Standing Out, Moving Up
Last year 43% of consumers reported doing online research before making a purchase. At the same time, products and services like DVR, Netflix, and ad-free mobile applications have made it easier to avoid traditional “push” advertising. If you intend to succeed in this new world, it’s time to consider content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Content (or inbound) marketing is the art of creating and sharing relevant, useful content that attracts a specific audience and compels them to become customers. Instead of relying on sales pitches and promotional material, content marketing requires you to deliver excellent content that educates your prospective customers — resulting in more traffic to your website, more qualified and informed leads, and more business.
Content marketing example
While researching new backyard grills online, John discovers Acme Grilling. They have dozens of grills for sale, but John isn’t ready to buy yet.
Instead he visits the Acme Grilling Blog, which features helpful articles like “Tailgating Tips,” YouTube videos showing how to clean and properly store his grill during the winter, and a whitepaper titled “Buying Your Perfect Grill.”
When he visits Acme’s Facebook page he’s able to submit his favorite recipe to their “Best Grilling Recipes in America” contest and see photos of happy Acme customers with their grills and grub.
Each piece of content John reads, watches, or downloads helps him pinpoint his own needs while simultaneously proving Acme Grilling’s expertise and trustworthiness. John buys his perfect grill — and when Sandra asks his advice on making her own purchase a month later, his first suggestion is Acme Grilling.
Benefits of content marketing
Companies using inbound tactics like content marketing experience a 61% lower cost per lead than those using outbound or traditional tactics. Why spend tens of thousands of dollars on television commercials and direct mailing when that same amount of money can get you hundreds of pieces of content that provide genuine value to your prospects and customers?
If you’re interested in ranking well in search engines, that static website you put up three years ago isn’t going to cut it. Google loves fresh content, and continually producing value in the form of blog posts, online videos, whitepapers, and webinars gives the search engine more to love.
The number of websites linking to your content also affects your Google rankings, so it’s important to make content worth linking to.
Better use of resources
Having an effective content strategy means knowing exactly which efforts bring you the best ROI. You spend less time on ineffective tasks and more time further improving what already drives traffic and sales.
Change/shorten the sales cycle
B2B companies often have longer sales cycles and bigger price tags. Content marketing can change your sales cycle because it gives prospective buyers multiple avenues through which to educate themselves and decide whether or not to purchase from you. Those who decide to contact you understand your business and have a better handle on what they themselves want. Unqualified leads decrease, and you spend less time walking qualified ones through your sales cycle.
Depending on how your business functions now, getting started with content marketing may require a significant shift in company policies and processes. It is common for many companies to initially rely on outside sources—such as freelancers or content agencies—but you will want to consider developing competent internal resources over time.
To learn more about how content marketing can change the way you do business, download our Marketing Plan for Growth.