Content marketing: increase your sales, reduce costs, build trust
Chances are you’ve heard of content marketing before. The term has been bandied around for a while now. Apparently, it’s much more effective than other forms of marketing for growing your business and building customer relationships. But is that really true?
It might help by firstly unpicking the term ‘content marketing’. Now be honest, if someone asked you to define it, what would you say? I’m not trying to test or embarrass you, but it’s worth considering for a moment. For example, you may think it involves having a blog, sending out emails or posting on social media. If so, you wouldn’t be wrong about any of these things, but they don’t quite give the full picture.
What is content marketing?
Not so long ago, marketing was all about pushing products and services to consumers. In it’s heyday, as beautifully depicted in the TV series Mad Men, creative advertising was king. However, the decades since then have seen the world evolve and attitudes alter. With this, brands have had no choice but to adapt.
Today, customers and prospects aren’t responding as well to traditional marketing. In the B2C space for instance, the average London commuter sees well over 100 ads in a 45-minute commute. That’s not to say that advertising is dead – it isn’t. Plus, we’re probably more receptive to ads on the London Underground for obvious reasons. However, the main point is: we’re exposed to an overwhelming amount of information (and messages). Much of it isn’t particularly relevant and most of it isn’t tailored to our needs.
This is where content marketing comes into play.
Building not bombarding
Content marketing doesn’t rely on ‘pushing’ products and services. Instead it ‘pulls’ or draws customers towards us.
Businesses now recognise that they must focus on the buyer experience, regardless of whether that buyer is a consumer or company. We have to persuade prospects to listen, engage and ultimately purchase. If things go well, then our customers might actually commit to a long-term relationship.
Customer over company
Personal relationships take work. We know that. You’ve got to understand what the other person is looking for. Tap into what makes them tick. Help them overcome their challenges.
The same is true of buyer-seller relationships. Taking the time to target and really get to know your audience will pay off. As will being attuned to their desires and needs. Another important aspect is recognising their pain points. You can then use your content to highlight the solutions you provide.
When a business serves a prospect well it can influence buyer behaviour and reap the benefits.
Long term rather than short-lived
Once we form a relationship and we’re listening, understanding and responding, we need to feed it. This normally means making plans and establishing a routine. Content marketing works in a similar way – that’s why it needs a strategy, a process and time to develop.
Quality and consistency
Your relationship has got off to a good start. So don’t go and spoil it by focusing on yourself and what you want. The best way to turn someone off is to make an impression and then revert back to type. Your content creation has many parallels. It needs to be relevant, consistent and high-quality. Get this right and your audience will value it.
How content marketing can help your business
Most companies use content marketing because it works. And anyone can do it – whether big brand or one-(wo)man band.
Developing and delivering a content marketing strategy has a range of business benefits.
1. Raises brand awareness
Companies always strive to be better known. And if you’re a major player, you still want to be kept front of mind. This is the main reason why marketers create content. Your goal is for your content to reach more of the right people, so they remember who you are. The more content they see from you, the more they’ll recognise and respect your brand. The more your brand is recognised and respected, the more likely you are to attract prospects.
2. Generates more traffic and leads
Business blogs that post regular content attract over 40 per cent more traffic than company websites that don’t have a blog. Linking posts to other key parts of your website also helps direct visitors to the pages you want them to see. Not everyone will interact. But those that do often become warm leads for your product or service.
If you’re tempted to just throw your money into paid search, take a step back. The competition is high. And those large corporates, which make up just 1 per cent of businesses in the UK, have big budgets. Your content creation will get you three times more leads than paid search. Plus, the costs are lower and the results over the long term are better.
3. Increases conversions and sales
If your content is persuasive and useful enough (e.g. a case study), it could accelerate a decision to buy and seal that deal. Content marketing is six times more effective than traditional marketing. When used well, it’s extremely effective in converting readers/viewers into leads and leads into customers.
