Content is a fundamental aspect of every business in the digital world we live in. Content serves as the touch point that brings companies, customers, partners, employees and investors together in a community around a brand.
Content marketing, on the other hand is about attracting the right audiences to your business. And just as marketing’s goal is to acquire new customers, content marketing’s goal is to acquire new customers using today’s digital currency. That’s why companies that use content marketing are 13x more likely to show ROI than companies who don’t.
Content marketing is important because it allows your business to reach, engage, and convert new buyers more efficiently than any other marketing tactic. Still not clear? Let’s dive in to some of the reasons and proof points for why content marketing is so important for businesses today.
- Content marketing is more effective than traditional marketing tactics at acquiring new customers. Not only is content marketing cost-effective, but it also offers long-term value that traditional marketing can’t touch. We’re talking about evergreen content that keeps giving back.
- Earn trust and authority in a jaded world: In today’s world, consumers are savvy. And nobody wants to be sold to. Content marketing isn’t just about pushing a product. It’s about building a relationship and establishing yourself as a go-to resource in your field.
- The Future of Marketing is (still) content: Whether it’s AI, voice search, or personalized content, the future of marketing still centers on brands sharing content, experiences and expertise that builds trust
🤫 PS – I put together these 10 tips for optimizing your content marketing. Watch Now!
The Evolution of Marketing
Traditional Marketing: The Old Guard
Remember the days when marketing was all about billboards, TV spots, and full-page magazine ads? Ah, the good ol’ days—or were they? Traditional marketing had its perks, but let’s be honest: it was a one-way street. Brands spoke, and consumers listened—or didn’t. There was no real dialogue, and measuring ROI was more like reading tea leaves than data analytics.
In my first month of running Digital Marketing for a large software company, I asked to see all the digital marketing programs we were running. More than hald weren’t digital at all. More than half had zero measurable results. More than half showed nothing of value, let alone ROI.
But the few that were delivering value were what we now call content marketing programs!
The Rise of Content Marketing: A Paradigm Shift
Enter content marketing, the game-changer we didn’t know we needed but now can’t live without. Why? Because it flipped the script. Instead of shouting into a void and hoping someone hears you, content marketing is about creating valuable, relevant content that solves real problems.
It’s not about you; it’s about them—your audience. And guess what? When you focus on providing value, the sales follow. It’s like magic, but with data to back it up.
What are some of the main components of effective content marketing? In my strategy course, I present these:
- Customer-focused content that answers real challenges and questions asked by real people
- Consistent or always-on content is generally evergreen and like a heart beat with a nice regular rhythm.
- Published on your website – not social media or YouTube where you can’t control the experience.
- Measured and optimized for effectiveness to specific marketing goals like reach, engagement and conversion
One Brand That Got It Right
Let’s talk about SAP. They were stuck in the traditional marketing rut, spending big bucks on ads and sports sponsorships but seeing little return. Then we pivoted to content marketing.
We started a blog, launched a podcast, engaged with our campaigns and social media teams? We published customer-focused content, a few times a week, on our website, with a goal of driving leads.
Our organic reach skyrocketed, customer engagement went through the roof, and the ROI was 7x. We gained $7 in revenue for every dollar we spent.
But it’s not just software companies. Brands in every industry have become publishers and teachers with articles, how-to videos and eBooks. Even financial services and healthcare brands use online knowledge centers and other resource centers to help both individuals and business customers better meet their financial and health goals. And they do it with a level of transparency and convenience that was unheard of 15 years ago.
Great content, especially dynamic and well thought out content marketing strategies, are showing consumers they deserve more than ads.
The ROI of Content Marketing
Cost-Effectiveness: The Dollar-Smart Approach
Let’s talk money, because let’s face it, we’re all in business to make a profit. The number one reason that content marketing is important is that your customers appreciate it. Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as outbound marketing, drives six times higher conversion rates, and has the potential for a 7X ROI. Sounds like some pretty good reasons, right?
Traditional marketing methods like TV ads and billboards can cost an arm and a leg. And what do you get? A fleeting moment of consumer attention, if you’re lucky.
