There’s an oft-repeated saying in the marketing world: “Content is king.” In other words, out of all the different forms of digital advertising, content marketing reigns supreme. Corporate giants and small startups alike continue to invest millions in this advertising method year after year and reap exceptional benefits as a result.
Perhaps you may wonder what “content marketing” really means, and what forms of advertising are included within that term. More importantly, how effective is it — and why is it so effective, especially in terms of long term business growth?
Thousands upon thousands of articles have been written on the subject of content marketing. However, in the following information we’re going to lay out the key points you should know about this strategy, and discuss why you should seriously consider investing in it — or if you already are, why you should continue to do so.
What is Content Marketing?
Let’s start with a clear definition of content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is:
“A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”Perhaps the single most important word from that definition is “valuable.” If you think about it, traditional advertisements cannot be considered intrinsically valuable apart from their promotion of a product or service. For instance, TV commercials may be funny and radio ads may be pithy, but they generally don’t offer consumers information or insights that are practically useful in their lives.
In contrast, the concept of content marketing revolves around the idea of delivering value to consumers. Thus, whether a piece of content incorporates aggressive sales language, a more subtle pitch, or even no call to action at all, it should contain information that will in some way be useful to the user.
What are Some Common Forms of Content Marketing?
When professionals in the marketing world think of “content,” a lot of times the first thing that pops into their head is blogging. And it’s true, company blogs are one of the most popular forms of content marketing.
However, is content marketing limited to just the written word? Absolutely not. Actually, content marketing is a very broad term that can encompass several different advertising channels. The following list contains just a sampling of these different methods:
- Blogs. As mentioned, blogs are extremely popular in the realm of content marketing. The beauty of a company blog is its versatility: articles can focus on prospects at any stage of the sales funnel. For example, a blog may contain high-level articles that discuss a common pain point for the audience and how the company’s product or service can fix it; mid-funnel articles that deliver more detailed data to help prospects evaluate their options (think comparison charts, lists of product features, pricing options, etc.); and bottom-stage posts that may include special promotions, discounts, or free trial offers.
- Videos. Video marketing has become more popular over the years, and will likely continue to do so. According to one survey, 54% of consumers want to see more video content from marketers — an indication of the widespread appeal that videos hold. Video content could include how-to guides, tutorials, product demonstrations, instructional modules, and even pieces focused on pure entertainment.
- Social media posts. It should come as no surprise that social media platforms are fertile soil for content marketing. Many companies are able to spread brand awareness and engage with prospects in a more “casual” way via their social media accounts. For instance, businesses can share live-streamed videos via Facebook and Instagram, stay top of mind with Twitter, or initiate conversations with a professional audience via LinkedIn workshops.
- Podcasts. Some 68 million Americans listen to podcasts on a weekly basis, and that number is on the rise. Many businesses have taken advantage of this trend by not only buying ad time on podcasts but even publishing their own.
- Ebooks. Ebooks and white papers allow companies to take a deeper dive into specific subjects than what the limitations of a normal blog post would allow. Many organizations use these pieces of content as lead magnets by gating them or partially gating them.
- Infographics. Many consumers love infographics because they offer a simple, visually appealing summary of key facts and figures related to a particular industry. This is an excellent piece of content during the evaluation stage of the buyer’s journey, as he explores the different purchase options available to him.
How Effective is Content Marketing?
When it comes to hard data, the very nature of content marketing makes it an elusive target. After all, there are no tracking tools available to determine how valuable a reader finds a blog post, or how much influence that post has on a later purchase decision. Nevertheless, research has shown again and again that a robust content marketing plan yields high ROI. Here are just a few stats that back this up:
- Per the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing yields 3 times more leads than paid search advertising.
- Compared to paid search, content marketing costs up to 41% less per lead, with one company’s average customer acquisition cost dropping from $108 to $64 per lead.
- 7 out of every 10 marketers are actively investing in content marketing, and 72% of marketers that experienced success in 2018 said that content marketing was key to their results.
These and many other figures demonstrate that content marketing plays an integral role in effective advertising strategy for thousands of companies around the world.
Why is Content Marketing So Effective?
While dozens of factors contribute to the effectiveness of content marketing, let’s briefly discuss 4 key reasons why this approach is so impactful:
1. It Engages Consumers Like No Other Form of Advertising
The average consumer does not enjoy being bombarded by advertisements. This is especially the case when his mind is elsewhere, such as researching the answer to a specific question. Fortunately, content marketing can often assist users in their search for information while simultaneously promoting the brand as a primary source of assistance. Of course, pieces of content are often geared towards other objectives, such as simply entertaining consumers. Whatever the case may be, content marketing provides an unsurpassed engagement opportunity for growth-oriented companies looking to connect with their prospects.
2. It Enhances Brand Reputation and Promotes Customer Loyalty
Nowadays, trust between consumers and corporations is at an all-time low. There are just too many shady entrepreneurs and “corner-cutting” organizations out there for the average person to let down his or her guard. However, when you have a consistent content marketing program in place you’ll be in an excellent position to gradually win your customers’ trust — and eventually win their business. Most users that see a company deliver valuable content on a regular basis will eventually be willing to interact with and even purchase from that brand. Then, as you consistently meet or exceed customer expectations, you’ll build a strong base of loyal advocates. True, customer service plays a big role in retention — but exceptional content is often the starting point and the foundation for a successful customer-business relationship.
3. It Offers “Permanent Real Estate” for Online Marketing
While some pieces of content are designed to capture attention for a short time and then be discarded, many forms of content marketing become relatively permanent fixtures on a company’s website. For example, the term “evergreen content” refers to articles or videos containing information that will remain useful into the indefinite future. Since this type of content has no expiration date, you won’t have to constantly generate new content to replace it. At worst, you may have to occasionally provide updates to keep the content fresh and accurate.
4. It Yields Compounded Returns, Year After Year
The wonderful thing about content is that it continues to yield returns even after you’ve already moved on to the next project. Basically, it’s the passive income of the marketing industry.
For instance, if you upload 20 pieces of content to your blog in a month, and then publish 20 more the next month, you’ll end up generating leads and conversions from a total of 40 posts. In fact, no matter how many more posts you upload or how many more months pass, those 40 posts will still be working for you. That’s a sweet deal, isn’t it?
Leveraging Content Marketing for Your Brand’s Long Term Growth
In summary, we’ve seen that content marketing is an excellent strategy for growing your business. We’ve learned that:
- Content marketing is a type of advertising strategy that focuses on providing value to the consumer
- The term “content marketing” embraces a wide range of advertising channels, such as blogs, videos, social media posts, and podcasts
- Content marketing offers the potential for long term growth because it is an exceptionally durable approach to advertising
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of content marketing, and how to leverage this strategy to more effectively grow your business, reach out to our friendly team of experts at Fluid Services today for further information.