The hard sell is falling out of favour, content marketing is big business. 89% of UK companies are utilising it, and 88% in the US. And, it’s cheaper and more effective than traditional marketing.

Read on to learn about the difference it can make to your marketing strategy.

What is Content Marketing? 

Content marketing involves indirectly selling, or raising brand awareness through targeted communication. Rather than paying for ads that will bring customers to you (outbound marketing), if you create content that is engaging and relevant, the customers will find your business themselves (inbound marketing). This can occur through avenues such as search engines and social media. The user feels encouraged to stay on the site, view more content and hopefully reach the conversion stage.

Popular types of digital content include blogs, articles and social network posts, but increasingly marketers are putting their faith in the power of video. By 2017 video content will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic. But content marketing is not limited to the online world. According to CMI’s 2016 report, 72% of B2B companies find in-person content most effective, this includes speeches, workshops and events.

Going old school, aspirational lifestyle or cooking magazines are common content in retail.

What’s in it for me?

Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing but generates three times the leads. If you successfully engage the user, they share the content, spreading the message for you. 200 million people now use ad blockers, so paid outbound ads can have limited reach. This makes content marketing much more cost effective.

Rather than skim-able internet articles, if you have the resources to create high quality, relevant content, readers will spend significantly more time on your site. The viewer is encouraged to browse your website further, or view additional products. Through targeted content, businesses can enjoy more interactions and greater customer affinity, and ultimately, higher conversion rates.

Every website and marketing campaign must have content; it must have a story to tell. So, you might as well make the content entertaining, valuable and relevant.

How important is SEO?

Considering that Google has a 73% share of the search engine market, you should promote and structure your content along Google’s SEO (search engine optimisation) guidelines – this makes your content more accessible through organic searches. And, the more shareable your content is, the higher ranking it will have in search engine results.

That ‘shareability’ can come in many forms, but quality and relevance is a good start.

How Can I Measure Effectiveness?

Using analytics tools, you can access content views, time spent on pages and bounce rates. Sharing metrics reveal reach and engagement. Lead generation metrics, such as number of subscribers or form submissions, show how much users value your content. In content marketing, the return on investment (ROI) can be measured in terms of traffic to your site and links/social shares created organically from the content, saving you money on paid advertising.

Any Bad Points?

Marketers can find it difficult to keep tabs on all their platforms and measure which are most effective. B2B businesses in the UK and US use an average of 13 different platforms for content marketing. It can be difficult to keep the brand image consistent across all of them.

Another difficulty is attributing an increase in sales to a particular piece of content, since most customers will browse 7 or more touchpoints before making a buying decision. But you don’t have to go it alone, 62% of companies outsource their content marketing.

Consumer behaviour is constantly changing; it can be difficult to keep up with trends and technologies. But in this digital age, without a robust content strategy your business could become a thing of the past.