Many business owners really don’t understand content marketing. I feel your pain in that I know it can be complex, and even confusing. However, there’s really no flex on this one: you need to understand content marketing—even if you think you don’t.
Content marketing cuts through noise
There is more noise and competition in almost any given industry right now than there ever has been before, because any consumer can choose from businesses all over the world to get exactly what they want. Older forms of ads like radio and TV spots aren’t as powerful as they used to be; even Coca-Cola spends more money on its content than on its television advertising, according to Columbia Journalism Review. Even newer forms of advertising are under siege as savvy online shoppers use ad blockers and otherwise seek out a better user experience.
Content marketing is one of the only ways to cut through the massive noise that is threatening to drown your brand out—right out of business, in fact—because it transforms your brand into a trusted source of information, not an irritating source of me-me-me ads. Content marketing is really just creating and distributing a robust stream of fresh, useful information for your target audience to show visitors that a trip to your site will be worthwhile. You can’t do that if you don’t “get” content marketing.
Content marketing services build brands
Every high-end content marketing agency knows that one of the core elements of effective content marketing is consistency. It’s not enough to publish high-quality content every once in awhile; you need that coveted balance between posting frequently and posting only excellent content to attach to your brand. Even in a less competitive industry it is crucial to differentiate your brand from the others. If you don’t understand content marketing, you’re missing many opportunities to build your brand.
Content marketing establishes you as an influencer
Producing authoritative content is one of the best ways to establish yourself as an influencer. It allows you to showcase the value you add to your industry and sets you up as a reliable, reputable source. You’re not asking for people to buy something; you are offering them something valuable that is free.
Content marketing is one of the reasons that we see so many useful how-to guides out there right now. As more and more users come back to your guides to learn how to master tricky concepts, Google and the other search engines notice. And as the search engine algorithms get more and more refined, your how-to, influencer content is what works best for answering questions and responding to long-tail keyword searches.
Make a list of influencers in your industry that you’d like to emulate. Now examine the content marketing examples of each of the influencers you listed. I guarantee, all top influencers know content marketing and put it to use.
Content marketing produces a steady stream of new leads and supports other marketing
If you have the ability to create useful content that is highly shareable, you have the ability to introduce your company and your product or service to entirely new audiences regularly. Your steady flow of information will drive traffic on its own, but it also makes your other marketing tactics more effective, too. All of your ads, social media work and pay-per-click tactics need content to share and link to.
Well-crafted content incites users to take action. It’s easy to sit on the fence when you have to make a purchase. Excellent content that answers outstanding questions and guides the customer toward a purchase makes it easier to get off the fence and commit. You need to understand content marketing to create this kind of persuasive material.
Running a marketing campaign without content as part of the plan is short-sighted and, in the long run, ineffective. You need to understand content marketing to make the rest of your plan work; dollar for dollar, content marketing generates more leads than paid search—three times more.
You can’t achieve your SEO goals without content marketing
SEO and content marketing services are intimately connected. A successful content marketing strategy keeps your website fresh and offers something new to even repeat visitors. In other words, content marketing is the action you can take to make your SEO goals a reality.
Content marketing gives you something to talk about. You can’t just tell people how your service or product is; no one cares about watching or reading what is essentially an ad. Instead, you talk about topics that interest you and your target audience, and build a discussion. In the end it’s a far more effective advertisement anyway.
Content marketing improves user experience
If you’ve been working on your SEO for awhile, you know that getting high-quality linkbacks that last is one of your biggest triumphs. To get those links you jump through a lot of hoops, and there’s no way around the fact that the content itself has to be awesome.
And while it may not always occur to you at the time, what you’re doing as you create top notch content and make it easy to find and share is improving the user experience your site and brand provide. Ultimately without an outstanding user experience your site won’t do well and you’ll fall short of your SEO goals.
A strong content marketing strategy improves user experience. It provides more value generally to all visitors, and it also makes for better customer service that is more attuned to customer needs. When your easy-to-navigate website is full of how-to guides, videos of how products work, and other excellent content, you are already winning the user experience game.
You must understand content marketing to create and implement successful content strategies
Many people seem to believe that there’s nothing to content marketing; all you do is create content, right? No.
