There’s an old saying that the only people who really got rich during the Gold Rush were the ones who sold the pickaxes; and you could be forgiven for taking this cynical view when it comes to promoting your business online.
The latest tool being touted is content marketing and agencies and experts are falling over themselves to sell you the key to unlocking its secrets.
But there are no real secrets. Content marketing is just a combination of good old fashioned thought leadership and understanding what it takes to get your website closer to the top of search engine listings.
So what could it do for your business and how should you go about it?
Thought leadership has long been an aspiration of businesses (lenders and brokers) in the intermediary mortgage market. After all, we sell a pretty intangible product – expertise. So if you are going to try to convince someone to buy your expertise it makes sense to first provide some evidence that you know what you are talking about – and research finds that 70% of consumers prefer to learn about a company through articles than ads. This is why you find so many people (like me) are giving up their time to provide comment for trade magazines and it is the primary reason why businesses decide to launch blogs on their own websites.
Because the one thing the internet has enabled us all to do is to become publishers. So if you want to write some commentary about the market, or a guide to mortgages or homebuying, you no longer need a relationship with a local newspaper or magazine. You can write it and publish it on your own website and this is where social media comes in as it can provide your distribution.
This can help to establish you and your business as an expert in mortgages to those who stumble across what you have written. And, if they like it, they may just share it with their friends.
It’s not free of course. Although the channels of communicating are free, if you want people to read and share what you have written, you will need to spend your time (or pay for someone else) to research and write something that is relatively interesting. However, the good news is the average cost to generate a lead through inbound marketing (ie people finding your website) is less than half that of outbound marketing such as advertising so this could be time and money well spent.
The other real benefit to writing a blog – and the second key element to content marketing is that Google and other search engines love websites with frequently updated, relevant and original content and they show this love by raising the website further up their listings.
The official statistics are that blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links, which basically means more pages + more links = your website being nearer to the top of Google.
The closer it is to the top of Google, the more passing traffic you can expect from potential clients and the bigger the potential for your business.
There are of course nuances to all of these processes and an expert would tell you how to optimise these, but the fundamental premise of content marketing is pretty simple. If you have a half decent website and some interesting ideas, you already have all the tools you need to give it a go.