Content Marketing & Why You Should Be Doing It
Consumers no longer buy our products and services; they buy into our approach to solving problems -Jeff Ernst (Forrester Research)
Though I’ve been a Marketer for over 11 years, I’ve also been in Direct Sales for eight years, both for B2B and B2C companies.
This has allowed me to have a more extensive bird’s eye view of what an end-to-end integrated marketing and sales process looks like, and I can say the quote above holds so much truth.
This is why your approach to selling in this digital age can’t be the same old push marketing or selling by highlighting all the benefits your product/service has.
To be quite frank with you, no one cares.
What people care about is what your product/service will do for them.
It’s also the reason why I love Content Marketing so much. It allows you to sell without being ‘salesy’. Getting the message across “What’s in it for me?” in a way that your customers will listen and respond to.
Let me tell you a story that perfectly illustrates this point.
I have a friend that sells life insurance. It’s one of those friendships that started out as a business partnership and later grew into a business relationship and then a friendship.
One day while scrolling through Facebook I come across a video that his company did where he was the highlight of that video. In it he described his ordeal of the year before having a heart attack and almost dying.
I had known about it when it happened, and to this day it’s still pretty frightening to think about. It would have left his wife and kids without a husband and father.
The way the video was done was pure genius.
They didn’t try to sell insurance to me, or tell me why insurance is such a benefit and that I should get it. Instead they were simply telling a story of a young man in his thirties that had a near death experience.
It shook me up a bit to be honest and my first thought was “Damn! Maybe I really should get life insurance!” Now take into account that I’m someone who doesn’t believe in life insurance at all.
But that’s a story for another time.
Also, take into account that he had tried selling me life insurance prior to his incident, but when he did my defenses automatically went up and I became disengaged. As we all know, none of us like to be sold to.
However, this video was effective in me changing my views on purchasing life insurance because it was relatable, as I am in the same age range, with a young daughter of my own (he has three).
Suddenly, I had the thought “This could have happened to me”.
I went from completely against it to having a desire to pay for it all with one video!
Haven’t you had an experience like that before?
In one instance someone tried to sell you and you automatically got turned off.
Yet in another you read/watched/listened to a piece of content that suddenly created a desire for you to want to know more about the company. Not because of the product itself, but because of the content from that specific brand.
This my friend is the power of Content Marketing
Why Content Marketing (Backed by Data)
Businesses that are slow and not prepared to adopt Content Marketing as a part of their marketing and business strategy will soon find themselves operating at a competitive disadvantage.
1. More leads with Content Marketing than Traditional Marketing
Kapost research has revealed that inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads into your marketing funnel than traditional marketing.
Inbound Marketing is simply a form of marketing where your leads come to you because of the brand you have developed through your content, instead of you having to go out to find these leads (Outbound Marketing).
This is why Kraft says it estimates that it generates the equivalent of 1.1 billion ad impressions a year from its Content Marketing (a ROI four times better than through its targeted advertising).
If you can spend the same or less on your marketing efforts and generate more awareness and leads, which equates to more sales and more revenue, wouldn’t it make sense to be doing Content Marketing?
2. Less expensive leads with Content Marketing than Traditional Marketing
According to Hubspot, inbound leads are 61% less expensive than the leads you get from traditional outbound marketing.
Along with generating more leads than Traditional Marketing, it also costs 62% less to generate those leads than traditional marketing.
This means a greater ROI per dollar for your marketing spend. Therefore, if it typically costs $5,000 to generate one lead, with Content Marketing it will only costs a fraction of that cost.
For business owners that means more leads at a lesser cost. For Marketers that means better argument to prove the ROI of your marketing budget to executives.
3. Better brand perception from consumers with Content Marketing
Based on my story above, and I’m sure even your own experience, we know this to be true.
Due to the fact consumers are so use to having a brand’s message being pushed to them to try and get them to buy, by using Content Marketing it:
Helps your brand to differentiate itself from your competitors
It gets their attention and helps to create a desire to know more about your brand
4. Better conversion from website traffic with Content Marketing
Aberdeen Group has concluded that website conversion rate is nearly six times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs. 0.5%).
It’s one thing to drive a lot of traffic to your website, but how many of that traffic converts to actual sales?
