The line between “marketing” and “content marketing” isn’t always crystal clear. After all, isn’t all marketing comprised of content?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, the difference lies in how valuable the content is to the customer. Consider this definition from a recent CMI blog post:
“Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.”
Content marketing can take the form of infographics, blog posts, web pages, podcasts, videos, white papers, apps, ebooks, books, and more. As long as it contains information your audience is likely to seek out and find useful, it counts.
So why should you put effort into serving up content that’s indirectly related to sales and revenue? Here are five solid reasons.
1. Content Marketing Can Have a Phenomenal ROI
Writing for Forbes, Josh Steimle said, “At my own company we’ve used content marketing to grow more than 1,000% over the past year. Potential clients find our content, find value in it, and by the time they contact us they’re already convinced they want to work with us.”
Considering that Steimle attributes 95% of that success to just a handful of articles he’s written, which took about 20 hours of work, that’s a phenomenal return on investment.
2. Content Marketing Supports Other Digital Marketing Channels
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest and your other social channels aren’t going to update themselves. Where can you turn for high-quality, original content to post on each of these platforms? Your content marketing pieces.
Having a regular stream of content that resonates with your audience not only gives you something useful to promote through your social channels (“Check out our latest free ebook, full of 25 targeted tips you can try today.”)—you can also mine that content for quotes, excerpts, and other tidbits that will keep your social communications strong and relevant.
3. Content Marketing Contributes to SEO
If you know which keywords you’re targeting and which keywords are bringing visitors to your website, you can create truly valuable content that will reward prospects with more than just a sales page.
Steimle says content marketing “provides additional content for social media marketing and contributes to SEO efforts by generating natural inbound links and building up good content on your website that gets found in search engines.”
For many companies, he recommends focusing the bulk of your SEO efforts on content marketing.
4. Attention Matters More than Impressions
“It baffles me that so much money is still spent on forms of advertising that are not beneficial to the consumer, nor where the current consumer attention is,” writes entrepreneur and author Gary Vaynerchuk. “For a consumer to get excited about something, to be compelled by something, it comes down to attention. Attention, not impressions. They need to really consume it. That is the game.”
If you’re doing your content marketing correctly, it will be about capturing attention in an authentic way. Answer the questions your consumer is asking, solve the problems they want to have solved, and truly educate the consumer, and you’ll earn their attention naturally.
This is also true for traditional advertising efforts. A television ad that makes people laugh, inspires them to watch it again and again and even share it with their friends—that’s the kind of advertising that rises to the level of “content.” It provides true value, unlike the standard interruptive advertising that people try to avoid and ignore.
5. Quality Content is Not Just the Future of Marketing—it’s the Present
The Content Marketing Institute argues that content marketing is not new. In their History of Content Marketing video, they trace the practice back to 1895, when John Deere launched a customer magazine called The Furrow. The Michelin Guides date back to the year 1900. And Jell-O started distributing a free recipe book in 1904.
The term “content marketing” doesn’t appear until the next century, in 2001, when the digital marketing revolution was in its infancy. And it has changed everything. By the year 2010, 88% of brands were using content marketing to engage with their audiences, using 25% of their total budgets to do so.
If you’re not focusing on content marketing in your organization, you’ve got some catching up to do.