The Innovative Marketer's Blog

Content Marketing: The Story of Sustainable Business Growth

Posted by Max Traylor

the-story-of-content-marketingThe role of a marketing agency has become relatively simple: create quality content. Clients look to you to increase sales.  However, they are constantly frustrated, since every tactical internet marketing solution they knew to be successful in the past is being phased out by ever faster developments in technology. I find this focus on "tactical marketing solutions" to be my number one challenge when talking with clients. To be a successful "business grower," which all of us should strive to be, we must help our clients embrace sustainable growth strategies, rather than allowing ourselves to be subject to increasing costs per click, expensive email lists and strategy busting search engine algorithm updates. Today, sustainable internet marketing strategies boil down to one thing: quality content, not quality tactics.

Your biggest challenge as a content marketer or inbound marketer will be convincing your clients that their sustainable growth strategy is not a complicated one. First, you must clearly understand who you are trying to reach. Second, you must have a well-defined sales process. The following story illustrates the leading role of content and technology as integral parts of a sustainable growth strategy.

sales processThe Salesmen

At the beginning, way back in the day, products and services were sold by a salesmen. A good salesmen had a process that could be repeated from prospect to prospect. Eventually the sales process looked something like the funnel to the right. The exact process may have differed from market to market, but the concept of a repeatable process made the salesmen successful. His job was to manually find people with a need for his services and then move them through his sales process by educating them about a particular solution to their problems.

Content: Scale the Process

The most powerful weapon the salesman could wield was content. In fact, by capturing his entire sales process in writing, he could scale his process. Great writers would help salesmen create a document that was designed to bring a specific buyer with a specific set of problems through the sales funnel, before speaking to the salesmen. This was the birth of content marketing. Content marketing is about scaling your sales process. A content marketing asset is a document that is designed for a targeted role in the sales process. 

The Internet: Store the Content

The internet changed the game. Before the internet, content marketing assets needed to be sent out to the masses in hope of finding the right person at the right time.  The Salesman "sprayed and prayed," which costed him a pretty penny. The internet was a place to put your content marketing assets, and the cost was next to nothing. At this point, the challenge was to get your content to the right people, which could now be done from home. This was the birth of inbound marketing.

Search Engines: Match Makers

A search engine does the job of matching people with content. A huge plus for content marketing. So huge in fact that the success of content marketing was contingent on a search engine's ability to match your content with the people you were trying to reach.  This was when quality began to take a back seat to tactics.

SEO: The Alternative to Quality

Search engine optimizationis an entire industry dedicated to the practice of getting your content found and indexed by search engines. In the beginning, search engines were pretty stupid. In fact, they couldn not tell much of anything about your content simply by reading it. To remedy this, search engines introduced new ways for internet marketers to "tag" their contentinforming search engines what the content was about and who it would be valuable to. This tagging structure still exists today as meta data, including titles, keywords and descriptions.

Pretty soon, the bubble hit. Everyone had a computer, and internet marketing agencies became specialists at understanding how content was being indexed and how to manipulate search engines into serving up your content to as many people as you could handle. Unfortunately, this triggered a world-wide deterioration in content quality. "Why spend on content, when all I have to do is pay this SEO company to get a million people to my website? I will get more than enough business regardless of the quality of my content." Millions of dollars were made, and no one was mindful about high-quality content creation.

Big Data: Quality Makes a Comeback

A bubble is a blitz of success, which never lasts long. Remember the search engines? Their job is to match people with content. In order to do that, people have to go to a search engine with a specific question or problem they are trying to solve; the search engine must understand the question and match that person's needs with the best possible content out there. Search engines were in a competitive market themselves. Whoever could provide the best search results would get all the traffic. 

Google came out on top, since they took the first step to defying the SEO marketplace that was hell-bent on making moneynot good content. Just look at Google's home page. There are no ads.  That was perceived as crazy back in the day, and Google did not stop there. Their mission was to provide the best search results, and they continued to dedicate R&D resources to finding better ways to understand both sides of the search engine equation:

1. Understanding of the user and their need for information

2. Accurately indexing content and determining "value" for a user

So you see, Google has been fighting a losing battle for decades.  As the costs of internet marketing tactics have risen over the years, so has Google's investments in technology. What does SEO look like today? Currently, Google determines quality of content by the relationships it has with other quality content on the internet. The technical explanation is irrelevant, what is important is that quality can no longer be fabricated. Google cannot be tricked, which is unlikely to change as technology continues to advance.

Recent updates to search engine algorithms have made Google shockingly good at identifying quality content through relationships.  For the most part, Google does not care about meta data. On the other side of the equation, social media has allowed Google to build surprisingly accurate profiles for searchers and store data about their interests and preferences. Combine the two, and you have a catalyst for the rebirth of quality content and inbound marketing.

inbound marketing

Consider this: we know that any sales process can be captured with content, and we have been blessed with a monopolistic match making service that 98% of decision makers use to educate themselves before making a purchase.

The Role of Content

Quality content educates your target audience, establishes trust and sells your products.

The Role of an Internet Marketer

Your role as a marketer is to help companies create quality content that educates and provides value to their prospects. Secondly, you are responsible for getting that content found by the right people at the right time. If you do the first part right, Google will do the second job for you.

The Role of Automated Marketing Software

Tools that help the marketer gauge the effectiveness of content in the marketplace. With so much data at our disposal, technology still plays a role in getting your content in front of the right people at the right time. Is your content effectively selling your products? Analytics data needs to expose the gaps in your sales process. If you can find where people are dropping out of the sales funnel, you can identify which content needs improvent.  Leverage automated marketing software to attain inbound marketing success through strategic content marketing that results in greater new business generation.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, SEO, HubSpot