This is a question you need to ask yourself (or your Marketing team).
By implementing Content Marketing as a part of your sales conversion strategy, it increases the chances of you converting more website traffic to paying customers.
5. Content Marketing generates more leads per dollar
Based on per dollar spend Content Marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing.
So let’s say you spend 5 Million Dollars on traditional marketing each year, and it generates 500 leads for that year, what this is saying is that if you spent that same 5 Million Dollars on Content Marketing, it will generate 1,500 leads for that same spend.
Think about that for a second.
6. Less money spent on leads over time using Content Marketing
Kapost conducted a study over a period to explore the benefits of Content Marketing and measuring its ROI.
What they found was that within the first 5 months of executing Content Marketing strategy the CPL (cost per lead) dropped 80%.
What that means for Marketers and business owners is that with Content Marketing over time it will cost you less to generate the same amount of leads. This translates to a lower customer acquisition cost.
7. TV ads are no longer as effective
I know many brands and marketing agencies, especially in the Caribbean, still sing praises on the effectiveness of TV ads. However, if we really were to be honest, we would admit that they are no longer as effective as they used to be.
According to Demand Metric 86% of people skip TV ads. This means that of your total ad budget on television ads 86% of it will be wasted trying to reach people who don’t even care to see.
By the way it doesn’t mean the other 14% care to see it either. It just means they won’t skip the ad.
Consequently, that’s why 79% of marketing executives say it’s a challenge to get (and keep) the attention of target customers according to a DNN Industry Research Report.
By creating content that educates, entertains, and in some cases engages your target audience, it will make them want to pay attention to what you have to say. That way you can hold their attention long enough to help them take the next step in your sales process.
8. Content Marketing creates a greater desire for your product/service
Following up from the last point Demand Metric also found that 60% of consumers are inspired to seek out a product after reading content about the brand.
This goes back to the story I started out with, where because of the content it created a desire in me to want to buy life insurance.
However, this isn’t just with me as you can see from the data.
What if every time you created content that educate, entertains, and engages rather than an ad, 60% of the people who sees it become leads in your sales funnel?
9. The way consumers choose to know about your brand has changed
70% of customers would rather learn about a company through articles rather than an ad and 70% of consumers feel closer to a company as a result of Content Marketing.
This isn’t surprising as ads are so many, and come from so many channels (both online and offline) that consumers no longer pay attention to them. They would rather go on Facebook and Instagram.
It’s for this reason why Coca-Cola spends more money creating its own content than it does on television advertising, according to the Columbia Journalism Review.
Educate. Entertain. Engage. I can’t stress it enough.
10. Competing on price or product quality will become irrelevant
Over the last century brands could compete based on who had the lower price or who had the better quality. Unfortunately for those brands a new era is dawning, the era of ‘the experience’.
According to Gartner by 2020, that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Want your brand to stand out from the competition? Then you will need to create experiences that your target audience enjoys being a part of.
A major factor that contributes to making that happen is Content Marketing.
11. Your customers wants to know about you through content not ads
Roper Public Affairs has stated that 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.
This I can say without any shadow of doubt is true.
I worked for a B2B company where I headed the Marketing and Sales. Before I came in traditional media and PR was the main marketing methods used to gain brand awareness.
Once I came in, through executing a Content Marketing strategy, the company saw an increase in lead generation 5 times, and of signed a multimillion dollar account as a result of articles posted on the company’s blog.
To further prove this point, FactBrowser has stated that B2B Marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not.
This isn’t just for B2B companies however. It also goes for B2C brands as it has been said that 88% generate more leads per month than those B2C brands who do not.
12. Consumers rely on content to inform them about a brand, not ads
Times are changing, and your business has to know how to change with it. Gone are the days when potential customers picked up a phone to call your business to find out about your products or services.
Today if they want they simply pick up their smartphones and google what they need to know.
That is why 75% of B2B buyers rely on content to research before buying than they did in 2013.
By creating useful and helpful content that educates your potential buyers on how to solve their needs and pain points (even before they buy), rather than selling to them right off the bat, it helps to develop greater trust with your brand.
