How SEO undermined content marketing yet created a demand for it
Google has effectively eradicated the practices of content farms and poor quality link building, but this doesn’t necessarily mean an improvement in content quality. The internet has created a generation of bloggers, micro-bloggers and marketers of differing abilities, all publishing content with huge variations in quality.
The dark arts of SEO may be dying out, but as long as they secure a link for their client from a relevant site, content quality may still be irrelevant to SEO. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult –yet increasingly important – for people to find relevant quality content online.
The age of intrusive marketing is over. The ability to pause live television means viewers are able to fast forward through commercial breaks, and edited podcasts allow listeners to enjoy their favourite radio shows in their own time, without music or adverts.
Interestingly, commercial trailers have been reintroduced on DVDs and Blu Rays (an idea that had been stopped following the demise of VHS). Similarly, the decision by YouTube in 2010 to introduce skippable ads shows brands are desperate to engage with consumers through their entertainment.
Unfortunately, this type of advertising could be more of a nuisance than an effective marketing tool. Those watching films press fast forward repeatedly to get to their movie and YouTube viewers follow the “you can skip this video” countdown or exit the banner ad cluttering their screen rather than watch the content – hardly the positive interaction that brands crave.
If you want consumers to engage with your brand, it needs to be on their terms and of their volition, not because an algorithm has used keywords to match adverts with content. So how does a digital marketing company ensure it produces quality written content and meets the high expectations of its audience? One solution could be to hire its own journalist.
For many journalists, the thought of becoming a content creator or copywriter leaves the same bitter taste in the mouth a working in PR. In reality, the rise of citizen journalism, bloggers (again) and a dying print industry undermined by instant communication, means few qualified journalists actually work in journalism.
Indeed, branded journalism represents a more financially secure career route for NCTJ qualified journalists and utilises their ability to research and write to an audience, in a way that marketers and SEOs simply aren’t trained to do.
In November, Patrick Barrett, a former editor of Media Week, said: “It means a brand or corporate entity adopting the skills and mindset that any journalist is taught at college and hones during their career: independence, objectivity, clarity, speed, thrift of language, etc. It also means filtering corporate or brand content through the “five Ws” (who, what, when, where, why) that frame the qualitative judgments made in any newsroom.”
However, it should be remembered that what a journalist offers in writing ability, they may lack in marketing nous. Taking the strongest news angle may not be the best approach to promote a brand. Techniques such as “news jacking” may appeal to a journalist’s nose for a story but, without a marketer’s touch, it could goseriously wrong.
Engaging with news readers makes sense because they are actively searching for stories that interest, entertain and educate them, from a source they trust. Yet, consumers are more aware than ever that they are being sold to and act accordingly. Banner ads can be ignored and pop-ups can be exited before they have even loaded.
Speaking as a content marketer forConversionplanet, we found that by placing an interactive newsfeed onto a news website, we can entice readers onto a client-customised microsite. By focusing on quality content and a strong call to action, we had an average 2:30 minutes engagement time on page, with an exit click through rate (CTR) of 7-10% to the client’s website. By concentrating on the demands on the reader, we can hopefully engage them to the point where they are ready to become consumers.
A successful digital marketing mix needs to expand from the traditional “4Ps” of marketing (product, price, promotion and place) to include the expectations and habits of consumers. Hijacking entertainment with advertising is all well and good, if the audience is receptive, but the quality of the exposure might be questionable if the viewer isn’t prepared as a consumer. Utilising content marketing can use the awareness and engagement created by outlets such as social media and take the conversation deeper into the marketing funnel and closer towards converting the customer.