Ever wonder where the ubiquitous phrase “Content is king” came from? It was coined more than 20 years ago in an essay Bill Gates published on Microsoft’s website.
“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”
He wasn’t wrong. Every day, the internet becomes home to more than four million blog posts and 432,000 hours of YouTube video. Content marketing is set to grow into a $412 billion dollar industry by 2021.
Creating content and content marketing aren’t one in the same. Companies that dabble in content creation — releasing a video here, a social media graphic there — are simply adding to the noise.
Companies that invest in creating high-quality content on a consistent basis are making content marketing work for them. Consider what a strategic content marketing approach can do for your brand.
What is content marketing?
To get to the heart of what content marketing is, let’s first talk about what it isn’t.
Content marketing isn’t about your brand, products or services. It’s not about what you’re selling. Companies who talk about themselves inevitably end up with disappointing results.
Content marketing is about what your audience wants and needs. It’s about delivering valuable, educational, relevant content to your potential and current customers.
“Content” can take many forms — here are just a few examples:
Explainer videos, webinars, podcasts, livestreams
Online articles, blogs, ebooks, white papers, guides, magazines, case studies
Infographics, photos, charts, GIFs, maps, pinboards
Mobile apps, games, quizzes
Why is content marketing effective?
Companies who seek to understand their customers, answer their questions and fulfill their needs reap the greatest benefits from a content-driven approach. Here’s what it can do for you:
Create brand awareness
When it comes to building brand awareness, content marketing really is king. Updating your website with high-quality, original, relevant and useful content on a consistent basis has been shown to improve web traffic, rankings and link sharing — all important for SEO. This makes it easier for potential customers to find you through a Google search.
Consider your objectives when creating content to increase brand awareness. If your goal is to build credibility as an industry expert, an educational podcast or newsletter may work well. A storytelling approach with a customer testimonial can drive positive brand perception and loyalty.
Content marketing and lead nurturing go hand in hand. By delivering the right amount of content to your audience at the right time, you can inspire the transition from interested prospect to converted customer.
Often, when people follow a brand on social media, read a blog or sign up for a newsletter, they’re already interested in what that brand has to offer. A consistent stream of diverse content creates multiple touch points for engagement that can tip a potential buyer to the next phase of her journey.
At the top of the sales funnel, prospective buyers may not be looking at specific products, but they are looking to discover and learn. Be the one to teach them with guides, ebooks, intro courses and other helpful content.
An educated audience becomes more engaged about whatever it is you’re selling. When the time is right, they’ll look to you to provide the tools or services they need to fulfill their buyer journey.
There’s a time and a place for product pitches, but they don’t belong in content marketing.
Remember, the goal of content marketing is to respond to your audience’s wants and needs. Give them valuable information with no strings attached, and they’ll come to see your content as a resource and you as a trusted authority.
Companies might be hesitant to invest in creating content that doesn’t have a sales message. But according to Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 benchmark survey, 96 percent of the most successful content marketers agree that their organizations have built trust and credibility with their audiences. That, in turn, builds relationships, loyalty and engagement, which are all integral to increasing your bottom line.
Does your brand have a content marketing strategy? What types of content have been most valuable or engaging for your audience?