It also positions your brand and the go-to source for information and solutions that help your buyer solve their challenges.
13. You engage at the beginning of the sales process rather than the end
According to Pardot (a subsidiary of Salesforce) 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to sales.
What this means is before your sales team even gets in front of a potential customer, they are already at 70% in making a decision.
Unfortunately, your sales team may be coming in at the tail-end of closing the sale. By that time your potential customer is already close to making a decision in who they want to buy from (and it may be your competitors, not you).
Content Marketing allows your brand to be a part of the buying decision of potential customers at the beginning, when they are doing research.
The key in using content effectively to ensure you are one, if not the top, brand they choose to buy from is by creating content that firstly brings awareness to their pain point, then provide solution to that pain point through content.
By doing so it ensures your brand subtly, effectively, stays top-of-mind always until that person is ready to purchase.
14. Content Marketing costs less than paid search
Though I’m not against paid search it’s not something I particularly rely on or use.
If you are someone who has used them a lot in the past then you know that they may not be as effective as they use to be. Personally, when I do a Google search I typically skip over the paid results and head straight to the organic search results.
I do this because I know the paid searches more often than not don’t give the information I am looking for.
In most cases paid searches work best for customers who are at the tail-end of making a buying decision rather than the 70% who are just looking for more information.
This is where Content Marketing comes in.
It costs between 31 and 41% less than paid search, depending on the organization’s size.
By using Content marketing at the beginning and middle of your sales funnel, it ensures that you maximize each dollar spend. This way you only spend money on paid search for qualified leads who are ready to by now, rather than using it to convince potential customers to buy now.
15. Content Marketing generates more and better quality leads
According to data from Curata 41% indicate that curated content has increased the number and/or quality of their sales-ready leads.
Curated content means when someone gathers info about a particular topic from several sources, and organizes it in one place. For instance, this section on all the data I’ve researched and gathered on the benefits of Content Marketing would be considered curated content.
It’s simple, content that is educational and helpful attracts the right buyer that are looking for the solutions to their pain point.
It’s like having the right bait with the right hook at the right time that gets them to bite.
Better quality leads means less money spent on customer acquisition costs, and leads close in less time.
16. Better visibility, authority, and engagement with Content Marketing
Curata has also mentioned over 50% of marketers that curate content indicate that it has increased their brand visibility, thought leadership, SEO, web traffic, and buyer engagement. (Curata, 2014).
The beauty of it is that it costs very little compared to other marketing methods to accomplish the same.
Need I say more?
If you were on the fence on why you should be doing Content Marketing, the data presented should be more than enough to convince you why you should be doing it.
Next we quickly sum up some of the benefits that Content Marketing has.
The Benefits Content Marketing
1. Content Marketing gets your potential customers’ attention
Challenge: The digital space today is noisy and nowadays everyone has a message they want heard, which means you no longer compete with your competitors, but with friends, family, and associates of your target group.
Solution: By creating relevant and engaging content you are able to cut through the noise of the internet and raise awareness for your brand
2. Content Marketing lowers overall marketing costs to reach audiences
Challenge: Traditional media has gotten more expensive to reach your target audience, thus more money is needed for a wider reach
Solution: With a strategic Content Marketing plan you are about to do a lot more with a lot less resources and personnel
3. Content Marketing mitigates against the threat of bigger brands
Challenge: There are bigger brands out there that have more money, talent, resources, and decades of credibility in business that you do
Solution: Content Marketing provides a level playing field, where you can start from scratch today, and still create greater brand loyalty, recognition and equity that even your biggest competitors. It also protects or at the very least cushions your company from any market changes or external threats to your business
4. Lowers customer acquisition costs
Challenge: It takes more financial resources and personnel to convert leads to paying customers if you’re only using Traditional marketing, or just a sales team.
Solution: Content Marketing allows you to create content that does 80% of the work for your sales team, by covering every step of the sales process and answering any questions or objections your potential customers may have even before your salesperson picks up the phone.
