Gather.com is a site that started as a social networking site, but is now a demand-driven media company, attracting 7 million unique visitors per month (and growing), according to the company. Demand-driven media is certainly a competitive industry these days with companies like Demand Media, AOL, Yahoo and others all playing their roles.
Content has always been "where it's at", and that holds true as much as ever these days. Gather CEO Tom Gerace, who is also founder of the Social Media Advertising Consortium (SMAC), a non-profit organization working on the creation of standards for social media engagement campaigns, offered some tips on marketing through content to share with WebProNews readers. These tips are:
1. Start with Search. There are 15.9 billion searches run every month and a small percentage are customers looking for you and your competitors. Figure out your market opportunity by understanding how many searches, keywords and keyword phrases are related to what you do.
2. Think holistically about your budget. What do you spend today per customer? What is your average SEM spend? Content-based programs can help lower cost/customer acquisition because fewer people are doing it and competition, so far, is less intense. Plan to shift some budget dollars from SEM and other acquisition marketing efforts to content marketing - it delivers results with an improved cost structure.
3. Target your content creation. Content needs to be targeted to areas that align directly with your brand; where sufficient demand for your content will make content marketing worthwhile.
4. Make lots and lots and lots of content at a low cost. Search engines weigh recency heavily when organizing content. There is always fresh content at the top of search results pages, so 1,000 posts on a topic will capture more customers than a competitor with 5 – 10 posts.
5. Don't go it alone. Managing dozens of writers, achieving top search engine placement, and establishing content creation costs to make content marketing make sense requires specialized knowledge and training. Find a partner and make them put their money where their mouth is on the numbers they promise.
Those are Gerace's tips, but I'll add that quality makes a difference. Not only does Google continually try to put more emphasis on quality with algorithm updates, but it also goes a long way when you're talking about reputation, and obviously you don't want to do something that will hurt your brand.
As far as search, Google's Matt Cutts has said of the recent Mayday update, for example, that content farms are among the kinds of sites that are hit the hardest by the alrogithm change. That's another reason why churning out sub-par content is not going to be in your best interest. If you can walk the line of delivering content that people are searching for, and giving them content that stands out, there are lots of benefits to be had.
Have your own tips for marketing through content? Share them here.