Your content is the workhorse in your marketing arsenal. Alone, your content performs a number of different jobs and fuels multiple other strategies while maximizing your online visibility and landing you more leads and sales. When written with general best practices in mind, it’s easy for a content marketer to keep all these individual roles in balance with each other, never dipping in any one area but never greatly exceeding in any area either.
For most businesses, this tapered harmony is sufficient to keep a content strategy effective and profitable. However, if you break down the purpose of content marketing into its key components, it’s more than likely you’ll find that one of those components is more valuable to you than the others.
If you identify one key role of content as your priority, you can adjust your strategy to favor that role and see greater efficiency and better results in your execution. The first step, of course, is to determine what that priority is—and here, I’ll break it down to the three biggies: branding, SEO, or conversions?
With branding, your main goal is to increase the visibility and authority of your brand. This is important because it increases the likelihood that new leads will trust you and buy from you, and it encourages new customers will continue their relationship with your brand. One of the downsides is that branding is a less tangible, less measurable goal than SEO or conversions—you can easily measure growth in your conversion rate from one month to the next, but measuring the average sentiment toward your brand is more difficult. Still, branding is highly valuable if you’re already seeing ample site traffic or if your main concern is with your existing level of brand familiarity.
To optimize your content for branding, you’ll first need to ensure that your brand voice is unique, appropriate, well-established, and strictly adhered to. Brand voice is important for any application of content, but without a particularly resonant one, your branding strategy will inevitably fall flat. Then, you’ll need to make sure to nurture your content relationships; you’ll have to earn guest posts from other major influencers in your industry, get your material published on their channels, and engage in mutually beneficial social media relationships to ensure your content is seen by the widest possible audience. Also remember that quality is everything for a branding-oriented content campaign; the more time and effort you put into your content, the better.
If your main priority is SEO, you’re more concerned with driving traffic to your site than you are building your reputation or increasing your conversion ratio. For brands that already have a decent conversion rate or a word-of-mouth reputation, this is ideal. More traffic with a consistent conversion rate means more sales, and your traffic can easily scale over time. Of course, SEO does take some time to develop—you won’t see near-immediate results like you would if you were optimizing your content for conversions. Instead, SEO is best treated as a several-months-long process with slow, yet measurable returns.
To optimize your content for SEO, your first job is to find a niche and a range of topics that people are searching for. Rather than optimizing your content with keywords like the old days of SEO, you’ll be optimizing for certain subjects. Do some competitive research and keyword phrase research to determine what kinds of content your audience wants to read, and generate a long-term editorial calendar that covers those important topics, again keeping within as specific a niche as possible. You’ll want to post content at least twice a week if you want to see measurable SEO results, and the more you post on other sources (with accompanying backlinks and brand mentions), the better.
Conversions are the main priority for many online companies. There are different types of conversions—for example, a B2B company might define a conversion as someone filling out a contact form while an e-Commerce platform might consider a conversion to be the purchase of an item—but optimizing content for conversions is more or less the same for any application. If you’re getting sizable traffic to your site, or if you notice your conversion ratio is struggling, optimizing your content for conversions is the perfect solution. You can get started by optimizing the existing content on your site, and then apply these practices to all new posts.
Your first goal with conversion-optimized content is to speak to a specific type of reader. Instead of writing generalized content, think about who your target conversion demographics are, and write your content specifically for them. You’ll then need to take measures to ensure that your conversion target—whether that’s a form or a product page—is available everywhere. Include it on the side of your blog page. Make reference to it in your text. Call your reader to action at the end of every article—your goal is to increase the visibility of your conversion target however you can without sacrificing the quality of your content.
Once you determine your main priority in content marketing, experiment by leaning your strategy toward that end. Continue for at least a month and monitor your results—you’ll almost certainly see a change in traffic patterns or user behavior. If you like the trend you see, keep it up, but if you find that another role has weakened in potency, you may need to rebalance your strategy to suit your needs.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.