I recently experienced a surprise encounter that saw me educating a 30-something-year-old IT enthusiast acquaintance about what I do for a living. After a couple of minutes into the discussion, it dawned on me the misconception that some people know the pros and cons of Content Marketing simply are not true.
I soon realize that from an outsider looking in, the Online Marketing industry could be considered as an obscure industry that needs explaining to those not familiar with how it works and what we do. So here it goes.
Keeping a mental log of my previous experience, it prompted me to compile a list of the usual queries encountered in between matches and answer these in a “FAQ-style” format:
What Is Content Marketing?
“Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute.
Unlike traditional advertising, content marketing provides content that people want in exchange for permission to market a product or service. It is all about the creation and promotion of good quality content to drive a specific action or activity (e.g. traffic, conversions, backlinks, social shares etc).
Everyone who writes a blog or produces content wants it to trend or have that desired effect to reach the right people. It should be of high quality so it would be enjoyed by the public; Content Marketers know this by heart and work with the same ethos in mind.
Here’s how it works:
With content marketing, instead of developing annoying ads that interrupt your customers, you create content such as:
- Blog posts/articles
- White papers & guides
- Youtube videos
This value can be provided in two ways: it can be an educational type of content or an as entertainment content. In either case, customers have free access to content that provides value.
What Does Content Marketing Do?
Content should be well-designed, researched, and created with a business’ marketing goals in mind. Here are some examples of objectives that you can address through a successful Content Marketing campaign:
Boost Traffic – a well-written copy or content targeted to the right audience can drive or boost traffic and increase relevant website visitors.
Increased Brand Awareness – of you reached out to the right people with the correct brand messaging through your content, for sure it will increase brand awareness and get heads turning.
Increased conversions – whatever your end goal, successful Content Marketing can help you drive activity and impact upon on-site conversions.
Acquire Backlinks – high-quality blogs or content has a higher chance of attracting links from reputable websites, who regard a business as an authority in your chosen niche or industry.
Social Shares – interesting content organically increases social engagement and encourages likes, shares, mentions, and comments.
To give an idea of how it works and what this looks like, here are some examples of online businesses that use content marketing as their marketing strategy:
Copyblogger is a good example of a brand that uses a successful content marketing strategy. They provide daily internet marketing tips for customers via their blog. Instead of grabbing customers’ attention via ads, they provide valuable blog content that is valuable to their audience, in exchange for attention and the opportunity to market their products.
One of the things that Copyblogger does very well is they occasionally offer direct pitches for their products. They also include ads for their products (above and below) every blog post.
They also started offering a Thursday podcast series recently as their way to provide value to customers. Copyblogger has used this method to become a multi-million dollar per year company that spends 0% of their budget on advertising. Cool eh? All of their marketing efforts comes from content.
River Pools and Spas
River Pools and Spas is a zero to hero company that went from having no internet presence to becoming one of the top online resources in the industry. As if this writing, they rank in the top 5% of inground pool companies in the US, and they owe a lot of their success to the blog that they created.
Through their blog along, they created one of the most informative resources in the swimming pool industry. The result? Well, an incredible traffic and impressive sales! To give you an idea about their success, eight of their top articles have received a total of 210K+ page views and 2K+ inbound links and generated at least $2M in sales. Pretty awesome eh?
Toyota, on the other hand, uses Youtube video content to gain customers’ attention. Instead of investing on ads, they created a rap video for their Sienna minivan, calling it the “Swagger Wagon.” It’s just 2:36 seconds long but it’s an entertaining video for customers to watch.
And since it’s so entertaining, the video went viral and gained 10M+ views on Youtube at the time this article was written. Instead of paying for a TV ad that nobody wants to watch, they created a unique user experience with an interesting video that offered entertainment value that customers wanted to talk about.
Ok, so now that you have some examples of content marketing in action, let’s talk about the benefits of content marketing over traditional types of ads?
Advantages of Content Marketing over Traditional Ads
- Content marketing provides value to customers, whereas traditional ads do not.
With an advertisement, customers often try to close it or get away from it as fast as they can. With content, it’s somewhat tailored to what customers want or need, that’s why customers end up spending hours reading or watching your content while developing a relationship with your brand and remaining engaged with your products. People may read your blog posts for months before buying your product, but they hang around and voluntarily consume your content until that time comes.
- Content marketing educates your customers and convinces them to purchase your product.
Many times, customers don’t buy a product because they don’t realize how valuable it is. They may not buy from a company because they don’t need the product, but because they don’t understand how it to use it or how it works. Media-type content such as blog posts and Youtube videos educate and may convince your customers to the point that they’re ready to buy your product.
- Content marketing can create a sense of reciprocity with customers.
As you give potential customers or site visitors more and more free content, it can arrive at a point where they want to reciprocate the benefit that they’ve received or receiving. If you help them become a better marketer or make more money, they might end up buy something from you to pay you back for all of the free content that you’ve provided.
- Content marketing attracts more customers for free.
Instead of paying $2 per click, or whatever it costs for your business, you can attract more customers (500+) for the cost of writing just one blog post. If you write the content well and strategically, it will last you for the life of your business, and you’ll get a lifetime ROI. Thousands of people can read that one post that took you only two to five hours to write. Whereas if you invest on Google ads, you have to pay $$$, and it can cost more just to bring people to your site one time. Content is written once and can direct traffic to your site forever. In the end, content becomes an asset but advertising will always be an expense.
- Content marketing promotes sharing
People share content on social media. If you look at any Facebook stream, somewhere 85% of outside content that is shared are links to a content, not a link to a website. Even if a person like you enough to click on a share link on your website, they can only share it once because, after the homepage is shared, there’s no reason for you to share it again.
With content, that same customer can share your content 8-10 weeks in a row. That’s more opportunities to reach their network multiplied by the size of their audience. Let’s say 8 people in their audience like the content and share it, your content gets multiplied again by 8. The most important thing here is that more people share your content and not websites making a piece of content, and it is more likely to go viral than a link to your site.
- Content marketing provides SEO benefits
For every article that you publish, you have new content that can be indexed by Google. Without blog posts, your website may have 8 pages that can be indexed. After writing one post a week for a year, your website will have 50 more pages.
Even if the posts aren’t written well, which at least some of them should be, you’ll have a total of 60 pages that can rank in Google for some term or another. That’s much better than 8 and much more likely to gain more traffic.
- Content marketing increases traffic.
Let’s use podcasts as an example. Here, you’ll reach an audience that you may not have ever reached with your blogs or Youtube videos – you’ll reach people who listen to podcasts. Each of these listeners that finds your podcasts will also find a link back to your website. By uploading a podcast content onto iTunes, you’re also creating another potential traffic source that doesn’t have to be paid for and another opportunity to get your message across the board. By using Youtube, podcasts, and blog posts, you’re creating more options for traffic sources for your website.
- Content marketing is highly targeted.
Your goal in any marketing campaign is to get your message in front of the largest, most targeted audience as possible. The more people know about you means that a greater percentage of the audience can potentially become your buyers or customers.
With content marketing, you develop content that’s specifically catered to your customers. This is the type of content that’s likely to bring them back to your website. You may provide an internet marketing advice for free to your audience to draw a targeted audience of internet marketing professionals who potentially will be interested in your products. Take note, every reader will not become a buyer, but since your audience is highly targeted, some will eventually become your buyers.
So what do you guys think? Are you ready to give content marketing a try?
Now that you’ve learned about the pros and cons of traditional advertising and the benefits of content marketing, it’s time for you to create some high-quality content. Create a plan, use this article as your guidelines, and you’ll be well on you’re to more traffic, more sales, and more conversions.