“All marketers should be publishers.” Mark Wilson, Senior VP of Marketing of Sybase urged the audience at a recent meeting with marketing professionals. There is no doubt that Internet is reinventing how companies market their products and services. With the growing popularity of social media, marketers now have more ways to have direct dialogue with customers and reach their friends too, if there is a compelling story. That’s where content marketing comes in. Instead of selling products through advertisement which savvy consumers consider to be salesy, many marketers find content marketing to be a powerful marketing tool that can turn the consumers from critics into participants. The content has to be relevant and adds value to the life or work of the customers so that they would share it with their friends via their own social network.
The shift of focus to content marketing is especially evident in B2B marketing campaigns. A HiveFire study found that over 80 percent of B2B marketers now employ content marketing as a strategy in their marketing programs compared to 70% for search engine marketing, 68 percent for event marketing, 64 percent for public relations and just 32 percent on print/TV/radio advertising. This helps explain the increasing user base for YouTube and sites such as Pinterest and BlottR. Pinterest’s user base has grown 145% since the beginning of this year. The UK-based BlottR allows anyone to write news articles for their site.
Content creation is no longer limited to just blogs. Digital marketers are creating articles, webinars, videos, photos and infographics. In addition to building thought leadership, content marketing also helps drive better search marketing results. According to John Moran, President of Blue Wave Marketing & Promotion, videos can help increase ranking for search results and are 53 times more likely to land your page on the front page of Google search results. Many businesses that are utilizing Pinterest reported increasing traffic to their sites. If the photos (or content) that you post piqued the interest of the users these sites, the next thing they do is to check out who you are. Pinterest now drives 3.6% of online referrals while Facebook leads with 24% online referrals.
One way to market your content is publishing it online, but savvy marketers are now integrating the self-created content with the rest of their marketing campaigns. Moran pointed out that emails with statistics and graphics get 47% better results than those that do not. One of the sponsors of the Business Reinvention show included the podcast in her email which generated many responses to the guest on the show. It presented the sponsor with opportunities to continue the dialogue and discuss what they do to help the respondents. One of the reasons for better results is the credibility and excitement that come with up-to-date content. It’s proven to be a great way to engage customers and prospects. American Express’s Open Forum is another great success story. The company created the website with original content to strengthen its relationship with customers and providing a forum for businesses to interact with and learn from each other.
Another reason that content marketing is gaining interest is its relatively low cost compared to other high-cost marketing programs, such as advertising. HiveFire‘s study found that content marketing helps to achieve marketers’ goals without needing a large budget (with the exception of videos). Half of the marketers in the study allocate less than 30 percent of their budget to content marketing. If you haven’t already included content marketing in your digital marketing strategy, it might be time to take another look at your marketing mix.