Every company has customers with questions, and every customer has a million places they can go to get answers.
Because content marketing seeks to provide customers with the valuable content they need (instead of what companies think they want), that means content marketing is truly an approach that can benefit any brand.
Here’s the Content Marketing Institute’s definition of content marketing:
Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
When we dig into the concept of content marketing and practical examples of how content marketing is executed, it’s clear that this type of marketing is different from other approaches in key ways.
As you ponder how content marketing fits in with your other marketing efforts, think about these five reasons that content marketing serves a unique purpose. Download our e-book How to Measure Your Content Marketing for more useful content marketing insights.
1. Customers love content marketing.
Take a good, honest look at varied pieces of your marketing. Is it about you (and what you want your customers to know about you) or is it truly about your customers?
Content marketing is the only part of a marketing strategy that’s solely about customers’ own pain points, questions, and needs, instead of what companies want to publicize about their products and services. That means that customers actually love content marketing when done right: it’s useful and doesn’t feel like a sales pitch.
For example, consider the way Lowe’s caters to DIY’ers in their Creative Ideas digital magazine, which is filled with how-to project overviews and YouTube videos for completing any home improvement projects. What customer wouldn’t want this helpful information, even if they buy the tools somewhere else?
2. Content marketing is low-cost.
Marketing can get costly. Budget for TV commercials can grow to Super Bowl-sized proportions. Digital ads on social sites and popular ad networks are getting more expensive. Meanwhile, you can start a blog for free (and edit like a pro with these tips). A writer or blog manager can begin interviewing product and company experts in your own company immediately. Even without publishing software, you can create a downloadable e-book for your customers by saving a PowerPoint as a PDF. And you can produce and launch quick, helpful videos for Vine or Instagram at no cost if you have a smartphone.
Producing, publishing, and measuring content can fit in the smallest of marketing budgets, and many companies find that content marketing yields significant ROI per dollar of any marketing approach. Decide how you’ll measure profit from content marketing, then use this equation from the Content Marketing Institute to see the impact.
3. Content marketing can be highly measurable.
Unlike other areas of marketing that are hard to measure, content can give you a wealth of metrics to help you gauge your program’s health and success. With content, you can measure a whole lot more than brand awareness; you can provide your sales team with a steady flow of leads, influence leads that are already in the pipeline, track where people are bouncing off your site and content, and much more.
You’ll need to start with your goals and choose the measurements that fit — and always include a call to action so customers have a next destination if they’d like to continue their journey. Consider this chart of common content metrics from our content measurement e-book to help you get started.
4. Content marketing involves the entire company.
Advertising, campaigns, direct mail — many of these efforts are handled by a small team that specializes in one type of customer outreach. Content marketing is unique because so many parts of the business can get involved to help create valuable, shareable content.
For example, you might reach out to your CEO and PR team to craft a thought leadership byline for the blog; your product marketing managers to help craft the outline for a new e-book; and your sales people to help you craft a highly detailed FAQ page. The more colleagues you involve in content creation, the more invested they’ll be to help you promote.
5. Content marketing is evergreen.
Many marketing tactics are geared toward time-sensitive product launches or campaigns. Content marketing often speaks to themes and common questions that will be evergreen for your business and customers, so it’s an excellent long-term investment that you can start right away. For instance, a year or even two years after you publish a blog post that answers a frequent customer question, it lives on in search and continues to help your customers and build your brand in their eyes — something a fleeting tweet or banner ad can’t achieve.
Building an audience is hard work. Converting them to customers is even harder. You likely need a variety of marketing tactics to cover all the channels where customers might find you, but content marketing should be part of the mix.