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Content marketing is one of the leading efficient and effective ways to generate targeted web traffic for your business, regardless of how annoying or exciting of an industry you may be in.
But what does content marketing mean for your business? What makes it different from what you already do to sell your products and services?
So, what exactly is content marketing?
“Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.”
Content marketing is being used by 86% of businesses today. But effective content marketing? Is not so easy to find.
Consider these facts:
That people don’t want advertising when making purchasing decisions; they want valuable information — content.
That it’s content that spreads via social networks, generating powerful word-of-mouth exposure for savvy content marketers.
Develop content that people desire and search for, and it’s exceptional content that Google wants to rank high in search results that drives organic traffic to your business.
Content is the best way to achieve what advertising is supposed to deliver but doesn’t — to get people to know, like, and trust your company and your brand.
If your business isn’t creating engaging and educational content throughout all stages of the buyer’s journey, you are losing ground to your competition.
Content marketing is all about providing content that is valuable and relevant that is useful to your audience, which educates and becomes a resource for them.
Content marketing is all about bringing value and building a relationship and engaging with your target audience, regardless of the form it takes – webinar, guide, eBook, video or just a blog article or a guest post on another blog or trade magazine
Today, most marketing teams are focused on creating content that supports the brand or its products.
The problem with most content is that it is created for by the brand for the brands.
Content that isn’t created for the target audience you are trying to reach, engage, and convert to purchasers of your product.
Stop creating content that sells your product.
Stop creating content no one will ever read because it’s a sales pitch.
Stop creating campaigns that have a short shelf life and start creating content that educates, is a resource or entertains.
This type of content is not meeting the customers need. Great content meets the customer’s needs and has the customer, not the brand in the driver seat and works to educate or solve a customers problem.
The problem with brand-driven content is the same as the problem with most marketing campaigns. Think about this, five hours on Facebook; the average article reaches everyone it’s going to. Three hours is the average half-life of a tweet.
The average half-life of content on Twitter is less than three hours. On Facebook, an average article reaches just about everyone it’s going to in 37 days.
As Seth Godin has stated: content marketing “is all the marketing that’s left.”
Many people confuse content with content marketing; anyone can create content, that’s the easy part.
To reach, engage with and convert new customers to your business and brand you have to create content people want.
And you need to attract them to a content marketing destination. As author and speaker Andrew Davis said, “developing a content brand takes an audience-first approach to business storytelling that builds a loyal audience.”
What content can do for you that other forms of marketing cannot:
Improves and enhances brand awareness
Position your brand and business as an expert in the field
Position the author as an expert in the field
Improve search engine ranking
As much as things change, they stay the same, and this is true for content marketing.
Many brands continue to make the same mistakes, and their marketing content is hugely promotional (and consumers ignore it) and it is also pushed too early in the sales funnel.
The first role of content marketing, early in the sales funnel is to introduce your brand, to start to build a relationship so that consumers like and trust your brand enough to want to purchase from you.
That starts with non-promotional content.
The bulk of your content should be non-promotional and educational; you are in the early-stage “dating” content.
Content at this stage of the “dating” process needs to be non-promotional and not weird or creepy by asking for a commitment way too early.
You don’t want to push too hard at this stage because your goal is to get to the second “date.”
Dealerships have a significant opportunity to reach more early-stage prospects.
Content marketing can drive leads, conversations and market share for your brand.
Ask yourself these few questions about your current marketing efforts:
Are you getting your representative share of the online conversations?
What percent of online conversations about your product category are branded?
What percentage of these conversations is about your brand? Or from your brand?
What is the difference from your market share?
How big is the gap?
This means the competition is wooing your target audience long before you.
For example, let’s say that you have 25% of the sales in a product category, but your digital content only represents 5% of branded conversation online, you are not reaching your online fair share of the online conversations. Using a simple SEO tool like, SEMrush can provide you with what your online what your current online share of voice is.
How much of your website traffic is a result of unbranded search traffic?
How many of your early-stage prospects find your company website?
Take a look at the search traffic from brand terms vs. unbranded search terms in your Google Analytics account.
I’m willing to bet that as most brands do, you’re in the habit of promoting too much on your website about you and your brand and have yet to build a brand publishing capability.
Writing about the trends in your industry, you will be viewed as an authority; you will attract more unbranded search traffic.
Have you tested the effectiveness of PPC ads vs. Content Marketing at driving brand visits?
If your company spends marketing budget on digital ads (PPC), test the effectiveness of this approach in driving traffic to your website vs. content marketing; the average consumer views an ad for about one second.
Cost of advertising/search landing pages with low organic and social traffic –
Landing pages are designed to deliver on the advertising message, measure the bounce rate of your landing pages. How much organic search or social traffic are your web pages receiving?
Build a content marketing experience that will serve as the landing page for your digital advertising. This drives “free” search and social traffic on top of your paid ad traffic to the landing page.
The True cost of organic and social website traffic vs. paid digital ads–
Content marketing lets your gain additional reach, engagement, and conversion without having to buy it. You earn your audience’s attention and trust without buying it.
A straightforward way to calculate this is to look at your average cost per click on paid search. Take the spend per click and multiply that by the volume of organic traffic and social traffic, this is the initial value of content marketing. The difference is content marketing continues to drive your target audience and traffic, whereas PPC ads are only as effective when they run. Stop the ad, lose the traffic.
Content marketing is anything that communicates a message. It can consist of any of the following: infographics, articles, guest posts, blogs, emails, landing pages, podcasts, eBooks, whitepapers, social media posts, etc.
