If you provide something interesting for people to read, they will come.

That’s a two-part process, said Arnie Kuenn, keynote speaker at AZIMA on April 18. The first step is creating a process for regular, quality content. The second step is optimizing that content so people can find it more easily.

“Please optimize your darn content,” was his stark and only statement on optimization.

Arnie Kuenn, AZIMA founding member and President of Vertical Measures, provided meeting attendees with insight into, “How to Win at Search, Social and Content Marketing” based on his award-winning content marketing book, Accelerate.

That two-step process is fundamental to success. “Think like a publisher!” was the key message Kuenn wanted the audience to embrace during his presentation. The focus was on creating compelling content for customer engagement, understanding the latest research and trends and learning best practices for content planning.

Content Marketing Results

Eighteen months ago, audiences he spoke to mostly gave blank looks when he mentioned “content marketing.” Kuenn led off with a look at how content has come into play as a powerful internet marketing tool and why it is important from a search perspective. Some of the favorite stats tweeted by attendees included:

  • Companies that blog 15X per month, get 5X more traffic
  • Content Marketing is the top priority for businesses in 2013
  • Companies with 100-200 content pages generated 2.5X more leads than those with under 50

Compelling content is vital to turning visitors into buyers. 93% use search engines before deciding on a purchase.

Another topic that hit home with the audience of internet marketers, was Kuenn’s suggestions on how to conduct research for generating content ideas:

  • Start by finding out what your audience is searching for by using Google keyword tools
  • Businesses can get ideas for 60-100+ more content pages on their site, just by answering questions from customers. (This received a few nods of recognition from the crowd.)
  • Focus on quality – the best performing posts were over 2,000 words! (This received a few groans from the crowd)
  • It takes time – about 180 days rather than 30 days. Once you get to about 200 posts on your blog, traffic starts to take off

Other than the obvious benefits of coming up with useful, rather than gimmicky content ideas, Kuenn said costs can be reduced by as much as 2/3rds with this way of generation. This figure needs further research, he said. When it starts with a group of people talking and coming up with ideas quickly, though, it stands to reason the expense is less.

Following this often overlooked process for gathering ideas, Kuenn impressed the importance of mapping generated topics on a content strategy calendar – like a publisher – and provided this free editorial template.

The State of Relationships

When you’re dealing with an internet presence, Kuenn suggested, a two-way personal relationship is not needed for success. Especially for people getting first impressions of your company as they search for what they need.

“Now relationships are being formed with information, not people,” Keunn said.

Webinars and Google Hangouts are obvious examples of a hybrid of the two. They both bring people into direct interaction. Keep them, post later and transcribe what’s being said and you will also have searchable, evergreen content to put on your blog. The extra multimedia content is also looked upon favorably. That’s SEO.

“Do you view content generation as primarily getting your brand out there,” someone asked.

That’s exactly what it’s not. Being trusted as a place to get good information in your company’s field of interest, is what it’s about, Kuenn said.

“A lot of people think that, but people are tired of being targeted and being ‘sold’ to,” he added.

With a focus on both quality and quantity in his talk, someone in the audience asked which was more important. “Quality,” Kuenn said, adding that in-depth pieces of about 2,000 words are now shown to be more and more popular. The ability to read longer pieces on larger-screened tablets is one factor toward this. Quality also means variety of content, he said, which is another reason people stay on a site.

For businesses seeking growth and performance over competitors, Kuenn’s advice is simple – harness the power of search and social marketing, and consistently create content your target audience will enjoy. Ultimately, you will be rewarded with their business and loyalty.

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