Just a decade ago, content marketing wasn’t a term – let alone an entire field – that you’d have heard marketers talking about as crucial for a successful marketing strategy.
Although the history of content marketing is still in its infancy, the field is more essential than ever. What some may consider to be “blogging” is far more in-depth than the generic internet blog post has grown to be. Content marketing is a subset of marketing that encompasses your brand, your mission, and the world’s outside perception of what your company stands for. Without it, you’re missing out on an untapped wealth of potential readers, leads, and customers.
Why you should invest in content marketing
Developing a content marketing team from the ground-up is a monumental undertaking for any marketing team, let alone one who knows little to nothing about content marketing as a discipline. To make things easier, we’ve broken down the six reasons you need to invest in content marketing this fiscal year.
1. Drive traffic and increase time on page
If you’re already familiar with content marketing and SEO metrics, you know what value traffic and time on page have for your website. If you ask anybody who works on the technical end of site metrics and analytics, they’ll tell you that these two things are crucial for getting your page to rank – as well as the subsequent blog posts – on search engines. As a bonus, this boosts your overall brand awareness to the outside world. More on that next.
What’s great about content marketing is the number of different formats content marketing assets can take. While blog posts reign supreme, your readers come from different backgrounds and career paths – and most importantly – learning styles. You have to consider that people who visit your site might prefer reading a blog rather than viewing a video, but also that some people are visual learners, and would prefer downloading a beautiful infographic for their records rather than scrolling through a 2,000 word blog post.
You can expand your audience base by increasing the content types you offer. If you notice a certain blog post getting a ton of traffic, it might make sense to include a short-form video in which you summarize the key parts of your content. This not only provides increased value (and can boost time on page), but it’s also a wonderful value-add for readers. Similarly, if you create beautiful in-house graphics to display proprietary data and statistics, you’re giving readers even more to take away from your content.
2. Increase brand recognition
The final point in the previous section alludes to the importance of brand awareness. You know how brands like Google, Yahoo!, and Facebook have recognizable icons – so much that you don’t even need to read the name of the company to know who they are? Exactly. And it’s very likely that brands within your niche have such recognizable logos thanks to a strong branding game and online presence.
The branding part is straightforward: use graphic design software to create an unforgettable logo that is sure to be recognized by your competitors and their prospective customers as well as your own. The success and visibility of your brand, however, is based on a multitude of factors. One of those factors lies within your social media presence (or lack thereof).
Although it seems like everyone and their grandmother is on social media these days, some brands haven’t gotten the message that a social presence is no longer optional in the modern world. Having active accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook is a must-have for any brand hoping to draw in new customers.
But if you’re on social media, you need to amplify your presence by sharing relevant, useful, thoughtful, and/or interesting content for users. Most importantly, whatever you put out into the world needs to be share-worthy. With clickable, shareable content, you give your social channels something to talk about.
If you’re worried about the bandwidth of your content marketing team and allocating your limited resources to social media promotion, you can use social media management software to automate the sharing and promo process. That way, your brand stays on top of the social game without wasting your team’s manpower and working hours.
3. Self-promote without being too promotional
Promotional content is typically never the type of thing that your audience wants to read. You might think you’re being relatable, but chances are you’re boring your readers. Instead, content marketing provides an outlet for your team to write about topics that can share a general overview or nuanced information about something that you can tie back to your overall brand, product, or service.
By writing content that surrounds your brand, product, or service, but not hyper-focusing it on solely what you (the brand itself) can do, and rather focusing content on related elements of your brand’s service/product, you prove that you know what you’re talking about and that you are the right choice for an on-the-fence buyer.
Use call-to-action (CTA) buttons within your content
Call-to-action (CTA) buttons “call out” the reader in the middle of a page of copy. These buttons are often used to push readers to click and drive conversions to other parts of your website, encourage signing up for a webinar or conference, or download infographics, an eBook, or some other take-away piece of content.
The button above encourages readers to click through and read the next closely-related article in a series (or just one relevant to the topic in which it was placed).
