One of the most common questions we get asked here at Declaration is: “What is Content Marketing?”
Essentially, it is a form of marketing that is focussed on creating, publishing and distributing content for/to a targeted audience’; predominately online. Sharing valuable (and free) content such as articles, blogs, case studies, videos and infographics will attract (brand awareness) and engage an audience, and thus generate leads. Content also plays a crucial role in converting leads into sales and builds long-term customer loyalty. For more on these points, check out our Step-by-Step Guide to Content Marketing.
There are many definitions for content marketing, one of which is:
“Content marketing is the process of creating valuable, relevant content to attract, acquire, and engage your audience” Source: Marketo
In our experience – working in advanced engineering sectors and with our B2B marketing focus – we believe that a content marketing strategy, when executed correctly, is a means of building trust and demonstrating thought leadership (through the provision of advice and guidance). It is also about making available all the information a potential buyer needs to make a confident decision. Moreover, that decision might be to not buy, as it is the content’s job to bring to your sales team people that have pretty much made up their minds that they want to buy from you.
Helpful content builds trust and authority in the mind of your buyer
The need for content marketing has been driven by the market and how the modern buyer researches and buys products, services and solutions. Audiences are increasingly tuning out advertising and placing far greater trust in content and, by extension, those providing it. Those who provide the most valuable advice and guidance to help their existing customers and prospects – and without making any ‘hard sell’ when doing so – will build trust and be front-of-mind when products or services are needed.
Because of its predominantly online nature, content marketing is an essential aspect of any company’s digital marketing strategy. Also, it has different roles to play at each of the levels in your sales funnel.
Content marketing should be seen as an investment that attracts, qualifies and converts leads. Fortunately, the investment need not cost that much as all the expertise (your company’s industry know-how, for example) already resides within your organisation; otherwise you would not be in business. The expertise within your company needs converting into content, and whilst the conversion is not without its challenges, it is worth the effort.
Your business cannot grow without content. Your customers are expecting it. They have become used to finding helpful content online and free of charge. Also, Google’s algorithms now rank pages on their relevancy and usefulness.
“Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.” Source: DemandMetric
Content marketing can take time to show real results but this long-term approach to improving your brand’s visibility online helps to nurture strong relationships. The quality of your content will be sending a clear message to your buyers that you are attuned to their needs and ready to help solve their problems.
There are numerous ways that content marketers can drive traffic, such as direct traffic, referral traffic and by targeting organic search queries. Organic traffic is particularly valuable and cost effective.
Aligning your content to support your buyer’s journey through the sales funnel
The secret to effective lead generation and customer acquisition in a modern business is to focus on aligning how you market and sell with how the buyer makes a buying decision and moves along their buying journey. At each stage they will be asking different questions.
There are 3 stages to your content marketing sales funnel:
- Attraction – Top of the Funnel
Raising awareness and alignment by talking with authority on subjects of importance, offering advice and guidance happens here. Visitors to your website will be looking for information and want to acquire knowledge. Your content offering demonstrates your expertise and industry relevance. You are a thought-leader. By reading your blog posts, articles and watching your videos buyers will learn and want to explore more.
Prospects are problem aware, so make them generic solution aware; i.e. ‘no hard sell’
- Engagement – Middle of the Funnel
Your content introduces your solutions. Prospects evaluate and engage with your content by downloading information, taking part in surveys or attending your webinars.
Turn generic solution aware prospects into specific solution aware prospects and into leads.
- Conversion – Bottom of the Funnel
Your content enables the buyer to take action, such as requesting a free demo. Your content also builds the buyer’s confidence; that they are making the right decision.
New leads can now make informed purchase decisions.
We hope this has helped you understand what content marketing is and how to develop an effective content marketing strategy for your business. As we mentioned at the start, check out our Step-by-Step Guide to Content Marketing.