What is content marketing?
As IMPACT’s Content Manager, she works closely with the Director of SEO to identify targeted content and organic search opportunities. On a day-to-day basis, she is writing lots of new content and revamping old, making sure all evergreen content aligns with IMPACT’s core philosophies (especially those outlined in Marcus Sheridan’s They Ask, You Answer ) .
Since search engines have made a wealth of information available with the click of a mouse, there has been a shift in the way buyers research and purchase products and services. Not only are buyers researching their purchases online, but they’re tired of traditional outbound marketing avenues that are interruptive of their day-to-day life, such as paid ads, billboards, and cold calls.
Enter content marketing, which is now one of the most effective ways to establish your business as the premier voice in your industry and build trust with your buyers. As you create content for your business, it helps you show up where your buyers are searching for their information.
Maybe you’ve tried to publish content before, but it’s not giving you the results you were expecting. Content marketing, while it might seem like a simple concept, can be difficult to pull off well. It should help you build a strong relationship with buyers and foster a genuine connection. These results take a lot of time and effort — and they don’t always work overnight.
Content marketing done right — think high-value, customer-centric blog posts, white papers, video, etc. — can prove to be an effective way to generate exponential growth in your traffic, leads, and sales.
Content marketing benefits for your business
While content marketing sometimes takes a lot of work across myriad platforms to be successful (think blog articles, videos, guidebooks, ebooks, podcasts, case studies, and more), it is certainly worth the effort.
Better search engine ranking and more organic traffic
Content marketing can help your website rank higher in search engines for the keywords and phrases buyers use during their research process, especially when you’re able to tap into the questions your buyers are asking. This in turn generates more organic traffic and better-qualified leads to your website.
As explained in Marcus Sheridan’s book They Ask, You Answer , the best content marketing strategies obsess over answering every question your buyers ask — especially the difficult ones. We recommend starting with articles we call The Big 5 , and then refining your content around specific keyword research (from Semrush , Surfer , or other keyword tools).
Better conversions (more leads)
When you create high-quality, ungated content such as articles and pillar pages that answer your reader’s questions and help them solve their problems, you build trust with your readers and nudge them closer to becoming customers.
This is because consumers will see your business as a helpful resource rather than just a brand out to get their money. This helps more people feel comfortable filling out forms on your site (which means more conversions).
Effective content marketing not only earns more clicks and views, but also keeps visitors scrolling and clicking through to view more pages. In other words, better content keeps prospects on your site and engaged with your brand longer.
Shortened sales cycles
Great content marketing can also help shorten sales cycles. It helps leads become more qualified and educated (and more likely to close faster). But you can also create sales enablement content that is specifically designed to help close more deals for your sales team.
Using a content marketing strategy we call assignment selling , sales reps intentionally use educational content about your products and services to resolve concerns and answer the questions of prospects before a sales conversation.
Lower overall cost and higher ROI
This is because content marketing takes advantage of low- or no-cost tools, such as blogging, SEO, and social media. While paying a seasoned, skilled professional to own your content strategy can come at a significant cost, the work builds upon itself and generates a greater ROI over time.
Builds trust with audiences
The Business Advantage of Good Content Marketing
When done well – with a strategy behind it and relevancy within each piece – it offers the benefit of exponential growth, building brand awareness and trust, winning over prospects and convincing leads, and endearing your customers, helping to build a loyal base of brand advocates.
Once you get your content marketing strategy going, it’s that positive snowball effect in action. Your brand presence gets bigger and more impactful. It becomes easier to achieve your marketing goals with future content because you already have a foundation in place – a vast content library of written, visual, and experiential content, all designed to resonate with your target buyers.
This is in contrast to traditional marketing. Advertising, even with today’s sophisticated digital ads, can create overexposure. Audiences become saturated with brand promotion that offers no genuine value to the people you’re trying to build customer relationships with.
Content Resonates, Advertising Saturates
A critical factor in your content marketing is relevance. What are your customer’s challenges, pain points, and needs? That’s what you should be writing about, not producing a commercial for your brand. Well-written, insightful content draws your audience in and sets you up as a thought leader.
On the contrary, advertising, even digital ads, leads to overexposure and saturation. You haven’t attempted to build a relationship with your audience. Instead, you’ve only captured a story about your brand as the star with no room for the real hero, your customer.
