“Content is king!” is a phrase that gets passed around a lot in the digital world; often to the point of obscuring the true meaning behind this saying and inducing nausea among the seasoned veterans of the Internet who have grown weary of this expression over the years. Unfortunately, tossing out this overused – yet highly accurate – declaration without a second glance is an easy way put your dealership on the outside looking in when it comes to reaping the full benefits of customer interaction and site optimization.
With this in mind, here’s a look at what content marketing is all about, why it matters to you, and how best to fit this practice into your search engine optimization (SEO) operations going forward. Once you’re done digging into this overview, you’ll be able to put all of the pieces in place and finally understand why content really does deserve its rightful spot on the throne.
Before we go diving headfirst into the finer points of this practice, it’s important to offer up a quick recap for the readers out there who might not be completely in the loop when it comes to the “big picture” perspective of content marketing. As the team over at The Content Marketing Institute explains, content marketing is all about generating increased interaction with your audience via valuable, relevant, and engaging site content.
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”– The Content Marketing Institute
In other words, content marketing is the process of transforming each page of your site into a wellspring of information about the car buying and selling experience for visitors from around the web. Whether you’re looking to translate your intimate knowledge of the local marketplace to desktop and mobile screens throughout your area, or simply aiming to make the car buying process a little easier for your faithful following, the concept of value is the one constant throughout each phase of this endeavor.
It is important to note that committing to this approach isn’t something to do on a whim, as successful content marketing requires a hefty amount of work and dedication on your end of the equation. However, it’s hard to argue with the fact that standing out as a thought leader among your peers – and enjoying a hefty boost in traffic and conversions – is clearly a prize worth pursuing.
If you’re like most dealerships, when the discussion turns to the different types of content-based marketing, you probably assume that this is a practice that revolves exclusively around blogging and on-site content. While these selections definitely serve as the bedrock of any content marketing plan, the truth of the matter is that today’s version of content-oriented outreach takes on multiple iterations and forms.
To give you a little taste of the different flavors of content marketing, let’s go over a couple examples of content in action:
for those of you who are feeling especially adventurous, trying your hand at socially-savvy memes, livestreaming video sessions, and even operating full-fledged YouTube channels dedicated exclusively to addressing the needs and concerns of your target audience are all also viable avenues for sharing content. The prevailing theme here is that implementing content isn’t a “one size fits all” process; your dealership can utilize a multitude of different formats and approaches as it starts connecting with customers across the digital expanse.
Of course, no discussion regarding content marketing would be complete without taking a moment to explain its relationship with SEO. Depending on how up to speed you are with the latest advances in consumer outreach on the web, you might be wondering if there is even a connection to highlight in the first place.
“Once upon a time, SEO and content marketing were separate concepts…They are quickly becoming one and the same.”– Jeff Bullas
Yes, there was a time when these two digital practices stood at odds with one another. However, as the above quote from industry expert Jeff Bullas’ personal blog explains, those days are firmly in the rearview mirror – and growing more and more distant as the Internet continues to evolve and advance.
The big thing to understand here is that enacting a sound content strategy and optimizing your site as a way to rank with the all of the major search engines is virtually the same undertaking. The people who twist and turn the search algorithm knobs behind the scenes at Google and the other major industry players only want to spotlight informative, useful, and user-friendly sites in the first place, so SEO and content marketing naturally inhabit an ever-growing shared space.
Now that you have a more grounded understanding of content marketing and its relationship with SEO, it’s time to tackle the next big hurdle: What caused this shift toward a content-centric experience for customers in the digital world, and is this trend sticking around for the foreseeable future?
To answer the first part of this question, you have to understand that content marketing appeals to the modern online shopper who is tired of traditional advertising channels and worn-out practices. A great thought experiment to help prove this point can come from your own personal experiences.
Answer the following questions honestly:
While there’s undoubtedly a small minority that go the opposite way with their responses to the above questions and champion these once-proud – but now virtually defunct – marketing tactics, most of you understand the message being presented here: Great site content matters because more people than ever before are leaning on this online medium as a way to learn about products and services before committing to a purchase.
If this little exercise isn’t enough to convince you, then take a moment to look over some of the more impressive stats and facts that support this shift in consumer values and expectations:
As for the future of content marketing, there’s no question that this practice is alive and well-positioned to continue thriving for years to come. In fact, a joint study conducted by MarketingProfs and The Content Marketing Institute shows that 88 percent of all businesses utilize some form of content marketing to reach customers (up from 86 percent in 2015), with 76 percent of these companies planning to increase their content production throughout 2016.
Clearly, content marketing isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. With that fact out of the way, we need to start talking about how your dealership can put its best foot forward and develop a winning take on content. The best way to kick this process into high gear, according to Econsultancy’s David Moth, is by ensuring that your base site copy gets the important information out front and in the open as soon as possible.
“Remember that people will be scanning your web copy, so they need to be able to glean the important information upfront or they’ll go elsewhere.”– David Moth, Econsultancy
Whether you’re spotlighting new and used cars in your inventory or digging into vehicle model breakdowns and suggested service schedules, the concept of getting straight to the point remains the same. You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of the visitor once he or she lands on your page, so it’s best to make these precious moments count for as much as possible.
Once you have your basic site copy in order, feel free to let your creative juices flow and explore other forms of content outreach. Blog posts, infographics, curated content on social media, and so many other opportunities are ripe for the picking, so it’s up to your dealership to test the waters and find out which of these content marketing channels offer up the most interaction with your local audience.
Regardless of which channels you leverage, there are a few simple guidelines worth keeping in mind that can help ensure that quality and engagement with your viewership remain high across all platforms:
Absorbing everything that’s been covered here might feel like a lot to handle initially, or even completely overwhelming in some cases, but you’ll be okay – we promise! Once you’ve had some time to digest what you’ve learned here and start relating the need for content marketing (and how best to leverage this approach) to your dealership’s unique situation, you’ll find that all of the pieces of the puzzle start falling into place and the path to a better digital future becomes crystal clear in a hurry.