The value of content
Most B2B directors have heard by now that their company should be producing more content - but what’s the point?
Maybe you’re skeptical. Maybe you think that content is just a fad that will soon die out. Maybe you think that inbound marketing is another trend. And with thoughts like this, why would you prioritise producing content over other tried and tested marketing tactics?
If this sounds like you, I understand your skepticism. Instead of buying into the idea blind, first you’ll want to understand the tangible benefits that producing great content creates, as well as the less tangible ones which are just as key.
The truth is, in 2017, producing great content should not only form part of a company’s marketing strategy, but its overall philosophy.
Here’s why a content strategy is now ESSENTIAL to lasting corporate success.
The word “content” refers to website text, blogs, social media, emails, videos, podcasts ... in fact, any package of information that your company uses to speak directly to its visitors, leads, and customers. It’s the voice you use before a potential buyer makes direct contact.
The benefits of a successful content strategy are wide-ranging, but let’s take a moment to look at its key benefits, starting with those that are easy to measure.
Boost ranking and attract more visitors
Over 50% of marketers that create content say that it has increased their search engine rankings. This happens for a number of reasons, but it will prove particularly beneficial for marketing teams and companies that embrace the latest methods for enhancing SEO.
The intelligence of services such as Google and Bing has advanced enormously in recent years, meaning that most reputable businesses and SEO thought leaders are now recommending that companies focus on producing helpful, readable, valuable content designed for human readers. This replaces the emphasis that used to be placed on traditional SEO tactics, which were built around communicating more with search engines than people.
Great content boosts SEO, which in turn pulls more visitors to your website. Read more here.
Convert more leads
With effective, readable, and helpful content, you give your visitors a reason to stay on-site and convert into leads.
Successful inbound marketers provide valuable “gated” content, which website visitors can only access once they have left their contact details in the system. With the list of contacts that results from such an event, you can build an email list that allows for a greater, deeper level of audience interaction via email nurturing.
74% of companies indicate that content marketing is improving the quality and quantity of their leads.
If your content is high-quality, evergreen, and continues to offer value over the coming months and even years, the influence of your website will grow - as long as you continue to consistently produce content of a similarly high level.
Content marketing is a long-term investment that reaps sustainable returns over time, generating visitors and leads as your website’s influence swells.
Less tangible benefits
As well as improving your website’s visibility and its ability to attract and convert new prospects, there are other benefits to producing a powerful library of effective content. These are less easy to accurately measure with a CRM or with typical business ROIs; however, they are no less important.
Develop brand identity
Content - particularly website content - is one of the easiest ways to speak directly to your potential customers. When you produce content, you are demonstrating to your audience your company’s voice and personality. You can clarify your vision for success, translate your values, talk about the space you fill within the market, and communicate why the solution you have to offer should make prospective clients prick up their ears and pay attention.
This is your chance to humanise your brand and enhance your reputation.
Offering content which shines a light over the subjects your clients are most interested in and answers their questions allows you to build trust within your prospects. The authority you have over the solution your company offers should demonstrate that you are a thought leader in your chosen industry, and the content you share can become a trusted resource by anyone who wants to learn more.
In the best possible scenario, you will attract readers who are potential clients, they will recognise the value of your content, and they will return to your website several times until getting in direct contact.
While statistics vary, it seems that 57-70% of the B2B buyer’s journey is usually complete before a lead contacts a supplier.
It may sound like a hippy ideal, but a successful inbound sales strategy depends on a company advising and assisting before any kind of hard sell. For this reason, creating a buyer journey where the emphasis is placed on the experience of the customer is essential, and a climate of corporate altruism is important.
Offering free and helpful information on your website, your blog, your LinkedIn company page, your YouTube channel, and anywhere else you share content should demonstrate that your company prioritises helping the right people over making money from bad-fit customers.
How do you begin?
Using content to succeed in all these areas is not simply a matter of ticking boxes. Inbound marketing is a process that takes time, effort, and diligence. It is a long-term strategy and not a quick fix, but the payoffs are considerable and without them your company’s voice risks being drowned out.
While the work that must go into an inbound marketing strategy will take dedication to prove successful, there are a few top-level guidelines that we recommend following:
- Follow best practice for SEO by focusing on being helpful, not stuffing text with keywords. Also, create content using topic clusters.
- Respond to the questions your ideal customers want answered through your content, focusing your buyer journey around visitors, leads and customers.
- Measure your marketing efforts via SMART goals; i.e. targets that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
- Make sure your marketing team understands the importance and relevance of the content you are producing. If they don’t - hire someone who does.
- Invest in a CRM system that can accurately measure the success of your marketing efforts.
- Be a trend setter, not a trend follower. Try new things, measure their success, and improve moving forwards.