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Content marketing benefits: What you're missing out on in 2021

Content marketing benefits: What you're missing out on in 2021 Blog Feature

Ramona Sukhraj

Associate Director of Content, Strategized Initiatives That Increased IMPACT’s Website Traffic From ~45K to ~400K

April 22nd, 2021 min read

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in December of 2018 by Kevin Phillips. It has since been fully revised to reflect new data and current best practices.

I have a bad childhood habit I never grew out of — asking "why?"

Whether it's understanding the behaviors of the Asian elephant or the thought process that went into a questionable birthday gift, I always need to know the why behind things. But this is far from a bad thing.

Asking why is invaluable in making business decisions, especially when it comes to long-term commitments and strategies like content marketing

With time, money, resources, and even pride on the line, your organization needs to know if an initiative is worth it. Well, I have dedicated the majority of my career to content marketing and it's with good reason.

🎓IMPACT+ course: Digital sales and marketing for today's modern buyer

Content marketing is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of work to do well and time to see fruition, but there are immense benefits and advantages when you do. 

Content marketing benefit statistics

Content marketing comes with a number of qualitative and quantitative benefits.  While the degree of these will vary depending on what your organization specifically puts into it, here's the impact on buyers and the industry we have seen at a high level. 

  • In 2020, 67% of people said they rely even more on content than they did last year to research and inform purchase decisions. (Demand Gen Report 2020 Content Preferences Study)
  • 48% of respondents say they engage with between three and five pieces of content before actually having a conversation with a salesperson. (Demand Gen Report 2020 Content Preferences Study)
  • Year-over-year growth in unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs 2.5%). (Source: Aberdeen)
  • Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing. (DemandMetric)

  • Per dollar, content marketing produces three times more leads. (Kapost/Oracle Eloqua)
  • On average, content marketing costs 41% less than paid search, (Kapost/Eloqua)
  • Every day, 27 million pieces of content are shared. (NewsCred)
  • 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content. (source

  • 70% of consumers say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company. (Content Marketing Institute)

  • 68% of consumers spend time reading content from brands they are interested in. (source)
  • In 2016, 95% of the B2B service and product buyers said they view content as a trustworthy marker when evaluating a business. (DemandGenReport)
  • 61% of consumers claim to have bought something they've read about in a blog.
  • 73% of B2B consumers reported consuming between three and seven pieces of
    content before speaking with a salesperson. (Demand Gen Report 2019 Content Preferences Survey Report)

We'll go deeper into some of these numbers shortly, but overall, you can see the strategy has become a critical part of the decision-making process for today's modern buyer.

Whether your brand is investing in it or not, consumers are demanding content, but if that's not enough to convince you of its importance, here are 10 more benefits you can't ignore. 

1. Better search engine rank

One of the biggest and most noteworthy benefits of content marketing is better search engine rank.

According to BrightEdge, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and with more and more people researching their purchases online before buying, you want to ensure your name, product, or solution is there to be found.

🔎 Related Pillar: Is SEO Dead in 2021?

Content creation, especially business blogging, helps make this possible. 

When done correctly (Starting with The Big 5, then refining around the specific keywords from SEMrush) content marketing can help your website and brand rank higher in search engines for popular keywords and phrases buyers are searching for during their research process. 

Why does this matter? Well, research shows, the first page of search engine results account for an average of 95% of all organic clicks, and the top five results garner about 67%.

The more keywords you rank for and the higher positions you hold for those keywords, the more likely people will find it and click through to discover your website and brand.

Your improved search rank leads to another huge benefit of content marketing...

2. Increased organic traffic

With increased search engine rank usually comes increased organic traffic, in other words, interested, active traffic you don't have to pay for.

Yes, you can certainly drive visitors to your website via social media, paid ads, etc. but when you consistently publish high-quality content, addressing your audience's most pressing questions and interests, you are creating more and more opportunities to get found in search engines without any additional effort on your part. 

But remember, it can take a few months for traffic to really start taking off.

Speed depends heavily on the difficulty of ranking for the keywords you're going after (which in turn depends on how much competition is going after it) and your site authority among other things. 

3. Increased brand awareness

Tell me, how did you find this article?

Was it through a search engine? An email? A social post? A link from another website? Was this article (or another for that matter) how you first became aware of IMPACT?

If so, that is exactly what we mean when we say content marketing promotes brand awareness. No one can buy from you if they don't even know you exist. 

Every time you create content around the topics your audience cares about, you also create an opportunity for a new person to come upon it in a search engine, social media, or elsewhere, see your name, maybe even click, and become aware of your brand.

If you're creating relevant, high-quality content, people will also come to think of your brand as a reliable resource; one that offers value and worth keeping an eye on (and maybe even buying from one day).  

Plus, great content marketing is much more likely to get shared on social media, further extending its reach and potential to build awareness. 

4. Better conversions (a.k.a. more leads)

Awareness and traffic are great, but traffic that converts is even better and as we noted earlier in our statistics, content marketing can help there as well. 

