What is Content Marketing?
Your Domain Name Content marketing involves the creation, promotion, and sharing of material (such as videos, blogs, white papers and social media posts) via online channels to stimulate interest in a company’s products or services. While the content does not explicitly promote a brand, it is intended to build awareness for your brand and leads for your sales team.
The primary benefit of content marketing is more website traffic. When you develop content around top keywords for your industry, you increase your search rankings, allowing more people to find your website. Promoting your content through “snippets” in social media and email marketing can also drive traffic.
Content Marketing Requires Patience
Content marketing isn’t easy. You can’t just dip your toe and expect results. There is no “lite” version. The strategy requires a serious, long-term investment in time and resources to generate good quality content on a consistent basis. To achieve success, an equal commitment to content promotion is also necessary. Unfortunately, many companies fail at content promotion, which means the time and resources invested in content development don’t produce measurable results. The entire process caves in like a house of cards.
Marketing automation tools (see “Top 20 Marketing Automation Providers“) help companies execute their content marketing campaigns and track website visitors more efficiently, but you must have patience. B2B marketing requires an extended lead conversion cycle, especially for high ticket sales. Committing to a long-term strategy that nurtures prospects through their path to purchase with strategically timed content is the formula for success. (See “Intent is the Key to Lead Nurturing“) If you think you can write and post content to generate immediate sales, you should rethink your strategy.
Content Marketing Builds New Relationships
Many B2B companies use existing relationships to acquire new clients as their primary new business tool. Few invest in building new relationships. But the key to a successful content marketing program is relationship building, not hard core sales tactics. Ignoring this limits your success.
In content marketing, sales and marketing must be in sync. The old must give way to the new. Communication is critical. Teaching your sales team to service prospective clients before the sale through additional content and resources that solve business challenges is the best way to create new relationships. When you focus on building client-centric relationships, sales opportunities follow.
Social Reach is Essential to Content Marketing
Promoting content through social media focuses on reaching people who are already following your company on social media. If you don’t have significant social reach (e.g., followers who promote your posts to their audience), you social media audience will be limited. People may not find your content, and your investment in content marketing won’t bear fruit.
It’s important to understand that social reach is a combination of your followers and your followers’ followers. (See “How Social Media Reach Impacts Content Marketing“) If people aren’t retweeting, liking or referencing your content, you may need to adopt a paid social media strategy to reach a scalable audience and build more engaged followers.
Content Marketing Isn’t Email Marketing
Email marketing and content marketing are not the same. If you plan to promote your content via email marketing, you’ll need to use or build an opt-in email list. Sending emails to unsubscribed business targets can destroy your email reputation and in-box delivery rate.
Email servers use reputation scores to filter and suppress delivery of up 21% of direct-to-consumer emails. But businesses tack on additional anti-SPAM filters that can cut your B2B in-box delivery rate to 68% or less. Using an unsolicited or purchased list can produce significant declines in email delivery and cripple the effectiveness of your content marketing program.
Most marketing automation tools warn about using purchased email lists and often restrict their use. That’s because using an unsolicited list is not just bad for you, but for everyone else who uses their platform. Using a marketing automation platform to send emails means your emails pass through a shared email server that inherits the shared email reputation of everyone using it. So even if you follow the rules and avoid using tactics that trip SPAM filters, your in-box delivery rates could suffer because of others who use the same server and don’t play by the rules.
Advice to Companies Considering Content Marketing
- Don’t believe the hype. Content marketing is the new, shiny object. Lots of consultants and service providers have jumped on the bus. Content marketing works, but it takes work to be successful. Make sure to do your due diligence before you move forward and set realistic expectations for results.
- Get advice from a professional. Experience is the best teacher. There’s a lot to consider, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s significantly more below the waterline. Don’t go scuba diving without a divemaster.
- If you don’t have significant social media reach or an opt-in email list, consider paid media to get you off the ground. After you’ve built a list of followers and you’ll stay airborne with less effort.
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