Content marketing: Is it worth the effort?

Blogs, social media, video, podcasts, email, infographics, lead magnets, books, white papers, webinars – there’s always some kind of content that you ‘should’ be doing if you want your business to be successful. After all, ‘Content is King’.

Or is it?

With so much content filling our social media and search engine feeds day after day after day, what will make your content stand out from the crowd? You could do everything right – exactly by the book – and still not get one viable lead from your content.

Why?

Because there are just no guarantees when it comes to marketing. What works for one company won’t always work for another.

So, if there are no guarantees, is it worth creating content at all, and if so, what kind of content should you be focusing on?

In this article, we look at the potential benefits of content marketing and answer the question; is it worth the effort?

What is content marketing?

The biggest reason people fail at content marketing is because they don’t really understand it. There’s more to content marketing than sticking a couple of videos on Facebook or writing an article for LinkedIn.

Content marketing is about creating interesting or valuable content for a defined audience in order to establish trust and credibility. You’re building a relationship with potential clients so that when they are in the market for your products or services, they’ll be more likely to buy from you.

We like to think of it as doing customer service backwards. Rather than waiting until somebody becomes a client or customer before showing them how good you are, show them how good you are in advance so that they want to become a client or customer.

Through your content, you can convey your passion, your knowledge, your expertise and your company values. If your content matches your brand, it should attract the type of customers you want.

As well as attracting new clients, your content will help you nurture relationships with existing clients too.

How does content marketing work?

The main purpose of any type of marketing is to attract new customers; content marketing is no different. How it works will depend on how you approach it and the type of content you create.

Build brand awareness

A great example of how content can be used to build brand or product awareness is one of our clients, Dinghy. They provide insurance products that have been specifically designed for freelancers and their PAYG approach to insurance is unique.

They needed a way to get their message out to the freelance world and to raise awareness in the freelance community about what they were doing. Rather than create lots of insurance adverts or post lots of content about insurance products, we went down the route of creating content that would be of real benefit to freelancers.

Together with the Dinghy team, we looked at the problems freelancers commonly face or the questions they ask when starting out. We then created articles which covered these issues in depth, as well as some more light-hearted articles.

Here some examples of the articles we created:

Unless a freelancer is specifically looking for insurance products, they are unlikely to engage with adverts about insurance or blog posts about insurance. They are far more likely to engage with relevant, useful articles that provide practical advice or help them overcome a challenge. Through these articles, Dinghy are showing that they understand the world of freelancing and genuinely want to support freelancers. They are building trust and credibility with their potential clients.

Once someone has read the article, they may well go on to buy from Dinghy or browse their website. They might decide to follow them on social media so they can access more great content. They might bookmark an article, or share it if they found it useful. Whatever they do, it benefits Dinghy; every new reader means one more person who knows about their great products.

Drive traffic to your website

Creating content that links back to your website is a fantastic way of increasing the number of visitors to your site. In the example above, all the content is on the client’s website. They can then share links on any social media platform they choose, other people can share those links on social media, and other company websites can link back to the content (just as we have above).

The more their content is shared, the more people it will reach, and the more clicks they are likely to get. This will increase their website traffic, and some of those visitors will then go on to become customers.

Lead magnets

Another great way to use content as a marketing tool is as a ‘lead magnet’. We don’t particularly like the phrase, but we do like the concept.

You create useful content which people can access for free if they sign-up. This can be a PDF, an e-book, a training course, email content, a video, a podcast, a webinar or any other type of relevant content.

It doesn’t matter what type of content your lead magnet is, as long as it is of value to your target audience and delivers on what you promise. If people sign-up to receive something and it isn’t what they expected, they are going to feel cheated.

Once people have signed-up and accessed the content, you have started a relationship with them. The free content shows them that you are credible; it gives them an insight into what kind of company you are. You can then ask them to subscribe to ongoing communications, or you can provide information about your paid services.

Of course, not everyone will become a customer. Many people will sign-up for the free content and never buy from you. That’s ok. Even though they never become a customer, you are still giving them a great experience of your company.

As an example, here is a link to our free better blogging email series. When you subscribe, you receive eight emails – one each day. Each email covers a different blogging-related subject. In the final email, you receive information about some of our paid services. There’s no obligation to buy, and you are free to unsubscribe at any time.

