If someone asked you to define content marketing, what would you say? I’m not trying to test or embarrass you, but it’s worth considering for a moment. For example, you may think it involves having a blog, sending emails or posting on social media. If so, you wouldn’t be wrong, but these don’t give the full picture.
What is content marketing?
In it’s heyday, as depicted in the TV series Mad Men, creative advertising was king. However, the decades since then have seen the world evolve and attitudes alter. With this, brands have had no choice but to adapt. Customers and prospects aren’t responding as well to traditional marketing.
In the B2C space for instance, the average London commuter sees 100 ads in a 45-minute commute. That’s not to say advertising is dead – it isn’t. Plus, we’re probably more receptive to ads on the London underground for obvious reasons. However, the main point is: we’re exposed to an overwhelming amount of information. Much of it isn’t relevant, nor tailored to our needs. This is where content marketing comes into play.
Building not bombarding
Content marketing doesn’t rely on “pushing” products and services. Instead it “pulls” or draws customers towards us. Businesses now recognise the need to focus on the buyer experience, regardless of whether that buyer is a consumer or company. We have to persuade prospects to listen, engage and ultimately purchase. If things go well, then customers might commit to a long-term relationship.
Customer over company
Personal relationships take work. You’ve got to understand what the other person is looking for. The same is true of buyer-seller relationships. Taking the time to target and get to know your audience will pay off. As will being attuned to their desires and needs. Another important aspect is recognising their pain points. You can then use your content to highlight the solutions you provide. When a business serves a prospect well it can influence buyer behaviour.
Long-term rather than short-lived
Once we form a relationship and we’re listening, understanding and responding, we need to feed it. This normally means making plans and establishing a routine. Content marketing works in a similar way – that’s why it needs a strategy, a process and time to develop.
Quality and consistency
Don’t spoil relationships by focusing on yourself and what you want. The best way to turn someone off is to make an impression and then revert back to type. Your content creation has many parallels. It needs to be relevant, consistent and high-quality. Get this right and your audience will value it.
Content marketing can help your business
Most companies use content marketing because it works. Anyone can do it – here are its benefits:
1. Raises brand awareness – Companies strive to be better known. And if you’re a major player, you want to be kept front of mind. This is the main reason why marketers create content. Your goal is to reach more of the right people, so they remember who you are. The more content they see from you, the more they’ll recognise and respect you.
2. Generates traffic and leads – Regular content helps attract over 40% more traffic than company websites that don’t have a blog. Linking posts to other parts of your website can also direct visitors to the pages you want them to see. Not everyone will interact. But those that do often become warm leads for your product or service.
If you’re tempted to just throw money into paid search, take a step back. The competition is high. Large corporates, which make up 1% per of UK businesses, have big budgets. Your content creation will get you three times more leads than paid search. Plus, the costs are lower and the long-term results are better.
3. Increases conversions and sales – If your content is persuasive and useful, it could accelerate a decision to buy and seal that deal. Content marketing is six times more effective than traditional marketing. When used well, it’s effective in converting readers/viewers into leads and leads into customers.
4. Costs less than traditional marketing – In fact, content marketing costs over 60% less than traditional marketing. It’s cost-efficient for various reasons. For starters, it allows you to grow your audiences, whether those audiences are on your website, social sites or third-party sites. It fast-tracks stages in the sales cycle by empowering prospects to do their research before making contact with you. Likewise, it allows you to produce better quality leads – you don’t just create content willy-nilly.
There’s a solid strategy behind it based on your customer types. We call these personas. Creating personas helps you identify the needs and challenges of those you’re selling to and want to sell to. You can then respond accordingly. A segmented audience may give you a smaller pot of prospects, but they’re of a higher quality. It reduces the cost per lead – more qualified leads equate to less expense on lead origination – and supports your branding activities.
Helps you efficiently manage time and resources as well, by developing a content marketing strategy. In it, you define roles, work collaboratively, plan, craft, distribute and repurpose content. Doing this deftly will help you achieve a good ROI.
5. Use content created by others – User-generated content, from well-shot competition photos to reviews and video interviews, can save you bags of time. This is precious collateral that you own, usually don’t have to pay for and can exploit in your content marketing
6. Builds customer trust – When your content is relevant, compelling and published regularly, it gives others confidence in your brand. That’s why 82% of consumers find custom content useful. Developing a following can lead to loyalty. A loyal audience is more likely to trust you, and therefore to buy from you.
7. Encourages measurability – Some businesses think content marketing is about setting up a blog or putting out social media posts. That’s an ad hoc approach that’s never going to work. Because it’s digital, content marketing is highly measurable. Having a content strategy will allow you to set goals. Once you know your objectives, you can monitor and refine that strategy.
8. Complements other forms of marketing – both online and offline. Google likes good quality content, so keeping it fresh and optimising it will improve your search engine ranking. The greater your ranking, the more people you can draw to your site. This doesn’t just apply to your blogs but also your landing pages, product/service information, FAQs and even images. S
When it comes to social media, LinkedIn is the best B2B social media channel with over 20 million users in the UK. However, don’t dismiss social networks like Facebook for B2B marketing. There’s lots you can do outside of sponsored posts (paid for advertising). Target specific audiences, promote the personality of your company and distribute shareable content.
Newsletters need quality content. Unsurprisingly, companies that blog get twice as much traffic from email marketing than businesses that don’t. So, consider content that will drive new sign-ups and minimise unsubscribes. Good, relevant content also sells itself – not only on your channels but on other sites. When you’re approached by others interested in online partnerships with you, you’ll know your content is working.
Content marketing is here to stay
It is not a new concept. However, digital technology has made it easier for your business to do it. Continued developments and an increased desire for authenticity mean there’s no going back. So much content is “evergreen” too, so it will last throughout the seasons. You may just need to prune it or take a cutting to produce new growth.
Like any long-term business investment, content marketing requires a sound strategy. This includes the right structure, processes and resources. At key points along the way, you’ll track your progress and adapt to external conditions.
If you’re interested in content marketing and would like Caspian Media’s help to get started, please contact us.
Heather Chappell is head of content strategy at Caspian Media
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