It’s what marketers have been doing even before the term “content marketing” ever existed.
There’s no doubt that content marketing works, but could it also work for your business?
Is content marketing right for your business?
For awareness and thought leadership content, it’s essential to go beyond traffic metrics to look at engagement rates.
Anyone can buy traffic today.
Customer engagement is key in today’s attention-starved world filled with so many choices.
Everybody is doing content marketing today, although many are creating “internet junk” that lacks quality and is not original or authentic and is promotional messaging packaged as content marketing.
A study from the CMI demonstrated that 76% of B2C and 86% of B2B marketers use content marketing today.
But before you jump on the bandwagon, let me share some more stats with you:
70% of companies don’t believe they are capable of content marketing and struggle to see results from their content marketing efforts.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
There is a massive gap between companies that produce content and companies that doing content marketing right and getting a return on investment (ROI)from it.
Is it because the content is not right for their businesses?
The truth is, content marketing can work for every and any business, the key is in the execution – and to be honest, a lot of companies are doing it wrong. Again, content marketing is not promotional pieces about your business or service.
The right question is not “Is content marketing right for your business?” it’s…
Should you manage your content marketing internally or through an external agency or consultant?
Consider these three questions to consider before you decide which is the best way for your company to move forward with content marketing:
Are the resources available to produce quality content?
Let’s start by debunking the myth that content marketing produced internally is “free” or that “it doesn’t take too many resources.”
It takes work, and that has a cost associated.
Can you dedicate a person to creating quality, relevant keyword driven content that engages your target audience?
If no, then you’ll either need to hire staff or allocate internal resources to manage your content efforts along with training and development for this person.
Do you have the tools for the job? For starters, you will need a keyword research tool, trending topics tools, distribution tools, etc. You can start with free plans with limited functions. However, you will need to upgrade to full-fledged plan to have a real impact.
Can and do your website developers have the time and skill set to post the content and relevant images or videos for every piece of content created? Do you have graphic designers staff or available if you don’t have the necessary designing skills for content and so forth.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with managing content marketing internally; however, if you do so, you must commit to it and dedicate at least 20 hours a week on creating and on the distribution of your content.
You also want to ensure that you are producing “evergreen” content. Evergreen content requires a lot of time and resources. Evergreen content is longer in text, is a genuine resource of a how-to for example and takes typically weeks or even months to produce due to the research required for each piece.
Producing content with internal staff is the ultimate way to go as long as you can manage it effectively without giving up quality or stopping altogether. The key is to ensure you are committed and have the right resources to produce high quality, engaging content and distribute it to drive engagement.
Are the skills available to produce quality content?
Not everyone with enough industry knowledge is qualified to be a content writer or interested.
Who’d write a better article on afib? A cardiologist or a content writer that consulted the cardiologist and did their research?
The content writer is likely to do a better job and write in a manner that anyone could understand the article.
As with most things, content marketing and content writing requires skills. An expert on a particular topic doesn’t mean that one can transfer knowledge in a cohesive, comprehensive and engaging manner.
Most people are not born as effective writers, you can learn to be and with time, hard work and dedication, improve your writing skills.
An excellent place to start is by learning is with copywriting formulas to make your writing more engaging. I would also suggest reading Jeff Goins’ blog for pro tips on copywriting.
Other tools are Grammarly and Hemingway Editor both highlight writing that is grammatically incorrect, passive or complicated.
For landing pages, the worst thing you can do is load the page up with industry jargon. It may make sense to you. However, I will guarantee that your target audience will be lost and the bounce rate will be high. Try running your landing page through the Unbounce’s Dejargonator to eliminate any potential jargon.
A screenshot Unbounce’s Dejargonator
If you have the team and resources to manage your content marketing in-house, you should. You know your business better than anyone else. Make sure you commit the resources, time and effort required and stay with it.
If you don’t have the time, resources or skill set than I suggest you outsource your content marketing to a firm with the expertise to deliver high-quality, engaging content.
Content Marketing is a long-term play
Let’s review what content marketing is:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing relevant, valuable, and engaging content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience on a consistent basis — to ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
There are a few words in this definition that deserve your attention, and two which that are often overlooked are consistent and ultimately – content marketing is a long-term marketing strategy. The fundamental of all marketing that many forget is that long before you can sell anything to your target audience, you must create and deliver genuine value.
Results don’t happen overnight for anything. Anything that is worthwhile takes time. For content marketing, it should take approximately three months to see results. Many companies give up before that and move on to the latest buzz of marketing. They are fooled into thinking that content marketing doesn’t work, just as the results are about to roll in.
Moz has studied content marketing extensively, and the graph below illustrates the reality of content marketing.
The key is to stay with it; the results will be there if you stop selling and promoting your product or business and start delivering value to your target audience.
Wrapping it up
Content marketing has many benefits for your business and your target audience and customers. It is a proven long-term marketing strategy.
For content marketing to deliver all that it can, it requires a long-term commitment and a high standard of quality.
Your content needed to be valuable, highly relevant and educational to your audience and delivered on a consistent basis.
Want to improve your content marketing strategy or content? Lacking the resources or skill set to do so? Contact us, let’s discuss how we can help.
About Carol Forden Freelance Writer & Customer Experience Marketing at Outsell Digital Marketing
Carol Forden is Content Marketer and Business Development Manager at Outsell Digital Marketing. Outsell Digital Marketing specializes in creative content marketing strategies for auto dealerships. We offer reasonable content marketing packages that include distribution to your target audience.