The shift away from traditional methods of advertising (i.e., getting your products in front of customers) toward favoring a plethora of new digital tools and tactics has been happening for dozens of years now. However, as that transition has been taking place the distinction between things that are “simple” versus those that are “easy” has become confused and somewhat hard to identify.
Take search engine optimization (SEO) for example. The basic premise of organic search is very “simple”--create content that’s seen by people searching the internet which leads them to your website where they then buy products from you. A sort of “earned traffic” if you will. This is exactly how SEO worked in the early days of online commerce and (wait for it)... it’s exactly how it works today. It is?! Yes, the simplicity of the theoretical concept hasn’t changed. However, the level of effort required to achieve meaningful results has increased exponentially. And continues to do so.
There was a time when you could create a website and just by its very existence it would be seen by some people. Sadly the Field of Dreams approach (i.e., “If you build it, they will come”) to digital marketing hasn’t worked for quite some time now. In today’s competitive market, if you build it, no one will come, no one will read it, and no one will share it. Unless, that is, you define a strategy and are willing to put in the time and money to make it work. In other words, it’s not “easy.”
To make the complex process more efficient and effective, follow the four steps below:
Step I: Define Your Audience
In order to find success with your organic content you need to know who you’re trying to reach and how they prefer to be spoken to in each of the channels where they’re active. Accurately defining your audience through the development of various customer persona’s helps your content stay focused and keeps you from delivering the wrong message at the wrong time.
Step II: Select Content Formats
Once you have a idea of who your audience truly is and where their interests lie you’ll have a much clearer sense of the types of content they prefer to consume and share. If your customers are most engaged with videos and are very active on Facebook you’ll likely want to create video content and post it to Facebook.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re thinking about “evergreen content,” which has a longer lifespan than short topical blog posts or seasonal videos. The right mix is critical and requires vigilance. Remember your customer’s tastes change over time just like yours. This is not a set it and forget it exercise.
Step III: Determine Content Themes
In order to stay current with what your audience is engaged with It’s also important to keep the conversation (yes, you need to think of it as a dialogue) with your audience fresh and interesting. It goes without saying that no one is interested in being in a conversation with the individual (or brand) who likes to hear themselves talk. The name of the game is engagement.
In addition to promotional content about your brand and products, make sure you’re presenting valuable information that’s interesting and informative for your target audience(s) and above all current.
Step IV: Select Your Channels
Once you’ve zeroed in on who you’re talking to and you’ve created a plan for what you’ll say and how you’ll say it, you need to distribute it in the right places. This is another area of SEO that will largely be dictated to you by your audience and their demonstrated behaviors.
You’re building your own audience through your web presence and on-site blog but capturing the attention of people who frequent channels like YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest and others are a vital part of audience growth and increasing the reach of your brand. (Note: YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. You need to think about SEOing your videos for better visibility not just on Google but on YouTube as well. Same goes for Facebook, Pinterest and other channels.)
The concept is simple, but getting this right is a difficult and evolving task
It’s a lot to juggle, we know. Particularly when time and staff are in short supply. However, you wouldn’t build a house on a vacant lot without partnering with an architect and builder. You also wouldn’t attempt to climb Mt. Everest without the help and guidance of a sherpa. Don’t attempt to tame the wilds of the internet by yourself. It takes time (read: patience) and it isn’t easy.