Google sites handle about 88 billion searches each month. YouTube is the second most popular search engine second only to Google. Facebook is now over 600 million users. Twitter has nearly 200 million accounts. LinkedIn is at 101 million users and FourSquare grew 3,400% in 2010.
The variety of options for customer marketing and engagement ranging from social media to SEO to email marketing to online advertising can be overwhelming. As a result, some of the most common online marketing questions I hear from client side marketers revolve around, “How to decide which tactics are best?”
Answering that question starts with a clear understanding of goals, customers and a flexible online marketing strategy that assembles the right mix of tactics and measurement practices. Most companies are looking for more customers and to retain those they have, but the question is,
“How to acquire and engage customers more efficiently, more effectively?”
A big part of the answer is through the intersection of social media, SEO and content marketing. If Social Media and SEO fit together like peanut butter and jelly then content is the bread that holds them together. Content is a crucial part of a social media strategy and therefore an understanding of customer-centric social content is essential.
Consumers are not interested in traditional interruptive marketing. They want to be educated and their behaviors for information discovery, consumption and sharing have changed. B2B an B2C customers alike expect to find solutions via search. They also expect to interact with what they find via search.
Consumers expect content from brands. They expect ease of discovery (via search or social), the ability to interact with and socially share content and to interact with others with similar interests (social networking). These aren’t “nice to haves” anymore, they’re expected.
Most corporate marketing is structured to create content around products & services vs. becoming a publisher. As a result, the idea of implementing a content marketing program can seem foreign. However, the abundance of publishing tools and platforms now makes it possible for companies to create content and media that rivals some news organizations.
Content fuels customer engagement at all stages of the customer life cycle from top of funnel to ongoing relationship. Content can educate customers about your products and services. It can help educate about the buying process and how to get the most out of the purchase. It can continue to reinforce the relationship and inspire renewals, upgrades and referrals.
The challenge is for companies to rethink their content marketing strategy and incorporate Social Media and SEO in order to fulfill customer expectations for ease of discovery, consumption and sharing. On top of that, content must educate and make it easy to follow a logical conclusion to buy. The companies that do those things best, will win the incredibly competitive online marketing race we’re in.
I’ll be talking about this topic today at SES Accelerator in San Diego, providing specific guidelines for companies that want to leverage the most effective tactics for customer acquisition and engagement through search, social and content marketing. If you don’t catch me there, I’ll be discussing similar topics “Content Optimisation & Integrated Online Marketing” at SES London in a few weeks. I hope to see you there.