In last week’s blog post, Introduction to Spokal’s 3 Pillars of Inbound Marketing (Content Marketing Series Part 1 of a 10 ) I told you that you’d be hearing a lot more about content, and I wasn’t bluffing! Content is the foundation of inbound marketing, and by that I mean – nothing can work without it.
The only way people will ever look at your website, is if there’s content on it. The only way people can discover you on social media, search engines, advertisements etc., is through content. The only way you can nurture leads, is through content.
You’ve probably heard the term “content is king” before, right? Well, it might be bit cliché, but I’ve yet to see anyone adequately disprove it. Sure, you might have people claiming that content is no longer king, and say… quality is. But how, may I ask, can one have quality content without, well… content?
You see what I’m getting at here?
Content is the lifeline of your online business. Without content marketing, there is no inbound marketing. It’s an absolutely necessary subset of inbound marketing.
The good news is, the barrier of entry into who can create content is pretty low. As long as you can put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – you can create content. But the bad news is, content marketing isn’t easy. It takes perseverance, hard work, consistency and innovation (as well as a whole bunch of other things too!)
But I’m not here to tell you it’s going to be easy, I’m here to tell you it’s going to be worth it.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing technique 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 (Content Marketing Institute)
The key here is the words to describe the content that you’re creating: Valuable, relevant and consistent. While content can come in a few shapes and sizes, from blogs, to webinars, to video marketing etc. it’s consistency, relevancy and value that always stays the same.
An effective content marketing strategy will help a business engage with its customers through their content, leaving them better informed and interested to find out more.
But most importantly: Content marketing is not a direct sales tactic.
Instead, it’s useful to think of it as a way of opening up communication between a business and its target audience. Content marketing is a way to grow your target audience’s understanding of your industry by educating, entertaining and engaging with them through the creation of awesome content.
Is Content Marketing Effective?
I’m going to let the facts speak for themselves on this one.
Companies with an active blog generate 67% more leads per month (SocialMediaB2B, 2012)
9/10 marketing officers believe that customer content has a positive effect on audience attitudes, strengthening the bond with customers. (Inklyo via Unbounce, 2013)
Using inbound tactics saves an average of 13% in overall cost per lead (State of Inbound Marketing, 2014)
Brands relying on inbound marketing save over $14 dollars for every new customer acquired (State of Inbound Marketing, 2014)
Adopting an inbound strategy doubles average website conversion rates, from 6% to 12% (State of Inbound Marketing, 2014)
Why Does Content Marketing Work?
We’ve established that content marketing works, but now we need to figure out why it works. Why don’t we use more traditional methods, such as outbound marketing, instead?
Well, for one: Traditional marketing just doesn’t work that well online. Organic search leads (that’s people who find your website from search engines) have a 14.6% close rate. Outbound marketing leads close 1.7% of the time.
And, secondly: People just don’t want to be sold to. 80% of users ignore paid ads, focusing instead on the organic results.
These statistics send a pretty loud message: Internet users don’t want to be sold to. In fact, 73% of people prefer to get information about an organization through a series of articles rather than in a traditional advertisement.
Moreover, approximately 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy. They want to take their time, research a product/service, look at the competitors, read your content etc. before they make any purchasing decisions with you.
On the web, the power is in the user’s hands.
And that means, what the users want, the users get and it’s our jobs as content marketers to give them exactly what they want – relevant, consistent and engaging content!
5 Challenges of Content Marketing
So, let’s say you’re convinced. You want to start content marketing – you understand that it’s hard work, but you get know that it’ll be worth the investment. Great!
But is it really that simple?
Content marketing is far from simple, and often marketers and business owners are discouraged by their lack of instant success. Content marketing is not a quick fix. It takes time to grow, but once it does, it will keep growing and growing and growing.
1.Content Marketing Is Hard
The biggest – and most misleading – marketing myth out there is that content marketing is easy. That all you have to do is create content, publish it and sit back and wait for the customers to come flooding in.
And while this might happen for the lucky 0.1%, the chances are it won’t happen for you.
Content marketing is a much more organic process that grows when nurtured and tended to. It takes time to get the ball rolling, and perseverance to push through the slumps when it doesn’t seem that the ball is going anywhere, but once it starts to move – you’ll find that the organic reach that you have is incredibly powerful and growth will continue steadily.
