If you look at how “traditional” advertising and marketing strategies worked over the last 100 years, you can see that most of them were solely focused on short-term gains.
For example, a tv-ad talking about a discount for a product, a piece of direct mail that might convert some of the receivers, but once it’s sent out, most of this stuff gets ignored or thrown away. A billboard might do wonders for your brand, but if you don’t keep changing the design eventually it will just blend in with the background for people passing by the billboard every day, and you need to come up with something need to keep the attention of people.
Attention is the magic word in advertising, and the attention of the consumers is shifting. There used to be a time that tv-ads were exciting and new, now people either go to the toilet or get annoyed that they can’t find the remote in time to fast-forward the ads.
And although there is nothing explicitly wrong with using these techniques, especially if you’re one of those businesses that still sees a massive ROI of it, if you want to be successful in the long term, you’ve got to start thinking in the long-term.
You will need a strategy that is here to stay, and content marketing in any way shape or form is that long-term strategy.
What is Content Marketing
Before we start diving into why it is such an essential long-term strategy, let’s first start to look at what Content Marketing is.
Content Marketing is nothing more than just solving the same problems that your product solves through media you create and promote.
That’s it. And yes, you’re doing it through a different medium as your product (be it video, copy, etc.), but the end goal remains the same.
Every company ever created is there to help solve someone’s problem, and if all goes well in the long term, if your business succeeds, your product will succeed in solving that problem.
Your content marketing efforts are there to drive qualified leads, and both should always align, and both should help solve your customer’s problem.
The big difference between the two? Content marketing helps your audience before they are ready to buy. Your product helps them after they purchased.
The rise of Content Marketing
If you look at all the different updates Google has been doing to their search engine algorithm; you can only make one conclusion: content is king.
Starting as early as 2004 (probably earlier, but Google Trends doesn’t give any older data), you can see that people were searching for the term “content marketing” has been one significant upwards trend, up until a point that every business now wants to get a piece of the pie.
This rise in attention also brings a negative side, as everyone now starts to think that they to can just hit the publish button and start reeling in a significant amount of visitors that will turn into leads and customers. To stay ahead of the game, some companies are even copying content, spinning articles or are also producing terrible content that probably doesn’t deliver any value to anyone anymore.
To stay relevant in the game, you need to start going back to the core, start bringing real value to your (potential) customers.
Content marketing has proven over time to be super effective and is an integral part of building the trust that inevitably leads to conversions. According to research done by Stratabeat, it even goes as far as stating that “80 percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles, versus an advertisement“.
Still not convinced? Hear are some more statistics to help change your mind:
Even though you might think that your advertisement is the most creative in the world, consumers can smell a sales pitch miles away; The Economist Group’s “Missing the Mark” reports stats that
Email marketing is important for sure but
Ad blocking keeps on increasing in popularity. You’re blocking ads? You’re not the only one, almost everyone but even more so the millennials (67 percent of millennial) are installing ad blockers.
Havas Group does a study every year called the “Meaningful Brands Study”, their 2017 report states that
The future of marketing depends on content marketing. If you want to get organic traffic from any search engine (like most companies would want), you need to have searchable content that all the search engines can understand so they can send traffic towards your business.
How can Content Marketing support your business goals?
Now that you’ve got a feeling about how important content marketing is for your business let’s look at six different reasons why it is so important and how content marketing can support your business goals.
#1 By building trust through Content Marketing, you’re improving brand reputation and brand awareness
The first reason has to do with trust.
Ninety percent of consumers find custom content useful, and 78 percent believe that organisations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them.
And if that is not enough. After reading recommendations on a blog, 61% of U.S. online consumers made a purchase.
One of the most significant benefits that help you support your company goals is the brand reputation and the brand awareness that content is building. When people read your content, they start to develop an opinion of your company; they begin to trust your business. If you’re creating specific content that is engaging, educational and valuable for your customers and leads they will start to think these same things about your business.
The more value you can provide with your content, the more inclined people are to start trusting your brand.
Good content is also shareable content. When your leads and customers will see your content popping up everywhere, they will start to identify you as a market leader, an influencer. Having a presence everywhere (whether you share it yourself or others are sharing your content), in return also helps to create a bigger brand awareness.
#2 Optimised content helps with organic search (SEO)
What is the first thing you do when you have a problem and want a solution?
