Content marketing is a relatively new concept for many businesses, but it's among marketing's biggest buzzwords. According to research cited on Forbes.com, 93% of B2B brands and 90% of B2C brands are currently using content marketing to educate consumers about their brands.
Instead of paying to advertise alongside a news article or during the commercial breaks of a TV show, content marketers create their own content, intended to hold the attention of an audience on its own merits.
A few of the most common types of content marketing include:
This is a major shift in thinking for some businesses, and many business owners are still trying to figure out the right way to do it. Here are a few reasons why it's so powerful, and how business owners can use content marketing to start thinking about customer relationships in new ways:
1. Content marketing turns advertising into a new asset for your business
In the old days of marketing, there were two ways to put your company’s marketing message in front of an audience: you could rent someone else’s audience in the form of advertising, or paid media, or you could send a press release or hire a PR firm to try to win the attention of a publisher's audience, which is called earned media. The problem? In both situations, your business is just borrowing someone else’s audience.
Content marketing changes the game. Instead of being limited to paid or earned media, brand-created content is owned media. When you publish content on your company’s website, over time you will develop your own audience, which is a valuable asset.
2. Content marketing is personal and customizable
Content marketing blurs the lines between marketing and customer service, and puts your company into a more intimate conversation with consumers. When your company publishes content, you can immediately get feedback in the form of comments, e-mails or social media engagement. Each of these interactions has the potential to lead to a sale, a deeper business relationship, wider brand awareness, or better credibility among your target audience. Content marketing puts a human face on your business.
Another advantage of content marketing is that it is easily adaptable and measurable. If a blog post gets a lot of web traffic, you can write a follow-up article to further explore the issues discussed. If a YouTube video doesn’t get as many views as you’d hoped, you can adjust your strategy and spend time on something else. You can do as much or as little content marketing as you want to and need to do.
3. Content marketing helps educate your customers
Customers are doing more online research than ever before about the companies and brands that they buy from – and people tend to trust content marketing more than advertising. According to research cited by the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles instead of from an advertisement.
This makes it important to have a solid content strategy that anticipates customers’ questions and introduces your business to consumers right when they're looking for your services.
4. Content marketing works
People don’t want to look at ads or sit through TV commercials anymore, and with DVRs and on-demand streaming, they don’t have to. Many traditional marketing channels are becoming less effective, such as print advertising, or even Google's pay-per-click ads.
Content marketing empowers your business to create interesting content and generate fruitful conversations with potential customers who are truly interested in what you're talking about, which is a great way to build customer relationships. According to research cited by the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of business decision makers say that content marketing makes them feel closer to the company that created/sponsored the content, and 60% feel that content marketing helps them make better decisions about which products to buy.
Content marketing is becoming the norm for businesses. According to a 2014 survey of B2B small businesses from the Content Marketing Institute, 45% of small business marketers described their content marketing efforts as “effective,” up from only 34% the previous year, and 48% have a documented content strategy .
As the old ways of marketing continue to get more expensive and unreliable, content marketing will likely grow in importance and impact. Businesses are taking the initiative to educate consumers directly by creating interesting, compelling content that helps build trust and deepen relationships with customers.
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