This post is first in a two-part series on the impact great content can have on your marketing success. Look for the second post next week.
The most common response we see to content marketing is, “No.” There’s a real sticker shock for most of us when we realize that great content can be just as expensive as media. It’s easy to think that you don’t need content or a content strategy because “Content is free. My salespeople/assistant/intern can write what we need.” Compared to a high-cost tradeshow presence or the sales team you hired to place your product, it can seem not as valuable to fight for organic search results or develop compelling white papers or write high traffic blog posts. After all, it doesn’t cost to press “publish” on that linkedin post, right?
Undervaluing content ignores the way buyers work. But the instinct to do so isn’t entirely your fault–our biology is wired to perceive value where we’ve spent value. And if you’re measuring your marketing strategy based on dollars invested in media (like old school advertising), then you’ll be tempted to see that as the best way to proceed.
But the cost of a campaign does not tell you its value. For that, you need ROI. And the ROI on content is impressive. 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (Demand Gen Report, 2016). This means that almost half of the potential clients you’ve identified in your funnel already had some idea of who you were and whether they liked you or not before they ever spoke to that expensive sales team you hired.
Content is really the way to go. Without strong content, you won’t have an effective marketing strategy.
Even if you’re already a content fan, here’s a staggering number for you: Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% last year. (Content Marketing Institute, 2015). This means that 70% of content marketers are pretty sure that most of what their doing is ineffective. And with 28% of marketing budgets these days going to content marketing, we’re talking about huge dollar amounts getting lost in blind attempts to create the right content.
Blindly aiming doesn’t make a great marketing strategy.
Today, we want to share just three of the many game-changing benefits of having great, strategic content:
Build a Relationship
Developing trust is a long and slow road. And when someone purchases from you or agrees to a contract, they are making an act of trust. Trust is something you can’t earn in the sales process alone. It must be built.
Again, 47% of B2B prospects interact with 3-5 pieces of content. Some need more. Others less. There’s a solid chance that your content is playing a bigger role in your B2B sales that you would expect. If you aren’t up-to-date with your content marketing, you could be losing at least 47% of potential sales who never even make it to a sales representative.
You build trust via content two ways:
- Share what you know
- Share who you are
Adding to someone’s knowledge means you make them smarter about their work. You’ve added value in a way that was easy and a low investment for them. And when you share who you are, you are giving a clear offer right then and there. People know what you’re about: what problem you solve and what values you offer. Your potential clients will know if you’re a good fit before they even walk in the front door.
Have trouble explaining your work in less than 10 seconds? We can help with that too.
We can talk about Search Engine Optimization til we’re blue in the face. It appeals to the number cruncher in each of us, the one who likes to tinker and set us up for success. It appeals to the control freak hiding in every good CEO and Marketing Director, particularly because in the past, SEO really was primarily about adjusting code, metatags and other backend website elements until you emerged victorious on Page 1 in search engine results.
The inconvenient truth is that in today’s world, control can’t give you great SEO—great content gives you great SEO.
As Jason Zook over at JasonDoesStuff said, “ Let’s get the elephant out of the room before we move one step further when it comes to SEO. Your SEO focus shouldn’t be about gaming some keyword or trying to grow traffic based on a hot topic. Your SEO focus should be on writing content that is useful or entertaining.” (Really, we love this guy so go read his SEO article)
You cannot play the keyword game in this day and age. You have to create compelling content. Find what is interesting to your audience and share it with them! You will be repaid for the hard work of creating meaningful content with engaged visitors who spend time on your site. Google will love this and share you first—because they know they’re directing users to something genuinely interesting.
Also check out our review of a great SEO introduction by Moz.
Intentional Messaging and Context
When you create content, you control when and how someone engages. You aren’t trusting a medium in which you have no influence of when someone sees that ad and no way to compel someone to respond.
With content marketing, you’ll be able to create messaging tailored to your audience. You’ll show just how well you know your people and the problem you’re out there solving every day. And no one can fake great content.
Talk to your customers in a way they want to hear you. Use a tone of voice that is recognizable, relatable and professional. Take note of regional differences—in the South, people wave at strangers all the time. In Pennsylvania, it causes heightened anxiety. Businesses and industry have unspoken rules as well. Follow the rules, but add your own touch—this means people will remember you.
This is Just the Beginning
Developing the right content marketing strategy is no simple process. It takes time and effort but the payoffs are unmistakable. The impact of content marketing reaches farther and wider than a one-time magazine ad. The ROI for content is real and significant. The return includes not merely more clients but the right clients.
Next week, we’ll continue this conversation with some thoughts on tried and true tools you’ll need to launch that great content development plan. We know you’re thinking about it already!
Want to learn more before then? Drop us a note. We’ve got marketing strategy gurus and content developers in addition to our killer design skills.