Content marketing is a buzzword that is being thrown around a lot lately in the B2B marketing world, and it is not something that will be going away any time soon.
Gone are the days when traditional advertising was enough to get your products and services in front of your customers.
Today's audiences have gotten so used to seeing advertising all over the place that they have developed the ability to tune it out, often not even noticing it at all.
So how is the modern marketer to reach these discerning customers?
Through content marketing, of course.
At its most basic level, content marketing is when a business produces content, like blog posts, white papers or YouTube videos, that will be of interest to the organisation's potential customers.
The goal of this process is to establish the business as an authority in its industry so that customers will keep it in mind when it comes to choosing who they wish to do business with.
Organisations can constantly produce new content for their websites, but they can also repurpose existing content, using it in lead nurturing emails to provide prospective customers with more information to gently nudge them towards making a purchase or employing the company's services.
These days, it is all about relationship building, rather than outright advertising, to cultivate leads and drive sales.
Content marketing is here to stay. Businesses that do not engage in this new form of marketing innovation will be left behind as they are surpassed by their competitors who make good use of this new medium.
Read on to learn about five of our favorite reasons to use content marketing and how you can incorporate this method into your marketing arsenal.
1. Quality Content Builds Trust
Publishing high-quality content on a regular basis is a great way to build up trust from your readers.
As they see that your brand is highly knowledgeable about the topics discussed on your business's blog, your brand will gain credibility as an authority in your field.
The more trust your potential customers have in your organisation, the more likely they will be to make a purchase at a later date.
It is not just your prospective customers who will benefit from your regular posting. This will also help your site's search engine rankings, as the search engines will see that you have regular, high-quality posts in your niche.
Ranking higher with search engines will help your content reach a broader audience, as most readers only look at sites on the first page of search results. It is in the best interests of your business to get your site to rank as highly as possible, and the best way to do that is to consistently produce valuable content.
However, you should not focus solely on search engine rankings. While high rankings will get your content in front of more people, it is still ultimately the readers who will become your customers, so the content needs to be valuable to them.
Even though they found your site through a search engine, they are unlikely to return if the content was not worth their time.
2. Storytelling Engages Your Customers
Video content is a marketing innovation that enables your business to really connect with your customers on a personal level.
In a video, you can tell a story that will tug on your customers' heart strings or demonstrate a solution to a problem that they have. The more a prospective customer connects with your material, the more engaged they will be and the greater sense of a relationship with your brand they will have.
Visual communication is far more effective than written or verbal, and this type of content is much more memorable for your customers. In crafting your marketing messages, segment your audience into groups, and target messages to each specific group to have the strongest effect.
Content that resonates with one group of customers will not necessarily have the same effect on another group.
Think also about where the content will be displayed. Videos that you display on your corporate website will likely be more formal than those that you post on social media.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to visual content marketing. The current trend is far more towards audience targeting and personalisation.
Although there is still a rational aspect to choosing businesses to work with, much of customers' decisions have an emotional basis.
Visual storytelling provides a more engaging experience for prospective customers and allows them to build a personal connection to a brand, as opposed to simply reading about the organisation.
3. Broadcast PR Is Dead
It is no longer the case that brand communications can be all one-way.
Today's consumers are increasingly demanding that their voices be heard and taken into consideration by the companies that they choose to do business with.
Brands can no longer expend all of their marketing efforts in telling customers what the organisation wants them to know.
Instead, communication needs to be two-way. Brands need to listen to their customers' comments, complaints, and concerns.
They need to react and respond to that feedback and make changes accordingly to instil in customers' minds that the organisation truly values them and is willing to listen to what they have to say.
Much of public relations these days is conducted through social media, with some news spreading rapidly when it goes viral.
More and more people are turning to social media as their main source of information, rather than the traditional news outlets of the past. While these outlets do still have a place in modern PR, customers are becoming increasingly aware of other sources of information.
Localised search is gaining in popularity as well, with internet searches returning results in a user's local area more prominently than information from other areas. This enables customers to quickly find out what is going on in their region and helps them to find local businesses to patronise.
4. The Web Finds Liars Out Quickly
With the growing popularity of social media, it is becoming more difficult for sub-par businesses to hide behind good PR to mask their lack of accountability or poor service.
While a great piece of viral content can skyrocket a business to success, the opposite is true for negative feedback.
When dissatisfied customers see that others had the same negative experience that they did, they often feel more comfortable voicing their opinions on social media. This bandwagon effect can result in a snowball of bad publicity for a business that can take it from the top of its industry to the bottom at a rapid pace.
Although it is virtually impossible to avoid all negative comments, brands that work hard to take care of their customers will be rewarded for their efforts, while those that do not will notice their customer bases rapidly dwindling as they are exposed for their lack of commitment to customer satisfaction.
5. Content Converts
Many times, when potential customers first visit an organisation's website, they are not ready to make a purchase right away. This is particularly true for B2B businesses. However, customers do gain new knowledge about topics that they are interested in or ways to solve problems that they have.
While this does not directly drive sales in the short term, it solidifies the brand as trustworthy in the customers' minds, so they will think of that business first when they are ready to make a purchase or use the organisation's services.
Brands can encourage prospective customers to progress through the sales pipeline by obtaining their contact information in exchange for ebooks or white papers that the customer is likely to be interested in.
Once the organisation has the contact information, it can continue to deliver high-quality information and build a relationship with that customer through automated email marketing.
Over time, this relationship is exponentially more likely to result in a paying customer, as opposed to customers simply finding the brand on their own.
Making a purchase decision takes time and thought, so the more a customer is engaged with a particular organisation, the more likely they are to give that organisation their business in the future.
Keep on Learning
Now that we've covered the basics of marketing innovation in content marketing, you should be well on your way to helping your brand engage with your customers.
For even more information on this topic, check out our free eBook, “Insurance Broker's guide to website enhancement for serious lead generation”.