Whether you’ve developed an innovative product or identified a skill you can monetise to meet an existing or emerging demand, bringing a new product or service to market is undoubtedly the most challenging step for entrepreneurs looking to differentiate themselves from competitors.
In today’s digital age, traditional marketing – in the form of TV ads and magazine spreads – is all but dead. Paid advertising now presents greater costs, as it competes against approximately 82% of customers who either skip TV adverts, or pay to get rid of them entirely.
So how do startups compete against established businesses – with substantially higher budgets – in the war for customer acquisition, revenue and retention? The answer is simple: content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on creating and delivering value in order to raise brand awareness, establish thought leadership and develop a long-term relationship with your readers. The ultimate aim is to convert this relationship into profitable action.
Content marketing is less about in-your-face sales and more about delivering relevant and engaging information to keep your audience hooked on your brand.
Let’s say you’re a tax software vendor and you’re targeting accountants. To nurture a long-term relationship with accountants through content, you can send them monthly newsletters with relevant industry insights that have nothing to do with the product you’re selling, but offer such good information so that they become loyal to your brand in return.
In other words, effective content marketing is centred around the consumer, engaging them with content that resonates at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Why Content Marketing Matters
Content marketing focuses on giving consumers what they want before they begin their search. It replaces the sales pitch with relevant and helpful information to raise brand awareness and engage with existing and prospective consumers.
Research shows that 61% of consumers have made a purchase after reading a blog recommendation. Furthermore, companies with blogs produce 67% more leads than those without. Engaging your target market with relevant and informative content also encourages them to view your brand as a valued information provider rather than an interruption and a nuisance.
5 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Invest in Content Marketing
Today’s business landscape is fiercely competitive, and this is particularly true for entrepreneurs with limited financial resources looking to establish themselves in the marketplace. Below are five reasons why you should invest in content marketing as part of your lead generation, customer acquisition, sales and growth strategy:
1. Lead Generation at a Lower Cost
Although content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, it generates approximately three times as many leads. It costs 31 to 41% less than paid search and can increase your website conversions six fold. The affordability of content marketing makes it a necessary tactic for small businesses that want to maximize their budget.
It’s important to note however that content marketing is time intensive, and it can also take a while to see the results of your efforts. This is especially true when it comes to SEO. However, when it comes to creating quality content, a little can go a long way.
In fact, according to Social Media Examiner, more than 81% of marketers found that they experienced increased traffic by investing as little as 6 hours per week in their social media content. Re-purposing content into multiple formats to engage users from top to bottom of the sales funnel also allows you to do more with less.
2. Increase Brand Awareness
Engaging consumers at every stage of the buyer’s journey begins with creating brand awareness. Many entrepreneurs and even established businesses who trade in technical or B2B markets soon discover that while they may have a great product, skill or service to monetise, telling their customers about it in a way that resonates with them and generates ROI is not quite as simple.
This was the case with SEMRush, the leading competitive research toolkit for online marketing. Its research tools for SEO, PPC, and content marketing offer tremendous value to individuals and businesses aiming to engage their online audience with content.
The challenge however, lay with distributing the benefits of their technical tools and features in a way that resonated with their target audience. To address this, SEMrush gamified its educational process with a virtual Easter egg hunt, challenging users to find 15 “Easter eggs” by completing desired actions within various SEMrush tools.
Loving the @semrush easter egg hunt! #semrushegghunt pic.twitter.com/A3lq7p3gSP— Reeva (@ReevaCutting) April 12, 2017
The above is a perfect example of encouraging user-generated content via interactive content.
Since running this campaign, SEMRush has reported that the Easter Egg Hunt generated 9,300 participants.
By making it easy for users to tweet their accomplishments, the game also generated 8 million Twitter impressions. Of those who tweeted, 16% had over 1,000 followers.
Many of the best SaaS companies use content marketing to drive brand awareness by creating user academies and certification programs. Gamification of the tool set guided users through adopting new features. It’s a novel and entertaining approach which appeals to a wide audience.
3. Drive Customer Acquisition and Business Growth
Imagine if your first 1,200 customers were generated solely by content. That was the case for Design Pickle and its founder Russ Perry.
Design Pickle was created to make graphic design a more convenient and available service. They started a subscription service where subscribers could receive unlimited graphic design help for one easy, flat rate.
Perry’s launch strategy centred around employing guest blogging. Russ wrote blog posts on marketing and design and posted them on affiliate blogs. Inside each post, Russ was able to offer promotions and information about his services. With this strategy, Design Pickle was able to capture their first 1,200 customers, and have since grown into a six-figure business.
Hubspot is another notable company which leveraged inbound content marketing strategies to drive lead generation and business growth. As a pioneer in creating and offering diverse and high-quality content alongside various content marketing tools, Hubspot scaled to over 4000 customers and established a 200-plus employee workforce within 5 years, that’s since launching in 2006 to 2011.
At this time of writing, HubSpot generates 75% of leads through their inbound content marketing strategies, which involve experimenting with diverse pieces of content and featuring downloadable resources to attract leads within their blog posts.
4. Increase Online Visibility
It’s clear that in today’s digital world, the first place the average consumer looks for what they want is on Google.
With over 2 trillion Google searches per year, Google continuously aims to provide their users with the search experiences that deliver what they are looking for. Relevant and informative content is often the best way to provide that experience, so it’s hardly surprising that Google rewards websites which meet this criteria.
Google is responsible for 94% of total organic traffic to websites, according to Web Presence Solutions. A comprehensive and SEO content marketing strategy which resonates with users at a human level can dramatically boost website traffic from your most effective traffic channel (organic search).
Energy drink brand Red Bull are often regarded as the champions of content marketing, especially when it comes to online visibility. When Red Bull sponsored the World’s Highest Skydive, where Felix Baumgartner jumped 128,000 feet, RedBull gathered a substantial amount of awareness. At this time of writing, the video which highlights the jump has garnered over 45 million views.
5. Control the Conversation
It’s no secret that selling a product becomes much easier when your customer is looking for what you sell. An effective content marketing strategy allows you to control the conversation while customers are still deciding what they need, thus giving you the upper hand against your competitors.
Let’s say you sell high-end sofas. Someone on the hunt for a £300 sofa isn’t going to be easy to sell to. By the time they walk into your store, they’ve already made up their mind about what type of sofa they need.
However, what if you could talk to that person while they were researching sofas? What if you could talk to them about the importance of paying a premium for quality sofa before they made up their mind about how much they were going to spend?
Controlling the conversation during the research stages is invaluable. The same holds true for everything from car insurance to business software.
Marketing Your Business is Impossible Without Great Content
Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content should be at the heart of your overall marketing strategy, not something separate. With all the benefits described above, it’s easy to see why content marketing is important for emerging and scaling businesses.
Not only does content marketing help you raise brand awareness, boost visibility and generate leads, but it can also help you build stronger relationships with your leads and customers.
If you really want to experience the benefits of content marketing in action, it’s time to get started. Work on developing a content marketing strategy that has your target consumers at its core. Then, you can be on your way to creating valuable content that helps boost conversions and improve customer retention.
The IIEPD provide a diverse range of CPD accredited digital marketing courses. Unlike other digital marketing training programs, IIEPD provides learners with a host of different digital marketing training resources including access to the IIEPD Influencer Affiliate Program, the IIEPD Influencer Network and subsidised digital marketing services from Pie Analysis.
For more information, get in contact with IIEPD today.