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Why do mar­keters focus on digital content so much? They all seem to agree that content mar­keting works — but how? What is “content mar­keting” anyway? How does it fit into online mar­keting strategies — and how can you get it working for your business?

Well, the short answer to most of those ques­tions boils down to one long-estab­lished fact: content is king. Quality content attracts, con­vinces and con­verts vis­itors into cus­tomers. Weak content does not.

Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. So, let’s start with what’s so special about digital content?

Why Digital Marketing?

Well, did you know that the UK is the world’s fourth biggest advert­ising market? In 2016, UK firms spent 21.9 billion GBP on advert­ising, and that figure is expected to keep rising.

That’s not just due to the obvious cost of TV ads, either. In fact, digital cam­paigns overtook TV advert­ising budgets over 18 years ago. Digital advert­ising tends to be more cost-effective.

Why? Well, partly because it’s gen­erally faster and cheaper to produce. A blog post may take a few hours of writing, but even video ads typ­ically cost less to put online than to schedule on a TV channel.

Digital assets can often also be mod­ified after they’ve been pub­lished. Print mis­takes can easily cost an entire print run; digital mis­takes often cost little more than a few minutes’ work to fix.

Then there’s tar­geting. Broadcast ads may reach more viewers, but most of us find them either easy to ignore, or irrit­ating. We call poorly tar­geted, broadcast digital mar­keting “spam”. Most digital advert­ising aims to reach those who might at least be inter­ested. That makes it far more cost-effective than broadcast ads.

Finally, digital assets typ­ically provide far more detailed and timely stats than tra­di­tional channels like print. Of course, trends still take time to show up and attrib­uting bottom-line results to spe­cific changes is rarely pos­sible. Still, meas­ure­ments lead to improve­ments, so digital mar­keting evolves much faster than tra­di­tional channels.

So, what can digital content mar­keting do for you?

Content Marketing Works For SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a range of tech­niques used to increase ‘organic’ (unpaid) vis­ib­ility in search engine results.

SEO basically encourages search engines to show pages from your site when people search for spe­cific phrases (aka “keywords”). Pages that are rel­evant and well-optimised for the given search term appear higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (or “SERPs”).

Most searchers rely on the first page of results, trusting search engines to pick out the top ten most rel­evant sites. So, cre­ating high-quality, unique, and inter­esting content that uses rel­evant keywords increases your chance of appearing in those all-important top results.

Content Attracts Visitors

Why content marketing works - content is kingThe more high-quality, rel­evant material you create, the more useful your site becomes to your target market. It also gets a bigger “foot­print”, gradually ranking for more related keywords. That makes it easier to find.

The way in which these benefits gradually build up is one of the top reasons why content mar­keting works so well. It’s also why your content is king.

A Key Word Of Warning

Picking the right keywords isn’t always easy, though. Sometimes, more traffic goes to an unex­pected vari­ation of a phrase than to a version that seems more obvious. So, researching the right keywords, using them effect­ively, and adding external links to credible sources, all give your content a better chance to rank higher.

That used to be true across the board. Even now, most search engines still tend to see syn­onyms as sep­arate keywords. Words are just strings of char­acters to them, with little or no intrinsic meaning. However, Google tries to group topics with some­thing called “Latent Semantic Indexing” (“LSI”) and “Natural Language Processing”.

Basically, Google can read. It still can’t interpret pic­tures very well though, and keyword research is gen­erally useful anyway. Still, as Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) develops, detailed keyword research may become a little less vital than it cur­rently is.

So, whilst “content mar­keting” can just mean cre­ating any old content, the way effective content mar­keting works is a little more involved than that. Still, the dif­ference that extra effort can make is why content mar­keting plays a key role in many SEO and general digital mar­keting campaigns.

Quality Content Builds Your Business

Specifically, cre­ating high-quality content and using it well improves several Key Performance Indicators (“KPIs”) that you can’t afford to ignore. Not if you want your business to grow, at least.

Retention and Trust

No-one wants to waste time on sites that contain nothing of interest or use to them. So, if you provide useful, high-quality content and make it easy for them to find, they’ll stick around long enough to start trusting you. If they trust you, there’s a chance they may buy from you. Otherwise, they won’t — it’s as simple as that.

“Dwell time” measures how long a visitor stays on your site. Google pro­motes sites with higher average dwell times, as these suggest that vis­itors find such sites useful. This can improve your site’s pos­ition in the SERPs, which in turn leads to more vis­itors — who will hope­fully stick around, too.


Likewise, no-one book­marks, shares or talks about weak content. Or — pretty obvi­ously — non-existent content. Sure, you had to create some content to build your site, but is that really enough? Almost cer­tainly not.

