WTH | What the Hell Is: Content Marketing?

Content marketing continues to be a popular topic, with the term “content marketing” generating 64 million results on Google. It has become a staple of many B2B marketing departments as companies realize the impact it can have on sales and revenue, but what exactly is it?

Content Marketing Definition

“Content marketing is the marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Content Marketing Institute

The key to content marketing isn’t just generating content, it is generating valuable content. You want to generate content that people seek out and want to read, unlike traditional advertising which everyone tries to avoid.

Why?

What makes content marketing so great? Why are so many companies using this strategy as a way to increase sales?

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The Benefits of Content Marketing

  • Increased brand (and solution) awareness: This is important both at the top of the funnel in getting new leads and at the bottom where you’re converting those leads into sales. What’s more, content marketing is crucial for companies with a relatively new product or solution category. A customer may have a need for something, but not realize that a solution even exists. If you provide content about how to solve their high-level problems, the customer will educate themselves on the solutions you offer. This both increases the overall market for your product/solution category and makes your organization the automatic frontrunner for the sale when customers are ready to buy.
  • Trust: Being seen as an expert is especially important for B2B companies with complex products or intangible services where the customer must rely upon the integrity of the vendor to provide what they actually need.
  • Better customers and customer loyalty: Quality content brings in customers that do their research. Happily, there is a strong correlation between motivated and interested customers and customers with a strong sense of brand loyalty. These people are often seen as experts by their peers and can provide valuable recommendations/ and thus more sales down the line.
  • Better SEO (search engine optimization): The search engines are heavily investing in better algorithms that result in higher quality search results. By improving your website’s organic search results for topics that are relevant to your customers, you’re directly increasing relevant organic traffic, which typically converts at higher rates than paid traffic.
  • Increased sales: It all comes down to increasing revenue. An effective content marketing program should be evaluated on its ability to directly increase attributable revenue from all of the above. Remember, just because people are interested in your content, that doesn’t necessarily translate to people having an interest in buying your product or services. Ideally, your content marketing will be most interesting to prospects who have some intentionality around purchasing.

Good content marketing will increase relevant traffic to your website, which increases sales as you begin reaching new customers.

Content marketing works with your other marketing efforts. 

  • Paid inbound marketing: Great content give you a viable call-to-action (CTA) beyond “buy now” or “talk to a salesperson”. We find that great B2B content will often convert net new leads at 10X the rate of “buy now” CTAs.
  • Grist for the lead nurture mill: Once you’ve captured those new leads, you’ll want to nurture them with quality content. You can chop up an eBook into 5-6 great tidbits for lead nurture and marry it with topical web posts… all of which help carry your prospects a little closer to being marketing or sales qualified.
  • Social media marketing: Social media is pretty useless without good content. Both paid and organic social media benefit from quality eBooks and blog posts to promote.
  • Public relations: Give your PR agency a break by actually giving them something newsworthy by packaging up relevant surveys, analysis, and insights.

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What are the most common types of content marketing?

While there are plenty of things you could use for content, here are some of our favorites:

  • White papers/eBooks: Nothing creates more credibility (and leads) than a really well-written and well-researched eBook or whitepaper if you’re selling complex products or services. Gating them creates a relatively low-cost lead source while providing your salespeople with the ammunition they need to make a complex sale to multiple decision makers.
  • Blogs & SEO: The leads that come from increased organic traffic due to well-crafted blog posts generally more than pays for the overall marketing efforts. The opportunity for organic leads with a well written 800-1,200 word blog post on a non-branded long-tail keyword is tremendous—especially when paired with a specific call to action that takes that keyword into consideration.
  • Case Studies: Concrete real-world examples are great for pushing lower-funnel prospects toward a purchase.
  • Infographics: Everybody loves an infographic—but don’t make the mistake of gating it. Let it roam free around the internet with a clear brand pointer back to your site.
  • Podcasts: Builds an in-depth relationship with prospects and can lead to conversions for other content
  • Videos: Great for brands who offer visual products or services or for people who sell to people who like to watch video (which is pretty much everyone). Video is also becoming the most popular tool on social media (especially live video).

Additional Articles and Resources on Content Marketing

Want to learn more about other marketing topics? Check out our other articles in the WTH series.

Rich Quarles

Rich Quarles

Rich is a marketing strategist focused primarily on startups, technology, and financial services. He has advised startups that have collectively returned almost $2 billion to founders and investors. Rich founded glassCanopy in 2001.
Rich Quarles

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