Until fairly recently, content marketing was not a steadfast part of many companies’ marketing budgets. That philosophy started changing drastically as inbound marketing began to spearhead marketing efforts and search engines themselves started to prescribe heavy weight to useful content for consumers.
When most companies think of content marketing, they think about churning out words — but that is far from the full story. Content marketing involves a series of steps — and not only what is written, but where final content is placed, matters. According to a recent study by the Content Marketing Institute, social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, in addition to blogs, reach eight out of 10 of all Internet users in the U.S. These sites also account for 23 percent of all time spent online.
Furthermore, additional studies on Internet consumer behavior report that 90 percent of consumers find customized content useful to them. And, 78 percent see useful content as a benefit from a company that is interested in building good relationships.
In today’s competitive world, a good relationship with customers can be the tipping point to continued sales. With more and more people purchasing over the Internet, the sales cycle has the potential to become less personalized, but the companies that are succeeding are the ones that recognize this hurdle and overcome the challenge with good customer service and a content marketing plan that keeps customers interested in a continued conversation.
Last year’s Cyber Monday statistics help paint a great picture of the potency of Internet retail. Since 2005, Cyber Monday has grown to become the largest online shopping day of the year. Sales from Cyber Monday 2013 totaled more than $2 billion. Leading the way for this unprecedented online shopping blitz were social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — along with increased mobile usage. Facebook, a platform that is ripe for content marketing strategies, has an app on 78 percent of all Smartphones, and 46 percent of people report using Facebook while running errands or shopping. Content marketing, when done correctly, has the potential to make these shoppers fans and then turn these fans into ongoing customers.
Content marketing requires consistency and thorough research, but when it is done correctly, customers are engaged throughout the buying cycle and trust and deeper relationships are built. With the benefits of content marketing far outweighing the “hands-on” aspect, it is no wonder that a recent Forrester survey showed 62 percent of companies outsourcing at least part of their content marketing efforts. Yet, even with an Internet marketing firm behind the majority of a company’s content marketing efforts, customer creation and retention costs still fall on a much lower scale than other efforts, like advertising.
In fact, the average cost to generate a lead through inbound marketing efforts such as content marketing is commonly listed at $143, about half the average of traditional, outbound strategies ($373).
Blogs and featured articles continue to be the hallmark of content marketing efforts. Not only do these strategies provide great content to build consumer relationships, but they also provide strong power to search engines and can quickly help to increase a company’s ranking within search engine listings. The content from blogs can give a website 434 percent more indexed pages and 97 percent more indexed links than sites without a blog. This content proves a valuable resource in SEO, no doubt, but content that is just left to sit on a blog only fulfills half of the equation. The content must be marketed and used on a variety of platforms to really see a return on content marketing efforts. That is why the outsourcing of content marketing has become so ideal for businesses. It’s time consuming, but so worth the effort.
Additionally, content marketing has grown to include visual sites such as Instagram and Pinterest. While content marketing and content creation was previously seen as a “written word” medium, these visually-driven social sharing sites are forcing marketers to think in new ways and present consumers branding efforts that can tell a story visually. Video content is expected to show an increase in 2014 as well.
If your company needs to interact with customers and build a stronger sales base in 2014, adding content marketing to your Internet strategy for 2014 is a safe bet. Not only will it build a Web presence and increase SEO, a thorough content marketing plan can help provide proactive online reputation management and build a team of loyal consumers that will help to promote brand message and increase awareness.