One quick life lesson today when it comes to content marketing - specifically blogging. It’s all about relevancy.
Your content has to be relevant to your business goals
Your content has to be relevant to your intended audience
Quite a few businesses I've recently seen seem to be producing some mighty fine content, but it doesn't really provide for them any benefit. Whether its direct sales through your website, or general brand awareness you're after the content you produce has to a discernible value to your business goals.
Don’t create content just for content’s sake.
Even though some of the content produced by some of the fantastic examples I mentioned in my last post are incredibly weird and random they still have at their core positive and promotional message about their business to generate sales and awareness.
A Content Marketing Case Study
So, let’s make an example. Let's say you a run a fictional store which specialises in repairs for surfboards in Cornwall. We'll call it Surf Patch. Your main audiences are the local folk who love to surf and the tourists who visit each summer who’ll bring their boards. You've got a cool little store close to the coast where you do the repairs, and you have a website to help promote it.
What’s the business goal? To bring in more sales to the store.
So what content do you create? Well you could write a blog post on the top surfing beaches on the North Cornish coast.
Who would be looking to read a post about this? Tourists and local surfers.
Does that post help your business goals? Yes. Anyone who finds a post about the top beaches will hopefully also have a surf board which might need fixing up.
The result – After writing the post it's get picked up in Google and some relevant traffic starts coming into the site. You get a few more sales in the shop from surfing tourists who find the post when looking for beaches for their holidays, and you maybe even get a link from nearby holiday cottage providers linking who link to it for their guests.
You need to generate a steady steam of this amazing content though. People are unlikely to see a single blog post and immediately buy from you. Over time though people will hopefully remember you and head to your store next time they're in the area.
What happens though when you change your intended audience without changing your business goals?
The slippery slope though is what happens next. Encouraged by the success of your last post, you start to create more content and broaden your horizons. You start posting videos of amazing swells that are happening off the coast of Mexico. You write a post about the early history of surfing and you tell everyone about the annual surfing competition for dogs at Huntington Beach (I kid you not).
The results - over the next year, your traffic goes through the roof, your Facebook likes double and double again. You get some additional links and your website and you do a little dance as your website is bringing in so much more traffic.
Wait a second though, sales have only marginally improved. Why?
Who is the audience for that surf history blog post you wrote? Where is the traffic coming from for that? A small town in California where the local 4th Graders are writing a school report. That video of the surfing dogs at Huntington beach brings in comments and likes from all over the world, but how many of them are going to become tourists in Cornwall? Not many of them.
How much more business has all this work put in? A lot for not much return.
Now don't get me wrong, the reason why that kind of content doesn't work is the fact that it's not aligned with the correct business goal. If you wanted to change this around and become THE authority for all things surfing, then sharing and producing content for this type of thing becomes ideal.
In the long term, it can also genuinely help to boost business back in Cornwall too. The content you add can attract links, which results in higher rankings, and so more traffic, more awareness and more business generally. But in the short term, if you're trying to bring in more direct business from the tourists it's not the best idea. All in all don't forget why you're producing content in the first place.