We’ve already created this content, set up the landing page and automated the email sequence. There is no new cost or additional work for us when someone new signs up, so it doesn’t matter whether subscribers go on to become clients or not.

What it does is help us raise brand awareness, promote some of our products and showcase our expertise. If any subscribers do go on to need our services in the future, they will hopefully be more likely to choose us because we’ve already established our credibility.

Lead magnets like this are a great example of how content helps you gradually build relationships with potential clients without simply trying to sell, sell, sell.

Improve SEO (search engine optimisation)

Getting found in search engines isn’t always easy, and there are lots of things that will impact your results. However, content marketing can greatly improve your search engine rankings for several reasons, including the following:

  • Blog content or articles will naturally contain keywords which Google and other search engines will pick up on.
  • Search engines work on the basis that if lots of people are linking to your content, it must be relevant. People are more likely to share links to quality content than just a link to a website.
  • Search engines pay attention to the number of website visitors, but they also look at how long people stay on your site once they are there. If your content is good, it will attract lots of visitors, and keep them on your site for longer.

Although content, particularly written content, is good for SEO, we always advocate creating content for people first and search engines second. If you are writing content purely designed to satisfy search engines, it is unlikely to be as good as it would be if you created it with your target audience in mind. Nobody wants to read a blog post stuffed full of keyword phrases that don’t seem to fit. What’s more, if you try and manipulate the search results too much, this can have a detrimental effect on your rankings.

Focus on creating quality content. If it’s valuable, interesting and relevant, then you’ll convert more readers into customers.

Set yourself apart from competitors

Who is going to get noticed more online – the company with a fancy website or the company that is consistently sharing great content on their blog, on YouTube or across various social media channels?

The answer will almost always be the second one. A website is all well and good, but unless you are marketing it, you won’t get any visitors. You might go down the route of paid advertising or posting out lots of links on social media rather than creating valuable content, but that will only get you so far.

Let’s say we are looking for a recruitment company and we visit two similar company websites. They both offer what we need at a similar price, and they both have great reviews. However, one of the companies has a blog full of advice about how to create a good job advert, how to structure interviews, how to choose the right candidate, and so on. The other doesn’t have a blog.

Are you more likely to choose the company that is showing you that they have lots of relevant knowledge and experience? Are you more likely to choose the company that is already giving you lots of tips and advice before you even become a paying client? Probably.

In fact, research shows that not only do websites with a blog attract up to 55% more visitors, they also generate 67% more leads than those without.

Other benefits of content marketing

Hopefully, the above points have given you an insight into how content marketing can help your business generate more leads and increase sales. Content marketing is also brilliant for:

  • Showcasing your expertise
  • Improving your employer branding
  • Increasing your social media following
  • Keeping in touch with existing customers
  • Building brand loyalty
  • Becoming an authority in your industry
  • Attracting the right audience

With so many benefits to content marketing, we’d say it’s definitely worth the effort, but there are still some things to consider.

Is content marketing worth the effort for your business?

Content marketing is only worth the effort if it works. That means it should get results. Unfortunately, as we said at the beginning of this article, there are no guaranteed results, meaning it’s often a case of you won’t know until you try.

The good news is there are some things you can do to increase the chances of success.

Plan your strategy

Before you go out and spend a ton of money or time on creating content, you need to consider two important things.

  • What do you want to achieve from your content? – Do you want to increase website traffic? Do you want to build a subscriber list? Are you trying to improve your social media following? What are your marketing objectives?
  • Who do you want to attract with your content? – Who is your ideal customer?

If you don’t have a goal, how will you know if your marketing is working? If you don’t identify your audience, how will you know what content will attract them?

Choose the right subjects

If you understand your audience, you’ll find it easier to choose subjects they are interested in. Think about the problems they come across that you can help with. Consider the type of information they might be searching for online. What are their interests?

Your content doesn’t have to be strictly educational; it can be fun or entertaining too. The important thing is that you choose content that is relevant to your audience. Otherwise, you might just end up with lots of subscribers, website visitors or followers that like your content but won’t ever be in the market for your products or services.

