With the amount of hype devoted to the subject, you could be forgiven for thinking that content marketing is just another one of those industry fads. A trend that will quickly be replaced by another fashionable idea in a year or two.
But content marketing is incredibly successful. And it’s here to stay.
What is content marketing?
In an age where advertising is everywhere, consumers are very good at filtering out marketing messages. With the assistance of search engines and social media, they are also more than capable of finding the information they need to make an informed purchase without your assistance.
Traditional marketing works on by broadcasting messages at people and hoping that something will stick. Marketing and sales work together to push prospects along the sales pipeline.
Content marketing takes a more hand-off approach, allowing the prospect to control much of their own sales journey. Marketers make useful information available to people actively seeking related products and services, creating a breadcrumb trail that leads them down a sales funnel.
Content Marketing 101
Carefully crafted content, like videos, blog posts, and whitepapers, help to answer many of the prospect’s pre-sales questions, and helps to establish your brand and products as leaders within your industry.
A link shared on LinkedIn may direct them to one of your blog posts for instance, which in turns offers a whitepaper that discusses the issue in more depth, for instance. At the end of the whitepaper the reader may be directed to another document, or a video, which provides even more information and helps keep them engaged with your brand.
Eventually the prospect has enough information to make an informed purchasing decision, and is prompted to contact your sales team to close the deal or visit your website to make a purchase.
Notice how the prospect controls the whole process? This means that when they do make contact with your sales team, they have already qualified themselves as a ‘hot lead’.
Social content marketing
So where does social media fit into your content marketing strategy? According to one estimate, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing — so you could say it has a vital part to play in your content marketing tactics.
Social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are a great place to engage with new prospects. By sharing links to your early stage content (blog posts, infographics, videos, etc.) you help prospects enter the inbound funnel. You can further improve the effectiveness of this early link-sharing through the use of promoted posts — the built-in advertising platform for each of the major social networks.
And if your content is truly outstanding, people are far more likely to re-share your updates with their own social networks. This then helps to extend the reach of your campaign, increasing brand visibility and encouraging even more people to enter the sales funnel.
Content marketing ROI
Unlike a traditional outbound marketing campaign which has a definite beginning and end, content marketing campaigns can run perpetually. Once the content has been created and published, prospects can (potentially) access it forever.
With really high quality content, you can generate leads from whitepapers and other assets that were published years ago. This means that the total cost of a campaign decreases over time. And that content marketing ROI continues to climb.
One of the best content marketing examples that illustrates this truth is Kraft Foods — they claim their strategy delivers a 400% better return on investment than ads do.
Social content marketing improves your campaigns
Just like the rest of your social media strategy, listening to the marketplace helps to improve your marketing. By observing what people are talking about, you can create content that helps to address those problems and concerns.
By using real world problems, your content instantly increases in relevance. Which means that people are more likely to engage with it, share it, and act upon it.