Breaking Down the Content Marketing Funnel, Part 1: Blogging for Visibility

In the years since I first started Metonymy Media, it’s been interesting to watch the digital marketing industry mature in ways that favor well-written, engaging content. As a writer, it’s given me an opportunity to tell stories that are much bigger than a single article, or one email, or a piece of sales collateral.

When we work with brands to produce winning content marketing strategies, the starting point for us is always to get a sense for what a given client’s sales funnel looks like in the real world. When we can track our clients’ prospects’ journeys from awareness to action, it gives us a unique opportunity to build entire networks of content online that reflects that customer journey, and helps those prospects educate themselves, self-sort, and turn into qualified leads (or, even better, sales).

Sometimes there’s some confusion or sticker shock when we propose content marketing engagements. Why should a brand just starting out with content invest in blogs, newsletters, webpages, premium content, and social promotion? Why not just have your intern write a few blog posts for you and call it a day? Is it really important to produce content at every level?

In the first of this three-part series on how the content marketing funnel works, I’ll talk about blogs and what their function is when it comes to content marketing. Everyone knows you have to write them, but they aren’t as effective as they can be if you try to make them the beginning and end of your content marketing. Blogging is the top of the funnel, so it’s your widest reach, and it’s what gets people to first notice you. But there’s more.

Organic SEO Value

The primary purpose of consistent blogging is to boost organic search engine rankings. It’s crucial for any digital marketing strategy to play both a long game and a short game; many brands understand the need to advertise with AdWords (PPC) for instant traffic, but blogging is just as important for the long-term health of a brand’s online presence. The keywords you can’t buy affordably via PPC you can win organically with compelling content.

When you publish content on a consistent basis­–once a week at minimum–you accomplish a couple of things. First, you signal to search engine crawlers that your domain is active, and therefore is worthy of attention. Second, you continually pump out content that is keyword-rich, and that helps you make a broader stamp on search engine results pages. For getting found organically by new prospects who are actively looking for what it is you offer, blogging is the widest possible net you can cast.

Knowledge Base

Here’s the thing about all that keyword talk, though: everything associated with modern SEO is just a technical stand-in for what should be going on in your target audiences’ brains when they read your content. Search engines know that there’s no better indicator of an article’s value than the way real readers interact with that article, so algorithms have advanced in a way to reward authors who can successfully get people to first click on their article, then actually stick around long enough to finish the entire thing, or maybe even click on to read other content on the same domain.

For that reason, it makes sense to think of your blog as doing double-duty; it’s filling a technical, functional role for organic SEO, but it’s also a place for you to share your expertise. In many ways, your blog can function as a knowledge base for your own staff. What questions do your salespeople most often answer in the field? What thoughts do new prospects tend to share about your products, or about your industry in general? What pain points have you learned to soothe?

As you publish content on your blog, you build up a greater and greater repository of information that will be helpful not only for organic traffic, but also for anyone in need of an answer your team may have.

Cultural Differentiator

Finally, a regularly updated blog is perhaps a brand’s best opportunity to convey culture. With every 500-word blog post, there are endless chances for a brand to convey not only basic information, but also those cultural hallmarks that make the brand unique. Be sure to consider how you present content on your blog, as for many of your prospects, that blog will be the first impression they get of your brand.

How does your competition talk about your industry? How do you? Your blog sets the tone for the rest of your content. In a way, that means you need a solid messaging strategy from the bottom of the funnel up to the top. But it also means your blogs must each be written with intentionality and purpose.

When executed well, your blog can provide real value to your target audience, and also make a good first impression on new prospects. In order to be effective as a content marketing tool, however, your blog must be a part of a greater content marketing funnel, involving targeted content and premium pieces that can help you generate leads. Stay tuned for parts two and three of this series to learn more about how that’s done

In the meantime, check out our Content Marketing Knowledge Base to gain new insights and even learn how Metonymy Media can help you stimulate business growth through content.

Continued in Part 2

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