So much of marketing today is about building relationships. Customers don’t want to just consume a product or use a service, they want to make a genuine connection that is satisfying on a number of levels. Consider the following data from Marketo:
- The average buyer guides themselves through 60% to 90% of the traditional sales funnel before ever contacting a brand or salesperson
- 81% of shoppers research online before setting foot in a store
- Consumers spend an average of 79 days conducting online research before buying
The statistics suggest that making a purchase is big deal for most people. Shoppers are doing their homework. They are researching your company. They are aware of your competition. They are making informed choices, not choosing one brand over the other arbitrarily.
Furthermore, the explosion of user feedback on Google Reviews, Yelp and Facebook is evidence that there is more than money invested in a purchase. Customers are willing to spend some serious time getting to know you.
Indeed, customers today are hoping your company gives them a reason to keep coming back, not just to your product, but to the overall experience of following your brand. That’s where content marketing plays such an important role.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Neil Patel puts it in simpler terms: “content marketing is all about storytelling.” That means content marketing should be part of your long-term marketing strategy.
In the digital age, providing users with high-quality, relevant content is more important than ever. Luckily, the internet provides more opportunity to create and share content than ever before, and at a lower cost. Also, the long-term availability of content on the internet means you can gradually build an audience over time.
Perhaps it’s best to explain the idea of content marketing by means of a few examples.
Simple Green Smoothies harnesses the power of social media with striking photography and text content that is easily shareable from its website. Their content is also ready-made for platforms like Instagramand Pinterest.
Intelligentsia Coffee Inc draws the visitor into the world of premium coffee and tea with stunning photography, relatable storytelling, and an educational component that offers information on brewing methods and even a global workshop that seeks to bring the customer closer to the origin of the product they are consuming.
Hubspot is in the business of selling marketing and sales software, but one of their key strategies is to create an enormous amount of content to get people to their page and help them for free. Hubspot hopes then to be able to convert some visitors into paying customers who may not have the time or inclination for DYI marketing.
Articles of Style had a popular blog before they started selling clothes, which showed they were experts in their field and allowed them to establish credibility before launching their product line.
The Tracy Bell Clinic has recognized the rising importance of YouTube as both a video marketing platform and the internet’s second largest search engine.
Then there’s Gary Vaynerchuck and this amazing piece of written contentabout…giving away free content and the rewards that come with relationship building and the act of giving without any expectation of reciprocation. As popular as images and especially video have become, Gary Vee’s blog post shows that powerful written content is also still very relevant.
Though it’s hard to overstate the importance of video as a digital marketing tool (Cisco estimates that video will represent about 82% of all IP traffic by the year 2021), any form of content can be used to tell your story, from blog posts, photography, infographics, ebooks, even interactive campaigns that allow your customers to tell your story. Furthermore, content marketing should touch on all forms of marketing that you use. Again, from Patel:
- Social media marketing: Content marketing strategy comes before your social media strategy
- SEO: Search engines reward businesses that publish quality, consistent content
- PR: Successful PR strategies address issues readers care about, not their business
- PPC: For PPC to work, you need great content behind it
- Inbound marketing: Content is key to driving inbound traffic and leads
A smart, relevant, consistent content marketing effort doesn’t mean that every visit will be converted into a sale. The power of content marketing is that, when a customer does decide to make a purchase, there is a level of loyalty that has been established that is likely to push the buy toward one brand instead of another. Of course, loyalty is not guaranteed, which is why providing regular content of high quality is a must.
It’s almost impossible to market without content today. It’s up to you to find your audience, find your platform, and start turning out meaningful content that will make a lasting connection between you and your customers. Over time you will begin to see the benefits highlighted by Marketo: increased brand awareness, increased brand preference, and a wider reach at a lower cost.
With thanks to: The Fig Co.