Content marketing is one of the most popular and effective forms of marketing, practised by 97% of marketers today. It is a valuable strategy for achieving many important marketing goals, including raising brand awareness, improving SEO, generating leads, building long-term brand loyalty and boosting conversion. With the right approach, your content can generate more leads at a lower cost compared to traditional advertising.
With new technologies like generative AI on the rise, there’s never been a better time for businesses in all industries to tap into the power of content marketing. If you’re new to content marketing or simply looking for ways to get more engagement and a better ROI on your content strategy, this article walks you through the top benefits of content marketing, the best content marketing approaches, and how you can use quality content to achieve your most important digital marketing goals.
- 97% of marketers are using content marketing today as part of their marketing strategy.
- 80% of digital marketers consider content creation a top priority.
- Content marketing accounts for 26% of an average B2B company’s marketing budget.
- Nine out of ten B2B buyers research content on 2-7 websites before making a purchase decision.
- Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as paid ads per euro spent.
- The advantages of content marketing for business include cost-effectiveness, brand awareness, improving SEO, generating leads, building long-term brand loyalty and boosting conversion.
- With the rise of generative AI and content marketing tech, it’s more lucrative than ever to invest in content marketing.
What is content marketing?
The concept of content marketing has existed for decades, as savvy businesses have always understood the power of sharing useful, engaging information as a way to connect with potential customers. With the rise of digital marketing in the 1990s, marketers began using high-quality, free content as a way to attract potential customers to their brand online. Today, 97% of marketers are using content marketing as part of their digital strategy.
Here’s how we define content marketing in a nutshell:
- A strategic approach to publishing easily accessible information that informs, entertains and entices audiences who are likely to be a good fit for your brand and its products and services.
Although it can take many different forms, some of the defining characteristics of content marketing are:
- Unlike advertising, content marketing relies on an inbound marketing strategy. This means you publish content on your own channels (usually your website and social media channels) and make it as easy as possible to find, so when someone searches for a related topic on the internet, they discover your content. In other words, content marketing lets your audience come to you. This is the opposite of outbound advertising, where you place an ad somewhere in the hopes that it will catch the right person’s eye at the right time.
- Content marketing leverages search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to make it easy to find amongst the estimated 4.6 billion pieces of content published online every day.
- Content marketing is not overtly sales-driven. Instead, it is designed to add value to the relationship between brands and their audiences, which helps you achieve a wide range of goals (as we will explore below).
- Content is generally available to audiences free of charge or in exchange for non-monetary valuables (such as the reader’s email address, signup or other valuable data).
Advantages of content marketing
With over 80% of digital marketers reporting that content marketing is a top priority (one that accounts for 26% of the average B2B brand’s marketing budget), it’s clear that content marketing is a popular, beneficial marketing tool.
Talking about the benefits of content marketing is a great way to gain a deeper understanding of why content marketing is important and what it can do for your brand. Here are the top 9 advantages of content marketing.
1. Better return on investment
Research shows that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, such as ad campaigns. The main savings come from the fact that you publish the content on your own channels, such as your website, blog and social media channels. The price of content marketing derives from the cost of creating content. New technologies like AI and content marketing tech are making the content creation process increasingly efficient and affordable for brands of all sizes.
As brands have started focusing more heavily on content in recent years, they are devoting more and more of their marketing spend towards it. Today, it is not uncommon for a medium-sized company to spend almost the same amount on content creation per month as they do on paid advertising, such as Google Ads.
There’s a key difference though: your content remains accessible to potential customers for as long as you want. You can continually tweak and update it, and it continues to add value for months, even years to come, compared to an expensive ad campaign that runs for a few months max.
2. Boosting conversion rates
Even though content marketing is not overtly sales-driven, it can still have a powerful effect on conversion. Past studies have linked effective content marketing with up to a 600% increase in sales.
Yet the impact of content marketing can be hard to fully measure. Unlike a fixed-term ad campaign, which delivers a quick bump in conversion, content marketing is a long-term strategy. It cultivates lasting relationships with customers which results in a higher customer lifetime value (CLV) than a simple one-off ad campaign.
3. Generating high-quality leads
Content marketing has been proven to generate 3 times as many high-quality leads per euro spent, compared with paid ads. Because it’s an inbound strategy, you know that the people who find your content are very likely to be in the market for something your company is selling. In that sense, content marketing filters out lower quality leads and attracts high-quality leads.
4. Raising brand awareness
Branded search (internet searches that contain a specific brand name) is a rare privilege that is only available to well-established brands. Especially if your brand is a relative newcomer to the market, your chances of attracting branded searches are very low. Having an abundance of high-quality content online can help even the playing field though.
