Content marketing turns the knowledge and experience of a business’s principals and staff into written, video and visual form to help ideal customers make better buying choices, utilize products or services and improve their lives overall.

Most likely, you’ve seen countless examples of content marketing already. When typing an answer to a question or product you’re seeking into the search box, Google or Bing lists ebooks, blog posts, PowerPoint presentations, infographics, videos and other pieces of content that directly address what you’re searching. Companies provide this information now because consumers are demanding it.

How do we know?

Marketing research company Rothstein Tauber surveyed the shopping habits of 3,220 consumers from all demographics nationwide in 2014 and found that 81% of U.S. consumers go online FIRST to research products. More, those looking to buy products over $500 spend an average of 79 days researching before committing to the purchase. Today’s consumer becomes a product or service expert before opening their wallet.

Content’s Many Forms and Functions

Content serves many purposes and therefore comes in many forms. A company’s content can be developed for one purpose and then reshaped for several others. Content pieces include:

  • blog posts on business website
  • blog posts on third-party sites
  • infographics
  • press releases
  • videos
  • spec sheets or white papers
  • ebooks
  • checklists
  • email newsletters
  • workbooks or kits
  • social content or updates
  • slideshows
  • case studies
  • research reports

Despite content’s mutability, the ingredients for each piece remain the same: words and images. Made up of these basic, movable parts, content can be reshaped almost infinitely. Several blog posts become an ebook or email newsletter. Designers turn a research report into an infographic. Stills from a video fuel a slide show. Several social updates can spotlight important aspects of a blog post and link back to that single content piece multiple times. Putting one piece of content to work on many tasks stretches budgets and even creates the consistent and repetition clients need to finally convert or buy.

Content Marketing Choices Based on Brand Goals

Content helps brands achieve several marketing goals.

  • Blog posts focused on a longtail keyword boost traffic, links and search engine optimization.
  • Useful information sent via the email newsletter creates goodwill, increases customer loyalty and boosts sales.
  • Frequent social updates create credibility, awareness and accessibility for a brand because customers are free to complain and ask questions via these channels for the entire world to see.

When deciding how to utilize content, companies must start by considering the goals they’re trying to achieve. Do they want more traffic, better social media engagement, more media attention, more links to their website (for SEO), or all of the above? While nearly all brands express a need for more sales and revenue, marketing teams must consider the most pressing goals first. The good news is that content can be shaped and reshaped to target several goals.

Content Marketing Choices Based on Consumer Buying Stage

Brands with marketing teams in place know to segment their audience outreach based on the three typical buying stages:  awareness, consideration and buying.

For brands with consumers who don’t know they need a certain product or service, getting consumers to simply become aware service dominates priorities.

Those brands whose prospects are already researching know they must create content for the “consideration” stage.

The lucky brands with customers ready to buy (possibly already followers and list subscribers at this point) develop content designed to close the sale.

While incomplete, this graphic from Hubspot separates the different forms of content by each buying stage.

hubspot content graphic

Image courtesy of Hubspot

To the awareness stage above, we’d added: press releases, social content and authoritative content on other sites. To the consideration stage, we’d add: slideshare decks and infographics.

The most successful marketers see content’s primary aim as buying up as much acreage in the Internet neighborhoods their clients frequent. Therefore, just as real estate moguls and Monopoly players start with one property and gradually increase ownership over time, those planning to invest in content must have a long view and consistent program to keep the content coming.  A calendar, a dedicated team and a process consistently executed builds the Google-pleasing estate of information that draws leads and clients.

How to Reap Content Marketing’s Top Benefits

When your ideal prospects need your products or services, your content steps up to bring them to you. Companies who most closely match their content to customer needs and queries win the attention of online searchers and the respect of the search engines.

When executed properly, content marketing:

  • Attracts qualified leads to the top of the sales funnel. Companies that provide ideas and solutions through content that educates, entertains and empowers reaps the rewards in a conversion rate six times higher than those not creating content.
  • Fuels your email marketing: aggregating monthly blog posts in an email newsletter sent directly to clients’ inboxes creates your very own brand magazine. Email marketing has one of the highest returns on investment in the digital marketing sphere. In fact, the Direct Marketing Association put email marketing’s return on investment at 4,300% in their 2015 Statbook. Prominent Global Management consulting firm The McKinsey Group found that email marketing converts at a rate 40X higher than Facebook and Twitter combined.
  • Builds authority in your industry as you create your library of industry relevant articles.
  • Provides unique, quality social media content to bring Facebook and other platform fans back to your website where your offers and conversion opportunities live.
  • Acts as a 24/7 sales person. Content answers the majority of the questions the sales person typically does, without requiring vacation time, sick days and year end bonuses.

Companies that use marketing automation report that their customers can consume from a few to hundreds of pieces of content before buying.

Content Marketing on Fire for U.S. Companies

Because of the many ways content has proven to support sales, American marketers are devoting increased budget to it. In its State of Inbound Marketing Report, a study of 3,750 leading U.S. and international marketers, inbound marketing pioneer Hubspot reports that blogging and content are marketers’ top priorities for 2015, even more pursued than SEO, the typical darling of inbound.

Blog and content creation is the top priority for the majority of marketers.

inbound marketing

Marketers have clearly connected brand awareness, customer support and even sales to content.

Trust Main Path Marketing to Maximize Your Content Investment

Our content team loves breaking ebooks down into blog posts, making white papers into a slew of Facebook updates and finding the best content strategy for your goals. We always start with a content audit where we see great potential in every piece you’ve already created. The content you need depends entirely on your goals, challenges and the unique opportunities in front of you. Call 858-427-0825 today or leave us a detailed message here to discuss your unique offers and services today!

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