An Introduction to Search, Content, and Inbound Marketing
The way people interact with brands and choose which product or service to buy or use has changed. Marketing has shifted from traditional to digital, making digital marketing strategy an integral part of any business’ success.
But, how do you get started?
There are many ways to digital marketing, with content marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) being two important approaches in the last year, according to MarketingCharts.com. It’s crucial for any business considering a shift to digital marketing to know the basics of search and content marketing.
What is Search Marketing?
According to Search Engine Land, search marketing is “the process of gaining traffic and visibility from search engines through both paid and unpaid efforts.”
Search marketing has two major components:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Attracting web traffic through organic (unpaid) tactics
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Attracting web traffic through paid tactics
The purpose of search marketing is to increase a web page’s rank on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
How SEO works
When a user makes a search query on Google, a website’s ranking is what determines the order of SERPs. The better optimised a page is for search engines, the higher they will show up on Google SERPs.
When done correctly, a site’s SEO directly correlates to higher traffic, both in quantity -the number of people who visit a page- and quality of visitors.
You can optimise for search engines both on-site and off-site:
- On-site SEO: Incorporating keywords, writing high-quality copy, optimising URLs, improving page load speeds, adding Google authorship boxes, etc.
- Off-site SEO: Social media sharing, high-quality and natural backlinks, influencer marketing, brand mentions, etc.
How Search Engine Marketing (SEM) works
While optimising web pages for search is crucial to the success of digital marketing strategies, it may take a while before you see significant improvements on your search rankings. SEO is a long game strategy, and thus businesses may look for quicker wins in their digital marketing strategy through SEM.
When you buy ads on SERPs, this falls under Search Engine Marketing. Paid search ads and pay-per-click (PPC) are two of the most widely known examples of SEM. Buying ads on social networks can also fall under SEM.
Platforms most used in Search Engine Marketing are Google Adwords, Bing Ads, and Yahoo: Search Ads.
Paid search advertising not only attracts SERPs more quickly, but it can also support the ranking of a website to be placed on either the first or second page of Google’s search for a set period of time.
Which Search Marketing is better?
Part of any successful digital marketing strategy should always implement SEO’s best practices, while also investing in paid strategies.
SEM will get a page to the coveted #1 spot on Google’s SERP quickly, and SEO will keep a site at the top of organic search results.
Search is still the number one method for internet users to get information. According to Smart Insights, users make around 3.5 billion searches on Google a day. The reliance on search means that ranking on Google’s SERPs is a pivotal component of a successful digital strategy.
The benefits of search marketing:
- Builds trust: Ranking high on Google’s SERPs adds visibility and credibility for a brand.
- Better user experience: Optimising a site for search engines includes ensuring a clean and effective interface for visitors.
- Improved local traffic: Through SEO, small businesses can rank high and get traffic even in competitive industries depending on location.
- Increases conversion: SEO’s best practices help brands improve on how they present their goods and services, encouraging visitors to purchase good deals.
- Dynamic changes: Search marketing is constantly evolving with algorithms and people’s web behaviour. Brands can always improve how they market themselves and increase their visibility.
What is content marketing?
“Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” — Content Marketing Institute
A majority of marketers allocate over 20% of their budget to content marketing. Content can be anything from blog posts and ebooks to visual content such as infographics and video.
At different stages of the marketing funnel, different content types are more appropriate and successful. For example, if a brand’s marketing goal is brand awareness, social media posts, educational infographics are more effective in helping achieve this objective.
Further down the funnel, if a brand’s objective is to convert users into paying customers, more in-depth case studies or white papers are more successful in helping nurture users through the purchasing stages.
The benefits of content marketing:
- Increasing awareness: Through producing and publishing quality content, brands are more likely discovered by the right consumers.
- Encouraging audience engagement: Engagement increases conversions and different content types are useful at keeping users engaged. Content marketing has the power of capturing casual readers and nurturing their interest into paid customers.
- Lead generation: Through engagement and data assessment, brands can identify and qualify consumers who will most likely become customers.
- Increased loyalty: Consistent valuable and relevant content keep brands top of mind for existing customers, increasing positive perception, and satisfaction.
- Improved sales: Content development may even open up multiple and previously unexplored revenue streams.