The Impact of Content Marketing on Business
- Web traffic growth: Companies that blog have, on average, 434 percent more indexed pages than those that do not. More content equates to more traffic, and content marketers have seen 7.8 times higher year-over-year growth in unique site traffic. (Source: Aberdeen)
- Leaner budget but bigger results: Content marketing garners three times more leads than paid search advertising. Additionally, it costs 62 percent less to execute content marketing versus any other type of campaign. (Source: Demand Metric)
- Higher conversion rates: Brands that use content marketing can expect 6 times higher conversion rates. (Source: Aberdeen)
- More chances for your brand to get in front of the right eyes: 47 percent of internet users read blogs daily. (Source: Statista)
- Buyers crave content in the decision-making process: 80 percent of business owners and executives prefer to learn about brands through articles rather than ads. 41 percent of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content before talking to sales. (Source: Demand Gen Report)
- Thought leadership: Developing a credible library of content that signals your authority and expertise draws in decision-makers. In fact, 60 percent of buyers said thought leadership convinced them to purchase a product or service they had never considered previously. (Source: Edelman-LinkedIn)
The numbers don’t lie. This is but a short collection of what you can expect when you put momentum behind your content marketing. You can realize these benefits and more. However, you have to start with a strategy, discerning what content marketing means to your business and how you’ll go about being intentional with what you produce and disperse.
Cleveland Clinic, one of the most respected healthcare brands, established a campaign around its value of putting “Patients First.” The objective was to have all its 40,000 employees, which they call “caregivers,” to engage with this value and live it every day.
To do this, they created a video, “Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care.” The powerful video was first used internally but was then posted publicly on social media and its blog, Health Essentials. The blog saw substantial growth, with 6 million visitors each month!
It was a huge win for their content marketing team, led by Amanda Todorovich. They understood their audience, both internally and externally, and created content that had a lasting impression. I talk more about Amanda’s well-thought-out strategy in my book Mean People Suck.
What Content Marketing Isn’t
It isn’t more “stuff”
Where a lot of brands go wrong with content is they fail to get the strategy part, unleashing content campaigns without the direction of where it should take the business to and an understanding for who the content is for.
Without strategy, you may end up with a promotional video, for example, that looks a lot more like a promo ad for your business than content. A promo video, as high-quality as the video production may be, isn’t a piece of useful video content designed to resonate with a target group at a specific stage of the buyer’s journey, and that is connected to the other content within your strategy.
A blog doesn’t constitute a content marketing strategy
It’s a part of the equation, but not the only aspect. Content marketing is about providing information, and that can happen in many formats and channels. The central theme of this information is that it is useful to its intended target.
Content goes far beyond blog posts. It also goes far beyond the digital world. Content is information, but it can be delivered through myriad channels (video, graphics, live events, apps, social media posts, emails). What differentiates this information as content is that it is designed for a specific audience, for a specific purpose.
It’s not a commercial
It’s not about posting on social media
You don’t own Facebook, YouTube, or LinkedIn. And while these platforms can be helpful in sharing your content and distributing your thought leadership on the platforms they use, social posting in and of itself is not content marketing.
Social media’s value comes from bringing people back to your website. The social platforms decide what content is shown to which audiences. Unless you pay them to target specific people. That’s just advertising.
It’s not pay for play
It’s not meaningless
Think about it. What problem does your Facebook ad solve? How has your company’s last AdWords campaign made a positive difference for your customers? Content is supposed to solve a problem. It’s this genuine intent to help your customers that offers the authenticity that consumers are so attracted to. Take this one step further, from providing value to your buyer to providing value to society, and you’ve landed on the future of content marketing – purpose driven brands.
It’s not rented space
Where content stands out is that a brand owns the distribution channels – the website, the in-person events, the social media profiles, the eBook series. Advertising, on the other hand, is rented space – you have to constantly purchase a media channel in order to market.
8 Bona Fide Benefits of Content Marketing
Use of the term “content marketing” has reached an almost “fever pitch.” Almost enough to make it a meaningless buzzword. That popularity alone has gotten most organizations believing they need to create content marketing at all costs.
4. Superior SEO Visibility in Google’s Search Engine
While SEO has radically changed in the last 10-15 years, and it is much harder to perform successfully than ever before, it is absolutely worth the extra effort. The key benefit to this is that you can gain new visits to your website from prospective customers month-after-month and year-after-year.
