If you’re new to Internet marketing, let us be the first to welcome you to the stage of the short attention span theater — where every performance is just a click away from being panned or ignored entirely.
It may sound harsh, but it’s true. Promoting your business online isn’t easy. Even if you’re in a niche market, you’re going to be facing some pretty stiff competition. Simple advertisements and promotional emails won’t cut it. If you want to stand out, you need an effective content marketing strategy.
Content Marketing for Small Business
Now some of you may be thinking, “Come on! I’ve created a website. I’ve signed up for social media. I have to create content, too?”
If it sounds like extra work, that’s because it is. But the benefits of content marketing far outweigh the time, money and effort that goes into it. Let’s look at seven benefits you’ll enjoy when you make content the center of your Internet marketing strategy.
1. Content Provides Consistent Value to Your Audience — And Google
Taking time to create an informative website and fill out your social profiles is commendable and essential to your online marketing strategy. But once your audience has seen this information, what motivation do they have to return? Where is the ongoing value?
When you produce and distribute content consistently, you not only provide ongoing value to your audience, but you also show search engines like Google that your content is fresh, relevant and valuable to the conversation. In other words, you give yourself a boost in the search rankings.
2. Content Marketing Produces a Shareable Commodity
Word of mouth still packs a powerful punch. Did you know that 82 percent of Americans still seek recommendations from friends and family before making a purchase? Or that 67 percent say they’re at least a little more likely to buy a product friends or family recommended via social media or email?
The takeaway here is simple. If you bring something helpful to the table instead of just pushing a product, your audience will appreciate and share that information. And that means repeat and referral business for you!
3. Content Fuels Your Online Marketing Channels
A little content goes a long way. A blog post, for example, can be shared across social media, featured in your weekly email newsletter, or repurposed as an eye-catching infographic. Plus, gated content — which requires the reader to fill out a lead capture form — can be used to collect data and generate new leads.
4. Content Marketing Establishes You as a Go-To Resource
Telling customers you’re available if they have any questions is a nice gesture. But wouldn’t it be better if you could demonstrate your expertise on a regular basis and earn your reputation as a go-to industry expert? Content marketing gives you that opportunity.
Want to share some insightful industry statistics? Create an infographic. Want to guide prospects through a potential process or solution? Create a how-to guide.
Each piece of informative content you create and share via online marketing not only builds your reputation, but it also solidifies you as a top-of-mind resource when questions arise — and when it’s time to make a purchase.
5. Content Marketing Nurtures Relationships
Perhaps the greatest thing about content marketing is that it gives you the opportunity to target specific segments of your audience, no matter where they are in the buying cycle, and subtly help them on their journey towards conversion.
Along the way, relationships get stronger and bonds of loyalty form. The next thing you know, you’ve got a host of brand advocates on your hands, which only helps to expand your audience further and raise brand awareness.
6. Content Marketing Drives Repeat Business
The more helpful you are to past customers, the more likely they are to do business with you again. Let’s say you’re a real estate agent who sold a house to a client five years ago. Over the years, you have sent a few emails with market information and real estate info, but the majority of your emails have taken a help rather than sell approach.
Because of this, your client remembers your name. And in addition, has a positive association with you. When it’s time to look for a new home, you’re the realtor to call.
7. Content Marketing Helps with Long Sales Cycles
At OutboundEngine, we help many professionals who work in industries with long sales cycles – real estate agents, loan officers and insurance agents, among others.
In industries like these, your customers are not likely to need your services every month, every six months, or, in some cases, not for years. In this situation, you want to keep in touch with past customers (and potential ones), but not in an annoying way.
And there is little that is more annoying than hearing the same “buy, buy, buy” message when you aren’t even in the market and aren’t likely to be for a long time. Eventually, customers will tune out these messages. Or worse, unsubscribe altogether.
As you can see, a solid content marketing strategy carries some benefits, and we’ve only scratched at the tip of the iceberg!
That said, we understand that not everyone has time to devote to developing content for online marketing. If you fall into that camp, don’t let it get you down. You don’t have to be at a disadvantage. Instead, let us automate the process!
Updated: 10/4/2016; Originally published: 11/13/2016