Tips for effective content marketing:
Along with search marketing, content marketing should be a core component of any digital marketing strategy. To be successful, here are some content marketing tips to keep in mind:
1. Stick to evergreen content
The most valuable types of content are those that remain relevant regardless of when they are viewed or read. These types of content can be shared, linked, or included in email marketing campaigns at any time.
2. People do judge a book by its cover
According to David Ogilvy, 5x more people read the headline than the article itself. If you want content audiences will engage with, it starts with the headline. Use simple language, include numbers, and target a keyword on your headline. Different tools can be used to A/B test variations of headlines to see which headline attracts and converts more readers and subscribers.
3. Size does matter
Google values longer, more in-depth content. These types of content do well because they keep visitors on the webpage longer, provide a lot of value, and search engine crawlers have more content to index. The result? High-ranking content.
4. An image tells a thousand words
Visual content improves engagement and reader retention. People remember 80% of what they see and do, instead of simply reading a slab of text. If you have important and interesting content to share, try to repurpose the content or include it into an infographic.
5. Write for the reader
Don’t write for Google, or stuff a blog post or a webpage with keywords to increase its ranking on search engines. Always create content for the end user in mind. People see through disingenuous content and high-quality pieces will always do better than those stuffed with keywords.
A look into inbound marketing
Inbound marketing is closely related to content marketing, and according to Hubspot, inbound marketing “is a method of attracting, engaging, and delighting people to grow a business that provides value and builds trust.”
The three components of inbound marketing can help assist businesses in creating content depending on whether they want to attract, engage, or delight audiences.
- Attract: the right type of content attracts people who are most likely to become leads and eventually, customers. This is done by providing the right content at the right time.
- Engage: this involves a more direct way of communicating with leads. In addition, the goal at this stage is to get helpful information from prospects through email marketing or smart content.
- Delight: conversations with the customer should be contextual, and the content relevant and delightful to encourage sharing to their own networks.
Measuring online marketing success
Both search, content, and inbound marketing can be extremely beneficial in helping brands achieve different goals within their marketing strategy. But how do brands know how they’re tracking and improve if necessary?
By measuring the Return on Investment (ROI), a widely used indicator for profitability, the profit or loss generated from paid or inbound marketing can be analysed.
Tip: To calculate for a digital marketing campaign’s ROI percentage, divide the net gain by the total cost of the campaign.
For a more detailed computation of ROI, especially for multiple campaigns, it’s important to focus on certain metrics such as cost per lead or acquisition, conversion rates per channel or device, content click-through rates, and more.
Where content marketing and SEO don’t require paid marketing, different metrics such as click-through rates, social interactions, visit duration, and revenue per customer are the primary metrics to measure success.
Google Analytics is Google’s web analytics tool that tracks and reports website traffic. It is the most comprehensive and customisable tool for web traffic data, allowing brands to pay attention to the metrics that matter and ignore those that don’t.
Here are some important data Google Analytics can provide:
- Acquisition: How much traffic does a site get, and where do they come from? How many are new or returning visitors?
- Behaviour: Which pages bring in the most traffic? How long do people stay on a webpage?
- Conversion rates: E-commerce transactions according to set business goals. Brands can define their goals, whether they are transactions, lead captures, etc.
Google Analytics can also provide data like age, location, and gender of the people who visit a site. Brands can use this information to create personas in order to improve how they target and attract specific consumers.
Google Analytics’ customisability may even help brands calculate a customer’s Lifetime Value (LTV). Growth marketing specialist, Neil Patel says that LTV is “the projected revenue that a customer will generate during their lifetime.”
LTV is calculated by determining a customer’s average expenditure per year and multiplying that number by a customer’s average lifespan with the brand.
Instead of new customer acquisition that costs businesses 7 times more than returning customers, Patel says customer retention by encouraging brand loyalty is the way to go. This is why content marketing and inbound marketing are especially valuable digital marketing strategies.
Digital marketing is cost-effective, and when done right and consistently, leads to better brand awareness and exposure to the right customers.
Search and content marketing are effective methods of implementing a brand’s digital marketing efforts. Search, content, and inbound marketing are highly effective and can help brands pivot where necessary depending on a business’ marketing objectives.
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