Ah, “content marketing.” Some marketers love it and some marketers love to hate it but, no matter how you feel about it, content marketing is here to stay!
Content marketing (or inbound marketing, as it’s also known) is a method of creating and distributing content that attracts, converts, closes, and delights new customers digitally. Think: blog posts (like this one!), social media, webinars, eBooks, and white papers. In fact, it’s more or less (in this marketer’s opinion) diametrically opposed to the traditional interruptive tactics of outbound marketing, like direct mailings, display advertisements, trade shows, purchased email lists, etc.
Not convinced that your company should ditch your decades old advertising budget and invest in some new media channels? We thought you might feel that way, which is why we’ve put together this list of the top 3 reasons you need to develop a content marketing strategy:
1. Half of shoppers spend at least 75% of their total shopping time conducting online research (source).
If you’re familiar with the sales cycle, this means that we, as marketers, have less control than ever over the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey! Buyers are spending the majority of their consideration on online research about the solutions they’ve identified. In fact, by the time a potential buyer has realized that your company might be a viable solution for their problem, there’s little you can do to influence the decision-making process at that point.
This is why, when you’re thinking about developing a content marketing strategy, it’s important to meet the buyer where they’re at in their journey. By considering the questions a buyer might ask at each stage, you can more easily develop content that addresses their unique needs with the right messaging, on the right channels, right when they need it.
It may seem simple but, by creating content that’s relevant to the customers you want to attract, and reaching them during their consideration process, your brand builds trust and relevance that’ll drive conversions.
2. Content marketing establishes credibility for your brand.
Speaking of trust and relevance… What do you do when you read a great article or blog post that resonates with you? You tweet about it, email it to a coworker, message it to someone on Facebook, or otherwise share it with your relevant networks. It’s no secret that humans are social creatures and it’s been proven that we have an innate desire to share content from those that we know, like, and trust (source). So how can we, as brands, become one of the known, liked, and trusted?
Through content marketing, we’re able to build our owned media channels, establishing ourselves as thought leaders and showing—not just telling—prospective customers the value that our products and services will bring them. This content can take many forms, but the key is to focus on publishing high quality pieces that highlight your company’s expertise and are relevant to your ideal customers. Whether your audience is drawn to blog posts or whitepapers, webinars or downloadable freebies, it’s important to create something worth sharing.
3. Display advertising is dead.
Now, I could put together a lengthy explanation for why display advertising doesn’t work, but I think I’ll save us both the time and let these stats speak for themselves:
- There are now 198 million active ad block users around the world (source).
- In 2016, the Interactive Advertising Bureau reported that 26% of Desktop users turn on ad blockers (source).
- Ad blocking grew by 41% globally in 2015 (source).
- The average clickthrough rate of display ads across all formats and placements is 0.06% (source).
- A 2016 study revealed that only 2.8% of participants thought that ads on website were relevant (source).
- About 50% of clicks on mobile ads are accidental (source).
So, let’s get this straight: Internet users don’t think our ads are relevant to their interests, they aren’t clicking on our ads (and if they do, it’s accidental), and 26% of the global Internet population is straight up refusing to look at them. Do we really need to sink another dime into the bottomless pit that is display advertising?
Okay, so I do have to admit that outbound advertising isn’t all bad, but it does need to be done right: through platforms that create a more native and less interruptive experience, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like. When combined with your inbound marketing efforts and modern marketing technology, paid advertising can actually be a powerful tool for attracting new traffic (but that’s a blog post for another day).