Even if a potential customer has never heard of your brand before, they are searching the internet for information about solutions like the ones you offer. 90% of B2B buyers research 2 to 7 websites before making a purchase. When buyers search for topics related to your offering, your content helps bring them into contact with your brand for the first time.
5. Establishing thought leadership
Once customers are aware of your brand, your content gives you an opportunity to showcase what that brand is all about. Compared to advertising, content marketing gives you a platform for sharing deeper insights and perspectives and showcasing what makes your brand unique.
The best content expresses a unique vision that makes your brand stand out from the competitors. This makes your potential customers feel like they’re part of something special, so they’re likely to engage more with your content and eventually convert into loyal customers.
6. Driving social media traffic
Blog posts, customer cases and white papers are all excellent, effective forms of content marketing. But there’s more than that: social media posts are another ideal form of content marketing for raising brand awareness, showcasing thought leadership and engaging with your target audiences.
93% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn is their most effective content distribution platform. Posting your content on social media brings much-needed exposure and encourages people to directly engage with your brand in ways they won’t be able to do elsewhere. That helps drive more traffic to your site, and more qualified leads into your sales funnel.
7. Building trust
Trust is the cornerstone of any successful content marketing strategy. It’s also what makes content marketing potentially so much more powerful than paid ads, considering three-quarters of consumers say they do not trust advertising.
In contrast to advertising, content gives you a chance to connect with your audience in more meaningful ways. It lets you show that you understand and identify with the challenges they face. It also eliminates the pressure that people often associate with overtly sales-driven messaging. Your content offers a much more interactive experience, where your potential customers can focus on what matters to them and make up their own minds. This presents your brand is much more honest, trustworthy light, which customers crave.
8. SEO visibility
For B2B buyers in need of a new product of solution, the customer journey starts with an online search 90% of the time. Making sure your products and solutions appear close to the top of your potential customers’ search results is another key advantage of effective content marketing.
The best content is search-engine optimised (SEO), which means you deploy strategic tactics to ensure your content is as visible and easily findable online as possible. SEO is a vital component of any content marketing strategy. Learn more about the benefits and best practices of modern SEO in our article on the topic.
9. Build lasting customer relations
Your brand’s content is essential to creating a meaningful, lasting customer relationship. By offering your customers helpful content that really adds value to their lives, you encourage them to keep returning to your brand as a source of information, support and community. That’s something that only content marketing can achieve. As a result, you bind customers to your brand, turn them into loyal fans and cultivate valuable long-term relationships.
Types of content
Now that we’ve covered why content marketing is important, let’s look at which types of content you can use to reap all the benefits of content marketing.
Content marketing enables you to create rich, immersive brand experiences that tie in multiple channels and formats. The best approach is always to use a mix of content types that cater to your audiences’ preferences.
Here are the most common types of content used in content marketing:
- Blog posts
- New releases and email newsletters
- Customer cases/customer success stories
- White papers, research reports and other long reads
- Social media posts
- Videos and transcripts
- Webinars and events
Content distribution strategies
Another key benefit of content marketing is scalability. With one piece of content, you have the potential to create many different touchpoints with potential customers. This increases your ROI, because once you’ve created one piece of content, you can reuse or repurpose it in many different formats. Here are just a few common approaches to getting maximum exposure out of each piece of content you create:
- Social media tie-ins: No matter what type of content you produce, whether it’s new blog post, a video, an infographic or anything else, always promote it with social media posts. This raises visibility for your content among your target groups and helps drive traffic from your social media channels towards your website.
- Gated content: If you want to capture customers’ email addresses, try hosting an online event, like a webinar, or creating a very high-quality piece of long-form content, like an original research report. Ask customers to sign up (enter their email address) to access the content. But to make this strategy work, you’ll need to provide plenty of teasers. For example, reference your gated content in your blog posts on similar topics, and promote it through social media campaigns that give sneak previews of key takeaways.
- Earned media: Guest blogging or contributing content to a third-party media outlet is a great way to raise brand awareness. It feels even less like advertising than when you post content on your own blog, which raises your brand’s credibility even further and attracts organic traffic.
- Email marketing: Customers who consent to receiving email marketing are some of the highest-quality leads you can hope for. Nurture the relationship by sharing highly valuable content via email. You can also use your email newsletter to draw attention to other content campaigns, like a new blog series, white paper or webinar.
Best practices for content creation
The success of your content marketing strategy depends on 2 key factors:
- The quality of your content
- How easy it is to find your content
So, to achieve the best results, you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure quality and findability.
What is quality content?
