It has become a huge industry and it’s easy to see why. Some seriously impressive statistics have emerged over the last year, including:
- Content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search per money spent. Content Marketing Institute
- Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without. HubSpot
- 78% of CMOs believe custom content is the future of marketing. Forbes
With attractive figures like these, it’s easy to see why so many businesses have made the leap into content land. But does that mean you should jump on the bandwagon too? The approach is widely endorsed by the industry – can 78% of CMOs be wrong?
We’ve listed a few broad, less obvious pros and cons about content marketing in 2018 to help you decide at what level your business should invest.
Reasons to invest in content marketing
It’s an efficient, cross-channel way of working
Whether you’re blogging, engaging your audience on social media, providing thought leadership, or emailing, you need something to talk about. You need content.
Content campaigns can be leveraged across all marketing channels: search, social, email, paid, display, native and so on. Think of it as the hub of all marketing. The stronger the hub, the more effective everything else will be.
Take a white paper or survey for instance. You can promote it via social media, publish the results on your blog and use digital PR to share the results with leading industry publications.
Doing so can result in features across the web, increased brand awareness, backlinks to improve your SEO and an email campaign to remind customers and prospects that you’re at the top of your game.
At the centre of it all is great content.
Content can communicate more than just sales information
Why should a potential customer choose you over a competitor? Sure, price is important, but customers also want assurances and confidence. They want the best and to identify on some level with who they work with or purchase from.
In fact, some believe that the millennial market prizes authenticity above all other factors in the decision-making process. It’s that important.
A great brand and example of brand authenticity is Red Bull. During the last ten years, they have evolved from the ‘keep-me-awake’ drink for students into an influential lifestyle brand through incredible video content.
Meanwhile, the craft beer company BrewDog aimed to disrupt the “industrially-brewed lagers and stuffy ales” market. They successfully did so through rebellious campaigns, including dressing up as the Queen for their year-end video, brewing a beer at the bottom of the ocean and dispensing beer through a modified deer’s head.
Your audience cares about who you are and why you do what you do. This transcends basic messaging around products and services. When customers buy into your brand, they are infinitely more likely to choose you as a vendor. Content marketing offers the perfect platform to showcase your business’s values, expertise, passion and personality.
Your competitors are doing it
For the reasons given and many more, it has become a staple of marketing – everyone is investing in content. Because it’s become the norm, customers are used to landing on websites and seeing up to date content.
It is perceived as conversational, inviting and modern. Likewise, not having such elements integrated into your online experience has the potential to make your brand look antiquated, stuffy and uninviting.
Reasons not to invest in content marketing
It’s becoming a crowded market
Due to its popularity there’s a lot of content being published daily, so it’s getting tougher to make an impact. To give you an idea of how popular it’s become, the world’s leading blogging platform – WordPress – recently claimed that 70 million articles are published every year on WordPress alone.
Many are experiencing a decline in performance
The hype and positive stats opened the floodgates, resulting in a deluge of poor quality content as the masses tried to replicate the successes of the few. What’s more, there are only so many readers out there to engage. Potential visitors are virtually spoilt for choice, so you have to rise above your competitors to win the readers.
The bar keeps rising and with it, so does required investment
As a result of a competitive market, the standards continue to rise. That means yours must too, if you’re going to see strong results. Those bite-sized muses and 500 word pieces are fast becoming a thing of the past. The average time spent on an article is around 3 hours 20 minutes, with the same survey showing that some bloggers spend upwards of six hours on each piece.
So, is content marketing still a good investment for small businesses?
Absolutely. While we don’t endorse jumping on bandwagons, there’s a good reason why businesses are investing heavily in content marketing. The potential benefits are huge. When done well and done correctly, content can become one of your most invaluable marketing assets.
As it is now pretty standard, the question really should be “how much should I invest in content marketing?”
If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right
It’s important to realise that it’s a competitive channel, and expectations should be realistic. It’s not a quick-win marketing tactic and there’s limited value in just dabbling in content. Getting the most from content marketing takes time, dedication, expertise, strategy and perseverance. All the good stuff.
There is much to justify the hype, and though it’s not a silver bullet, those who dig deep and invest appropriately will achieve success and strong returns.
About the author: Dave Clough heads up the digital PR team at Belfast-based consultancy Glaze Digital. His background includes marketing management at Argos and senior positions for numerous leading digital agencies in London.