5. It puts your sales and marketing on autopilot
Challenge: Today most sales has to happen by a salesperson going out and prospecting for new business. However, they have limited time during the day to make phone calls and do follow ups with potential customers
Solution: Creating content that addresses every stage of your sales process ensures that you can educate potential customers and ‘sell’ them on your product/service anywhere in the world, any time of the day
6. Higher quality leads
Challenge: The way marketing has been done over the decades (whether online or offline) is by push a mass message to a wide audience with the hopes that people will buy. This means marketing dollars wasted and low quality leads
Solution: Content Marketing allows you to create relevant and specific content for a specific audience. It acts as a filter to sift your leads from those who are serious and ready to buy from those who are merely curious. This ensures that your sales team only speaks to quality leads who are ready to buy now.
7. Increases online sales
Challenge: Having a website doesn’t mean automatically more sales. The problem lies with driving traffic to your website that can move a potential customer from simply knowing about your brand to purchasing your product/service.
Solution: Again relevant content drives relevant traffic to your website. Therefore, Content Marketing allows you to drive more visitors to your product/service pages, thus increasing the percentage of visitors who convert to online customers
8. Sales conversions takes less time
Challenge: From the first point of contact with a gatekeeper or influencer in the company to actually closing the deal can take months (some deals even years).
Solution: Content Marketing reduces the time to close a deal by helping to establish brand credibility and trust even before the first sales meeting. Therefore, potential customers say 'Yes' faster.
I personally have been in several sales meetings where we had never reached out to the client prior to that meeting, they didn’t even know our individual names, but they knew the name of the company from the content we had put out on the company’s blog and Social Media.
In their eyes we had established ourselves as an expert even before we came through the door.
9. Better data to create more targeted and effective campaigns
Challenge: Creating effective campaigns that are able to target the right audience who has the highest likelihood of becoming customers
Solution: Creating relevant content and putting out there allows you to gather feedback on what your potential customers want, need, and questions they may have. This comes in the form of their engagement in response to your content.
By gathering this data, you will be able to identify patterns in your target audience, and know how to position your product/service, brand, and message for campaigns in a way that appeals to them, and creates a desire to buy.
10. Build trust with customers (increased credibility)
Challenge: Over the years it has been more difficult for brands, and more specifically salespersons, to establish credibility and trust with their customers. People have becoming more skeptical of the intentions of brands.
Solution: By providing content consistently that is helpful to your customers and helps them solve their pain points, over time it will help you develop trust with them because now they see you have their best interest at heart rather than simply trying to sell to them
11. Better Social Media strategy that drives greater ROI
Challenge: One main challenge I see with every marketer is creating and showing the ROI for Social Media. One of the issues is that for the most part there isn’t a clearly defined strategy, and how Social Media will drive business results
Solution: Content Marketing creates the foundation for your Social Media strategy. It acts as the bridge between Social Media and how it will achieve business results for the company by linking the Content Goal with the Business Goal.
12. Increased SEO ranking on Google
Challenge: Ranking higher on Google without the need to spend a lot of money on paid search in order to rank
Solution: Consistently creating content that provides value to your target audience drives greater engagement. In doing so, the more people you can get to engage with your content, the more Google will reward your ranking by pushing it higher up.
The average company that blogs generates 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links, and 434% more indexed pages
13. Better identifies where your leads are coming from
Challenge: For most Marketers its difficult to identify where most inbound leads come from, especially if there is no system in place to track it.
Solution: Creating and publishing content for different purposes, whether to educate or to sell that drives traffic back to your website allows you to know where your leads are coming form through analytics tools such as Google Analytics.
This allows you to invest more marketing spend strategically in the channels that will give the greater ROI.
14. Better identify who your actual customers are
Challenge: Most Marketers think they know who their customers actual are, but truth is it's based mostly on assumptions and gut feeling.
Solution: Publishing content and then using data gather, whether through Google Analytics or online engagement, allows you to mine this data to identify who your actual customers are rather than guessing.
Recently, I ran a campaign for a client. At the start of the campaign we all assumed that most of the buyers would be man. However, through distribution of content we began realizing that women were actually the most interested, the most engaged, and drove 65% of online sales.
Content Marketing allows you to identify through data who will actually buy your products and services, so that you can allocate your marketing spend targeting who it makes the sense.
In the next section we get into how to create your own Content Marketing plan and strategy that works for you, whether you're a Startup, Small, Medium, or Large company.