What You Need to Know About Content Marketing

Published Aug 24, 2017. Updated Jun 14, 2019.

What You Need to Know About Content Marketing

We’ve talked about content marketing briefly on the blog before, but we’ve never written a full post on the subject. Content marketing is a relatively new term, roughly 10x more searched in 2017 than it was in 2007.

Content marketing has become about 10x more popular since 2007

This spike in popularity is a testament to the power of content marketing. Countless businesses have found that content marketing is simultaneously their cheapest and most effective form of marketing. In fact, content marketing is said to cost 67% less than outbound marketing and generate 3x as many leads.

Let’s learn more about what content marketing is, what it isn’t, and how your business can use it to see a quantifiable increase in customers.

What Is(n’t) Content Marketing?

To understand what content marketing is, we must first understand what content marketing is not. When you think of traditional forms of marketing and advertising, what comes to mind? It’s probably things like radio and TV advertisements, printed ads, flyers and mailers, and billboards. What do all of these share in common?

Their effectiveness hinges on their ability to grab the audience’s attention — or to interrupt the audience long enough to get their point across.

This is a big reason why things like pop-up blockers, caller ID, Netflix, podcasts, and satellite radio exist. It’s why 86% of people skip commercials. Most people don’t want to be advertised to, especially when that advertisement is interrupting their daily lives. When businesses try to interrupt with their marketing, their audience just gets better at ignoring that marketing.

Click to tweet: Marketing that interrupts will only be tuned out by your audience

Think Education — Not Interruption

Content marketing comes in many forms, but the common thread is that it makes itself available when the audience wants it.

While more and more people tune out traditional marketing and advertising, their ability to find answers about the world is only getting easier. Google handles more than 5.4 billion searches every day. So the problem in marketing isn’t that people don’t want to know more — it’s that they want to find information on their own terms.

Content marketing boils down to anticipating your target market’s questions and creating findable, shareable content that answers those questions. The most successful content marketers not only create content that educates their audience — they create content that their audience comes back to time and time again.

Users are conducting more Google searches than ever, showing that education isn't dead

We’ll cover these more below, but some of the most common forms of content marketing include:

Basically, most content that educates, enriches, intrigues, and demonstrates — without interrupting the user — can be considered content marketing. Even the content on your website can be part of your content marketing efforts.

Why Should My Business Care About Content Marketing?

The short answer: content marketing is insanely effective.

Consider these statistics from Content Marketing Institute and HubSpot:

So, companies that devote time and resources to content marketing are seeing anywhere from 4-8x more online traffic than those that don’t.

Click to tweet: Content marketing can bring you 4-8x more traffic and pack a 3700% ROI

Don’t forget the ultimate goal of marketing

Along with the tangible benefits like increased ROI and site traffic, there’s another important benefit that your business should consider: sentiment toward your brand. We discussed this at length in our blog post about web design for the buyer’s cycle, but the end-game of your marketing should not be to convert a lead to a customer — it should be to delight your customers so much that they begin to market your business for you.

While traditional marketing’s goal is to make someone aware of your business and present enough benefits for that person to ignore the fact that you’re interrupting their experience, content marketing aims to provide genuinely useful content that improves people’s lives. And people appreciate that.

Apple is a powerful example of how brand loyalty can increase sales

The loyalty that your business can earn through content marketing is powerful enough to justify your content marketing efforts. Brand loyalty is a force you shouldn’t underestimate. It’s a big reason why 59% of iPhone owners won’t even consider researching another phone before upgrading to their next iPhone. They’re intensely loyal to the Apple brand — through all the lawsuits, expensive products, and removed headphone jacks.

How Can I Begin Content Marketing for My Business?

While the statistics above may be impressive in terms of the results content marketing can bring, they may also be overwhelming in terms of implementing the advice for your business. (Seriously, who has time to blog 16+ times per month?)

There are a few ways you can go about choosing the content marketing avenues you want to explore for your business. If this were a post about social media, we would recommend that you start small rather than trying all platforms at once. This isn’t necessarily true in content marketing, and the main reason for that is you can try and abandon several content marketing methods without appearing inconsistent.

Start content marketing by looking at your current content, getting help from others, and trying out multiple avenues

If you’re starting to think that content marketing could make a real difference for your business, we suggest these steps to help you get started:

As you dive deeper into content marketing, you’ll realize that there’s virtually no limit to where and how you can utilize it for your business. Unlike some other forms of marketing that limit you to a certain process or place, content marketing can work in endless ways.

It may mean that you have a page for ebooks on your website, an email campaign monitor to run your email marketing, a YouTube channel for your video marketing, a podcast channel, and a blog with interviews, case studies, and downloadable templates. And there will likely be ties between all of these. That’s a good thing!

Keep organized, but make it as easy as possible for your users to flow between one of your pieces of content into another. Not only will they eventually be interested in looking into your products and services — they’ll also start to recognize your brand name as the source of so much wonderful information. And that will keep them coming back time and time again.

Content Marketing Isn’t the Holy Grail of Marketing (But It’s Pretty Darn Close)

If marketing means to you paying for PPC campaigns, mailing flyers to your neighborhood, and seeing very little return on your investment, there’s a strong chance that you’ll see real results once you shift your focus more toward content marketing.

While success will look different for every business, content marketing at its core sets you up for success because it provides real value to your target audience.

Like the sound of content marketing? Have no idea where to start? Our team has your back

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