It’s not clear when general marketing crossed over into “content marketing.” According to some sources, Penton Custom Publishing in Cleveland, Ohio, was the first company to coin the term in 2001. (Fun fact: Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, was VP of Custom Publishing at Penton during this time…coincidence? Probably not.)
One thing is certain, content marketing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And in 2018, it’s hotter than ever.
Among the many accolades content marketing garners, it was rated as one of the two most effective types of marketing, according to the 2017 State of the Creator Economy study. (Influencer marketing was the second type.) In particular, it serves as the backbone for many companies’ inbound programs.
The reason for content marketing’s popularity is that it works. Its objective is simple: create genuinely useful or entertaining content for a target audience to build rapport and brand equity. Content marketing influences prospective customers with authority, liking and reciprocity. It educates them about new ideas and opportunities that will nudge them through a company’s sales funnels—from creating interest to closing deals.
These advantages are impacting investments in content marketing. According to 2017 B2B Content Marketing Trends, 39 percent of companies are increasing their investment in content marketing. Forrester estimated that in 2016, nearly $10 billion was spent on content in the U.S., while around $40 billion was spent on global marketing. What’s more, PQ Media reported that the content marketing industry is estimated to be worth $313 billion by 2019.
Here are eight reasons why content marketing is still important to companies in 2018—including pro tips to maximize the impact of your content marketing program’s success for each point.
“Content marketing generates more than three times as many quality leads as traditional advertising methods.” — Content Marketing Institute
Even if your prospects aren’t ready to buy yet, they might be open to giving you more information about themselves in exchange for valuable information—and, in doing so, eventually convert into a quality lead. Once this happens, you can consistently nurture the relationship to move them through the buyer’s journey.
Pro Tip — To ensure your content is effectively reaching those who need it most, keep your buyer personas up-to-date. Make updating them a routine task of your marketing strategy.
“47% of buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.” — Demand Gen Report, 2016
People trust experts and hire them to help solve problems. The more high-quality, well-timed content you create, the clearer it becomes that you are an authority in your field. As a result, before your first sales interaction occurs, your content has already helped you win half the sales battle.
Pro Tip — Produce a lot of unique and high-quality content that positions you and your company as an industry thought leader. Aim to both entertain and solve problems. Add digital assets, such as video, audio, documents, presentations, animations and games to make your content unique and irresistible.
“Conversion rates are nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs. 0.5%).” — Aberdeen
Conversions are measurable, identifiable actions taken on your website by a prospect. Populated with the right content, your website becomes your hardest-working salesperson. It becomes a place where people are educated and informed, and where they build trusting relationship with your company. The best B2B sites are places where prospects take specific conversion actions that lead to sales.
Pro Tip — Conduct conversion rate optimization testing according to six factors: value proposition for prospects, content relevance to visitors’ expectations, clarity of message, reducing customers’ anxiety, reducing distractions and urgency to take action.
“Relevant content creation is the most effective SEO tactic.” — Ascend2
Google recognizes useful content, and its algorithms work hard to show searchers the best links. Although algorithms are always changing, the result of quality content marketing doesn’t change: As long as you consistently create new content and keep it current, informative (solving problems or answering questions) and relevant (answers the search words), your content will rank higher in the search engines.
Pro Tip — Take the long-term approach to build organic traffic. It takes time, so a long view is the only opportunity to succeed.
“Images increase re-tweets on Twitter by 35%.” — Twitter
We live in the digital, mobile and viral age. A big part of this age is sharing content on social media, and sharing compounds the reach of your content marketing exponentially. If you can create content that people share you’ll be way ahead of the game. The more people exposed to your content, the better. When sharing works, companies’ reach expands exponentially.
Pro Tip — Speak the language of social. Learn the critical terms of each social platform—from average response time to quality scores.
“There is a direct relationship between quality backlinks and Google search rankings.” — Moz
Backlinking is one of the criteria that search engines use to rank sites. If authority sites are linking to yours and more people are visiting your website through those links, your page authority increases. This makes backlinking a powerful advantage of quality content marketing.
Pro Tip: Proactively and consistently deploy proven link-building activities to expand your backlinks.
“We know that brands that improve the customer journey see revenue increase as much as 10 to 15% while also lowering the cost by 15 to 20%.” — McKinsey
With content marketing, you’re not just creating content. You’re making a long-term investment in your company’s reputation, brand and SEO. Content is all about compounding returns. Every piece you write is permanent real estate.
“Corporations growing revenue at 20% reported that 47% of their sales pipeline was marketing-generated, as compared to only 5% among organizations with declining revenue.” — Aberdeen Group
One of the biggest complaints often heard from marketing is that sales team members don’t effectively follow up on their leads. Meanwhile, the sales team claims the leads marketing delivers aren’t good. Well-designed content marketing can bring the two teams into harmony by creating more quality leads to support sales and providing a workflow that moves effortlessly between departments.
Pro Tip — To speak the same language and clarify the process of sharing leads with sales teams, marketing should define the criteria for leads, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, sales accepted leads and opportunities.
Clearly, content marketing delivers extensive opportunities. Yet, some companies still have not fully embraced the discipline. If you currently have no content marketing strategy, it’s time to consider establishing one. If your content marketing strategy is weak, you may want to pump it up. Transforming your marketing strategies holds the potential to transform your organization’s success—opening up the opportunity for more highly targeted leads, prospects and customers.