Content marketing, on the other hand, is the gift that keeps on giving. For a fraction of the cost, you can create a blog post, a video, or a podcast episode that not only reaches your target audience but also stays available for future audiences. It’s like having a salesperson who never sleeps but also doesn’t demand a salary. How’s that for cost-effectiveness?
Long-Term Benefits: The Evergreen Advantage
You know what’s great about a well-crafted piece of content? It’s evergreen. That means it continues to attract traffic, generate leads, and build your brand long after it’s been published.
Unlike a TV ad that’s here today and gone tomorrow, a solid blog post or how-to video can provide value for years. It’s the marketing equivalent of planting a tree that keeps bearing fruit season after season. Invest in quality content once, and reap the benefits indefinitely.
Metrics That Matter: The Numbers Don’t Lie
Alright, let’s get nerdy for a second. We’re all about data-driven decisions, right? When it comes to proving ROI, content marketing offers a smorgasbord of KPIs that actually mean something. We’re talking website traffic, search rankings, leads generated, and conversion rates.
These metrics give you a 360-degree view of how your content is performing and how it’s impacting your bottom line. And the best part? These numbers are easy to track, thanks to a plethora of analytics tools designed to make your life easier.
Building Trust and Authority
Not only is content marketing good for business, it’s good for the overall brand as well. Content marketing, unlike ads, actually delivers something of value to your audience. That value builds trust that leads to loyalty.
Consumer Trust: The Foundation of Loyalty
In a world where consumers are bombarded with ads and sales pitches, trust is the new currency. Content marketing isn’t just about selling; it’s about educating, informing, and adding value. When you consistently deliver content that solves real problems, you’re not just a brand; you’re a trusted advisor. And trust, my friends, leads to loyalty—and loyalty leads to long-term customer relationships.
Thought Leadership: Be the Go-To Expert
You know what sets you apart from the competition? Expertise. When you share your knowledge freely through high-quality content, you’re not just marketing; you’re establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry. People don’t just buy products; they buy solutions and expertise. Be the expert they’re looking for, and you’ll have customers for life.
The Versatility of Content
Different Formats: One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Blogs are great, but let’s not put all our eggs in one basket. Content marketing offers a plethora of formats—videos, podcasts, webinars, infographics, you name it. Different strokes for different folks, right? Diversifying your content strategy meets your audience where they are, making your brand more accessible and engaging.
Personalization: Speak Their Language
We’re not in the business of mass marketing; we’re in the business of connection. Thanks to data analytics, we can tailor content to different audience segments. Whether it’s a personalized email campaign or content that addresses specific pain points, personalization makes your audience feel seen and heard.
Scalability: Work Smarter, Not Harder
The beauty of content marketing is its scalability. That blog post can be turned into a podcast episode, an infographic, or a series of social media posts. Repurposing content not only maximizes ROI but also ensures a consistent message across all platforms.
The Future of Content Marketing
AI and Automation: The Next Frontier
We’ve been using AI and automation in marketing for more than a decade.
And while I certainly have received enough “Hello [First Name]” emails, there is value in using the latest tools to help us get our jobs done. While AI can’t replace the value of human stories and content, AI can help us analyze consumer behavior, automate routine tasks, and help us to plan and optimize some content at scale.
It’s not about replacing the human touch; it’s about enhancing it.
Voice Search & Smart Devices: Adapt or Get Left Behind
“Hey Siri, find me a content marketing strategy.” Voice search and smart devices are changing the way people consume content. It’s not just about keywords anymore; it’s about conversational marketing that understands user intent.
Ok, maybe Siri can’t develop your content strategy or generate leads, it is impacting the way consumers search for and consumer information.
Sustainability: Content Marketing is Here to Stay
Trends come and go, but content marketing has proven its staying power. Why? Because it’s rooted in providing real value. As long as consumers have problems to solve, content marketing will be the bridge that connects those problems to solutions.
The reality is, content marketing has fostered the customer-centric reality we’re now operating in. From well-researched white papers to podcast series listeners can’t live without, content is changing the relationship between the brand and consumer.
