In the modern digital landscape, successful marketing isn’t just advertising. As people become increasingly ad-savvy, it requires thoughtful strategy and humanization. While the most common digital marketing visual is the funnel, which moves website users from awareness to interest to consideration to conversion, a newer alternative is also worth consideration.
Instead of being confined to the funnel, businesses should consider adopting the marketing flywheel model.
An effective flywheel utilizes two or more marketing practices to make the process of gaining customers, conversions, and revenue progressively easier. Not just for established businesses with big marketing budgets, this relatively low-cost strategy can also work for startups that are willing to invest a bit of money and effort to reap long-term rewards.
The Flywheel Model
The marketing flywheel puts customers at the center by using customer experience to generate more customers in an ongoing process. With each spin of the flywheel, marketing strategies require less effort but garners more success. Delighted customers return to use the business’ services repeatedly while sharing the word with their networks, thereby attracting more customers.
Nearly any set of marketing practices can be employed to create a flywheel. Free trials, organic social media, and paid ads are all popular practices for inclusion. However, startups and small businesses will want to factor in the cost and return on investment, making search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing two of the best digital marketing channels to consider. Besides being cost-effective compared to paid media ads, SEO and content marketing combine remarkably well in a marketing flywheel.
What is SEO?
Because so many people rely on Google and other search engines to find information online, having a well-optimized website that people can easily discover is crucial to growing your business in the digital age. SEO is the process of optimizing a website to make it easier for search engines to crawl, understand, and rank its pages higher in the search results. The best SEO strategies will attract targeted user traffic to your site and lead to more conversions.
Many people think SEO is just for bots: a set of hacks or tricks that can be checked off a list once to make a website magically rank in Google. However, SEO has changed tremendously over time, as Google’s ranking algorithms and natural language processing abilities have improved.
Now, the websites that rank the highest are the ones that provide the best content, relevance, and user experience, so SEO has become more humanized.
Both an art and a science, SEO is an ongoing marketing endeavor that requires attention and adjustment over time. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to SEO; strategies can and should vary depending on business goals and industry. A thorough SEO strategy can include on-page optimization, technical SEO, link building, local citations, public relations, or PR. But the best SEO strategies also include another key piece: content.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing strategic, engaging content. It involves attracting people to your site to consume your content with the end goal of getting your target audience to take some form of action.
The content can include articles, videos, infographics, and more. It doesn’t necessarily have to sell your product directly, but it should provide value to the website user, move the user through the marketing funnel, and generate relevant leads.
It’s important to note that a successful content marketing strategy involves more than just adding content to your website and hoping for the best. Once the content is published, it needs to be strategically distributed and promoted, which can be done through email and social media platforms.
What Happens When You Create a Flywheel?
SEO and content marketing naturally complement each other. Because content is crucial to Google’s algorithm, having good content helps build SEO authority by attracting links and rankings for a growing number of relevant keywords. And content optimized for SEO and promoted will be more easily found on a variety of platforms, leading to more website traffic, and hopefully, more conversions.
These two marketing techniques, neither of which require paying for clicks, work together to bring in targeted visitors, increasing the customer base, and keeping the flywheel spinning.
Takeaways for Your Startup
If you’re planning to develop a digital marketing strategy for your startup, be sure to evaluate the different models and marketing practices based on your business goals. SEO and content marketing may turn out to be an excellent fit, or perhaps a different combination of practices will work better for your needs.
Once you have established your marketing goals and decided which techniques to focus on, get to work on building your flywheel and, ultimately, your business.
The featured image shows a content marketing flywheel. Image by Natalie Rosen.
Natalie Rosen is a content writer and search specialist who is passionate about the intersections of SEO, content, accessibility, and user experience.