The case for content marketing begins with two foundational truths: the web has forever changed how people make purchasing decisions, and traditional, interruption-based marketing is no longer enough for today’s savvy consumers.
In comes content marketing. According to recent reports from the Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B companies and 86% of B2C companies are using content marketing. And 54% of B2B marketers and 55% of B2C marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months. Why? Because content marketing (done right) is more than just hype, it differentiates and gets results. There are many reasons that make the case for content marketing and we’ve outlined a few for you to consider.
People Don’t Like Being “Marketed” to
Let’s face it, people have become conditioned to ignore, delete, fast-forward, unsubscribe to, closeout and send to voicemail, traditional, interruption-based marketing messages. And they’ve gotten far too clever to base their purchase decisions solely on your advertisement or list of features and benefits.
That’s what makes content marketing so engaging; instead of simply pitching your products and services, you deliver valuable information and subject-matter expertise that makes your prospects more educated, more likely to view your company as experts, and ultimately more likely to buy from you. It’s a pull strategy, as opposed to a push strategy.
Consumer Behavior Has Changed
The way people shop for products and services has fundamentally changed in the past few years, thanks to the explosion of digital media, social media and the web. Prospects, whether B2B or B2C, are smarter, savvier, more educated and far less likely to believe that you’re the best just because you say you are. Today’s consumers want to make that determination on their own.
Your prospects are going online to search for information about what you sell and it doesn’t matter whether you sell coffee makers, haircuts, mortgages or construction services. Consumers today search Google (more than 100 billion searches per month worldwide), read blogs and online reviews, follow influencers on social media and consume as much content as they can before making a purchase decision. And the bigger the purchase, the more extensive and thorough the research will be. Providing content in the form of blogs, case studies, whitepapers, etc. will help you get found online by prospects looking for products and services like yours, at the exact moment they are interested.
Search Engines Have Evolved
With your prospects searching online, the way to make sales and close deals is getting found when they search for you or what you sell. Optimizing your website to rank high in organic search engine results is obviously the goal. But ranking high in search results can no longer be achieved through meta-tags, keyword stuffing and other antics. The key to search engine optimization (SEO) success in the Google Penguin era can be defined in two words: quality content. Creating quality, context-driven content for your readers, prospects and customers will ultimately help you improve your search engine rankings and get found online.
Companies Lack Differentiation
What differentiates one company or product from the next? If what your competition sells is described in the exact same terms as what you sell and has the same basic features and benefits, how does a prospect chose between two seemingly equal choices? Most industries are plagued with me-too marketing that does more to equalize than differentiate. This leaves prospects to make purchasing decisions based less on tangible contrasts and more on intangible factors beyond the control of the companies involved.
Content marketing done right can help you stand out from all the me-toos in your industry by demonstrating your unique selling proposition by providing educational and informative content that people actually find valuable and useful.
Marketing Budgets No Longer Determine Impact
In times past, the size of your wallet would often determine the impact your marketing made and ultimately the success of your business. If you wanted to draw attention, you were forced to invest huge amounts of money buying expensive advertising campaigns or trying to woo the attention of the mainstream media in hopes of getting your story told to the masses. But in today’s digital world, anyone with a good story to tell can attract an audience online. Companies can publish content online that attracts prospects, engages customers and get this: it can actually bring the media to you!
Digital Enables Brands to Be Publishers
Technology has forever changed the media landscape and, in doing so, it has enabled companies to publish their own content online in the form of blogs, video, articles, websites, eBooks, whitepapers and a plethora of other digital formats. Email and social media allow companies to reach their audience directly at relatively minimal costs and effort.
Today’s digital landscape gives companies an opportunity to leverage content to affordably attract prospects and customers using digital channels to publish and promote it. And the conversation isn’t just one-way either; prospects can speak directly to companies and engage in a conversation.
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Any company that wants to get found online, differentiate their business, attract prospects, convert leads, engage their customers and ultimately grow their business needs to get serious about content marketing. There is nothing novel about content itself. Every company creates content, but content marketing is using content for a distinct marketing purpose: to attract, engage and convert.