Most content marketing fails.
It shouldn’t, because there’s a lot of information out there on how to do it well. But whether it’s through poor strategy, lack of resources, or misunderstanding, many companies get it wrong – resulting in little or no return on their investment and leaving them with the belief it’s a waste of time and effort.
But it’s not.
If you get on the right track, content marketing can be one of the best and most cost-effective ways of energising your business for the long haul. It can increase your customer base, build brand loyalty, and let you stand-out in a competitive market.
Here are five reasons why:
1. Customers are more likely to trust you
While traditional advertising has its place, it typically speaks (or shouts) at people from TV, print, and outdoor ads – all designed to interrupt or disrupt our world in a bid to catch a moment of our time and attention. But as its reach has advanced alongside digital technology, it’s also attracted more and more criticism for being an unwelcome intrusion.
As Brian Sutter outlines in Want To Be Successful With Content Marketing? the content marketing approach is essentially about teaching rather than selling. Whether through top-level blog posts or more in-depth white papers, its purpose is to help existing and potential customers. To answer questions they’re asking or solve problems they’re facing.
Let’s say you’re ready to purchase a particular product or service, and there’s a choice of brands.
Who would you trust? The company that only reaches out to you when it wants something in return, or the one that consistently provides you with useful advice and information for nothing?
The fact is that strong content marketing helps to build trusted relationships with potential customers, which in turn builds stronger brand loyalty.
2. You can build a bigger audience
Advertising might have the potential for bigger reach, but it’s generally a one-way street. With content marketing you can build a ‘captive’ audience to regularly (and directly) engage with, creating stronger relationships which will undoubtedly keep them coming back for more.
Half the battle of business is in retaining current leads and customers, cementing a solid audience base from which to build. This is where email lists come in handy. Used well, they can help you use content to nurture new leads to purchase, while encouraging existing customers to re-engage with you too.
When it comes to growing your audience, however, social media is your friend. Just identify which platforms your target demographic prefers (eg, are they mainly on Facebook or Instagram?), then deliver just the right kind of fresh, informative content on your feed to find those new followers and increase your audience of potential customers.
3. There’s potential for free coverage in industry publications
Write a particularly insightful, interesting or topical piece and there is always a chance a relevant publication will find it and ask your permission to run it.
For example, you’ll find tons of fantastic content in magazines with targeted readership and circulation. And getting picked up by one or more of them means putting your business in front of a much bigger audience that you could reach alone.
Get a piece published in Entrepreneur Middle East, for example, and you’ll be reaching 14 million readers by digital/mobile channels alone. Your thought leadership article lands in Arabian Business Startup and its largely CEO, Director and MD level readers will see it.
You don’t need to wait for your work to be found either. Start cultivating relationships with magazines you think might be interested in the types of articles you write, even if it’s just engaging with them on Twitter or LinkedIn. This way they’ll be more likely to keep an eye out for anything you post. (Failing that, you can always take a chance and send a piece you’re particularly proud of and see what happens.)
4. Your people have the chance to shine as thought leaders
Strong content marketing is always underpinned by authenticity. This means ensuring your content is never faceless, but rather seeks to engage the expertise and insight of the most relevant members of your team—usually at a managerial or C-Suite level.
It doesn’t have to be written by them. In fact, it hardly ever will be. But without their input, any crafted content is in danger of falling flat.
Good, strong content needs their voice and experience to add authenticity. This will also boost their profile, showcasing them as leaders of their field – which comes with its own opportunities for greater exposure (such as networking, speaking at conferences, and contributing to publications) and only serves to strengthen your brand.
5. It’s a lead-generating machine
While content marketing is about helping people, it also offers the kind of lead generation opportunities your sales team dreams about.
A single piece of content can provide an array of touch points for potential leads to find you. Not just directly (where the piece is published), but anywhere and everywhere it’s shared – from social media channels and email to syndicated print.
Once they’ve been drawn to your website, you then have all sorts of opportunities to engage further. Not only through content on the site, but through live chat, sign-up boxes, etc.
You should also have a ‘buyer’s journey’ in place, where you offer numerous directions for a visitor to go after reading your article. This could be showing them related pieces of content to read and videos to watch, to more in-depth papers to download or webinars to register for. And it’s with this downloadable or ‘gated’ content (ie, it needs to be unlocked) where you’ll be able to capture those contact details you need to turn a visitor into a warm lead – after which you can nurture them with content via email (and/or follow up with sales calls) to encourage them to become a customer.
Convinced about content marketing yet?
If so, these are your next steps:
- Identify your goals: What do you hope to achieve from producing and distributing content, is it simply brand awareness or do you want to generate leads?
- Identify your audience: Who are you trying to reach and where can you reach them?
- Identify your resources: Do you have the skills in-house to do this?
The latter is particularly important, as this is usually where content marketing fails. As we’ve previously seen, it takes a team to produce strong content marketing – a project manager to run the show, a writer to help you craft the best pieces possible, a designer to help showcase your work in the best light, social media specialists, SEO specialists, and a content strategist to help you put the right plan in place.
Not many companies have this level of resources to draw on, which is where bringing in a dedicated agency can help. A good marketing agency will have the talent and experience to strategise and implement, as well as help with production and distribution. More importantly, they’ll be experienced in getting results as quickly and efficiently as possible, saving your business the time, money and hassle of doing it alone.
Silx is a new style digital agency that works with companies across the UAE and wider Gulf region to help them tell their story, reach their audiences, and create great conversations with their customers. For more information, call +971 4 427 3671, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here.