Why not? Well, your initial content exists to promote your business, right? So, it follows that more content will promote it even more. Just give people some­thing worth talking about and sharing, and they’ll often oblige.

Even if they don’t link to your site though, these “brand men­tions” or “cita­tions” can still give your SERPs rankings a (small) boost. Brand famili­arity can also sig­ni­fic­antly increase cus­tomer trust and sales.

Of course, if your content is really good, your vis­itors are more likely to explore other parts of your site and to return occa­sionally. They may even to sub­scribe to your blog or news­letter so that they don’t miss out on your future updates. It’s usually a slow process, but building your audience like this will help to build your market.


Obviously, as the points above attract more vis­itors, you’ll have more chances to convert those vis­itors into cus­tomers, members or whatever your goal is. Still, effective content mar­keting isn’t content to leave it at that. It helps you to increase con­version rates in other ways, too.

You see, whilst increasing “dwell time” tends to build trust in itself, pub­lishing rel­evant, useful and/or inter­esting content also demon­strates your expertise. So, this aspect of content mar­keting works by building your authority, and more trust, ulti­mately leading to higher con­version rates.

Off-Site Content Marketing

Content creationOf course, “content” can mean more than just the digital assets pub­lished on your site. True, an on-site blog or news feed is the easiest way to get started, as they let you publish short, time-sens­itive updates rather than full pages. Still, you can get some of the benefits of content mar­keting by pub­lishing and/or re-pur­posing similar stuff on other sites, in other forms. For instance:

Choosing Your Content Marketing Strategy

So, which approach is best — on-site, or off-site content marketing?

Well, both. Each channel tends to offer its own unique benefits. Your more suc­cessful com­pet­itors are likely to be using several of them. So, can you really afford to ignore any of them?

A social media presence is vital, but it’s usually best to add content to your own site and link your social audi­ences to that. Social content mar­keting works, but there are pit­falls for the unwary.

Content posted direct to social feeds may only reach a very limited section of your audience (notably on Facebook, unless you pay to promote it). It also tends to dis­appear quickly, often helping the social media company more than it helps you. That’s fine for short posts, but longer art­icles on your own site become long-term assets rather than short-term adverts.

On the other hand, Press Releases, guest posts on other sites and videos can be a great way of reaching new audi­ences and gaining back­links to your site. Again, that can improve your SERPs rankings, site traffic and bottom line.

Newsletter mailing lists and the down­loadable PDFs that often work well as lead gen­er­ators for those lists can be trickier. These work so well that mar­keters often say, “The money is in the list” — but these days, there are a lot of anti-spam and privacy laws to adhere to (notably the GDPR). Even so, the ROI on mailing lists is so high (often aver­aging over £35 per pound spent!) that they are likely to con­tinue to be worth setting up.

How To Get Started With Content Marketing

So, content mar­keting works in many ways, but how can you start bene­fiting from it?

Well, as noted above, an on-site blog makes content mar­keting much easier. So does a Content Management System (“CMS”) that lets you add and edit other types of content. WordPress is a popular solution that offers both. You may want to get a couple of social media accounts too, if you haven’t already — but don’t take on more than you can manage comfortably.

Then comes “ideation” — fig­uring out what content to create — and the task of actually cre­ating it. Those points are really beyond the scope of this article, but here are a few quick tips:

  • Know your audience and provide content that they would find valuable (e.g. answer common questions)
  • Keep a list of topic ideas as they come to you — and keep adding to it
  • Write your first draft as if explaining the topic to a friend, then keep refining it
  • Headlines matter — spend time crafting a title that engages your audience
  • Images and structure (sub-headings, lists etc.) help to keep longer art­icles readable
  • For social media, keep self-pro­moting posts below 10 – 20% of your content
  • Try to re-use your best art­icles in other forms, e.g. infographics and the off-site assets listed above

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Content mar­keting works because, as “inbound” mar­keting, it aims to attract an inter­ested audience. Old-school, “out­bound” broad­casting to dis­in­ter­ested crowds is less effective, as savvy con­sumers have become almost “ad blind.”

Constant, blatant self-pro­motion tends to drive folks away, so think beyond that. Demonstrate your expertise by sharing tips and rel­evant industry news.

Do You Need Content Marketing Help?

So, now that you know how content mar­keting works, are you eager to start but not sure you’ll have the time? Or maybe you just aren’t a keen writer? That’s okay — I can help with everything from setting up a blog on your site to ideation, strategy, syn­dic­ation and even cre­ating the content itself.

Ready to get started with Content Marketing?

Get In Touch TODAY!