in reality, both of these things are one in the same. Google ranks in-depth content more highly because it tends to answer more questions. Your audience will love it for the same reason.
Research has shown that longer content tends to be shared on social media significantly more than shorter content. It also leads to much higher conversions rates. Win/win!
- Creating content that your audience will love is never a waste of your time and money. It’s actually crucial to business success!
- Providing value to your target market with interesting blog posts and videos is the best way to execute inbound marketing strategy. This is much more effective at harnessing attention in the cluttered digital landscape than a lot of advertising. It will also foster better customer relationships and brand loyalty.
- Creating interesting content is also a crucial aspect of Search Engine Optimisation(SEO). Google will rank your website more highly if you are able to answer your potential client’s questions. Most importantly, those potential clients will love you more, too!
- Don’t forget: It’s important to create genuinely interesting, well researched and captivating content. Don’t ever compromise on quality.