Is content really worth the investment? This is a question on a lot of marketeers’ minds these days, as more and more companies, especially in the B2B space, have begun to make content a big part of their marketing mix.
Those of us who have seen the effectiveness of content and know what a powerful tool it is for reaching a wide range of business goals have a short answer to that question: yes, of course content is a worthy investment.
The real answer to this question depends on how you look at your content.
Content is a necessity
It helps to put things into perspective, as Robert Rose from the Content Marketing Institute does. Rose argues that the debate about ROI in marketing is nothing new. Marketers and advertisers have always been at a loss to completely quantify the return on their investment. That’s why Rose reminds us that content marketing is not actually an investment, but simply a basic business expense.
In other words, content is not a ‘nice to have’, it’s a ‘have to have’. Without content, how else can a company expect to reach its target groups, engage with customers or raise brand awareness?
To make this point even clearer, we want to look at three recent statistics that prove just how necessary content actually is:
The B2B customer journey = 13 pieces of content
A recent study by FocusVision found that B2B buyers read 13 pieces of content on average before making a purchase decision. Buyers sourced nearly three quarters of this content from the potential supplier’s own website in the form of evergreen content, like client cases and general information. They also mentioned that they spent an average of two to six weeks researching a product or service before deciding to convert, and that their decision-making teams usually involved three to four people.
What all this means is that content really is a fundamental component of the modern buyer’s journey to conversion. And it’s a reminder of the importance of offering potential customers a rich variety of content that addresses their needs at each stage of the decision-making process and reaches multiple decision-making personas.
The buyer’s journey is (at least) 67% digital
FocusVision cites a 2013 study from SiriusDecisions which proved that 67% of a buyer’s journey takes place online. If more than two-thirds of the customer journey was digital in 2013, just imagine how high that number must be today, now that doing business completely online has become the norm in most industries.
It’s also no coincidence that most content marketing focuses on digital channels. Since we know that today’s customers are spending more time online (and actually doing lots of research, as the first statistic shows), it’s clear that online content is a necessary expense for reaching your target group.
Content marketing is 62% cheaper than conventional outbound marketing
And finally, to return to the topic of price specifically: content marketing is actually cheaper than conventional outbound marketing. The Content Marketing Institute found that content marketing generates more than three times as many leads as conventional marketing (including ads), despite costing 62% less.
How can that be? What is the driving factor behind this? The fact is, most customers (including B2B buyers) hate ads. It’s no wonder that more than one in four internet users has installed an ad blocker on their device, according to Statista. While ads are expensive and likely to be filtered out, content is cheaper and more likely to attract positive attention from viewers.
This shows once again that content is the smart choice and definitely worth the investment.