The most successful B2B marketers spent 40% of their total marketing budgets on content marketing in 2018. More and more businesses are realizing the value, and the ROI, of content. Unfortunately, not all companies are investing the time and energy they need to be successful in content marketing.
Many more aren’t doing content marketing at all.
According to one study, only 53% of businesses are engaged in content marketing. This may sound like a substantial portion of the business world, but that number should be closer to 100%.
These days, almost all marketing is content marketing. Companies who don’t have a content marketing strategy in place today aren’t just missing out. They’re falling behind. We want you succeed!
If your business has a presence online, such as with a website, you need to be invested in content. Read on to learn why.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing technique that involves the distribution of valuable content to attract an audience, convert them, and turn them into customers. Although content marketing has technically been around for centuries, it truly became prominent with the advent of the internet.
Once everyone got online, content was no longer bound to expensive mediums like print and television advertisements. Businesses could produce their own content digitally and give it to their customers for free.
This spawned a revolution in how businesses attract their customers. Instead of bombarding them with advertisements (outbound marketing) they could attract them with something of value for free (inbound marketing).
Content can take a variety of forms. But some of the most common types of content are:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Free online tools
Essentially, any consumable material that can be given to an audience for free can be construed as content. Product reviews, press releases, GIFs, comments on a wiki — all these things count when used for marketing purposes.
But if you really look at each type of content, they all fit into two distinct categories: short-form content and long-form content.
What’s the Difference Between Short and Long-form Content?
Short-form content can be consumed quickly and easily. It still ads value, but it doesn’t contain much information. Short content is necessary because of how interconnected our world is and how short people’s attention spans have become.
A social media post is a perfect example of a piece of short-form content. On Twitter, a tweet only contains 280 characters (originally only 140). It can be read in an instant and shared just as quickly.
Long-form content is any type of content that requires the audience’s undivided attention. A blog post is a good example. Even if the post is short, it is still a block of text and images that the audience will need to read fully to understand.
That said, the best bloggers know how to make blog posts easy to skim so any type of reader can enjoy them.
White papers, reports, case studies, and eBooks are also types of long-form content. But these formats are used most often in B2B marketing — 38% of B2B buyers consume at least 5 pieces of content before speaking to a salesperson.
How Does Content Fit into the Buying Cycle?
Different types of content fit into different parts of the buyer’s journey. When a visitor first discovers your website, you don’t want to bombard them with an offer for a high-stakes consultation. Most often, they’re there to answer a question, do some research, or just look around.
Let’s say you put up a social media post with a link to one your blog posts or videos.
These are great resources for generating engagement. They’re relatively short, but they’re long enough to hold an audience’s attention.
If you pique their interest, your audience may be willing to explore more of your website, subscribe to your newsletter, or fill out a form for a longer piece of content.
Once you have that contact information in your database, the visitor becomes a lead. You can then offer them more long-form content or nurture them with a drip campaign until they are ready to have a sales conversation.
Of course, if you’re a B2C business, your customers’ buying cycle may be shorter. They may be ready to buy once they find a product page on your website.
No matter your industry or your place in the market, this type of interaction has become the new standard in marketing. It can take different forms, but there’s no denying the truth: Content is now king.
What are the Benefits of Content Marketing?
Content works for marketing because there is a demand for it.
In fact, 70% of internet users prefer to learn about a product through content rather than through a traditional advertisement, and 75% of people who find helpful, localized information in search results are more likely to visit physical stores in their area:
From a KPI standpoint, content also delivers results.
If you want to be found online, you need to populate your website with content that is relevant to your buyers. You also need to use search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to rank in search results.
Otherwise, search engines have no way to understand your website and serve it up to searchers.
Content marketing is also much cheaper than traditional advertising. It has a much greater ROI than digital ads, as well.
Instead of paying for each click, your content can be used over and over. A piece of evergreen content that obtains a high volume of inbound links could be responsible for a large percentage of your sales year after year.
Some of the other benefits of content include:
- Higher domain authority
- More social followers
- More trust with your audience
- Higher conversion rates
- More qualified leads
- Improved brand awareness
- Better marketing ROI
- More alignment between marketing and sales
In a 21st-century marketing model, content is essential. It’s the starting point of all your marketing campaigns. Without it, your audience will only see empty promises.