Eighty-eight percent of companies have a content marketing strategy. Do you?
Are you ignoring the power of content because you don’t think it will generate ROI for your business or improve the customer experience?
Do you worry that you don’t have the budget for content marketing and can’t waste an investment?
If you’re holding back when it comes to content creation, you could be limiting your top marketing tactics and your business as a whole. We hear plenty of reasons for why companies don’t think content marketing is right for them. While their reasons are often built on logical businesses sense, they overlook key benefits and factors.
Here are seven excuses we hear when it comes to content marketing, and why you should throw them out the window.
1. We Only Allocate a Budget to Tactics With a Strong ROI
One of the biggest arguments that clients bring up when asked why they don’t have a content marketing strategy is the return on investment. Every marketing dollar is attached to an expected sales goal and return, which means the tactics that generate the most sales often get the largest budget. Unfortunately, looking exclusively at one metric like revenue doesn’t describe the entire customer journey.
Content is rarely a closer in the marketing world, which means it provides more top-of-funnel support instead of bottom-of-funnel sales. A customer might not directly purchase your product or service the second they read your content, but it will help them become more informed about their options.
The team at Practical eCommerce created a handy guide for breaking down various attribution models that can explain your customer’s journey. By using the Path Length report, you can see how many steps your average customer takes before they buy. Anything higher than one means your customer interacted with your website and marketing tactics multiple times before they decided to buy, and have a mappable sales journey.
Once you know how often your customers interact with your brand, you can start to see where they go before they buy. If you’re hell-bent on sticking to the revenue number (it’s an important one, we know!) you can adjust your revenue reports different through attribution models.
There are typically three types of attribution that businesses can look
- Last Click Attribution gives all of the sales credit to the tactic your customer interacts with before they buy. If they open an email and make a purchase from the coupon inside, then the email gets the credit.
- First Click Attribution gives all of the sales credit to the first marketing tactic the customer saw. If they saw an ad on Facebook but didn’t buy until a coupon came through their email, then the Facebook ad (not the email) gets the credit.
- Linear Attribution provides a balanced view of attribution. In the same example, both the social media ad and the email would get credit for the sale.
There are multiple other attribution models that companies can look at — and some they can make themselves — but last click attribution tends to be the most popular. However, this model also holds content marketing back. Content typically works as a support system to bring customers closer to buying. It tends to be middle-of-the-funnel. It might seem like your content isn’t effective at getting customers to buy, but that’s because you’re looking at the wrong model.
2. We Can’t Find Content That Sells
The more expensive or involved the product or service is, the longer customers tend to spend before they buy. Could you imagine if you spent the same amount of time researching your morning coffee as you would buying a car or mattress? It would take you days just to get a cup of joe!
However, just because a customer doesn’t buy immediately doesn’t mean they don’t plan to. They’re simply seeking information. If you’re not providing this information, your customer will find someone (maybe a competitor) who is.
The team at Boston Interactive created an infographic to highlight the most effective types of content based on investment (the time and effort of creation) versus return. Based on this data, the five most effective content types are:
While whitepapers and video tend to take more effort, they’re also one of the highest revenue-generating content types in the marketing arsenal.
All of these content types have one common thread: they work to inform the customer:
- Your microsite provides information in a concentrated place that customers wouldn’t otherwise find.
- Your Ebooks and whitepapers take a deep dive into a topic that your audience might not understand.
- Your webinars or interviews answer common FAQs that customers would otherwise ask sales representatives.
Just because customers don’t buy your products the second your webinar ends doesn’t mean it’s not an important tool on their sales journey. The brand recognition and experience will keep your business in their minds as a top option when they are ready to close a deal.
3. Our Customers Don’t Care About Our Blog
Most people equate content marketing with blogging; however, the blog is only the first part of the content process. Content also has to do with the product descriptions and customer reviews on your website. It covers press releases and news coverage that make your brand interesting. It even covers landing page copy that the customer and search engines read before filtering through products.
According to a Salsify survey of 1,000 customers, 88 percent of buyers say that product content plays a key role in their buying decisions and 94 percent of respondents said they will abandon a site if they can’t find the information they’re looking for.
Do you still question whether your content has a direct impact on your sales? If so, here’s some more information from Salsify:
- The top three factors that make a customer buy (in order) are product content, ratings and reviews, and then price.
- One of the biggest pet peeves customers have when shopping is not finding enough information on a product.
- Millennials are 50 percent more likely to rate reviews as their top factor when considering a purchase.
Any word or phrase drafted on your website is content, and you havebetween 0-8 seconds to grab the attention of your visitors before they leave. Do you really want some guy in your sales department winging it? If you don’t already have a content strategy, your sales could be suffering.
4. Our Budget is Focused on Traffic-Drivers Like Email and Social
A business needs a balance between new and existing customers to thrive. Even companies with the most loyal customers will struggle to grow and stay open if they can’t bring in a regular stream of new business. In the digital age, the currency that buys customers is traffic.
Why should existing customers return to your website after they’ve seen it once?
Why should new customers visit your website in the first place?
The answer is content.