4. Costs less than traditional marketing
In fact, content marketing costs over 60 per cent less than traditional marketing. It’s cost-efficient because it:
- Grows your audiences – whether those audiences are on your website, social sites or third-party sites. What’s certain is that you’ll attract people who are interested in your content, like it and want more of it
- Fast-tracks stages in the sales cycle – by empowering prospects to do their research before making contact with you. The average buyer gets 57 per cent through their purchase decision before engaging with a sales rep. This means they’re more informed and qualified than leads coming through organic search or ads. There’s also less need for selling and more for influencing. So, aim to get on your prospect’s shortlist and convince them that you’re the best business for them
- Produces better quality leads – you don’t just create content willy-nilly. There’s a solid strategy behind it based on your customer types. We call these personas. Creating personas helps you identify the needs and challenges of those you’re selling to and want to sell to. You can then respond accordingly. A segmented audience may give you a smaller pot of prospects, but they’re of a higher quality
- Reduces the cost per lead – more qualified leads equate to less expense on lead origination. Because you’re mainly using your own channels, you can also save on external media costs
- Supports your branding activities – I’ve covered this in terms of awareness, but not from the perspective of cost. Producing content makes you more visible, so you can reduce your budget on promoting your brand
- Helps you efficiently manage time and resources – by developing a content marketing strategy. In it, you define roles, work collaboratively, plan, craft, distribute and repurpose content. Doing this deftly will help you achieve a good ROI
5. Lets you use content created by others
User-generated content, from well-shot competition photos to reviews and video interviews, can save you bags of time. This is precious collateral that you own, usually don’t have to pay for, and can fully exploit in your content marketing
6. Builds customer trust
When your content is relevant, compelling and published regularly, it gives others confidence in your brand. That’s probably why 82% of consumers find custom content useful. Developing a following can lead to loyalty. A loyal audience is more likely to trust you, and therefore to buy from you.
7. Encourages measurability
Some business think that content marketing is just about setting up a blog or putting out social media posts. That’s an ad hoc approach that’s never going to work. Because it’s digital, content marketing is highly measurable. Having a content strategy will allow you to set goals. Once you know your objectives, you can monitor and refine that strategy. And as you learn more about the types of content that hit and miss, you can hone your marketing further.
8. Complements other forms of marketing – both online and offline:
- Websites and SEO (search engine optimisation) – Google likes good quality content, so keeping it fresh and optimising it will improve your search engine ranking. The greater your ranking, the more people you can draw to your site. Remember that stat I quoted earlier about blogs gaining over 400 per cent more traffic? That’s actually 434 per cent more search engine-indexed pages than companies that don’t publish content. Therefore, producing and refreshing content is paramount. This doesn’t just apply to your blogs but also your landing pages, product/service information, FAQs and even images
- Social media marketing – and especially your campaigns need content to fuel them. LinkedIn is the best B2B social media channel with over 20 million users in the UK and half a billion global users. However, don’t dismiss social networks like Facebook for B2B marketing too. There’s lots you can do outside of sponsored posts (paid for advertising). Target specific audiences, promote the personality of your company and distribute shareable content
- Email – newsletters need quality content. Unsurprisingly, companies that blog get twice as much traffic from email marketing than those that don’t. So, consider content that will drive new sign-ups and minimise unsubscribes. That content will also need to keep current customers engaged and convince them to buy again
- Partnership-building – good, relevant content sells itself – not only on your channels but on other sites. When you’re approached by others interested in online partnerships with you, you’ll know your content is working
Content marketing is here to stay
Content marketing is not a new concept. However, digital technology has made it easier for your business to do it. Continued developments in that technology and an increased desire for authenticity mean there’s no going back.
So much content is ‘evergreen’ too, so it will last throughout the seasons. You may just need to prune it or take a cutting to produce new growth.
Like any long-term business investment, content marketing requires a sound strategy. This includes the right structure, processes and resources. At key points along the way, you’ll track your progress and adapt to external conditions. Taking this approach should see your investment mature over time.
If you’re interested in content marketing and would like Caspian Media’s help to get started, please contact us. We’d also be happy to have an initial chat with you or to meet for an informal discussion.
Learn more about content marketing
Keen to dig a little deeper?
We’ve recently published a no-nonsense Content Marketing Guide, which covers the above topics in more detail.
It’s completely free, so why not download it today?
By Heather Chappell, Head of Content Strategy