What Is Content Marketing?
Marketing can take many forms, including radio, print, online and television adverts. According to The Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is "a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience - and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action." In short, it's about using news stories, articles, downloads, blog posts, galleries, videos, infographics, podcasts, case studies or any other content to market your business and increase your sales.
Why Use Content Marketing?
Here are seven good reasons why you should be engaged in content marketing:
- It Gives You Opportunity To Rank In Search Engines. According to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Institute, almost half of people aged 18 to 49 get their news and information online. This means that no matter what industry your business is in, it's likely that people are actively searching for content related to it. If your website only consists of your homepage and a few other pages detailing your services and staff, you limit your opportunities to appear in search results for searches related to your products or services. If, however, you have many pages with rich content related to your industry, you are likely to appear in search results much more often.
- It Generates Relevant Traffic. Every website owner welcomes an increase in traffic, but this will only be beneficial to your business if it is accompanied by a corresponding increase in sales (or whatever action by visitors is desirable). Content marketing can help you make sure that you drive only relevant traffic to your website (traffic that you know is potentially interested in your business). For example, if you run a dental practice there is no point in having lots of visitors to your website who are looking for a chiropractor - instead you would publish high quality content related to dentistry so that you know that visitors interested in that content are potential customers.
- It Creates Natural Follow-Up Opportunities. When you start producing unique content, you create a good reason to communicate with your contacts. Your customers and newsletter subscribers are actively interested in your products and services, and sending them news of useful content gives you an excuse to email them and keep them engaged with your company. Even if you don't actively sell to your contacts, this way you will remain in their mind for when they next need to purchase your product or service. Providing high quality, useful content to help educate and inform your audience also helps to create and maintain warm relationships.
- It Positions You As An Expert. When you teach your audience something new that they can use to improve their lives or their business, you position yourself as an expert in your industry and make it more likely that people will feel comfortable paying for your products and services. For example, if you search for information about looking after your dog's eyes and find an expertly-written article, you are highly likely to buy related products available from the same website.
- It Creates Opportunities for Sharing Your Website. People love sharing content with their friends - whether that be by email or on social networks. But unless a person is a real evangelist for your company, they are not going to go to the effort of sharing your website's homepage. Most of the links being shared via social networks involve content such as videos, articles and news stories, and you can make this easy for your visitors by featuring sharing tools such as "Tweet" and "Like" buttons alongside your content.
- It Gives Your Business a Voice. Outside of your company's branding, how do you broadcast how you want your business to be perceived? Content marketing helps you establish a stylistic voice that can help you attract and retain your target audience. A great example of this is IKEA's "Ideas" section, which compliments their website and branding with a friendly, approachable blog.
- It Gives People a Reason To Link To Your Website. Since the beginning of the internet, search engines have used the number of links to a website ("backlinks") as one of the primary ways to rank websites in search results for any given query, and this is still the case. While there are lots of ways to improve your website's Link Profile, having high-quality, original content on your website gives people a genuine reason to want to link to your website.
While there's no doubt that it takes a real investment to create genuinely high-quality content, it should now be apparent just how important content marketing could be to your business - from wider exposure in search engine results to closer engagement with past and potential customers. It's therefore time to review or create your business's content marketing strategy.