In a study of 350,000 small businesses, marketers, and brands by GetResponse, social media will be one of the largest traffic driving channels in 2017. In fact, 59 percent of brands plan to invest in social as their top marketing strategy. Furthermore, 42 percent said they plan to use email as their top traffic-driver in 2017, and 28 percent said they plan to focus on search traffic (both paid and organic).
All of these channels require content.
What are you going to put in your emails?
What are you going to share on social media?
What are you going to try and rank for outside of brand terms?
You can use promoted posts and paid search to buy all of the traffic you want, but if you’re not taking the traffic someplace your customers want to go, they’re not going to stay and they’re certainly not going to buy.
5. We’re Focused on SEO This Year, Not Content
Speaking of driving traffic and ranking for search terms, you can’t launch a successful SEO plan without taking content marketing into consideration.
The team at KISSmetrics addressed this idea in an article about SEO and content marketing. Too often they saw content teams separated from the SEO division who never even talked to other parts of the marketing department. While they admit that content marketing and SEO have their differences (content is more holistic and SEO is more technical), the two work together to achieve their mutual goals:
- Marketers can expand SEO by applying technical know-how to content marketing.
- Content marketers will see better results by tapping into SEO value.
Time on Site is a fantastic metric to consider when thinking about the links between SEO and content. While Pages Viewed can be a vanity metric (it doesn’t matter if a customer looked at 10 pages if they only spent five seconds on each page), Time on Site shows how committed your customers are to finding what they’re looking for within your brand. The higher this number, the more your customers are likely to return, buy, and become brand advocates — turning your content efforts into sales efforts. Furthermore, search engines look at metrics like Time on Site and Pages Viewed when they take rankings into consideration, fulfilling the technical goals of SEO.
So how do you increase your Time on Site? Content. By creating interesting and useful information that your customers want, they will keep coming back and clicking around. In fact, “dense content” is one of the hot buzzwords of 2017 because customers are tired of reading short and basic blog articles that fail to thoroughly answer their questions. Customers want the encyclopedia answer, not the Wikipedia one.
6. We Want Content That Goes Viral
When brands finally do invest in content marketing, they try to get on the Huffington Post, CNN, and other websites that will generate a ton of traffic and make them “go viral.” When they don’t, they give up. This is because traffic is a fantastic example of a vanity metric. Sure you want more of it, but is it any good?
To answer that question, let’s do a math problem:
Two websites generate 10,000 website visitors monthly. Which website is performing better?
You can’t answer that unless you look at the engagement and conversion rates of each page. Both websites are hitting their desired traffic goals, but only one is convincing five percent of customers to buy while the other struggles at one percent. At the end of the day, traffic means nothing when your customers aren’t buying.
According to DMN3, 61 percent of companies said their biggest challenge is generating “high-quality leads,” and 73 percent of all B2B leads are not “sales ready.” This is where content comes in.
- Your content improves the quality of the traffic you drive, increasing engagement and conversions.
- Your content filters and educates your leads, increasing the percent that are “sales ready.”
Without content, you’re just sending thousands of uniformed site visitors to your landing pages and hoping they can figure out what you’re selling and why they should buy it by themselves. All of that “virality” is useless.
7. We Generate Plenty of New Customers Through Paid Programs
While we’ve talked extensively about moving customers through the funnel to get a sale, the conversion isn’t the final step in the process. Once you get customers through the funnel, it’s important to keep them there, bring them back, and turn them into advocates.
It costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. If you’re looking to increase your marketing efficiency in 2017, start with your existing customers.
Do you create a positive customer service experience after they buy?
Do you solve problems quickly and courteously?
All of these steps go into the retention process.
According to Invespcro, 44 percent of companies are focused on customer acquisition compared to 18 percent of companies that are focused on retention. Meanwhile, only 42 percent of companies know how to measure a customer’s lifetime value accurately.
Not only does marketing to existing customers increase your efficiency, it boosts your sales and conversion rates. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent versus 5-20 percent for a new customer. Existing customers are also 50 percent more likely to try a new product and spend 31 percent more on their purchases. With this information, why aren’t you creating a strategy around retention?
While your website and paid search ads might be useful for bringing new people to your website, you have to give them reasons to return. This is why you need content. Existing customers want to learn about new products, follow your business success, and make the most of your brand. By blogging about your company and sharing multimedia content you’re keeping the momentum going — and keeping customers coming back.
Today’s Investment is Tomorrow’s Success
Almost half (45 percent) of marketers surveyed by the content marketing institute said their marketing efforts were somewhat more successful in 2016. The results as a whole were overwhelmingly positive, as 90 percent of respondents thought their efforts had remained flat or improved and only three percent said their results were less successful.
So what’s contributing to this success?
- 85 percent of respondents said their content quality and production has increased.
- 53 percent said content marketing had become a larger priority within the company.
- 42 percent thought their content measurement improved, increasing the ability to prove results.
The majority of companies are happy with their investment and believe it’s at least a net neutral compared to the risk. So shake off any old excuses for ignoring content marketing and start experimenting with this marketing tactic today.