Take, for example, Cisco’s content hub, The Newsroom. It has everything anyone interested in or who works in the tech industry could be interested in:
- A monthly online magazine, FOCUS
- Live@Cisco Facebook videos
- Blog posts on tech news
- Biographies of Cisco’s leadership team
They even have an innovative portal for marketing the company’s best asset, its employees. People@Cisco serves the triple purpose of empowering employees, attracting new talent, and humanizing the brand for consumers.
Cisco has been pushing content for years. Under the leadership of CMO Karen Walker, Cisco brought on 200 content marketers back in 2015 and they haven’t looked back. Since then they’ve amped up their content marketing efforts in a truly successful way.
In the B2C sector, content marketing is just as important. Look at brands like Nike, which has become way more than a company. Nike has become a way of life that has inspired generations.
Or Sephora, who have mastered brand community with their content, inviting their audience into an engaging, educational, empowering environment.
Through offering value and meaning, and through giving people an entire ecosystem to tap into for information, guidance, and human connection, content marketing has formed a bridge that consumers want to walk across in order to connect with the brands they like.
There’s no going back.
Content marketing started as the alternative to the ad age. Something of a much-needed respite from the over saturation of magazine ads, promo posters, television commercials, and digital advertising – by 2023, the average person saw between 9,000 and 10,000 ads in one day!
And (no surprises here), consumers like it.
Brands who neglect the importance of content marketing today will have to play catch up tomorrow. On the other hand, those who have a content marketing strategy in place are already on the next level – honing their content with better customer data, better technology, and a better developed network, either in-house or outsourced, of content producers.
😜 PS – Check out our weekly blog content service to grow your website traffic and leads!
Through Content Marketing We Learn About Who We Are Marketing To
Another reason content marketing is so important is, it is the secret to understanding our customers. The data we’re seeing as people move along the customer journey – engagement rates on social media posts, which videos people watch, which eBooks people download, the blog posts they read all the way through and then share with their networks – this is incredibly powerful information for marketers.
By tracking which content is the most successful, we’re learning more about our consumers. This gives brands who are heavily invested in content marketing – and who are adept at making sense out of their marketing automation tools and CRM – a huge advantage. With the insights gained, it’s possible to:
- Create better buyer personas
- Develop more accurate buyer segments
- Improve personalization – which I truly believe is the foundation of a better customer experience
It’s taking all the data you get from your content analysis to make a better strategy, and then rinse, cycle, and repeat so you are always improving what you offer, and boosting the impact of your content marketing.
Without the constant influx of data that is specifically related to your brand and your buyers (because it comes from your content marketing strategy), you’re missing the philosopher’s stone of modern marketing – the knowledge of what resonates with your buyers, right now – the how, who, why, where, and when.
🔥 PS – Check out our latest case study that shows how we helped one company double their leads!
Your Competitors Are Already Using It
And the final reason content marketing is ridiculously important for marketers today – chances are, your competitors are already using it.
If your target audience is already enjoying personalized email messaging and already know they can go to your competitor’s site to look up the information they need when they have a question – you’re in trouble.
Here’s the thing. One of the reasons content marketing is so powerful is that it can be used to establish your brand as a trusted authority in your industry. Which means, it takes time to get your content marketing strategy to make an impact because it takes time to establish a trusted presence.
If your competitors are already sitting on huge online blog libraries, vibrant social media profiles, and are known for their knockout video tutorials and annual marketing events, you’ve got some catching up to do.
Content marketing is essential to everyone from global organizations with dozens (or hundreds) of content marketers, producers, and analysts on their team, to small companies focusing on their local business. It’s not just important. It’s critical.
Where should you start?
Here’s a look at the types of content that’s highest in demand right now:
Start with the resources you have. Create a strategy and commit to a high level of quality and a focused brand message. And then, keep growing your content strategy as you learn more about your customers, engage with them, and build the bridge between your brand and the people your business exists for.
Don’t Be a Dinosaur
Don’t get left in the digital dust. It’s time to embrace content marketing as your new best friend in the business world. Ready to take the plunge? Start by auditing your current strategy, identifying gaps, and then filling those gaps with delicious, nutritious content. Your audience—and your bottom line—will thank you.