“Of the average overall marketing, advertising and communications budget, 39% of the funds were dedicated to content marketing,” according to the Custom Content Council. Business small and large are dedicating more and more marketing dollars towards content.
We had the opportunity to interview Jay Swansson, Co-Founder and CEO of iAcquire, a digital marketing agency based in Phoenix and New York City, about search engine optimization, content marketing, and related inbound marketing channels. Read his insight here:
What is content marketing and why is it important?
Jay: The natural evolution of SEO brought the convergence of multiple avenues of digital marketing – digital PR, content marketing, social media, reputation management, and user experience – all inbound forms of marketing with content at the core. To rank well, you have to have a great website that naturally attracts attention and high-value links. Once you’ve taken care of the technical end, content quality is the determining factor for visibility.
SEO just isn’t a link-building game anymore. It’s become a channel that has to play by the rules of every other marketing channel; i.e., if it’s good, it will work. Now it’s an integrated medium for brands and businesses to communicate with their customer through remarkable content that lives on and off their site. Brands that are doing this well (and the agencies behind them) are producing a steady flow of quality on-page content like videos, infographics, and blog posts – though the brands that are doing really well are leaning more and more on user-generated content that lives on their site. The other piece of the pie is creating remarkable off-page content strategy through social media, digital PR, guest posting, and promotion.
Why is it important for companies to invest in content marketing?
Jay: You have to be where your audience is, and you have to meet them with the right content to match their given state of the consumer-decision journey. Content marketing (if it’s backed by proper content strategy) supports a targeted omnipresence on the web. On- and off-page branded content allows you to reach potential customers at any need state (e.g., research, consideration, purchase). Whether on social media, mobile, or your users’ favorite blogs, it’s key for a business to be saturated in multiple areas, so when a user is ready to make a purchase decision, that brand is there.
Integrative SEO allows your business to be saturated in pull marketing – which is the way consumers want to be marketed to these days. Forget about $1 million dollar ad spends; content marketing and integrative digital marketing (SEO, social media, digital PR) should be your main consideration.
Say a company has no experience with SEO or content marketing … Where should they start?
Jay: Start reading. Don’t hire a company right away; don’t spend a dollar. Go to SEOMoz and get educated. The digital marketing world is a complex space, and you don’t want to shoot in the dark because your results will flatline.
The next step is to define high-level goals of what you want your digital marketing to achieve. After that, it’s then time to partner with an agency, hire the appropriate people, or outsource help to achieve your goals. From there you’ll be able to make an informed decision on the best next steps.
What excites you about the future of this area of marketing?
Jay: What we’ve really seen in the past few years is the evolution of organic search marketing. It’s gone from a misunderstood black-box technique to a real marketing channel with tons of opportunity for brands to grow. Now more than ever it’s about building the brand. It’s about understanding and interacting with your audience through content marketing and social media. Every year, digital marketing becomes better understood, and garners a larger piece of a company’s online marketing budget – and brands are seeing results. The impact of ranking organically is obviously game-changing so it’s an exciting time to work in the search industry.
What is the number one indicator of success for a business?
Jay: Well, obviously you need revenue and profit to run a business, but that aside, it’s important to do what you say. You have to set proper expectations, and over-deliver on them. If you over-deliver, you will have happy customers that spread that word-of-mouth advertising.