The challenge is that you can’t just write content that you think readers are searching for, slap a few keywords on it, and expect results. Plus, creating more quantity of content is not going to drive search engine traffic like fewer, quality, strategically-keyword-researched content supported by solid technical on-page SEO (quality external/internal links, meta data, SEO plugins, engaging videos/images, etc.) will.
If you want to understand a tried-and-true strategy for gaining organic traffic on Google, reach out, and we would be happy to chat more about this complex formula for success. We even have client data and examples to prove our expertise.
5. Enhanced Brand: Perceived as a True Thought Leader
It just takes a higher quality of information to set yourself apart from the volume of lower-quality content being generated daily. If you want to be viewed as an authentic thought leader, you must deliver quality over and over to earn your visitor’s trust long before you can ask them for the sale.
6. More Social Media and Referral Traffic
By creating high-quality content, social media shares and others linking back to your articles generally rise. This increases your perceived social proof and authority that your website pages have in the eyes of visitors and Google.
Plus, each of those links pointing from other sites to your pages will yield not only SEO benefit but referral traffic (where people click from those other pages to visit your own). Another source of traffic for your website.
7. Decreased Marketing Costs (Over Time)
While in the short term, costs are generally higher for content marketing initiatives, they have a lower cost and higher ROI when viewed over the long term, especially when you create a content asset that truly drives traffic for many months and years to come.
8. Educates and Strengthens Relationships With Existing and New Customers
When done over time, you earn social currency a little bit at a time; once people feel more comfortable with you, they want to buy from you and tell all of their friends and colleagues how great you are. As you provide value to them, they want to be a valuable resource to others, thus they share your stuff.
9. Gives Away Tons of Value with No Strings Attached
Because that is the way the digital world works. People are so tired of ads; they don’t want to be sold. But if you give them tons of value with no strings attached, they have a good chance at becoming lifelong, loyal customers.
10. Moves Buyers through Sales Funnel Faster
While we would all prefer to run an ad and convert those into paying customers right away, this is fast becoming a less and less effective method. People are tuning out advertising messages as indicated by the increased usage of ad blockers and ad blindness.
If you want to move people through your sales funnel faster, we must first recognize that we have to start near the top. They aren’t truly cold leads since we are qualifying them by the topic of our content, but many simply aren’t ready to buy just yet.
But don’t be discouraged; this is where content excels in warming them up to your product or service offering. Adding your content into an email series can ascend your potential customers to a higher level faster.
11. Generates More Qualified Leads
So it’s key to select the right topics; not ones that are going to turn into sales today or this week but are months or years in the making. The focus with content shouldn’t be on converting right away, but identifying qualified leads you can build and nurture relationships with over time.
How to get started with content marketing
- Set goals. As part of your content market strategy, set measurable and specific goals that help you move the business forward, such as: Increasing revenue by a certain dollar amount or percentage, increasing brand awareness by increasing traffic to your website, building your email list with new email signups, and growing your follower base on social media platforms.
- Figure out your content mix. What kind of content will build trust with your audience? If you’re selling consulting services to executives, thought leadership might be a big part of your mix. If you’re selling workshops or courses, you might want to focus on SEO-optimized educational articles. If you’re selling specialized footwear, product marketing content might help customers understand how your shoes beat the competition.
- Create content for your audience. Consumers expect content from brands to be high quality. Invest in good writing, beautiful imagery, and great production if you’re doing multimedia content.
- Distribute that content to your audience. Where does your target audience spend time online? If you’re trying to reach Gen Z, you might find them on TikTok. If you’re trying to reach millennials, you might find them on Instagram. Design a distribution strategy for your specific audience.
- Review and adjust. Track your progress against the goals you set. If something isn’t working, try to figure out why, and then adjust your content marketing strategies going forward. You can use tools such as Google Analytics, Buffer, Mailchimp, and more to track important analytics and metrics.
Through content marketing campaigns, you can reach your target audience at each step of the sales journey, so you’re nurturing prospective customers through the buyer’s journey and constantly generating new interest in your brand. Having a solid content strategy can ensure that you’re creating content that’s actually valuable for your audience and that you’re getting it in front of them effectively.
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