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The Geology of a Content Marketing Strategy

  |  February 16, 2011   |  Comments

What do blogs and volcanoes have in common? More than you might expect.

What does a geologist know about online marketing? Probably not much, but a geologist can give us a handy model for a content marketing strategy that is easy to implement and potentially explosive.

How a Blog Is Like a Volcano

At the most basic level, a blog spews content like a volcano spews lava. The content typically emerges in pyroclastic flows fed from a content magma chamber deep inside.

It is the release of this magma - the content - that determines the pace at which the mountain grows. A mountain with a large magma chamber can be expected to erupt more frequently and more violently.

Like a blog, our volcanic mountain becomes more visible as it rises higher and higher into the top levels of the atmosphere. It can become visible very quickly to nearby villages, executive offices in neighboring cities…and to search engines.

blog-cano
Figure 1: Content flowing from the magma chamber grows the size of a blog-cano

Clearly, we can learn a few lessons from our geological friends. My question is, "How can we get our blog-cano to erupt more frequently and spread our content as far as possible?"

Have a Big Magma Chamber

You've got to have a plan for a steady flow of content. Your blog-cano is the heart of your content marketing strategy and can power your social marketing strategy, lead generation strategy, and search engine optimization.

The beauty of blogging is that it's a more casual medium. Your blog content doesn't have to be bibliographed articles. It doesn't require your subject matter experts to be writing constantly. In fact, blog content can come from many sources: presentations, case studies, and even geology textbooks. Much blogging is simply commenting on others' writing, which we call "curating content" for your audience.

I'm not saying that your posts don't have to be valuable. Lava must be hot to flow. But, it must flow constantly or your blog-cano won't grow fast enough and you won't be able to implement some of the more explosive strategies I discuss here.

Bringing Tourists to the Slope of Mount Blogitubo

All a blog is really going to get you is an RSS feed. While your RSS feed is going to power some very helpful strategies, there aren't going to be a lot of people reading your posts via feed reader.

Search engines, however, love blogs.

massey-blog
Figure 2: Search engines love blogs and will send traffic

With a little geologic surveying, we can help the search engines find our naturally keyword-rich content. They will, in turn, send us tourists.

Choose a blogging platform that is search-engine friendly. Don't just use the content management system that your corporate site is built on. Definitely put your blog on the same domain as your corporate website so both benefit from the search engine "juice" you create.

If you have the resources, you can identify your most valuable keywords and purposefully incorporate them into your blog posts and titles. Search ClickZ for search engine optimization best practices.

Eruptions Are Worth Spreading

With a little technology, you can rain content down on people far and wide. Your Mount Blogsuveous is capable of powering engaging social media outreach, drawing qualified traffic, and growing your social networks. This can be largely automated with services like Ping.fm and Twitterfeed. Tools like HootSuite and Spredfast will help you share your content on the most popular social networks. (Disclosure: Spredfast provides its service to the author at no charge.)

massey-social-network
Figure 3: Blog content is a great way to feed social media

Because these posts, tweets, and status updates contain a link back to your content, you can actually measure the clicks and conversions generated by your social media outreach, and this can justify production of more magma.

Spreading the Explosive Energy of Your Blogatoa

Tourists coming from social media and search are nice, but they always go back home. What if they could take a piece of the mountain home with them?

It turns out that well-qualified tourists will want to continue to receive your blava (blog-lava) and you can easily deliver that with e-mail. Ask visitors to give you an e-mail address and you can automatically power an e-mail newsletter with remarkable frequency.

massey-house-list
Figure 4: Build a house list on your blog and then power your e-mail with blog content

Here is where your RSS feed really comes in handy. There are services that will monitor your blog for the new posts arising from your blogma (blog-magma) chamber. On a set schedule, these services will pull the content from the feed, wrap it in a nice template, and send it to your list by e-mail.

Ask your e-mail service provider (ESP) if they have an RSS-to-e-mail service. MailChimp and AWeber provide such a service. Consider FeedBurner or FeedBlitz if your ESP can't help.

This strategy is great for considered purchases or any product or service in which the need is unpredictable. It keeps you front-and-center when it's time for the tourists to pick their next destination.

Flow Over to Your Corporate Website

The final place on which you can rain your explosive content is on the corporate website. These sites are typically designed like a brochure, written in a "me," "we," and "us" style.

Blava content is generally more educational, informational, and entertaining. It's created for the reader, and will really grab the attention of someone who is early in their decision-making process.

massey-corp-brochure
Figure 5: Feature blog content on the corporate site

There are a variety of widgets available to display blog titles on your corporate site, and visitors will find this content more compelling than your recent press releases. Make sure that your blog gives them an obvious way to get back to the corporate site.

massey-volcanoe
Figure 6: The blog-cano as the hub of a powerful content marketing strategy

The Center of a Hub

Once these parts are in place, our blog-cano has become the center of a powerful, largely automated hub of influence. However, the system is only as powerful as our blog content. Post frequency is the best predictor of blog readership growth that I've seen. You should post at least once per week, in my opinion.

Remember that your editorial calendar is your magma chamber, the source of all blog-cano power. Find the resources to post helpful content frequently and you will empower search, social media, and e-mail to drive more business to your door.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Massey

With 15 years of online marketing experience, Brian has designed the digital strategy and marketing infrastructure for a number of businesses, including his own technology consulting company, Conversion Sciences. He built his company to transform the Internet from a giant digital-brochure stand to a place where people find the answers they seek. His clients use online strategies to engage their visitors and grow their businesses. Brian has created a series of Web strategy workshops and authors the Conversion Scientist blog. Brian works from Austin, Texas, a place where life and the Internet are hopelessly intertwined.

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