So you’ve heard about ‘content marketing’. Maybe you do bits and pieces from time to time, but you’re far from committed and it just tends to languish on the back-burner with a ton of other some-days. You’re unclear how content marketing benefits your business – but should you in fact be giving it more attention and investing more resources?
Sound familiar? Then this one’s for you …
This post gives you 9 key ways in which content marketing benefits your business. In fact, you’ll see why it’s now essential for you and your business not just to dabble in content marketing, but to become fully committed to it.
Ignore it, continue to leave it on the some-day list, and hope to come back to it at some later point … that can be a dangerous game to play. You risk your business becoming drowned out by smart business owners who recognize all the benefits of content marketing, make the proper commitment needed to integrate it fully in their businesses, and act quickly to ensure they stand to reap maximum rewards.
Five years ago, you could be forgiven for not fully embracing social media for your business. You could see the appeal for individuals, and perhaps you were a keen user on a personal level. But for business? Maybe you reserved judgement on that one.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, that’s all changed.
Social media is now essential for businesses in a number of different ways. These include:
- Increased online exposure and visibility
- Search engine optimization
- Growing credibility, authority and levels of influence
- The ability to communicate in different and effective ways with your marketplace
- Traffic growth
Just in relation to traffic, did you know for example that social now drives more traffic referrals than search?
Looking at the figures from Sept 2013 and Sept 2014 (to analyze year-over-year trends), Social’s share nearly doubled (from 16.04% to 29.35%) while Search’s share shrunk by nearly one-third (from 42.77% to 29.14%).
The sooner you commit to a comprehensive presence for your business on social media as part of an overall content marketing strategy, the sooner you can take advantage of all the benefits available.
Social media is of course a key component of content marketing. For starters, content you create can be published on and broadcast across multiple social networks. But it’s more than that, and the relationship is a symbiotic one:
- Social media drives traffic and interaction with your content
- The content also feeds and sustains your social media presence, helping you build your community and an influential online presence.
The latter feeds back into the amount of traffic you can drive to your content, and the benefits start to build.
New and valuable advertising opportunities.
Interested in gaining visibility for your business with much larger audiences? The traditional approach has been to advertise your products and services directly through say banner ads or Adwords.
However there are much softer and often more effective advertising approaches available where you begin that relationship with the prospect through content alone. Generally referred to as ‘native advertising’, an ad might for example encourage someone to read a post on your blog.
Your goal of the ad may be to get the prospect to opt-in during their visit, and/or to then follow-up with them with different offers through retargeting.
Where to start?
You’ve no doubt seen news and other websites with promoted stories or similar, inviting you to click and read content on other sites. Companies like Outbrain that offer this kind of native advertising now abound.
And then of course there’s promoted posts through LinkedIn and Facebook, promoted Tweets on Twitter, and so on. Share your story on social, and then give it much larger reach with a few advertising dollars.
A committed approach to content marketing means you have a continual flow of material you can then promote through native advertising and use to attract your marketplace to you in new and innovative ways.
Sustainable visibility on the search engines.
The days of successfully manipulating search engine results to give your site a higher ranking than the one it deserves, and for a relatively long time, are over.
High rankings – those that last and therefore make it worthwhile for your business to pursue – now come from building and gaining an authoritative online presence.
This takes time to achieve, requires patience and consistency, and is done largely through content marketing activities. This includes providing real value to visitors in the form of quality and engaging content on your own site, along with an active social media presence and other social signals, content on other authoritative sites that link back to you, and more besides.
Yes, it may seem easier and more enticing to take the latest shortcut easy-fix to search engine (so-called) ‘success’. Only last week I received an invitation to yet another webinar that promised overnight page one rankings for as many sites as you want, through some latest software tool and no doubt a secret network of sites to give you some quick links beyond Google’s immediate gaze.
The problem is, however enticing these kind of results might sound, it isn’t sustainable and the long-term costs can far outweigh any short-term gain. You can end up with your whole business resting on illusory and unstable foundations that can be washed away in a nano-second.
Google actively pursues this kind of manipulation of their rankings with a vengeance. Disaster – including being thrown out of their index entirely – is just an algorithm update away. It’s just not how valuable sites and worthwhile businesses are built.
Rather than pitting yourself and your business against the full might of Google and their armies of PhDs, it’s far more effective to work with them. Avoid the get-rich-quick SEO soothsayers – the benefits will be in their pockets, not yours.
Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit.
Instead, follow Google’s guidelines, and create the type of valuable web property that gains sustainable online visibility and provides you with a much more valuable business as a result.
Content marketing is how it’s done and how you win.
New opportunities for online visibility.
Marketing effectively online is now more difficult and complex than at any time since the Internet began and businesses first began trading online. You’re competing with so many other messages vying for your prospect’s attention.
Access to the Internet via mobile devices is surging (and predominantly via mobile apps), prospects are engaged with a wide variety of media including video and audio, and prospects are often connected through multiple devices at the same time.
Even when marketing to people face to face, such as through workshops and conferences, you’re competing with their attention focused on smartphones and tablets, along with decreasing attention spans in general.
But, as Einstein said, and as every entrepreneur knows only too well, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.
You either join the fray – or bury your head in the sand and pretend “this ain’t happenin’”.
The truth is, there are now so many more opportunities with which to gain online visibility for your business.
While there are increasing amounts of content competing for the declining attention spans of your marketplace, you can counteract the effects by having more content in more places.
And let’s face it. Unless you’re investing in content marketing activities, you’ll end up drowned out by competing businesses who are and find yourself increasingly irrelevant. They’ll get the business and you won’t, simply because they’ll be noticed and be able build those buyer relationships, and you won’t.
