New clients come to me and claim that content marketing is dead. The whole process of creating content for SEO purposes and rising to the top of search engine rankings has worked like a charm for years. Article marketing directories such as Ezine Articles were deemed to be ideal places to post content using certain keywords related to your specific industry. Keyword stuffing was rampant and search engines changed algorithms to cut down on crappy articles.
That was okay because quality content still ruled the roost and the cream slowly rose to the top. Then Google Panda kicked in and a massacre to rival the Battle of Cannae ensued with webmasters looking on in horror as their websites seemingly fell off the face of the Earth overnight. SISTRIX, a well-respected SEO tools company from Germany, showed the aftermath of Hurricane Panda immediately afterwards. Admittedly, this came from a relatively small data sample in 2011 but you can see the huge changes in hitherto high ranking article marketing sites. Note how Ezine Articles dropped 78% while Hubpages.com fell 72% in the same short period of time.
Pretty much every site on the cull list had two things in common: An abundance of poor quality material and far too many adverts. Google has updated its algorithms many times since the Panda change and this has somehow convinced online businesses that article marketing is evil and wrong. (Incidentally you can view a full list of Google algorithm updates [here][moz]).
The reality is this:
Article Marketing With Rubbish Content Is Evil & Wrong!
There are innumerable case studies which show that content marketing using blog posts, WebPages and articles that are detailed, well-written and laden with take-home knowledge leads to success. There is simply no disputing that fact.
Companies that pay non-native English writers $2 an hour to cobble together 300 word posts that are complete gibberish are wasting their time. There is also no disputing that fact. Google and other major search engines are on a mission to improve user experience. This means that websites filled with garbage will be heavily penalised. If you want content marketing success, you better be prepared to pay a premium but the results are very much worth it if you read the following case studies.
Note – The following studies took place DURING the Google Panda algorithm change that was supposed to have killed content marketing.
Case Studies Chronicling Content Marketing Success
This is a global assurance, tax and consulting firm that took a 4-step approach to its content marketing strategy:
- Plan content & marketing campaign goals.
- Repackage content pieces & extend their uses.
- Website redesign to focus on content.
- Adopt a publisher’s mindset to bring the website forward.
Effectively, McGladrey decided to put content first and elected to create posts that not only reflected its brand, the content also educated customers and marked McGladrey out as an industry leader. This campaign actually began in 2009 and was not derailed by Google Panda as the high quality content withstood the carnage. As a result, McGladrey enjoyed a:
- 100% increase in website visitors
- 200% increase in content productivity
- 300% increase in content production
- 60% increase in content promotion
- $427,000 worth of new business from July 2011 to September 2012
With careful planning and great content, McGladrey struck gold.
This technology firm decided that a greater level of customer understanding with regards to its software product was necessary to boost sales. Distribion elected to create a focused content marketing campaign and despite the fact that this took place from January 2011 – February 2012, right in the eye of the Panda storm, they didn’t go bankrupt! Instead, they enjoyed phenomenal results.
Distribion went for an 8 step process:
- Creation of a blog to offer the best practices in their field. The blog was regularly updated.
- Creation of a resource library on the company website.
- An increase of content volume with the aid of strategic partners.
- Search for spin-off opportunities to spread content beyond the company’s assets.
- The setting up of measurable goals.
- Press releases to improve SEO and number of visitors to the website and its blog.
- Content for a wide range of potential clients.
- Entire content package organisation.
At the beginning, no blog post had more than 1,000 visitors but a couple of posts hit the 100,000 mark later on and gained great publicity for the company. In 12 months, Distribion released 228 blog posts and 8 whitepapers. This led to a 2,000% increase in blog traffic and a 40% increase in company revenue over the same time frame. Not a bad ROI if you ask me!
There are a plethora of further case studies which can be seen here.
The Bottom Line
Content marketing can be an enormous success and cause your business to take off IF you dedicate enough resources to the process. If you look at the case studies above you will see that all these organisations went into their respective strategies heart and soul with no half-measures or cut corners.
Each of them spent a pretty penny on high quality writers who created posts of genuine value! If you want to follow their lead, here are some essential tips to find success in content marketing:
- Don’t Be Lazy! – We have established that changing algorithms is a process that’s putting garbage content in its place. As a consequence, businesses interested in content marketing have to pull out all the stops. This means they are up against other high quality content produced by businesses that are giving a wholehearted effort. The writing must be terrific but it must also be prolific to be noticed.
- Don’t Be Cheap! – Paying $2 or even $10 an hour will get you nowhere! I want you to repeat that again and again until it sinks in. High quality writers know their value and will laugh at such derisory bids. Pay a competitive rate or forget about it.
- Add Value – Search engines and readers alike are looking for content that educates, inspires and compels. If you want to generate revenue from content marketing, you need to get your writing shared on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This requires quality content that is specific to your target audience and provides value. Giving readers information that they were previously unaware of will lead to more shares and better exposure.
- Go Long - Ignore the nonsense you hear about people skimming through articles; studies have shown that lengthier and more detailed pieces lead to better conversion rates than short and sharp posts. For example, Crazy Egg increased its conversion rate by 363% after massively increasing the amount of copy on its home page. If you can say what you need to say in 500 words or less, go for it but in reality, successful content marketing involves research and detailed writing.
- Show Benefits – The majority of websites are still filled with content that is all about how amazing the company is without ever really showing customers the benefits of the products/services on offer. What do your products/services do that your rivals cannot? How can you make the customer’s life easier?
Therefore, content marketing is far from being dead. In fact, it has been shown that high quality campaigns of this nature can actually result in moribund companies rising like a phoenix from the ashes. With content marketing, you get out of it what you put in so start developing a detailed strategy and join the like of McGladrey and Distribion in the Winner’s Enclosure.
Do you believe that content marketing has a bright future or are your marketing efforts focused elsewhere?