Why should you participate in Content Marketing?
Because content powers the internet, it’s what your audience is looking for to answer their questions and social media and the search engines love new exciting content. Publishing regular content can have a positive effect on the number of web pages indexed and increase the number of inbound links to your site, both of which will help drive you further up the search rankings.
In addition, creating content provides you with a soapbox to help raise your voice above the masses by differentiating your offering from your competitors who are still actively interrupting their audience with irrelevant brochureware.
Content drives search, without content Google wouldn’t exist. Content persuades people to make decisions and is a key part of lead generation activities. In addition, Google’s algorithm changes now focus on the users intend behind the search query and RELEVANT content gets rewarded in the search rankings.
Today content marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) are inseparable.
When people are searching online they’re normally constrained by time, they don’t have the luxury of a face-to-face discussion to ask their questions. Your content is taking the place of customer-facing sales staff and you need to ensure you provide the answers they’re looking for, first time wherever they are in the sales process.
Through your digital body language, you’re attempting to replicate the face-to-face conversation online, to build trust and authority through the correct tone of voice and relevant content.
These reasons alone should be enough to prick your interest and get you started but read on and hopefully, the following 16 additional reasons to take a content marketing approach to business will convince you to kick start your efforts.
Reason #1 –Traditional marketing is not as effective as it once was
There is still a place for traditional marketing techniques in supporting brand equity and keeping existing customers and prospects informed. But buyer behaviour is changing and technology has provided buyers with the tools to engage with you on their terms. Content marketers can create great online content; distribute it for free across multiple channels, where that content will be read by those who are actively searching for it.
“Create great online content; distribute it for free”
Reason #2 – To increase brand awareness or reinforcement
Content marketing is a great tool for improving your organic search rankings and driving brand engagement. It’s not always a short term fix but should be viewed as a long-tail strategy. As buyers are now engaging with a salesperson much later in the buying cycle, an effective content strategy is now critical to ensure your brand is front and centre in a buyers mind prior to any sales discussions.
“Institutions that once had to go through media to deliver information are now themselves media.”
Andrew Nachison – Founder, We Media
Reason #3 – To get found online
Publishing relevant, keyword-rich content on a regular basis helps your website rank better in the search engines. Making it easy for that quality content to get shared across social media sites improves your chances of that content being found by more people, hungry for what you have to offer. The fact that it’s being transmitted across digital platforms also means it’s much easier to track and measure. Although there is no guarantee of an immediate sale, you are certainly helping to increase visibility and brand awareness. The more qualified traffic you send to your website, the more sales you will make.
“Remarkable social media content and great sales copy is pretty much the same — plain spoken words designed to focus on the needs of the reader, listener or viewer.”
Brian Clark – Founder, Copyblogger
Reason #4 – To generate more (better) leads
At the end of the day what you are most interested in, is a sale but unless you have an e-commerce site, an immediate sale is unlikely. Therefore you need to ensure that you take your web visitors on a journey towards conversion, whereby in exchange for downloading your valuable content or making registration for a seminar or webinar or requesting a demo, they provide their contact details along with permission for you to “market” to them. Once you have the prospect’s permission, you can use content to help move them through the sales funnel.
“What makes content engaging is relevancy. You need to connect the contact information with the content information.”
Gail Goodman – President and CEO, Constant Contact
Reason #5 – To increase sales conversions
Generally, marketers focus on generating contacts that sit at the top of the sales funnel but smart marketers realise that the more contacts you turn into leads and then prospects by moving them through the various stages of the sales funnel, the more successful your sales efforts will be. By creating content targeted at the different stages of the sales cycle and promoting to segmented email lists, you are supplying proof points along the journey to illustrate to your prospect why your solution is better or will uniquely meet their needs.
These leads can continue to be nurtured with additional conversions created through email calls to action (CTA’s), they can then be prioritised through a lead scoring system using a combination of information shared through additional activities by prospects as they make their way along the journey coupled with online behaviour indicating where they are within the buying cycle.
“Traditional methods of sales prospecting are grossly inefficient”.
Jill Konrath – Sales Keynote Speaker – Author Of Snap Selling
Reason #6 – To be different from the competition
One method to elevate you above the competition is to take a thought leadership stance. Content Marketing enables a company to position itself at the forefront of their industry through presenting a distinct and in some cases, perhaps a very different view, to establish them as a trusted source and subject authority within their markets.
Put another way, if you haven’t got a view why should I listen? If your view is the same as all of your competitors, why should I pick you?
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about”.
Reason #7 – To demonstrate your expertise
What could be more convincing to a potential customer than explaining to them that you understand their problems and issues, not only that but you can actually supply the solution to their woes!
By highlighting the specific issues and solutions through regular blog posts, online customer support material, downloadable ebooks, “how-to” style video or permission-based email marketing campaigns, you’re laying the groundwork to establish yourself as the first port of call prospects should make when looking to resolve their problems.
“Focus on the core problem your business solves & put out lots of content & enthusiasm, & ideas about how to solve that problem”.
Laura Fitton – Founder, Oneforty.Com
Reason #8 – To provide sales with a reason to engage
When meeting a prospect, normally your sales team will swing into action with traditional PowerPoint slides and corporate or product brochures. Death by PowerPoint has become a well-known phrase for a reason. Getting rid of excessive bullet points and substituting slide material for creative and visually stimulating messaging that helps clarify complicated concepts will leave your audience with a clearer picture and your company viewed in a more positive light.