But it doesn’t come free. You have to consistently be creating relevant content you’re your audience genuinely find useful and engaging. And this isn’t as simple as it seems.
Today, humans create as much information in 2 days, as we did in the entire time before 2003. We have a ton of information out there, how are you going to stand out from the crowd?
Don’t worry – we’re not going to leave you hanging like that! In the next post of this blog series we’ll be diving deeper into how you can create amazing content that people love.
2. Your Content Marketing Doesn’t Have A Community
When you create content, you’re creating it for a specific community to engage with. Or, at least, that’s what you should be doing.
Your content should be created with the objective to start conversations, to encourage dialogue, to get debates rolling – in other words, to nurture a community of like-minded people!
If you don’t create content with your particular community in mind, or too broad a community in mind, you won’t garner the same kind of traffic and attention from your content as you had hoped. You need a community to support your efforts, to engage with your content and to add real value to your industry.
3. You Didn’t AMPLIFY Your Content
Great content simply isn’t enough, you need to make sure that it gets read by the right people. You have to work to promote your content too.
According to Rand, most amplification falls into three categories:
- Broadcast: Social Media, Email, Events, etc.
- 1:1 Outreach: Social, Email, In-person, etc.
- Paid Promotion: Promoted or boosted posts, Advertising, etc.
Social is a powerful thing. Searchmetrics’ Correlation 2014 study showed that social signals actually affected your content’s visibility in search results. Meaning: Google actually looks at data from social sharing, and considers it to be a signal that a particular piece of content was good, and therefore it will give pieces of content that are popular on social media better rankings.
Similarly, you’ll see that the study found that backlinks
Each of these promotion strategies can be employed to some extent by your business in order to help you content marketing be successful, but we’ll be diving into more detail in subsequent posts in this blog series. If you have any specific concerns/questions you’d like us to discuss – please leave them in the comments below!
4. SEO Is NOT Dead.
Another dangerous myth is that SEO is dead. It’s not. On average, Google processes 40,000 searches per second – that’s 3.5 billion searches per day! I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty strong indication that search engine optimization is still pretty significant.
SEO can bring strong, relevant traffic to your content and your business. The Searchmetrics’ Correlation 2014 study actually showed that user signals such as how long a person stayed on a page, and how frequently they clicked through (CTRs) has a huge impact on how well your content ranks in search engines.
5. Content Marketing Takes Time
It takes time for you to create enough awesome content on a topic so that Google knows that you’re an expert, so it takes time for you to become relevant in search results when someone is looking for something you do or sell.
There is a 4-6 months period where you might not see much ROI, even though you’re putting a lot into your content marketing. That’s OK. As long as you persevere (and keep creating amazing content!), your numbers will start to climb again.
Content marketing is a fundamentally important part of inbound marketing, in fact, without it, there can be no inbound marketing strategy.
However, while creating content may sound easy, the reality is that it’s not. Content marketing takes time, energy and hard work. But the good news is that the end result is long-term success for your business online!
Stay tuned for part 3 of our 10 part blog series “How to Create High Quality, User-Centric Content (Blog Series Part 3 of 10)” next Tuesday 3rd of March where we’ll get into the nitty gritty on how exactly you can create amazing content.
Did we miss anything you’d like for us to cover? Please let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our very best to get those answers to you!
Spokal’s 10 Part Content Marketing Series
- Introduction to Spokal’s 3 Pillars of Inbound Marketing (Content Marketing Series Part 1 of 10)
- Content Marketing: The Lifeline of Your Online Business (Content Marketing Series Part 2 of 10)
- The 8 Key Factors in Creating Great Content (Content Marketing Series Part 3 of 10)
- Website Usability and On-Page SEO (Content Marketing Series Part 4 of 10)
- A Guide To Off-Page SEO (Content Marketing Series Part 5 of 10)
- The Ins & Outs Of Social Media Marketing (Content Marketing Series Part 6 of 10)
- A Beginner’s Guide To Paid Online Advertising (Content Marketing Series Part 7 of 10)
- How to Get them from Browsing to Buying: Lead Nurturing (Content Marketing Part 8 of 10)
- The Art of Creating Compelling CTAs (Content Marketing Series Part 9 of 10)
- The Beginner’s Guide To Email Marketing (Content Marketing Series Part 10 of 10)