But once you fully commit to content marketing in order to claim the benefits for your own business, you’ll be able to:
- Start attracting prospects with increasing opportunities for them to notice and connect with you.
- Have the continual supply of content that interests them and builds those all-important relationships for your own business.
By leveraging content effectively, you can also gain visibility for your business in more places and more simply than you might have previously thought possible.
(NOTE: For an effective, 7-step content marketing strategy you can start putting into action for your own business, including powerful ways to leverage and repurpose content, download our free Be Everywhere Online Marketing Blueprint).
Build relationships with buyers in your marketplace.
As stated above, content enables you to build relationships – and build relationships with buyers. You’re not only illustrating your authority and credibility, you’re also building trust, keeping your business front of mind, and explaining how your products and services are of value to your marketplace.
Selling isn’t all about the hard sell. It’s about helping your prospect understand how you can improve and add to their lives, without them feeling defensive and ‘sold to’. Content marketing is perfect for doing this in very subtle ways.
Prospects also react differently to different types of media, and consume media differently. That means, content of various forms is essential to enable you to build valuable relationships with your prospects.
There’s written content like blog posts, articles, white papers, ebooks; visual content like images, infographics, presentations and videos; and audio content such as podcasts and teleseminars. All can be shared through social media channels, repurposed into different forms for publication at different times, and wider audiences reached.
Prospects also take different amounts of time to build that relationship with you. Think about how some people make friends very quickly, while others will take longer to develop that trust and association. Business is no different. Many prospects will also not yet be ready to do business with you when they first connect for a wide variety of reasons. They may only become ready several months or even years down the line.
A proper commitment to content marketing enables you to benefit from a continual supply of content with which to:
- Start new relationships with prospects; and
- Build and nourish existing relationships until they are ready to do business with you.
(Related content: How to Really Monetize a Blog (Easy 1-2-3 Blog Monetization Strategy))
Increase sales by communicating through multiple channels.
It’s no longer just about email. Diversification in how you communicate with your marketplace is becoming increasing important.
If you are currently purely communicating with your market through email alone, there are potential dangers ahead you should be aware of and start preparing for.
Email is still vital, but its importance for online communications is steadily decreasing. For example, today’s teenage generation will be entering the marketplace for products and services over the next few years, and they see email as increasingly antiquated and irrelevant.
A study by the Pew Research Center found only 6% of teens exchange email daily, and they generally reserve it for official communications only. In contrast, five times as many teens are exchanging messages daily through social network channels.
As if that’s not enough, research by the Radicati Group (as shown below) shows that usage of private email is steadily but surely declining. This would also suggest consumers are spending less time with email and checking inboxes. Business emails are also increasing, meaning for email marketing to be successful you have to work harder to gain a piece of a smaller pie.
Stick with email alone, and you risk difficulties in building relationships with customers, and increasing irrelevance for your business over the next few years. It doesn’t just affect connecting with your marketplace, but also connecting with and appealing to potential business partners.
Content marketing opens up new channels of communication your business can then explore and start benefiting from.
Boost your conversion rates.
If your business maintains an online presence through your website alone, your sales are likely just a fraction of what they could be.
When a prospect can build their relationship with you not just through your website, but also through social channels, by watching your videos via your YouTube channel, by tuning into your podcast, and through following your content on various other sites, their relationship with you is significantly deepened and heightened. They gain a closer connection and stronger bond with you as a business.
Content marketing affords your business the opportunity for this type of powerful multi-touch, multi-channel marketing. If your competition is doing this, and you’re not, guess who stands to take the leading position in your marketplace?
Content marketing builds your levels of credibility and authority in the eyes of prospects. You gain trust. They see you know what you’re talking about. They gain a better understanding of why they need your products and services.
When they search for your business and they find references via all your content on lots of different websites, it changes their perception of you and they’re more likely to do business with you. Success begets success.
You also benefit from more joint venture and business partnership opportunities. Potential partners gain credibility by doing business with you. Rather than you chasing other people, they’ll be chasing you. Through content marketing, you become the influencer.
Traffic. Not just any traffic.
I’ve already mentioned traffic in part, but this is of course the biggie and worth focusing more on. The simple truth is that through a commitment to content marketing, you are investing in the future traffic growth of your website.
It’s not just any traffic either. It’s solid, dependable, buyer traffic.
- Firstly, the person clicking through to your site has found your content in the first place, whether on your site or elsewhere, because they have an existing interest in the topic. In other words, the content has attracted your marketplace to your business, with zero ongoing effort.
- Secondly, they’ve actually clicked through to your site from the content in question. That further qualifies them and means they have a genuine interest in what your business is all about. Usually they’ll be clicking through to find out more, and possibly become a longer term lead for your business.
The traffic is long-term too. Unlike most forms of advertising, where the traffic stops as soon as you stop paying, content you’ve already invested in continues working for you long after the original investment, whether that’s an investment of time, money, or more usually, both.
For example, I still get traffic from content I put out there years ago.
You also benefit from more indirect traffic increases. The more content you have out there and the more you invest in your overall content marketing activities, the greater the authority of your website.
This builds your overall visibility on search and social, along with your authority in general, and the effects start to snowball. For example, it encourages voluntary traffic referrals from elsewhere, recommendations, social shares, and so on.
(NOTE: Want an easy way to manage, organize and automate your content marketing activities, so you get the most bang for your content marketing buck? vWriter.com is designed to do exactly that, including task management, auto-delegation, automated social updating, content distribution, and more. More info …)
You should now be in little doubt as to how content marketing benefits your business, and why a full commitment to content marketing is not just necessary but essential for your business in the years ahead. It won’t be perfect to start with, nor will you have all bases covered. The important part is just to start somewhere, and let it evolve over the months and years to become a power base of and fuel for your online success.