With all the hype surrounding video content and paid advertising, many business owners have looked at blogging and content marketing as an after-thought (when it comes to digital marketing). But while video content and paid advertising are vital for customer acquisition, content marketing is crucial for customer retention and building a strong brand presence online.
Content marketing is more than just a buzzword. It is the answer for businesses looking to stand out. In a digital age when consumers are smarter and more discerning, content marketing can fill their desire for impactful content. It helps to engage the audience at specific points in their buying process. Relevant and compelling content is what will get you noticed!
What is Content Marketing?
When you think of content marketing, you might think of blogging or article marketing. But the definition of content marketing has become more fluid as the platforms for sharing content online has transformed, too.
Content marketing is a strategy that uses a variety of content formats – both short and long. Remember, sometimes less is more! There are all sorts of reasons why snappy, short articles pack a punch and why short emails work better.
Regardless of the length of the content though, overall, content marketing enables your business to capture the attention of your target audience and build a relationship with them over time. Experts believe that content marketing should be integrated into every step of the sales funnel. It is important to learn them so you can implement it wisely into your business’ marketing strategy.
Content Marketing and Sales Funnel Journey
Stage 1: Be seen/Discovery
The first stage of the sales funnel for business marketing is the discovery stage. Use content marketing to make it easy for prospects to find your business through increased online visibility. About 88% of consumers online rely on search engines to seek out information. Building content on your website is important if you want to appear in these relevant searches. You can also use off-site content (such as guest posting or social media sharing) to reach a wider audience.
Stage 2: Establish trust and relationship
The next stage of the sales funnel journey is building a relationship and trust with the audience. This is the most difficult step in your business’ sales funnel journey. 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. 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 through content marketing. Continue to build upon that relationship and nurture it. Sooner or later, you can even transform your audience to brand advocates. Once you have a group of these people your marketing becomes infinitely easier, essentially they’ll market your product or service for you!
Why Your Business Needs Content Marketing
In order to recognize the value of content marketing for your business, it is important to delve deeper into how it should be implemented. You can optimize branded content to engage potential customers at various stages of the buying process. You can facilitate this process through the distribution of content across various channels online, and by using strong SEO techniques. Check out our SEO content checklist if you’d like a bit of help with that side of things.
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 who are eager to hear what your business has to say is another. 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. If you develop compelling content, you can use your social media platform as a haven for social sharing and for developing brand advocacy among 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 that journey. It can be hard to know how often to publish content, so let your schedule be guided by the business. We’ve written a bit about how often you should blog, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Make sure your content calendar makes sense, and stick to it.
- 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. But experts believe there is no reason to worry as focusing on quality, useful content 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. Search engines are first and foremost a customer service tool, if they’re not delivering valuable information that helps the user they’re failing. Therefore, don’t try to circumvent this process, be part of it!
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 web space. We’ve put together a guide looking at some elements of great content which might come in handy, and 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
Time to Start Your Business’ Content Marketing Strategy
There is a never-ending list of reasons why content marketing is deemed beneficial for your business. It is a tricky tool to use, if only because there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Just because it is known to offer the benefits listed above, it does not mean that the results are guaranteed. 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.
Every business is unique – and so is your target audience. Make sure you identify your audience first. This will enable you to build a potent content marketing strategy consistent with your business and would appeal to your audience.