This is Part One of a two-part blog series on why content marketing matters to your business. Read Part Two.
In a digital age where consumers are oversaturated by information, many businesses are struggling to cut through the noise and get found by the people who matter.
In PageFair's 2017 AdBlock report, we see that a whopping 615 million devices now have ad blockers installed. This means businesses can't solely rely on traditional advertising tactics to win customer attention anymore.
In your own search to find an effective strategy, you may have stumbled across content marketing.
But what even is content marketing anyway?
Defining "content marketing"
We like this definition from 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 simpler terms, content marketing is about using content to solve your ideal audience's problems.
Instead of pitching your products and services upfront, you're prioritizing your relationship with your prospects. And by building familiarity and trust first, you'll be better positioned to persuade them to buy from you eventually.
This also plays well to what consumers want: According to a 2017 study by PointVisible, 70% of people prefer learning about a company through content, instead of an ad.
Besides, in today's hyper-connected landscape, virtually anybody can craft and share high-quality content online — making content marketing an accessible and affordable strategy for businesses of any size.
What type of "content" goes into content marketing?
Here's the wonderful thing about content marketing: Content of all formats can be used to boost your digital presence! But the key is to consistently produce stuff that your target audience will find useful.
If you have absolutely no idea where to even begin, here are some of our favorite formats for getting a strategy off the ground:
- Original research: This is a prime method for your brand to contribute original insights to your industry — not to mention, lots of other folks will want to cite your statistics in their own content, which helps with link-building.
- Blog posts: A well-written and frequently updated blog is a must-have for establishing thought leadership and improving your SEO. Nothing boosts traffic quite like having your pages appear at the top of your prospects' Google searches!
- Infographics: This refers to visually laying out research or key statistics. "A picture speaks a thousand words," and infographics are an effective way to communicate complex information at a glance.
- Videos: Pictures are great... but moving pictures are even better! Social media users share videos 1,200% more often than posts containing text and images, which makes video a must-have in any marketing toolkit.
- Case studies: Do your customers or clients love what you do? Share your success stories! Social proof is still the best form of advertising out there. Nielsen reports that over 8 in 10 customers value the opinions of people they know and trust.
PSA: Content marketing takes time to work
Although using content to lead your marketing may sound like a simple concept, executing an effective strategy requires a lot of work, creativity, research, and — above all — time.
We recommend a minimum of 6 hours of content marketing management a week to maintain an online presence. That can be a pretty daunting ask, especially since your company probably already has its hands full with day-to-day operations. (That's also why you might want to consider outsourcing your content marketing efforts.)
In addition, content marketing isn't an overnight fix-it. You can typically expect to wait 6–9 months before seeing long-term results. (You know what they say... "slow and steady wins the race"!)
With all that in mind, you might be wondering: Why is content marketing important, and how can it benefit my business? Hop on over to the second post in this series, where we'll address that very question!
Looking for more inspiration on how to get started creating content of your own? We've put together a FREE eBook that's packed with 13 ideas to get your creative spark goin' — download it now!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2013. It has since been updated to reflect industry changes.