Marketing techniques have evolved drastically in recent years. To think that 50 years ago, it was a common practice to pick up a phone book and dial random numbers one by one to pitch a company’s product. Now, you see the big companies getting thousands of likes and comments on a single Facebook post that automatically reaches known and unknown prospects. Can it get easier than that? Well, it certainly isn’t easy, but online channels have made marketing into a way more effective activity than former traditional marketing techniques. From start-ups to big corporations, today almost every business with presence on the internet uses inbound marketing techniques to attract potential customers. The beauty of channels such as social networks or communities, is that companies can share powerful content with hundreds of thousands of users and convert them into buyers in the process. This gave birth to the term of content marketing, one of the strongest marketing techniques employed in the present.
What exactly is content marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute at least 93% of the B2B marketers use content marketing. This popular marketing strategy looks to create and share valuable and engaging content with a specific audience. As with every marketing strategy, the final goal of content marketing is to generate profits for a business. What is valuable and engaging content? This is content that addresses a business’s target customers with specific information that automatically captures their attention and creates brand awareness. More on that later. Now, how does a content marketing strategy look like? There are several forms in which a business shares quality (hopefully) content with the public. Some of the most popular are: blogs, white papers, videos, infographics, images, online presentations, books and podcasts, to mention a few. The channels on which such material is shared vary significantly across business, but some common ones are: social media campaigns, press, on site content, inbound marketing campaigns or search engine optimization strategies.
Let’s look at an example. A company that sells innovative cameras wants to engage into a marketing strategy to attract new customers. Option number A would be to share a commercial on the radio or the TV and maybe contact random people on the street or via the telephone. The old-school way. Option number B would be to provide engaging content, for example by sharing beautiful pictures taken with the cameras on social media or writing meticulous white papers that explain how to take great pictures and get the most out of the camera. Which one do you think would be more efficient?
Which are some advantages of content marketing?
Believe it or not, some people still hang on to old marketing techniques and refuse to recognize content marketing as a useful strategy. To be fair, it can be difficult at first to understand how publishing a regular blog on your webpage or posting on Twitter can bring you leads. However, content marketing has immense advantages, some of which are:
More organic, referral and social traffic:
A key term while referring to content marketing is growth. In the online world growth is achieved through traffic and content is great at driving traffic towards your business. Let’s say you have a company blog that publishes articles regularly. Providing relevant content on such blogs allows search engine to find you easier and thus potential customers that look for specific keywords on them. Moreover, it also enables the possibility of sharing the articles of other companies or freelancers, which can refer your business to their customers. Finally, if you share your content on social media, you can achieve some viral posts for great content and drive hundreds of potential customers to your business.
More brand awareness:
The more content you share, the more eyes will be on your business, it is as simple as that. Furthermore, the better the quality of this content, the better the reputation of your company will be. For instance, sharing extensive white papers on how your products work and what they have to offer, will help customers understand your offer and will results in a better customer relationships.
If you have an empty Facebook business profile or a blog that posts once a month, you might be driving customers away. A webpage with a curated blog, that posts regularly and shares on social media channels helps creating a community of loyal followers and customers.
Less marketing costs:
One of the greatest advantages of content marketing is that it is economic, very economic. The only resource you have to invest is time. Sure, that can signify paying a salary to a content marketer, but that is certainly way less expensive than buying adds or engaging in expensive marketing campaigns. According to Demand Metric content marketing costs around 62% less than common marketing techniques and produces at least three times more leads!
Leads. That is what marketing is all about. It is great to have thousands of followers on social media, but this can be pointless if of every thousand, just one invests on your products. Converting your followers or webpage visitors into leads is significantly easier if they feel identified with the content you provide. It is a simple recipe for success.
How can content marketing generate leads?
Content marketing is one of the best ways to drive potential purchasers to your business. Why? Well think of your content as your initial pitch towards your fans or viewers. It attracts their attention, educates them and orients them towards a decision. Does this sound familiar? That’s right, it’s the buyer’s journey. This journey usually is divided in three key steps: awareness, consideration and decision. Great content captures the attention of prospects on your diverse channels. Let’s say an interesting post on social media that gets shared a lot will drive new prospects towards your business. Then, more elaborated content (like specific blogposts) educates your prospects and gives them more information about possible solutions to their needs. Finally, detailed pieces of content such as an extensive white paper about your products/or services can help them understand why your offer better fits their needs and thus drive them towards a purchase decision. In this sense, content marketing turns into a powerful channel of automated lead generation. Moreover, there is also the possibility to gate your content. Similar to the Fremium versions of many newspapers, you can provide many valuable content for free and restrict certain articles or segments of your content in exchange of contact information. This strategy is much more powerful than a simple contact form and will certainly result in much more high-quality leads.
White papers: a powerful content marketing weapon
I just mentioned that you can gate certain sections of your content. Well a great example for this is in the case of white papers. White papers are probably one of the most effective content marketing tools. They are extensive documents, in the form of presentations, blog articles or infographics, that provide a detailed solution to diverse problems. Usually the solutions are related to the products or services offered by the business and thus a white paper is an efficient tool to help prospects take that jump between interest, intent and purchase. Moreover, given their deeply educational nature, white papers are pieces of content that easily turn viral and thus drive large amounts of traffic towards your business. Gating some of this valuable, highly sought after pieces of content, will ensure that you will be landing many interesting leads. If you provide content with quality, you will definitively see the results. Quality is an abstract word you say? I agree, lets elaborate on it.
Quality content: what to keep in mind
For your content marketing strategy to be successful, you have to provide relevant material. You can invest hundreds of hours in creating diverse forms of content, but if they are not properly addressed towards your target audience and tailored accordingly, you will probably miss on the advantages of content marketing. Some key factors to keep in mind are:
- Create original, engaging and provoking content: This is probably an obvious one, but still it is the main reason why content marketing campaigns fail. If you only write blogs to enhance your SEO ranking instead of focusing on your readers, your strategy will be fruitless. Create content that not only informs, but also inspires the reader to ask questions, do more research, share with friends and colleagues and more importantly, continue following paying attention to what you have to say.
- Follow-up with your community: It is not about sharing a post on social media channels and waiting for the “likes” to rain and the traffic to flow into your site. Follow-up with comments on your posts, allow comment sections on your blogs and white papers and nurture your community so that they continue coming to you.
- Provide accurate information: If you start inventing facts or creating click-bait posts, you will not only drive potential prospects away, you will lose your current fan-base. When quoting data make sure is accurate information and you are referencing it properly and never publish stuff just for the sake of driving traffic towards to you.
- Monitor your strategy: Use the diverse tools available such as Google Analytics to track your content marketing campaign’s success. Set specific goals and KPIs, track keywords for your blog and white papers with the tools provided by search engines. Look at what your competition is publishing. This is a constant process of adaptation, which brings us to the last key aspect.
- Update constantly: Keep your content up to date, constantly. Publish constantly on your active social media channels, do not leave unanswered comments of questions of users on social channels or blogs (depending on the size of your fan-base) and update your keywords according to the newest trends in SEO.
As you can see, content marketing is an excellent tool to enhance the reputation of your business, achieve more growth through traffic and even more purchases. Keep in mind that content marketing is usually a long-term strategy and it rarely brings immediate results. However, if you play your cards well, you will start to see the first fruits growing on the tree of success in no time. Welcome to the future of marketing.
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