Compelling case studies, thought leadership articles, provocative blog posts and emailers can be used by sales as a follow-up approach to further engage the prospect justifying the decision to deal with your company.
“By publishing content that shows buyers you understand their problems and can show them how to solve them, you build credibility”.
Ardath Albee – Author Of Emarketing – Strategies For The Complex Sale
Reason #9 – To spend your marketing budget wisely
Incorporating a content marketing approach within an integrated marketing communications strategy can help save you time and money. How? By operating a “content factory” process, create something once and repurpose it many times.
You can create an eBook, tweet about it, the eBook can become a slidedeck and uploaded to Slideshare, a voiceover can be added and uploaded to YouTube, the voiceover can be turned into a podcast, extracts of the eBook can become Blog posts or enewsletter articles.
Each piece of created content can be used in a variety of channels with different goals in mind. This content has a longer shelf life and is cheaper to produce than traditional marketing campaigns and can continue to attract visitors, months after publication. Get the most from your budget, always plan to repurpose your content in five different ways whenever you produce any content.
“…as you’ve noticed, people don’t want to be sold. What people do want is news and information about the things they care about”.
Larry Weber – Author Of Marketing To The Social Web
Reason #10 – To retain customers
Probably the most neglected part of the sales funnel is your actual customer base. The process tends to focus on driving prospects through the funnel towards making the sale and then the process repeats. There is a tendency to ignore the opportunity that content marketing can provide to cross-sell, up-sell and help turn customers into advocates.
By communicating with your customer segment on a regular basis you can keep them in the loop, offer them exclusives, create on-going engagement for the other products and services you offer and provide a customer service process that provides additional value.
“Create ongoing engagement”
Reason #11 – To improve customer service
How well do you use content to create value or eliminate or minimise the post-purchase blues that many customers experience after the sale? Are you proactive in ensuring your customers get the most out of using your product or service?
A planned customer retention strategy can help turn those customers into passionate subscribers and advocates who not only read your blog posts and your enewsletters, they actively share them with their colleagues and friends or write favourable online reviews. Don’t forget it’s cheaper to service an existing customer than it is to find a new one.
“Think like a customer”.
Paul Gillin – Author Of The New Influencers
Reason #12 – To gain credibility in the marketplace
Talk about how you understand the issues your audience face and how you can resolve those issues. DON’T talk about how good you are or why you think you’re number one. It may be that your competition knows just as much as you do but by actively demonstrating your knowledge through content that helps and supports your audience, you add value and demonstrate your leadership role in your industry, sidelining your competition into becoming also-rans.
“Authenticity, honesty, and personal voice underlie much of what’s “successful on the Web”.
Rick Levine – Co-Author The Cluetrain Manifesto
Reason #13 – To encourage your audience to consult with you
If you have successfully positioned yourself as a thought leader in your industry then it stands to reason that people will be interested in discussing their issues and problems with you. Don’t wait for them to make the move, invite them in via blog post-CTA’s (calls to action), email sign offs and social media activities. People buy more from companies with whom they have a positive relationship.
“Make the customer the hero of your story”
Ann Handley – Chief Content Officer – Marketingprofs
Reason #14 – To build (and clean) your database
The foundation of any marketing strategy is based on segmentation, targeting and positioning. For this to be implemented you need a clean, current database.
Collecting contact data in exchange for valuable, downloadable content or demo, webinar or seminar registrations helps keep your database up-to-date and expanding, allowing you to focus key messages on a relevant audience
“More contact means more sharing of information, gossiping, exchanging, engaging—in short, more word of mouth”.
Gary Vaynerchuk – Author Of The Thank You Economy
Reason #15 – To build trust with your audience:
As business people, we know that whether we like and trust an individual or a company plays an important part in our decision-making process. As more business transactions move online, this becomes a critical issue. Content marketing and social media are ways to help companies become more transparent by giving away knowledge through shared content. Concentrating on the audience and highlighting experience on specific topics all help to build customer trust. Sharing your content gives potential customers a chance to get to know you and keep you top of mind when it comes time to make a purchasing decision.
“Word-of-mouth marketing has always been important. Today, it’s more important than ever because of the power of the Internet”.
Joe Pulizzi & Newt Barrett – Authors Of Get Content Get Customers
Reason #16 – Because it works
Content marketing is an extremely effective method to generate traffic, build an online reputation and establish your expertise. Online content has longevity, generating leads long after the initial publication date, in contrast to many traditional methods of marketing.
“In today’s information age of Marketing and Web 2.0, a company’s website is the key to their entire business”.
Marcus Sheridan – Author Of The Sales Lion Blog – Marketing Speaker
Adopting a content marketing approach may take a paradigm shift in your thinking but content marketing will lead to an improvement in your lead generation activities, continue to sell your products and services when you’re not in front of a prospect, establish your credentials, promote your thought leadership stance and move more prospects through your sales funnel.
“Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with your marketing”.
Mike Volpe – Chief Marketing Officer – Hubspot
What are you waiting for?
Download Our Trilogy of Marketing Ebooks
To market your business successfully there are 3 key areas of marketing you really need to understand, Digital Marketing, Marketing Planning and Content Marketing. We’ve created 3 marketing guides to bring your knowledge of each up-to-speed.
Note: This article first appeared on the Walker-Riley Marketing Blog