According to the experts at the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, consistent, and relevant to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience-and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” This is true of both traditional marketing campaigns and of business-to-business models. Traditional content marketing can present old information in a new and exciting way, explain the impact of new data on a specific organization, or attempt to simplify complex concepts so they are more accessible to a larger audience.
Thought leadership takes traditional content marketing channels and uses them to solidify the author as an undisputed expert on a particular topic or in a specific field. New or existing information is examined, explained, and dissected in such depth and with such authority that the audience can’t help but recognize the author’s mastery of the subject.
Turning Content Marketing into Thought Leadership
The basic requirements to transform traditional content marketing into thought leadership are experience, knowledge, and writing ability. The author needs to have extensive knowledge of the topic, concrete experience working within the field that the topic covers, and the ability to convey their experience and knowledge in an engaging way. Basically, the author not only has to be an expert in a field, but they also have to be able to convincingly display their expertise to their target audience.
When to Utilize Thought Leadership
The reason that thought leadership shouldn’t just become the default strategy for any organization or campaign is that there are few things more detrimental to an individual or a brand than a failed attempt at thought leadership.
With traditional content marketing, differing opinions or points-of-view are welcome and generally encouraged. The author is generally seen more as a facilitator of discussion and less as an authoritarian provider of information. This is especially true in the B2B realm where organizational expectations are different than traditional consumer expectations. It is possible for an author to be “wrong” about a particular topic and still be successful because they may have increased brand exposure or helped generate organizational contacts simply by being part of a given conversation.
Thought leadership shifts the paradigm. Thought leadership is not an attempt to be a part of a conversation, it is an attempt by an organization to establish themselves as the heart of the conversation. The benefit is, of course, increased exposure and message control with regards to a particular topic. However, the cost is a lack of insulation against being “wrong”. Thought leaders cannot afford to be wrong because they have established themselves as an authority on a given topic or field. In the case of a thought leader, being “wrong” means a catastrophic hit to brand credibility and an overall loss of consumer trust. A good solution is to find a PR agency to help you with branding and your companies voice. This website lists pr agencies that have been awarded and could lead to a credible ally for your company.
If your budget for your company’s online marketing is limited, you may wonder how to appropriately allocate your funds between things like the design of your website and the content you’ll use to fill that website. Both are necessary to promote your business online, but design is usually a one-time cost (with some money set aside for web maintenance and possible future redesigns), whereas content is a long-term investment. As far as which is more important and should get a larger percentage of your budget, it depends largely on your goals.
According to Inspired Mag, the average user only reads a quarter of the content on any given web page they visit. That makes it seem like content is unimportant, and when it comes to a site visitor’s first impression of your business, the web design is undoubtedly most important. In the matter of seconds, a visitor makes the decision as to whether or not to stay and whether or not to potentially become one of your customers. When it comes to “design,” it’s not a matter of the aesthetic look alone, although that’s a large part of it. Design also includes:
- The site’s ease of use
- The site’s compatibility with both mobile devices and PCs
- Easy access to all important information (such as your company’s physical address, phone number and email address)
- Limited use (if any use) of pop-ups and advertisements – these should not be distracting, if your company feels it must use them at all
When originally creating your website, it all starts with the design.
Digital Current discusses the importance of and shares tips about effective content creation. As essential as design is, content still has a large role to play in the success of your company’s website in the long-term. Even after a person has seen your compelling website design, they need something to repeatedly draw them back to your site. Repeat visitors are the most likely to convert into buyers and loyal customers of your brand. Content offers visitors something new to look at every time you update (which should be at least once a week, if not more often). While they’re reading or watching your new content, they’ll be reminded of your brand and may remember to buy again.
Which Is Easier to Produce?
Both website design and content production are best handled by the respective professionals most suited to produce them. Only experts know how to make a website both look good and operate without errors. Professionals are most experienced at writing content that’s both compelling and likely to prove search engine optimized.
Allocate a larger portion of your budget for your website design before you launch your site and then pour more of the money into content over time. If your website is effective and designed well, it shouldn’t need much maintenance or require a redesign for many years. Whether you outsource design and content production, you do it all in-house or a combination of both, focus on designing first, but don’t underestimate the importance of content later.
In 2016, you’d be hard-pressed to find a corporate or small business website that hasn’t embraced search engine optimization. For more than a decade, SEO has proven to be an effective method for grabbing the attention of prominent search engines and attracting scores of new visitors. When most companies set SEO efforts into motion, their primary aim is Google. As Statista reveals, Google is far and away the most widely-used search engine worldwide, so it makes sense for businesses to seek its recognition. Unfortunately, trying to curry favor with Google may actually hinder a company’s SEO endeavors. Going about search engine optimization in the wrong manner, whether intentional or unintentional, is liable to elicit penalties from the world’s most beloved search engine. The following tips can help your company’s efforts to avoid the infamous “Google penalties.”
Produce Natural, Organic-Sounding Content
If there’s one thing Google hates, its keyword stuffing. This refers to the practice of overloading a blog post, feature article or any other piece of text-based content with search engine-baiting keywords. Although skilled writers are able to organically insert keywords into the content they produce, individuals who are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of SEO have a tendency to openly embrace keyword stuffing. There’s no question that doing this can help boost a site’s search ranking in the short term, but the instant Google becomes aware of what’s going on, that site’s ranking is going to take a nosedive. Additionally, keyword-stuffed content is of little to no practical value to readers, so it’s not really conducive to attracting repeat visitors. There’s nothing wrong with sufficiently-spaced-out, organically-inserted keywords, but being shamelessly excessive with your keywords is bound to cost you.
Exercise Caution When Selecting Guest Bloggers
While guest blogging can be an effective way to drum up new interest in your site, it can also work against you in certain instances. With all the new visitors they attract, guest posts often bring in a plethora of outside links. If these links are relevant to your company and the industry it serves, there shouldn’t be any problems. However, if they’re far-removed from your industry or offer little in the way of relevance, a Google penalty may be in your future. This isn’t to say you should swear off guest blogging entirely – in fact, you definitely shouldn’t – but you should be very selective about the people you ask to produce guest blogs and make sure their work meshes seamlessly with the other content found on your website.
Frequently Review Google’s Guidelines
Since the actions that result in Google penalties are constantly being updated, it’s in your best interest to review the company’s webmaster guidelines, which can be found at https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en, at least once a month. This will ensure that you stay abreast of each actionable offense, enabling you to make changes to your site and its content accordingly.
Google penalties can put a huge damper on your business’s best-laid SEO strategies. In many respects, getting on Google’s bad side essentially constitutes biting the hand that feeds you. Even inadvertently going against the aforementioned search engine’s increasingly elaborate rules stands to plummet your site’s Google ranking. Remaining in Google’s graces gets more difficult by the day, but being exercising caution with your keywords and guest blogs and staying current with the company’s webmaster guidelines can help you avoid drawing the ire of the world’s favorite search engine.