Content Marketing: Why You Need It

Technology has changed our lives and influenced the way we make purchase decisions. Landlines have been cut, consumers are on the move and using their devices to consume an ever-expanding array of content and services.

Our environment has changed and, as marketers, we need to respond to this development and shift the way we interact with our audiences.

Where does content marketing fit into this shift? According to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, the formal definition of content marketing is:

A marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

While I don’t believe content marketing is the only marketing you need, you cannot successfully market and grow your business without it, and you should incorporate content marketing into the overall marketing mix.

It doesn’t matter if you are a consumer-driven brand or focused on business to business sales, content marketing will help you reach your goals. Here are a few reasons why you need to consider content marketing:

1) Media Overload

We live in an “always on” society with a constant barrage of information from email, social media feeds, Youtube sensations and digital music, along with an avalanche of more than 1,200 marketing message each day.

Consumers have become much more savvy about marketing and are unwilling to be sold to.  They are able to tune out marketing messages easily: 99.9% of banner ads are never clicked,  81% of emails never opened  and, according to research by Tivo, only 38% of their users watch a television program in its original time slot.

These shifts have made traditional advertising, while no less expensive, much less effective.

Marketers therefore need to create communication that is entertaining, informative or useful to overcome consumer burnout and engage, educate or entertain their audiences.

2) It All Starts with Search

78% of consumers research products online before making a purchase decision, typically using a search engine – most often Google, of course – as their jumping off point.  Your brand must show up in search engine results pages to stand a chance of being considered.

This brings us to the overwhelming world of search engine optimization, which I’m not going to go into here, except to reiterate what online marketers agree: creating informative and useful content that consumers read, link to, and share, will increase your ranking in search engine results.

Google Adwords might be an effective way for large marketers to show up in searches, however, it has become increasingly cost-prohibitive for small businesses. Therefore leads need to be driven by more cost-effective organic search. Relevant, informative content and blog posts can drive leads to your website.

3) The Brand Experience

The brand experience encompasses all touchpoints between your target audience and the brand, including of course, your website and social media channels. Visitors to your site who have found you either through search, a personal recommendation or social media link need to be convinced that your product or service meets their needs.

Content marketing helps achieve this goal by demonstrating your authority and building trust. Well-written insightful content can overcome objections to purchase and smooth the way to a sale. This includes all types of content: a blog post, video walkthrough, white paper with in-depth information, even a magazine article or eBook.

4) Relationships Lead to Sales

Once your target consumer becomes familiar with, and builds an emotional connection to your brand, you have to convince him or her to make that final leap and hit the buy button, visit a store to make the purchase, or call to set up an appointment.

One way of doing this is to send visitors a steady stream of informative, useful content. You might take the insightful advice of the leading online marketing and copywriting educational resource Copyblogger and create an auto responder that systematically releases a series of informative emails, eventually leading to an offer.

Another way is to collect email addresses and send a regular newsletter to build trust, or entice them to follow your social media channels where you constantly engage them in an ongoing dialog.

5) Loyalty and Decision Reinforcement

Content marketing is also effective after the purchase occurs. Typically the goal is either to generate a repeat purchase, or as is often in the case of automotive marketing, reinforce the purchase decision and ensure the consumer feels that they made the right choice in selecting your product.

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