SEO: Avoiding content marketing misfires – critical steps for igaming success
Content marketing has become a major buzzword in gaming SEO but it is often done too quickly and, just as important, expensively. It need not be, says Luke Ormerod, director at search agency Blueclaw.
We have all heard stories of huge budgets squandered on content marketing ideas that never earn a link, citation or share.
The reasons for such failed projects are many, but in straightforward terms, content marketing is a way of bringing potential customers closer to your business by creating written, visual, video or interactive content that informs and/or entertains them.
The key is to create content that is so good that journalists, social media and industry influencers will choose to distribute it for you, spreading your brand far and wide – and driving lots of great links to your site.
The truth about content marketing
The truth is, content marketing is only as good as the concept you come up with, and the energy and creativity you put into winning coverage for your brand.
For Blueclaw, content marketing is the main strategy we apply to earn links for our igaming clients, but it isn't the deeply mysterious approach that many 'experts' describe it as.
Content marketing success really comes down to simple, measurable processes that the national/regional press, niche publications, on-topic websites and social media influencers respond to.
From idea to development, design and timing – the 'ideation' process
Creating content ideas that will result in news stories, discussion, commentary and engagement can be difficult but this is when the word team comes in.
The 'ideation' process should include every team member that is involved with the project. In an agency environment or in-house team, this typically includes a mix of talents, perhaps including:
- Account/marketing managers
- PR professionals
- Graphics designer
- Technical developers
- Content managers and other wordsmiths
No individual has a monopoly on good ideas. When developing content marketing it is important to be able to put ego to one side and involve different perspectives – that’s how good ideas become great ideas.
Having the team involved in the ideation process means all parties involved have bought into the idea, working towards the same goal and avoids miscommunications which often lead to content marketing misfires. Getting your team aligned behind a great hook is key.
Strong content marketing hooks
What, why and who? These are the questions we ask when creating a content marketing concept.
It’s vital to understand what you’re creating, why anyone will care about it and who you are hoping to engage. Any idea will need multiple hooks to gain a large amount of links and shares.
What you create should be guided by your own expertise and ability to create something that is better than everything else out there.
If you create so-so content or are not able to add anything new that can be enjoyed by multiple audiences, the piece will fail to resonate.
In short, if you can’t see several interesting angles that can be presented expertly by you or your agency, don’t build it. Being the seventh most interesting/well-presented piece of content someone has seen that day is not good enough.
Why is your content of immediate relevance? What does it have to add about a current media storm, seasonal topic of interest or in simple entertainment terms?
In particular, journalists and other publishers must understand why the concept is of interest quickly, or the concept is not likely to garner interest and earn links.
For social media, consider – why would someone tweet this content? Why would they share it with their Facebook friends?
If you can’t answer the why question, the piece is, again, not strong enough and will misfire.
Who is the concept really for? This really comes down to the topic. National press and journalists are often tied down to the type of content they can write about.
This is often based on which publication they work for and the guidelines for that brand or anticipated audience. When producing an idea, you must have clear targets in mind that align with the tone of the concept and think about not one audience – but multiple audiences.
Creating content that is useful/interesting/engaging to a wide variety of different customer types and the media outlets and influencers who they trust will mean your content marketing concept has the scope to travel far.
Design and development
Make your hooks work and make it look amazing – whatever ‘it’ is – an infographic, interactive microsite, customer guide or something else.
Combining great data with complementary design helps with the outreach process. Data alone can earn links but when it looks good, people share and link more – we’re visual creatures after all.
The design and development team should always be asking questions about your brand, typography and what social platforms you want to share on. This ensures every concept is in keeping and complementary for the brand.
It’s a great idea but can it work now?
Often ideas sound great but the timing is off – it’s important to have the confidence to stick an idea in the vault for later. Forcing a concept out will often lead to misfires.
Another important timing factor is – do you have enough time to get the job done right?
Releasing concepts too quickly, without thorough testing will not only lead to a misfire but also a loss of confidence from journalists and influencers who expect great content from you – and, this can often mean concepts built later will not be well received.
Pre-outreach, outreach & targeting journalists
Outreach is the process of contacting influencers and media outlets to get your content marketing featured in the most relevant places.
Pre-outreach is one of the cornerstones of success when producing content marketing assets and can be the underlying reason that good concepts don’t succeed as expected.
Pre-outreach is as simple as it sounds and not enough people do it.
Picking up the phone up and speaking to journalists could not be more important. This should be done before spending hundreds of hours on a concept that no journalists even likes.
Essentially, get the buy-in from press before the concept even reaches the design and development team. In doing so you’re preparing the ground for your piece to be warmly received, while also bringing on ideas that may allow you to improve your content piece.
If you follow the process above this but should be easy but there are some considerations to take into account.
Unique content for outreach
Online and traditional media outlets both love unique content so giving them the same hook will mean a limitation in the outreach process.
Having multiple story hooks with different stories means multiple press websites can run with a similar story yet unique source of data and angle.
Journalists are busy people with huge pressures on deadlines – typically calling before 3pm will be a hindrance as they are pushing to get their pieces completed for that day. Calling after this period is often the best time to get a positive response.
Quick digestible information
Busy people skim read and work fast – when outreaching via phone or email its essential they can see the strong hooks quickly.
Don’t spend lots of time trying to explain the concept, if the research is correct and the angles discovered you only have to put it in-front of them and they should see it immediately – if you’ve followed the steps detailed above.
Building content marketing assets is a team task – if your team aren’t bought in why should journalists and influencers buy in?
Being creative is one thing but it is process and quality control that will lead to a content marketing strategy that builds brand awareness, quality inbound links and presents you in a new light to existing and potential customers alike.
Content marketing misfires result from fatal half measures – so don’t get caught out!