The past couple of years have been, um… interesting.
Content marketing was already a staple tactic pre-pandemic, with 70% of marketers surveyed in 2020 actively investing in content.
Fast-forward a few months and, amidst the chaos of lockdowns, content became invaluable to businesses looking to keep their ship on course or navigate new, unfamiliar waters.
As of 2021, 84% of online businesses have a defined content marketing strategy. And as self-confessed content nerds, we think that’s great.
But, of this meaningful majority, only 11% evaluate their content strategy as being excellent.
That’s why, in today’s post, we’re delving deep into 6 reasons it pays to invest in high-quality content. We’ll demonstrate how, with a winning combo of creativity and strategy, content marketing can prove one of the most effective channels in driving the results you want to see.
Get noticed online
You may have noticed that you’re not the only business aware of this internet malarkey.
On the contrary, around 64% of small businesses have an online presence. Combine that with the digital dominance of big-name brands in each and every field, and a major problem arises: visibility.
With 70-80% of consumers researching a company online before visiting or making a purchase, the ability to be found online by your customers is paramount.
Content can help you become (and stay) visible online. But more than that, when expertly crafted with the right know-how, content can help you become visible online at the right time and in the right place.
From blog content that aligns with your audience’s interests and pain points to cleverly optimised onsite copy that ranks for the keywords that drive conversions in your industry, the trick to getting noticed online is investing in purposeful and strategic content creation.
Become a household name
Brand awareness is intangible yet invaluable.
So, how do you form an accurate impression of how well-known your brand is? Content!
The reasons here are twofold.
Firstly, content is a fundamental part of establishing your brand from the get-go. By investing in the production of market-leading content from the off, you’re demonstrating your expertise within your industry.
Market-leading content is generally unique, high-value and authoritative, and demonstrates an inherent understanding of its audience by addressing common themes, interests and pain points.
Get this right and you’ll begin building organic brand awareness that sees your business grow.
This brings us nicely to the second reason content is the ideal tool in the pursuit of brand awareness: it can be measured. While it can be difficult to understand just how well-known your brand really is, your content engagement is a great place to start.
If your content metrics indicate an engaged audience, great news: your brand awareness is growing.
This might be shown through a high percentage of returning users (indicating the same customers are coming back again and again), a high average time on page (a good indication that users are reading your content) or a large amount of comments and shares (a strong signal that your content has incentivised users to engage), for example.
Control the conversation
Whatever your industry, one thing’s for sure: it’s a hotbed of debate around quality, service and price right now.
This makes your brand’s ability to control the conversation key. If you’re not proactively driving the industry conversation, someone else will do it for you - and you’re unlikely to reap the rewards as a result.
How do you keep a firm grip on this conversation?
You know the drill by now : content.
While the format and style of this content depends on your brand, audience and industry, the principle remains the same: consistency.
Over time, content that is consistent in voice, tone and position - embedded with a carefully curated narrative - helps to build trust, demonstrate authority and, ultimately, define your brand.
In short? It helps you position your brand where you want to be.
Build a rep worth having
The world's best brands have carefully built and sculpted their reputations. Why shouldn’t you do the same?
Investing in content is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to go about this - tell your story and nurture your image.
It’s important to note that this isn’t just about staying one step ahead with your public relations (although content just so happens to be a great way of doing this, too!).
Content that successfully builds a brand reputation can take a subtler approach through the ongoing creation of content that demonstrates expertise and authority.
Another important side note is that this doesn't just apply to new brands. On the contrary, content is not only super-effective in building a brand reputation - it’s effective in nurturing one, too.
This is a particularly useful tool to have in your arsenal right now. Brands big and small have been utilising content as a means of steering their reputation through the turmoil of Covid-19.
One that caught our eye was Nike’s Play Inside campaign launched in the initial lockdown of 2020. With stores closed nationwide and the health and leisure sector covered in cobwebs, Nike managed to emerge with a bolstered reputation (and a profitable second quarter to boot).
How did they do it? They published a series of free health and nutrition resources accessible to all of Nike’s audience. The idea:
“when the game stops, we realise we are all one team. And right now, teamwork is more important than ever. To help support athletes around the world, we're offering daily inspiration and information to help everyone stay active, positive and healthy – together.”
Nike’s smart approach to content marketing enabled their reputation to shine bright in a darkened industry. Or as Chairman, President and CEO (jeez, we get it, you’re in charge...) Mark Parker put it himself:
“In Q2, Nike has proven again that innovation is our greatest competitive edge – turning athlete insights into breakthrough product and digital services.”
Engage users on the page
Content isn’t all about getting customers to visit you online. It can also help to nurture those already on your site towards a desired goal.
Operating on the assumption that an engaged user is one primed to convert, first-class content may be the only incentive they need to stick around.
So, look beyond placeholder onsite copy that serves no greater purpose.
Engaging content should focus on three core elements: understanding, interest and purpose.
Let’s start with the latter. What better way to ensure users are engaged with your page content than to actively incentivise them? The trick: a powerful call-to-action.
How well this is executed can often make or break your content. Misjudged, it can project an overtly salesy tone sure to drive any user away. Done correctly, however, it can be the secret ingredient in the recipe for more actively engaged users.
Elsewhere, readability is too often overlooked as a make-or-break factor in your audience’s engagement. The truth is that readability not only plays a part in how well your content engages, but how well it ranks, too - meaning it pays to ensure you’re getting this right the first time around.
From content optimised for both user and search engine to captivating calls-to-action that users can’t help but follow, the secret lies in knowing what your audience wants and giving it to them.
Sell. Sell. Sell
Of course, whatever your business, the overarching end goal is to sell.
Though the format may change, content marketing is always primed to convince and convert. Your content should drive one of two overarching sales objectives.
Option A is the long-game. This is content that sets out to uncover new audiences and nurture them towards the sale - a staple of any good blog content strategy, for example.
Option A is the very essence of content marketing: establishing and cultivating a relationship with your audience by addressing their common interests, habits and pain points.
Let’s not forget about option B, though. Content is also an invaluable tool in shorter-term sale strategies.
Whether it’s a direct piece of email copy primed to drive conversions, or a detailed product description that tells a story the picture couldn’t, well-optimised copy can often be the deciding factor in whether a customer clicks ‘buy’.
Still sceptical? We’ll let the data do the talking.
In a 2021 survey, 72% of marketers said content marketing increases engagement. 72% also said it had actively increased their number of leads.
Put simply, content marketing is a highly effective means of finding new customers at the top of the funnel and strategically nurturing them towards conversion.
With so much influence on your brand and its audience, it's easy to see why more businesses are investing in content than ever before. To reap the rewards of getting it right the first time, leave it to the experts. Get in touch with Paragraft today to learn more.