You will probably Google for the answer, right?
The moment you start creating expert content, that is useful and provides the answers people are looking for it will help you with your organic search ranking. Search engines are always changing, but they only reason why they keep on changing is that they want to deliver more and better value to their customers.
When your content helps to solve the problems of your leads and customers you will rank higher and in the end will only deliver more traffic. So make sure to keep your content up-to-date, informative and relevant to your target audience.
This way it will rank higher and more prolonged in search engines.
When you’re ranking higher in search engines, it also means you have to start spending less money on advertising to get those leads ranking in.
#3 Great content will generate lots of backlinks (and traffic)
One of the other side effects of great content is that people love to share great content to make them look smarter, they can do this on social media. Or they can do it in their own articles, citing you as sources for various things in your niche.
Depending on the website that is linking to you, this might even help your audience multiply by 2,10 or even a 100 times. And just good optimised content, in general, is helping you generate more organic search traffic, other websites linking to your site (creating a backlink) is still one of the main criteria used by search engine to figure out if your content is relevant enough to rank.
The higher the authority of a website that links to your content and the more people visiting your site through those link, the better your website’s authority increases.
#4 Content Marketing helps support through all stages of the Buyer’s Journey
Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, Loyalty, Advocacy. The five stages of the Buyer’s Journey.
The thing is some leads are ready to buy, some aren’t, and that is all perfectly fine. But no matter at which stages a (potential) customer is at, they all have different questions about the product or service that you’re offering. This can range from “the best washing machines of 2018” in the awareness stage, to “Miele versus Samsung” in the consideration stage, to “Where to buy a Miele” in the conversion stage, to “how to use my Miele” in the loyalty stage and finally to “how to get a Miele dryer” in the advocacy stage (because you’re switching all your machines over to one brand).
Different stages, different sets of questions, with different matching content.
As a brand you need to be ready to help guide your leads through these different stages of the Buyer’s Journey, offering something of value with a well-timed Call-To-Action (CTA).
And once they share this little bit of information about themselves, even more, content will help you to nurture the relationship by offering personalised touches so the will not just buy your product but turn into brand ambassadors in the end.
#5 Give people a reason to keep on coming back to your website
The moment you start helping your audience solve their problems via your content, you’re starting to develop a relationship with your audience. You will turn into a trusted source, and if you keep on delivering these kinds of content, your leads will know that they have to come back.
You can even pick certain days for specific topics, the same way people use particular hashtags on certain days on Instagram for example.
An excellent example for this is “Whiteboard Friday” by the team behind moz.com Every week on Friday they give a helpful, engaging piece of content that is wholly targeted to their audience. It keeps readers coming back to their site, week after week because they know they can expect some great content.
It also helps to bring a community around their content in a way that a “traditional” blogpost can’t.
#6 Content Marketing will help almost all your other digital marketing strategy efforts
Did you know that high-quality content that is delivered at a consistent pace to your audience helps to support all other aspects of your digital marketing strategy?
Think of it this way, when you’re doing marketing for your business online what tools are you using? Email marketing? Social media Marketing? PPC Ads? Chatbots? There are so many different ways to you can attract and engage with your target audience, but what do they all have in common?
Your company needs to create high-quality, engaging content as part of all of your digital marketing efforts.
For example, you want to launch an email marketing campaigns that helps you to nurture your leads. What are you going to send them? You need to develop the content for the email that helps takes the reader move to the next step in the funnel. If you’re smart you will re-use content you’ve already created in the past for your blog and maybe even whitepapers that gives them all the information. If you’re even smarter, you take certain pieces and turns those into social media content and target them with ads to just the right people.
In the end, it is not as much the question if content marketing is essential, because content marketing is the glue that binds all your marketing efforts together and what them all of them even more successful.
Back to you, Content Marketing continues to change how leads and customers get in contact with your brand for the first time. A good marketer knows this and knows how to fit the creation of content in their overall marketing strategy.
If you want to have more leads, if you want to have more customers, it’s not a question of where to find them.
The real question will be, how can you create the right content that will inspire them to click on that link that ends up on your website, visit your site and subscribe to your email list or ask for a quote.
Now that ads are not working anymore, it is time to start bringing value to your customers.
How are you bringing value to them? How is content marketing working within your organisation? Leave a comment below and let’s all learn from each other.