Using CTA buttons is a way to be promotional, either by nudging readers onto another piece of content, thus boosting your traffic, conversion, and time on page for your blogs, or by having readers convert over to another landing page on your main website. CTA buttons are an easy and obvious way to plug your content, services, and offerings in a way that feels intentionally put rather than sneakily wedged into your copy.
4. Instill faith in your brand to your audience
Trust is everything. If your audience thinks they can’t trust you, they’ll flee. People want to know that you’re being transparent on your end-game with them. If you write content with intent to sell to a customer, don’t disguise it as something else.
Similarly, showing your customers the overall value of a general topic or idea that ties into your product or service is gently reminding them that if they’re looking for a solution to their problem, they should go to you, not someone else.
At the same time, however, you need to be truthful with the content you put out into the world. If you’re writing a best-of or top-rated list of websites, software, programs – whatever it is, your company’s solution shouldn’t be listed first (or likely at all). The minute someone clicks over to your “10 Best Email Marketing Platforms” blog post and sees your company is listed as number 1, they’ll question the authenticity of your list – and more importantly – the information you’re giving them.
It’s inevitable that you want to posit your brand as the best of the best, and if putting out best-of lists or other related content would harm your brand’s image rather than improve it, stay away.
Another really creative way to capture your audience’s attention while maintaining brand authenticity is to own up to where your brand falls flat. Instead of brushing off negative reviews or pretending like you didn’t lose customers last quarter, create a blog post that discusses what went wrong and what you’re doing to improve so that it doesn’t happen again.
For instance, live chat platform Drift created an article that called themselves out. Aptly titled “4 Reasons Customers Quit Drift in 2017,” they go over four points of error or “points of improvement” by using things real customers said about their platform. Instead of shying away from potentially negative backlash, they took the plunge toward honesty.
By doing this, they showed existing and prospective customers that they are transparent and trustworthy – two incredible traits for any worthwhile brand to have. Crafting content like that can be risky, but the ROI on your content marketing efforts will definitely outweigh whatever hypothetical negative effects you’re worrying about.
5. Prove that you are the topic expert
Showing expertise via writing proves your trustworthiness, which is why you should create content – and create it often. Writing about the same subject matter, but different verticals of said subject, will show that your company is the expert in that field, and that is the reason you supersede the competition.
Basically, if someone can do a site search on your blog about a certain topic or keyword, and only get 1 or 2 results, chances are, you're not the “expert” they once thought you to be. But if you can come up with a plethora of results surrounding the searched-for keyword, obviously your company is trustworthy and knows what they’re talking about.
Who would you trust more – a chatbot company that never once writes about chatbots and their business use cases, or a chatbot company that produces consistently strong, well-researched content about how to use chatbots, the different kinds that exist, brands who use chatbots well, and more. Exactly.
6. Send leads to your sales team
If someone is reading content on a specific topic, they might be interested in learning more about related services or products. As mentioned above, using CTAs can drive clicks over to landing pages, product pages, services, or even goods sold – whatever your niche is. This is one of the best ways to show your sales team the value of content marketing. Salespeople think in numbers and dollar amounts, but content marketers think of how content can be used as a touchpoint for sales.
Sure, there are publications on the internet that post listicles about the 5 cutest dog breeds for sale, which bring little-to-no value beyond traffic to a website – however, specially-curated content that describes how to do something can be of great value to so many people. If you’re an e-commerce platform, it would be logical for you to write a blog post about how to integrate your e-commerce platform with your CRM, because other professionals in that niche probably have that same “how do I do this?” type of question.
While sales teams might not always understand what marketers (specifically those who write) do, producing high-quality top-, middle-, and bottom-of-funnel written content for them to use as a selling point to their customers is key to proving your worth. Sales jargon can be confusing and alienating to some customers, so having content that complements sales’ goals can provide a touchpoint in the customer journey, ultimately resulting in influenced revenue for your content marketing team and a closed-won deal for sales.
Now you know that content marketing is no longer just a marketing trend; it is a must if you want to succeed in your niche. Whether you’re a software provider or a goods and services platform, content marketing can amplify the reach your brand has across multiple channels and demographics.
If you’re convinced about the value of content marketing, but your boss isn’t yet, have them read this guide and ask them again. We’re sure they’ll change their mind.