Amongst the buzzwords of entrepreneurship, content marketing is one that consistently rises to the top of the online business totem pole. And with a variety of pioneers spearheading the way for content marketers everywhere – from Dan Norris, to Pro Blogger, to the Content Marketing Institute – it’s near impossible to drown out the prophecy:
Content marketing is the machine you need to take your audience from connected to converted.
But in a world where businesses existed and thrived long before the word ‘blog’ entered the dictionary, why on earth is it that we need to be running our businesses like magazines? Do we all need to be publishing blogs? Isn’t the point of owning a business to provide that service or product we excel at, and focus on serving our customers’ and clients’ needs?
Au contraire, dear reader.
A great piece of content is a service, and your most valuable one at that.
Why do we need content marketing?
According to Neil Patel, co-founder of leading analytics apps KissMetrics and Crazy Egg:
All of this might sound like dry marketing drivel to the artisan, product maker or values-based business. But the core of what Patel says can be translated thus:
Creating content is a way to bridge that emotional and educational divide between your service and your customers’ needs. The goal is to give away your secrets, knowledge and industry expertise in a way that provides value to their lives, but should also meet a core business goal of yours too.
Only when you create content of value, with volume and variety, will people be able to buy what you’re saying.
Content marketing is the bridge between their computer and your bottom line
You want to connect with your audience, because they’re the ones who keep your business alive. You want them to want more of what you have on offer, but you’re not sure how to tell them about your value. You want to provide all of this information for them, but advertising isn’t an option. You don’t have time for in-person workshops, the resources to sponsor events, or the resources to manage door-to-door sales. Maybe you’re hugely introverted, and would prefer to create an automated sales system that doesn’t feel so…computery.
This is where high value content comes in to play in your marketing game.
A great piece of content can:
- Earn you new and long-term customers and clients (more value for everyone).
- Cement your space within your industry as a leader.
- Find its way into new markets (I unintentionally have become a go-to for adult products! Who knew?).
- Help you align your ideas with a purpose, helping you to ‘write through’ problems. Like this post I wrote years ago on insomnia.
- Cultivate connections between you and a large-scale group of potential customers and clients.
- Spark more advocacy between you and clients, customers and collaborators as they share your work online.
- Help you collaborate with others, like this guest post swap I did with Angela Ford.
- Help your audience on a deeper, emotional level, allowing them to feel understood and supported. Like this post I wrote on why I quit Instagram a few years ago (I'm back on it now!)
But let’s be realistic here: content marketing is not just a fuzzy feel-good. It’s true that you want your content to align with your audience’s values, wants and needs, sparking an ‘a-ha!’ moment and maybe even a really nice email. But your content is a resource-heavy output, and it needs to have a concrete ROI in order to be worth your time.
It’s interesting to see how many likes and comments you get on a piece of content, but the real value lies within the metrics.
Content marketing ROI statistics you should know in 2017
- Content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders (CMI, 2016)
- Content produces brand recall, which increases engagement (CMI, 2016)
- Per dollar spent, content marketing generates more than three times the number of leads than paid search does. (Kapost/Eloqua, 2012)
- 61% of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content. (Custom Content Council, 2011)
- 60% of people are inspired to seek a product after reading content about it. (Demand Metric, 2014)
- Website conversion rate is nearly six times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs. 0.5%). (Aberdeen Group, 2014)
Here’s the beautiful thing about content marketing: it’s not an all or nothing game. While making a start might be the hard part, along with paralysing comparisonitis, it’s also the most important part.
As a business owner, your goal is not to make the “best” content per se, but to create relevant content that resonates and builds authority and trust. Sure, your efforts at first may deliver small returns, if any at all. But the only failures are the business owners who don’t take that first step to enter the ring at all.