When it comes to content, “quality” is notoriously hard to define. High-quality content for one brand may look entirely different from high-quality content for another. While quality is always something your brand has to define for itself, you should always take these factors into account:
- Market fit: Does your content address topics and questions that are actually on your target audiences’ mind?
- Originality: Is your content adding a unique perspective or insights that make it stand out from competitors?
- Accuracy: Is your content up to date, and have you fact-checked to ensure you’re citing relevant, accurate information?
- Consistency: Do you offer a reliable content experience, including a regular publishing rhythm, so your audiences know they can depend on the quality?
- Timeliness: Are you publishing your content at times where they’re most likely to add value for your customers? For example, if you’re blogging about the latest summer fashion trends, you’ll want to make sure your content is created well in advance, so you can publish it no later than the beginning of the summer season.
- Findability: Is your content search-engine optimised (SEO-friendly)?
Ensuring content quality always starts with doing your research. Survey and talk to your customers. Talk to your product team and customer support team. Get to know the real topics that are relevant. What are your customers’ pain points? What are their goals? By learning to cater to these needs with original, consistent, timely, accurate and findable content, you create a firm foundation for content marketing success.
SEO: Making your content easy to find
Findability is a huge content-marketing topic all of its own. It’s all about search-engine optimisation (SEO), which means taking a strategic approach to ensure your content ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), especially Google.
SEO is a fast-evolving topic, as generative AI is expected to change the way Google ranks search results. There are still plenty of steps you can take to make sure your content is findable. If you want to learn how to achieve the best results with SEO, be sure to read our Ultimate Guide: How to use SEO for B2B marketing and Why modern businesses cannot ignore SEO.
Analytics: How to score your content’s performance?
To ensure that your content is reaching your goals – and to help you continually optimise your content – it’s essential to monitor key metrics. Content marketers use tools like Google Analytics and SEMrush to keep track of how many people are viewing their content, which actions their content is encouraging potential customers to take, and what the return on investment for each piece of content is.
Here are the best metrics for monitoring your content’s performance:
- Web traffic: How many people are viewing your content? How long are they staying on your pages? Are they clicking internal links to view your product pages and other pieces of content?
- Social media engagement: Which of your posts are getting the most likes and shares?
- Open rate and click-through rate: How many people are reading your emails and clicking through to visit your website?
- Conversion and lead generation: Are you seeing a lift in conversion following a new content campaign? Are your gated content campaigns attracting sign-ups to generate leads?
- Traffic value: Perhaps the ultimate measure of your ROI on content marketing, traffic value compares your actual marketing spend to how much you would have to pay if all your traffic came from pay-per-click advertising. This enables you to quickly see how much value your content is adding to your business, in terms of how much organic traffic it’s generating.
Are you getting the maximum benefit out of your content marketing?
Whether you’re new to content marketing or looking for ways to optimise your existing approach, there’s almost always room for improving your content strategy and getting even more benefit out of your content. Above all, remember that content quality and a customer-focused approach are the top keys for success – not only because your content’s quality determines how attractive it is to your potential customers, but also because high-quality content simply ranks higher in search results.
Ready to start producing higher-quality content faster and more efficiently? Talk to one of our content advisors today, and learn how our unique approach can help you achieve the best results with your content marketing.
Why is content marketing important?
Content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing and advertising. Because it relies on an inbound marketing strategy, content marketing is widely viewed by customers as more trustworthy and less pushy than traditional ads. It is a proven technique for achieving many important marketing goals, including raising brand awareness, boosting customer loyalty, lead generation and driving conversion and sales, especially over longer periods of time.
What are the challenges of content marketing?
Content creation and search engine optimisation are time-consuming, complex tasks. Many marketing teams lack the in-house capacity to handle these tasks effectively on their own. Generative AI can help you to produce content more quickly, but AI-generated content must always be double-checked and optimised using experienced human content creators and SEO specialists.
What are the pros and cons of content marketing?
- It is generally more affordable than paid advertising, especially when you compare cost-per-click over the lifetime of a piece of content.
- You own the content and usually also the channel on which it is published, which gives you the ability to collect valuable data and continually optimise your content.
- It is seen by customers as more honest and trustworthy than ads.
- Creating and optimising content are complex tasks involving a relatively high investment of time and labour.
- The effects of content marketing are generally not immediately recognisable, as content usually helps you achieve longer-term goals rather than achieving an instant bump in sales, for example.
What are the benefits of content marketing strategies?
With the right strategy, you can tailor your content to match your audiences’ preferences and expectations. This offers many benefits, including:
- Cost savings (compared to advertising)
- Enhancing brand awareness and raising SEO visibility
- Building credibility and establishing thought leadership
- Lead generation and boosting conversion, especially in the longer term