Choose the right medium

There are so many types of content to choose from it can be hard to decide which to go for. Do you invest in video? Should you run a free seminar? Are blogs the way to go?

Sometimes the subject will dictate the medium. For example, a makeup tutorial might work better as a video than a written step by step; an in-depth guide might be better as a downloadable PDF than a static blog post.

Other factors to consider are your budget and in-house capabilities. If you don’t have the budget to outsource, then you need to learn to do it yourself, train someone on your team to do it, or recruit someone who knows how to do it. If you don’t have in-house capabilities, then you need to outsource, which will involve a cost. You may, therefore, be limited as to the type of content you can create.

Measure the results

There’s no point doing any marketing activity if you don’t measure the success. You need to know if it’s working to decide whether it is worth the continued investment.

Content marketing is often a longer-term strategy, so you may need to be patient, but you should still keep track of the results.

With social media, you can often see at a glance if your content is being liked, shared or commented on. You can also keep track of how many new followers you are getting and which types of content they engage with most.

Google analytics is an extremely useful tool for tracking results. It will tell you if you’ve had an increase in traffic, as well as where that traffic has come from and which of your website pages people are visiting. This can be very useful in deciding which platforms work best and which types of content get the most engagement.

Ultimately, social media followers and website visitors are only beneficial if some of them eventually convert into customers. Track where your enquiries come from. Maybe they saw a post on Facebook; perhaps they came across your content in a Google search. If you know how they found you, you’ll know if your content marketing is working.

Understand what success looks like to you

In an ideal world, you’d write a blog post and get hundreds of new clients off the back of it. In reality, this is very unlikely to happen, so you need to decide what success looks like for you.

If you spend three hours writing a blog post each month and win one new client every six months as a result, is it worth the effort? If you spend £2000 on video content and triple your social media following as a result, is that a good investment? Only you can decide what results you are happy with. 

Repurpose your content

To put it simply, repurposing just means reusing your content in different ways. After all, if you’ve spent a lot of time or money on your content, you’ll want it to work as hard as possible for you.

Repurposing could be as simple as sharing a blog post as newsletter content and taking snippets from it to create social media posts. You might turn a webinar or presentation you’ve done into a lead magnet or a YouTube video.

Our A-Z of Blogging is an example of content that has been repurposed in several ways. It started out as 26 blog posts. We also created 26 images that were used on social media. We then added to the content and turned it into a book. Then we created 26 video versions of the content, which we added into the blog posts, and used as standalone videos on our YouTube channel. We also send links to the relevant posts when we get asked questions about blogging.

Whenever you create any type of content, think about how you can maximise its use.

Promote and share, share, share

Creating content is only a small part of content marketing. There’s no point investing in great content if you aren’t going to do anything with it. Once you have your content, promote it and share it. Share it on social media, share it via email, ask other people to share it. The more people you can get your content in front of, the better.

How to get started

There is an abundance of articles, videos, training courses and resources available online that can help you get started. There are also some excellent marketing consultants who can help you form a strategy.

Whether you go down the DIY route or outsource your content, it’s important that you first understand what you want to achieve and who your target audience is. This will put you in a better position when it comes to deciding where to invest your time and money.

Make Your Copy Count

We are probably a bit biased, but we think a blog is a great place to start. If you write it yourself, then the only investment is your time. It can help you get an idea of what subjects your audience are interested in so you can then create more in-depth content or outsource your content creation.

If you’d like some help, our Better Blogging email series is free, or you can purchase our book, the A-Z of Blogging. Alternatively, book a place on one of our Blogging for Business workshops and we’ll help you build a strategy. We can also create great blogs and articles for you if writing isn’t your thing, and if you’re struggling for ideas, we’ll help with this too.

If blogging isn’t for you, we can also help with email content, e-books and other written content. We also have a network of recommended marketing professionals who can help with social media, video, podcasts, events or your wider marketing strategy. We’re happy to point you in the right direction if you’d like to speak to any marketing professionals.

If you’d like to learn more about how content marketing can benefit your business, get in touch and let us help you Make Your Copy Count.

More articles from Make Your Copy Count:

Ultimate guide to blogging

How to write a business book

Is video content better than written content?

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