In an age of optimized consumerism, businesses are always looking for ways to attract new customers and maintain the existing ones. Today’s customers are increasingly online and looking for information to make informed decisions before they buy. A recent study by Havas Group found that 84% of consumers look for brands to provide meaningful content that provides solutions, entertainment, experiences and events. Given that 47% of consumers will view 3-5 pieces of content before making a purchase decision or talking to a sales representative, content marketing is an essential part of any marketing plan.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and sharing relevant, consistent content to educate, engage and move potential customers through the sales pipeline to become customers and advocates of a business.
It’s important to note that an effective content marketing strategy does not pitch to customers and prospects, instead a company is providing useful and quality content that potentially helps to solve issues.
Businesses research their audiences and create intentional content to engage and inform consumers. Content marketing is a way to appeal to potential customers and keep current customers interested. It is rather sneaky because, on the surface, businesses aren’t actually selling consumers anything. This marketing method simply informs customers about the area of business, educating them on the specifics of their inquiry and encouraging them to build trust in the company or brand that they are researching for that area of business.
Content marketing is creative and inventive. Leveraging content marketing means businesses look for ways to get customers interested in the brand, affect their decision making process towards a purchase and build deep connections that will last beyond a purchase of a product or service. Several leading content marketing tactics are blogging, social media and case studies, but the list of content marketing tactics is extensive and includes: videos, webinars, white papers, podcasts and more.
Why Use Content Marketing?
Understanding why content marketing is important for your business is perhaps more important than understanding what content marketing is. Some reasons content marketing is essential for businesses include:
- Brand Awareness – Great content can create a buzz or awareness with prospects and customers. You want your customers to be talking about your product or services, recommending them to others and helping to build your brand. A well-executed content marketing program can do this.
- Establish Industry Influence – Being recognized as a thought leader in your industry can be a huge boost for any business. If you are running a successful business then chances are you ARE an expert in that industry, but how do others know you are an expert unless you get out and tell them? Content marketing can help you gain the attention of reporters, bloggers, videographers and other industry experts who may call on your expertise and feature you in a story or mention you.
- Increased Website Traffic – One of the most important benefits of content marketing is generating website traffic. Creating useful and compelling content will bring people to your website where they can find out more about your company, your products or services and hopefully they will choose to engage further with you and eventually choose to become a customer. Traffic also helps your overall ranking with Google for organic searches.
- SEO Enhancement – Search engine optimization, what you do to make sure your website is seen by Google and that you show up in organic Google searches is greatly affected by new, unique and high quality content. The Google algorithm loves new content as it shows you are staying relevant. This means your blog is very important. All content that drives people back to your website is valuable and cannot be understated. Content marketing is essential for your SEO and should not be overlooked as every piece of content is not only driving brand awareness, expert status and increased website traffic, but it also drives people to link to your website, visit and increase your ranking in Google.
- Direct Customer Conversions – Driving customers to buy your service or product is the goal of every business when marketing and content marketing can play a part towards this direct customer conversion. People are looking for solutions to their problem, and businesses can help provide those solutions through well-executed content marketing. If an average consumer reads 3-5 pieces of content to make a decision it is imperative that businesses create content that will become part of this research and could help land the final sale.
Content Marketing: Selling Without Selling
Content Marketing allows businesses to relate to consumers without openly vying for their business. It doesn’t interrupt a consumer in their quest for making a decision, but rather, it informs and guides the customer. Great content marketing builds trust and a relationship with the customer and guides them on their path to making a decision.
Creating compelling content that is valued by customers is essential for serious businesses and brands. While it can seem overwhelming and somewhat daunting, consider this – you are reading this blog post and learning about content marketing from SocialNicole Digital. We are engaging in content marketing right this minute with you. While this post took time and resources to write edit and publish, it was well worth it to help advise our community, potential customers and advocates about a topic they want to know more about. This post and all of our posts help create trust and build relationships, which helps lead to business growth for SocialNicole Digital.
Our blog posts help increase the chance for those searching for social media and digital marketing advice to find out more about the services we offer. Our blog posts also serve as content we can share on our social media channels and through ads to help build our reputation as thought leaders and experts in social media marketing. The value of one simple blog post cannot be understated and this is what is great about content marketing – if done well it creates ongoing value for a business and for potential customers, too.
For another example of content marketing, go to SocialNicole.com and sign up for our email updates on the home page. You will see we promise you a Facebook Marketing Guide when you sign up. This is a great example of content marketing. You give us your email and we will give you a great piece of content. In this case, you will also be on our email list for future updates from SocialNicole Digital.
Content Marketing: Cultivating Community
One of the main pay-offs of content marketing is that it helps to build a community within and around your brand. This community is made up of individuals that are more than just customers – they are supporters, followers, and advocates for your business. Not everyone who participates in your community will become a paying customer, but many people will remain advocates in your community and support your business growth. Your online community helps you by sharing your content, giving referrals to others looking for services you offer and by engaging with you and your brand. Providing quality content that is helpful to your community, regardless of whether or not they are paying customers, is a cornerstone of content marketing. Every member of your community is valuable.
In order to build a community through content marketing, it’s important to come up with a plan of action. Knowing your target audience is a key component of building content that will resonate with the people you want to connect with. You want to speak directly to your ideal target audience, which requires you to narrow in on exactly who that audience is and what they need. Don’t worry about appealing to the masses. The goal is to fit into the niche that fits your ideal customer and create content for that niche audience.
By creating quality content that resonates with your ideal target audience, you will be forming valuable relationships that will build your business for the long-term. By building strong connections and trust within your community you will strengthen your relationships and this will help to grow your brand.
Content Marketing: Telling a Story
One of the most well-known rules of writing is “show don’t tell.” This is a great way to describe content marketing as well. With content marketing, you are telling the story of your brand… or should we say showing the story of your brand. Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer of the Content Marketing Institute, once said, “Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rockstar. Content marketing is showing the world you are one.”
Through content marketing, you are showing the personality of your brand, the quality of what you can do, and the creativity it takes to do it. For instance, at SocialNicole Digital, we say we are social media superheroes, but we show you that we are through our social media channels and blog posts – this is content marketing. It’s yet another way of building trust with your community – words only mean so much if there isn’t proof of action to back them up.
Content Marketing: A Must For Growing Your Business
Few businesses can ignore the importance and power of content marketing as it is quickly becoming a part of all communications and sales for any business of any size. If you are trying to be found by potential customers, you need to be participating in content marketing. The concept is broad and covers many types of content and outreach. The opportunities to express oneself in a way that works for individuals is massive and it is all about figuring out how to master content marketing within your own business budget and resources. Fortunately, there is an entry point for any business at any size.
So, now that you have a little taste of what content marketing is and why it is essential for businesses that are looking to remain relevant and grow, it’s time to get busy and build a content marketing strategy that works for your business. This may seem overwhelming and it can be a challenge to get started. Stay tuned as we will be talking more about getting started with a content marketing strategy that works for your business and budget. Sign up here now to make sure you get all our great digital marketing blog posts in your email inbox.