Truly successful content marketing requires a sound strategy, and this can only be created and implemented by someone with a good understanding of content marketing. Your strategy is a series of choices about where to spend your time, effort and money, and should be in place to direct smart decision-making.
Content marketing strategy relies not on your “gut instinct” but on your researched, proven understanding of what your audience really wants. As you create your strategy, you’ll list the information you need, research and acquire that information, and then decide on content, placement and timing based on the facts. To improve performance you’ll assess what’s working and what isn’t, and implement incremental changes to measure progress.
If it sounds somewhat scientific, that’s because it is; you are measuring, looking for data, and testing your strategies as if they were hypotheses. All of this requires you to understand content marketing.
You can’t accurately assess how you’re doing if you don’t understand content marketing
How do you know whether or not your content marketing services are working? You got lots of “likes” on Facebook for a certain post, but is that important? Once again, to really accurately assess your progress, you have to understand content marketing.
Your content and other strategies need to be tied to concrete business goals. This means you will look for patterns in content that correspond to patterns in your business goals such as trends in conversions and leads, number of new subscribers or completed forms, or even email open rates. “Likes” alone are not the goal, but a fantastic user experience is, and so is meeting and exceeding business goals.
As far as social media engagement goes, make sure that you’re counting what matters. Shares with substantive posts are a lot more useful than likes as a rule. And substantive comment exchanges are also a sign of social media success for your content.
The bottom line here is to tie your business goals to quantifiable metrics for your site, your social media and your sales, and to tie both of these to your content. Your job then becomes to improve the network you’ve created so it works even more effectively. None of this can happen if you don’t understand content marketing.
People who don’t understand content marketing can’t create really smart, amazing content
Successful content marketing strategies offer the perfect content for the target audience at the right time. What makes content perfect changes constantly, and so does “the right time.” Your target audience is probably somewhat more constant, but again, all of these factors are fluid. The other thing you must do to succeed with your content is create a streamlined process for managing and publishing the content.
You can’t nail all of these things down without understanding content marketing.
Content marketing isn’t the same as other marketing
You wouldn’t blow off marketing in general, would you? Of course not. You know that you need to understand marketing. Well, content marketing is part of your overall marketing strategy, but it’s distinct. Content marketing isn’t like all other marketing, so you need to study and understand it in its own right.
Understanding content marketing saves you time and money
The best news about taking the time to really dig in and understand content marketing is that once you do you will save yourself a ton of time and money. A savvy content marketing plan can make use of marketing automation platforms to schedule your content effectively. It also helps you assess engagement and see how certain pieces are rising to the top; once you know this, you can more easily create the types of content that work best for your brand.
Superior content works to recruit superior team members
It’s not just your customers who rely on your content. People checking out your business rely on it too, and content can help you find the right kinds of new people who share your core values to add to your team as you use it to share your brand culture. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, hiring is the biggest challenge for more than half of smaller businesses (101-499 employees). Your best content can help you maintain a brand culture that is strong and avoid turnover.
Content marketing is good PR
What do skilled PR professionals and content marketers have in common? The ability to make sure the right information gets in front of the right people when they want it to. Let your content team or a great content marketing agency support your PR mission by providing high-quality news pieces, thought-leadership essays, and detailed infographics in front of media contacts and influencers. This in turn supports your content strategy.
If you have a good PR person on your team, they have a lot to offer your content strategy, and vice-versa.
Content marketing is here to stay
Let’s be honest: this is probably the most important reason you need to understand content marketing. It’s not going anywhere! Don’t waste any more time hoping it will. Don’t believe me?
CMI points out the facts: 77% of B2C marketers and 76% of B2B marketers are creating more content in 2016. B2C marketers are most likely to meet to discuss their content marketing weekly. And 85% of B2B marketers have made lead generation their top goal for their content marketing strategy in 2016.
Content marketing will be an industry worth $300 billion by 2019; don’t waste any more time glossing over it.
Content marketing is coming into its own. The most successful content marketers out there right now are seeing the role of content in creating improved user experience and know how to use metrics and data to make their content strategy better and better. It’s okay if you’re not a content marketing expert—but you do need to understand content marketing if you want to take your business to page one.