What is the importance of content marketing?
With so many competing methods to attract and retain customers on offer out there, it’s easy to forget about one of the fundamental building blocks of any good marketing strategy: content marketing.
Videos and paid advertising are all well and good for attracting new customers. In fact, for many businesses, they are the first places they invest time or money. It’s thanks to the popularity of these new(ish) forms of outbound marketing that many business owners have seen blogging and content marketing as an after-thought. They see it as outdated, outmoded and a waste of time.
We’re not debating that video content and paid advertising aren’t vital for customer acquisition, quite the opposite. They are, however, just one of the many facets your company should employ. Content marketing as an entity needs to have multiple strings to its central bow. One of those strings has to be a written content base.
The greatest challenge for the vast majority of businesses is finding the next sale. Where will we find our next customer? How can we entice them?
The customers out there know what they like and they are content hungry. In this digital age, where consumers are smarter and more discerning, content marketing satiates that desire for impactful information. People want value. Your content can provide it.
Time to dig into the content marketing strategy.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is effectively delivering informative, entertaining or value-driven pieces of information for the user to consume. It’s everything from the latest Buzzfeed article on the top 10 bowties for your Pekinese cat to the how-to video on refitting your car engine. Content marketing is, effectively, a way for you to interact with your audience. It’s getting your brand positioned as an authoritative center for information.
Content marketing is a strategy that uses a variety of content formats – both short and long. A good mix of different content elements is a really useful marketing tool. It enables your business to capture the attention of your target audience and build a relationship with them over time.
It seems to make sense, in that case, that content marketing should be integrated into every step of the sales funnel. That way you can be sure that you’re delivering that value at every step of the consumer journey.
Content Marketing and Sales Funnel Journey
Google is clear on the fact that it ranks sites based EAT. Expertise, Authority and Trust. Google will only begin to rank a site when it has proven that it is an expert in its field, an authority in information and a trustworthy source. This should be considered at every single step of your content marketing, even if SEO isn’t your core strategy, it’s a great mantra to work by anyway.
Not a solid content marketing strategy to gain customers.
Stage 1: Be seen/Discovery
The first stage of the sales funnel for business marketing is the discovery stage. Your customers are only just finding out who you are, what you do and are intrigued by you. That doesn’t mean they’re interested in your products. In fact, they might not even know that you sell anything at this time.
Instead, they’ve come across your content as they’re looking for an answer, a source of information or simply to be entertained.
This is where your content lies in wait, ready to inform, educate or entertain. 88% of consumers now rely on search engines to fulfil these desires, therefore it only makes sense that your content is optimised for them to find it. The content, hosted on your website, builds your online presence, increases the likelihood of Google ranking your site and draws in more visitors.
You can also use off-site content (such as guest posting or social media sharing) to reach a wider audience, using that core content as the hook.
Stage 2: Establish trust and relationship
The next stage of the typical sales funnel journey is the stage of building a relationship and trust with the audience. This is arguably the most difficult step. Initially, the customer was trading only the amount of time that it took to read or watch your content, now they’re actively trading more of their precious time for what you have to offer.
Once you earn the audience’s trust, you are more likely to convert them from prospects to customers.
Your business should use content marketing to inform, solve a problem, offer a solution, or find ways to make your customers’ lives better. It should deliver value. When crafting content, highlight what your business can do to enhance the lives of your prospects.
Stage 3: Continue to nurture the relationship
Even after you generate sales, you should not stop communicating with your audience. Continue to build upon that relationship and nurture it. Sooner or later, you can even transform your audience to brand advocates. Tell them stories! A good story is such a powerful marketing tool! Once you have a group of these people your marketing becomes infinitely easier, essentially they’ll market your product or service for you!
Just one of your typical floor sitting, coffee drinking customers.
Why Your Business Needs Content Marketing
In order to recognize the value of content marketing for your business, we need to get into the mechanics of how it works. You can optimize branded content to engage potential customers at various stages of the buying process, meaning it could be right at the initial contact with your customer or their post-purchase engagement.
So why and how is content marketing important to you and your business? Why is it a strategy that you should invest time and effort into?
Build an online presence. If you need just one reason to develop a content marketing strategy, this should be it. Think of your content marketing plan as the fuel that drives your business forward. When it comes to developing your online presence, followers are one thing but engaged followers are another. Engaged, excited followers who talk to friends about your business, share your content online and generally are cheering you along are your best marketing assets.
When you have an engaged audience interacting with your business and website you’ll be able to better understand your traffic, analytics, and key metrics. Content marketing enables you to pinpoint the different types of content that will amplify your business presence. This, in turn, will enable you to reach the specific market segments you are looking to target.
Establish your authority in your niche. This is one of the best reasons to develop a content marketing strategy, especially for B2B companies. Your goal with content marketing is to establish your authority, expertise, and position as a leader in your specific industry. The end goal is ultimately to develop your organization’s reputation as an industry leader. The kudos that comes with being a thought leader in your field is invaluable, delivering quality content that gives value to the user is the best way to establish this basis.
Build your followers. Since the majority of your target consumers are on social media, you need to establish a content strategy to get noticed on these platforms. The good thing about social media is that it is a highly interactive platform wherein you can engage with your audience in real-time.
Develop compelling content and you can use your social media platform as a haven for social sharing. Before you know it brand advocates will develop within your audience. Be wary of falling into the trap of just posting and not interacting with your audience. They’ll quickly lose interest in you and your brand.
Align the sales cycle with your content. As mentioned above, there should be a unique content marketing approach developed specifically for every stage of the customer buying journey. Align your content strategy to match each step of the journey.
Boost your organic SEO performance. Search engines are the best and worst enemies for business owners online. With the constantly changing algorithms, building an on-site optimization strategy for your content can be a puzzle. The best approach is to simply focus on delivering quality, useful content. We’ve put together a helpful guide to optimization to help you on your way.
Google is, first and foremost, a customer service tool. They want to deliver the best possible content for the searcher. Therefore content that is high quality and engaging will enable you to rank higher on relevant search results. Tactics like keyword stuffing won’t help boost your organic SEO performance but relevant and updated content will.
Diversify Your Content Marketing Strategy
As mentioned earlier, content marketing is not just about blogging. There are different formats and platforms that you can use to tap into every possible aspect of the webspace. Below are some of the most common content types you can use to your advantage:
- Video Content
- Influencer Marketing
- Printed Materials
- Press Releases
- Social Media Content
- Email Newsletters
- White Papers
- Guest Blogs
Except for when you’re doing detailed competitor analysis to work out the content your prospective audience likes to engage with…
Time to Start Your Business’ Content Marketing Strategy
There is a long list of reasons why content marketing is beneficial for your business. The downside is that it’s hard work, there’s no getting around that. There is no hard and fast model for how to do content marketing the right way! It’s different for every business and for every audience.
The results of content marketing are neither guaranteed nor immediate. Think of content marketing as a long term investment, you won’t see the results quickly but you’re building the best foundations that you can. Once it takes hold, it’s akin to a snowball effect that’ll pay dividends for years to come.
Every business is unique – and so is your target audience. Make sure you identify your audience first. In an ideal world, you’d actually go as far as creating buying personas. This will enable you to build a potent content marketing strategy consistent with your business and would appeal to your audience.
Overall, it’s the most effective long term strategy for your business to engage with your audience and deliver value. And with that as the payoff, what’s not to like?