Content marketing is a hot topic right now. Why? Because it’s an effective method of advertising at a time when old marketing models aren’t as effective as they once were. Rather than buying a full-page newspaper ad and hoping your customers see it, now you can create brand-specific content to help customers find you.
Content marketing is the act of creating high quality content with the intention of educating and attracting a specific audience. The ultimate goal is to leverage this content to build brand awareness and boost your bottom line.
Of course this doesn’t really tackle the big question: Why is content vital to your business? We asked two marketing experts, Jerry Rackley of Demand Metric and Frank Riolo of Conversation, to help us answer the question. Together, we came up with six compelling reasons to implement a content marketing strategy as well as a list of some of the most popular types of content.
Boost your online visibility
One of the most convincing reasons to create high quality content is to increase your visibility in the digital space, Riolo says. If you want your business to show up in searches, one of the best ways to make it happen is through blog content. According to statistics from ContentPlus, a UK-based content marketing agency, business sites with a blog have 434 percent more indexed pages with Google than those without a blog. In other words, the more content you have, the more likely it is your website will pop up in searches.
Make a good first impression
When potential customers hear about your business, what’s the first thing they do? Google you. Your website is your first, and often only, opportunity to attract, impress, and land customers. Like meeting in person, it’s also an opportunity to reveal your personality and knowledge. The content on your site is an indicator of how well you know your business and can be a make-or-break point with customers.
Your site should strive to make a good first impression, Riolo says. With quality content, you can strut your stuff and show potential customers what your business and brand are all about.
Showcase your product
Through creative content, you can show customers what kind of product or service you offer. Research by Rackley’s team shows customers are operating in “stealth mode” for a long period of time. In other words, they do a lot of quiet research while searching for the right product or service.
“Businesses without a library of content forfeit the opportunity to be part of a customer’s consideration process,” he says. “If you’re not putting content out there you’re missing an opportunity to influence buyers.”
Improve customer relationships
Content isn’t just about attracting new customers; it’s also about maintaining current relationships. By creating a constant stream of must-read, must-see content your customers will keep coming back. Every time they come back, their loyalty to your brand goes up a notch, Riolo says.
Level the playing field
For Rackley, one of the most persuasive reasons to use content marketing is that any business, no matter its size or worth, can commit to content marketing and get results.
“Good content is not the exclusive domain of large companies,” he says. “Small companies that produce quality content can enjoy the visibility and awareness that comes with it.”
A small business has access to all of the necessary tools. At content marketing’s core, a website, a blog and a creative writer are all you need to start.
Showcase your knowledge
You know your industry inside and out, so who better to offer valuable insight on trends and current events than you? Consider writing a blog post about a shakeup in the industry or shifting client demands. For example, Conversation has a post on its blog about the changing habits of affluent buyers and how marketers should adjust their strategies to meet these new demands.
In the marketing world this kind of content is considered “thought leadership.” It’s a way to show not just customers, but also your competitors that you’re in the know.
On top of the reasons listed above, there are some impressive statistics that support content marketing as a good way to increase your business’ visibility. Here are a few to consider:
- A site with high quality content sees conversion rates that are six times higher than those without content. (Kapost)
- Seventy percent of customers say they prefer to get to know a brand through content rather than ads. (ContentPlus)
- Blogs attract 55 percent more visitors to the company’s main site compared to those without a blog. (ContentPlus)
Now that you know why content is vital, let’s talk about the different types of content. From blog posts to interactive apps, there are many options to choose from.
We’ll start with one of the most common content platforms: the blog post. As mentioned above, a well-written blog post can attract new customers, nurture current ones and showcase your brand as an authority in the field.
The trick is to create useful and intriguing content on a regular basis. The tone of the article should consistently reflect your brand’s voice, the topic should be relevant to your niche audience and the writing style and formatting should keep the reader engaged.
A white paper is an in-depth look at an issue. It’s not a simple 500-word blog post that touches upon the salient points of an issue or topic, but rather a cover-every-angle kind of report. It typically helps a customer solve a problem or make a major decision. For example, the Content Marketing Institute offers a white paper titled “Content Marketing Playbook,” which provides a top-to-bottom look at how content marketing works.
A case study offers research about about a specific project or instance, usually offering data on that particular topic or problem. For example, when a marketing agency, Weidert Group, wanted to know how valuable inbound marketing could be for one of its clients, the team analyzed the data and shared the information through a case study.
Content isn’t just about text-based articles; you can get visual, too. Infographics, which share data through easily interpreted and understood graphics or pictures, are an appealing content option. According to research, infographics are shared three times more than basic word documents. Though they may hold a large amount of data and information, infographics typically make for a shorter read than a blog post or white paper.
Consider creating a video that introduces your company to customers, or shoot an instructional video that shows your customers how to do something in your field. With the growing number of affordable, low-tech video production options, even a beginner can create quality videos.
Customers download podcasts like mad. You can get in on the action by creating a brand-specific podcast. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, create podcasts on various health topics. With minimal gear, you can record and upload a podcast that’s specific to your business from your laptop.
Interactive apps are another content option. Rackley’s team performed some research and found that interactive content, like an app that lets a customer take a quiz, is 93 percent likely to educate the consumer about your brand versus passive content, like a blog post, which is only 70 percent likely to educate the consumer.
You might need a little help to create such content, and the initial cost may be higher than some of the other content options, but Rackley expects more brands to utilize interactive content in the future.
“No matter how brilliant your white paper is, if it is competing with an app that your competitor is offering, which do you think the audience will choose?” he asks.
So, what kind of content is the most effective? You won’t find the answer in any one type of content. Instead, the answer is all of them. To get the best results and reach the biggest audience, you should create a variety of content. You want to create a little something for everyone, as they say. If you do it right, you’ll attract and maintain customers without having to rely on more invasive sales tactics.
How does your business handle content marketing? What kind of content gets the best results? Share your thoughts with others in the comment section below.