Online marketing strategies still greatly rely on various forms of advertising – from Google Ads to Boosted posts on social media, as most companies are looking to leverage the immediacy of results this provides them with. Compared to these, content marketing typically takes months to take effect, but its outcomes are truly long-lasting.
In an earlier Copyblogger article, this topic was approached to in an interesting way. Demian Farnworth gives an overview of advantages of content marketing over advertising, highlighting the fact it is not related to any specific campaign, thus helping you build a more stable visibility online. Moreover, traditional advertising revolves around a product without leaving any space for customer feedback, whereas today’s customers want their voice to be heard.
If a brand establishes itself as trustworthy, approachable, provider of useful advice, and as someone who brings real values instead of just seamlessly pushing promotion, it won’t need to flash its product right before potential customers’ eyes. The audience will come naturally. Building such a reputation does not happen overnight, though. It takes time and effort, yet the benefits of this approach cannot be overstated.
Until the rise of the content marketing, people were used to seeing traditional disruptive ad campaigns that put the product at the forefront, convincing the audience it will solve their problems. However, if a brand decides to approach advertising in a non-traditional way, such as putting their audience into focus and bringing the real value to them, it will form lasting relationships. If a brand is able to show people it really cares about them, no strings attached, it will be highly valued and seen as something more other than a business selling its products. This is a start of a real human bond between the brand and its audience.
What are the benefits of content marketing?
Whereas traditional advertising can get you to your goal pretty fast, not everyone can afford it, especially not small businesses that are just starting out. It may seem as a quick fix, but you should ask yourself whether this form of advertising will make a lasting impression and contribute to the brand image you want to create in a longer run. And again, there’s the issue of cost. At the start of your business life, you probably don’t have a budget large enough for costly ad campaigns.
Having in mind that people want content that educates them and provides them with some useful information rather than content that sells, brands should seize the opportunity and form a content marketing strategy that will establish them as authority whose content people will gladly read and share. This might take some time, yet the results are likely to be very satisfying since people will become aware of your brand, see it as trustworthy and become your loyal customers. If you push too much promotional content, people will most likely be drawn away. You need to have in mind that content marketing is about customers and not about promoting your brand.
Content marketing is a cost-effective solution
As we established that the issue of cost is one of the most challenging points when it comes to promoting a new business, let’s take a look at following information: according to DemandMetric, content marketing costs astonishingly 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.
In addition to that, traditional marketing campaigns usually revolve around a single product or service, whereas content marketing helps a brand form lasting relationships with customers by putting them in the spotlight instead. Yes, it takes some time to see the results, but as Jon Buscall says “Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.” The truth is that you need to invest your time and effort to make your content marketing strategy successful, but this will enable you to deliver the message your brand is trying to convey clearly.
If you still doubt that quality content will help your potential customers opt for your business, think again. According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 report, 29% of consumers said they want to see more blog content in the future.
Why is that the case?
Before making a buying decision, people are more likely to form an opinion about your company even before actually getting in touch with you, as it is evident from this report – only 19% of buyers rely on salespeople when making a purchase decision, they rather turn to examining resources you have to offer online. Thus, if you are not providing them with useful and informative content, they won’t make a decision in your favor.
When you are creating content that matters and helps people solve their problems, they will gladly click your website leading to more traffic and ultimately higher conversion rates. According to a study conducted by Aberdeen, companies that made an effort to devise and implement the right content marketing strategy saw increase in conversions 6 times higher than those who failed to devise the right strategy. These numbers are not something that should be neglected.
How to approach the creation of a content marketing strategy that is right for your business?
Every business is unique, yet there are some universal guidelines you can follow when working on your content marketing strategy. One of the key points you need to consider before you start producing content are:
- Think carefully and write down the list of values your brand stands for. These values should always guide you in the content creation process and lie underlined in the content itself.
- Think about what your target users would like to read about. Think about the pieces of information and advice they would find useful.
- Where you will distribute your content is equally important, if not more, as creating it.
Let’s take a look at an example to clarify the points made above. Let’s say you are manufacturing leather goods (belts, wallets, bags, etc.) and you are new in the business and looking for a way to distinguish your brand from the crowd.
How would you form your content marketing strategy?
First of all, you need to write down the values you stand for – what makes you different from other leather manufacturers? One of the following things comes to mind:
- Quality – leather goods should stand for quality and duration
- Family heritage – dear accessories passed on from mothers to daughters carrying a lot of memories and stories
- Cherish and celebrate important moments – there’s nothing like giving a special present for important occasions, such as graduation, first job, etc.
- Craftsmanship and tradition – you follow traditional ways of manufacturing for the finest quality products
How does this reflect your content strategy?
When producing content, keep these values in mind, and devise content that will follow these values, instead of just promoting your products. As a result, when people see post from your brand, they will associate you with these values and will more likely recall your brand later than they would if they just saw promotional content on your behalf. If they decide, for example, to buy a leather bag, they will think about what they want in a leather bag and remember you, as you clearly stated those values through your content.
As video marketing is on the rise, you can make short videos to showcase the production process for your potential customers to see how much effort and passion you put into your products. In addition to that, think about what your potential audience would like to read – blog posts with advice on maintaining leather products, fashion advice on how to combine leather accessories, how to recognize quality leather products, that is, content that they would find useful and present you in a positive light. Keep promotional content on minimum, and try to provide content that has some value, and in time, people will perceive your brand as someone who sticks to their values.
What happens after you have created great content?
Creating quality content is just the first step, the process doesn’t end there. The next step in your content marketing should be focused on finding the right distribution channels for your content so as to get maximum exposure and see the results of your efforts. The distribution channels should not solely rely on social media networks, but they need to include other relevant websites and platforms.
How to determine which resources you should focus on?
Careful examination of your target audience should be conducted to reach findings as to where they prefer to spend their time. As Accenture’s 2015 report suggests, 50% marketers produce more content than they can effectively manage. Good content is not the key in itself if there is no one to see it or read it. There is no perfect solution that fits everyone’s needs, yet your business should find content distribution channel mix that suits your needs best. Find the balance between paid, owned and earned media to get the right exposure for your content. Tweeting about your newest blog post is not enough and it will probably get lost in the enormous amount of content we are swamped with. However, if you place your content where your potential customers expect to see it and where they go to look for similar information, you will start seeing the results.
Even though content marketing is a solution that requires commitment and patience on your part, it will boost your business in a less costly manner. Whereas traditional advertising is all about pushing a product, content marketing is all about creating lasting relationships that matter, which is what people value the most.