If you’ve spent any time doing digital marketing, you’ve heard about the importance of content.
Once upon a time, posting helpful content online and sending it in an email campaign was a great way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Instead of interrupting people with ads or boring them with sales pitches, content gave businesses the opportunity to add value and build trust with their potential customers.
But today, content marketing and digital marketing have become one. Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin even said that content marketing is “the only marketing left.” You’d think that every business, small or large, would be engaged in this promising strategy. But only about 53% of businesses are currently using content in their marketing strategies.
There are a few reasons businesses shy away from content marketing. One of the key reasons is the temptation to pour money into paid advertising to get quick wins. While paid advertising can be a useful component of your marketing strategy, you shouldn’t forgo content.
Here’s a look at why content marketing is such a worthwhile investment compared to paid advertising.
What is Content Marketing?
Every business has their own take on what constitutes “content.” There are a few areas that all business can agree upon since content marketing involves the creation and distribution of materials that don’t explicitly promote a brand or product.
Content is designed to be helpful and informative, not a sales pitch. In general, your content should help garner interest in your brand without selling it outright. By being helpful, informative, and entertaining, your content can become a valuable resource that your leads and customers can rely on.
Most importantly, all content should be free. The only exception is “gated” content, which your leads can access by submitting some type of contact information (such as an email address).
Content marketing wouldn’t be possible without the internet. Likewise, other digital marketing strategies, such as email marketing and social media marketing, wouldn’t be possible without content.
Some of the most widely-used types of marketing content include:
• Blog posts
• Long-form web pages
• Social media posts
• eBooks and whitepapers
• Case studies
Your business may use some or all these types of content. You can even come up with your own types of content if you think your audience will like them. For example, some companies even create and distribute free video games as a form of content marketing.
Nonetheless, different types of content are more effective at different stages of the buyer’s journey. Blog posts are helpful for people who are visiting your website for the first time and are just looking for information. Case studies and webinars are more appropriate for leads who are closer to a buying decision.
You must also know your audience. Before producing any content, content marketers create buyer personas, which are fictional representations of their ideal customers. They then craft all their content to speak directly to these buyer personas, which makes the content more effective.
Content requires an investment. It can take some time to start showing results. This is part of the reason many companies shy away from content and favor digital advertising instead.
But if your business operates online, you won’t be able to survive without content.
Why Spend Money on Content?
Most marketers struggle with three distinct problems:
• They need to justify their marketing budget.
• They need to know what to spend their marketing budget on.
• They need to measure the return on investment of their marketing spend.
Digital advertising is that it’s easy to measure and report on. With a simple calculation, you can determine how much of your ad spend resulted in new leads, new customers, and new revenue.
Content marketing is more difficult to measure. An evergreen blog post could bring in 100 leads, but it may only do so over the course of a year. Nonetheless, if you only spent $100 on the creation of that blog post, that means you only spent $1 for each lead generated.
The key to a measurable content marketing strategy is consistency and analytics. Content creation shouldn’t be an impromptu exercise. Instead, create a content calendar and stick to it.
Once you’re developing content consistently, you’ll have a better understanding of how effective it is at generating new business. If you can stick to your content strategy, you’ll get a consistent flow of leads coming in through your content initiatives.
The Pitfalls of Paid Advertising
The key advantage of digital advertising is the ability to harness the power of targeting algorithms. Google, Facebook, and other internet giants have honed these systems over the years to give their customers the best possible ROI on their ad spend.
But there are also several disadvantages to spending money on digital advertisements. For one, optimizing your ads is complicated. If you make a mistake, it could be costly.
Digital advertising can be a gamble, and sometimes that gamble just doesn’t pay off.
Competition is also fierce in the digital ad space. Thousands of companies may compete for a single keyword on Google AdWords. This drives up the price of your ads and makes it much more difficult to get conversions.
Still, there are a few ways you can use digital advertising to your advantage. You can maintain a stable and reasonable ad budget month after month to get quick wins, optimizing your ad strategy along the way.
You can also combine paid advertising and content marketing. 66% of B2B content marketers say they still use paid methods to distribute their content. This is a great way to get your content in front of the right people quickly. It’s especially useful for high-value pieces of content, such as white papers and reports.
But eschewing content in favor of digital ads is a mistake. A solid investment in content marketing will pay dividends for years to come.
In the long run, content will increase your online presence, establish you as a thought leader in your industry, and bring you a substantial ROI.