Modern buyers are savvy to marketing and sales tactics. They know when they fill out a form or give a brand their email, they run the risk of being spammed so they hold that information close to their chests.

They are much more willing to exchange their contact information (a.k.a. convert) for something they see of value; things that educate or entertain them. Enter content. 

Every piece of content you create can be a conversion opportunity. You can place it behind a form, requiring people to convert to access it or optimize it ungated with calls-to-actions to lead to related conversion points such as services or subscriptions. 

When you're creating high-quality ungated content like articles and pillar pages that answer your reader's questions and appeal to their interests, you build trust. 

🔎 Related: Should you still gate your content in 2021?

Again, consumers start to see you as a helpful resource rather than just a brand out to get their buck.

This trust makes them more comfortable filling out a form on your site to get a piece of content or even converting to do business with you down the line — but more on that later. 

5. Increased engagement

According to the Economist Group, 71% of buyers say they are turned off by content that seems like a sales pitch. When you're creating customer-focused, educational content marketing, you can help avoid this fate!

Valuable content marketing not only earns more clicks and views (and avoids eye rolls), but it also keeps visitors scrolling and clicking through more pages. In other words, it keeps them on your site and engaged with your brand longer.

Not only does this help build your relationship with this consumer, but search engines take notice and weigh this in your rank. 

Similar effects are seen with social media content. If someone likes what they see, they are more likely to spend more time exploring your brand on your profile, reading posts, and even hitting follow/like or moving through to your website.

This tells the platform's algorithm that your content is valuable and worth showing new users organically. 

6. Shortened sales cycle

Great content marketing can also help shorten sales cycles.

Aside from helping leads that do convert and end up in front of sales be more qualified — educated about your product and service (and, in turn, more likely to close faster) — you can also create sales enablement content specifically designed to help close deals. 

In what we call assignment selling, sales reps intentionally use educational content about your products and services to resolve concerns and answer the burning questions of prospects before and during sales conversations.

🔎 Related: 5 real-life examples of assignment selling in action

This can include but is not limited to case studies, process breakdowns, pricing information, comparison articles, and reviews. 

7. Lower overall cost (and higher ROI)

This one is pretty short and simple. As DemandMetric found, statistically content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing methods such as paid advertising, billboards, and commercials.

How is that possible?

Well, most content marketing takes advantage of low or no-cost tools such as blogging, SEO, and social media. Yes, paying a seasoned, skilled professional to create your content can come at a pretty penny (hey, we're worth it), the barriers to getting started are quite low.

🔎 Related: Why you need a content manager on your digital marketing team [+ video]

Plus, your work builds upon itself. Once you start building site authority and seeing traction such as higher search rank, this work will deliver more without much more immediate attention.

8. Establishes thought leadership

Thought leadership is one of the more intangible but still noteworthy benefits of content marketing. 

When you do content marketing right, you're not just recycling all of the other information out there being shared by your competitors; You share your unique expertise and insights. The more innovative and effective your insights, the more you will be seen as a thought leader in your space.

This reputation can then manifest into increased conversions (as more people want to work with you or hear what you have to say), speaking gigs, and so many other opportunities. 

9. Humanizes your brand

Content marketing is about breaking away from traditional sales pitches and connecting with consumers on a more personal level. When your sharing educational and helpful content, you also have an opportunity to show your personality and share your voice.

If you invest in video or podcasting, you can even literally do this! People get to see what you look like and hear what you sound like. They get to see your mannerisms just as they would if they met you in person. 

All of these efforts help humanize you as a brand. You are no longer just a cold logo, but an individual with a name, face, voice, and thoughts they want to hear. 

10. Builds trust with audiences

If you've noticed trust coming up a lot in this article, that's no coincidence. More than anything, content marketing is beneficial because it builds trust. 

As IMPACT partner and author of They Ask, You Answer Marcus Sheridan says we are all in the business of trust.

At the end of the day, people don't want to be tricked out of their money. They don't want to feel like they were forced into a purchase or made a poor decision with their money. They want to know that those they're handing their hard-earning cash over to are worthy of it. That they can trust that they will deliver on the promises they make. 

With its ability to showcase your expertise, humanize your brand, educate, minimize sales pitches, and engage, no marketing tactic builds trust like content. 

But how do you do content marketing right?

Honestly, we'd probably surpass the run of The Simpsons if I detailed every single thing you need to do to be successful at content marketing, but since I know you certainly don't have 32 years to spare, I'll leave you with these five tips:

  1. Start with consumer questions: They don't call them search "queries" for no reason. When people turn to search engines, they have questions in mind. Talk to your sales team to learn what questions they're hearing from prospects most frequently and create content delivering the answers. Pair these with The Big 5 topic areas and you have a strong foundation for getting started with content.
  2. Have someone own it: Content marketing is a full-time job and you need at least one person owning it and focused on it. Start with hiring a content manager.
  3. Invest in video as a medium: Content is not limited to just words on a page. Video is here to stay! If nothing additional, you should be investing in video as a medium and start by hiring a videographer to own the initiative, similar to a content manager. 
  4. Pay attention to your environment and current events: Notice how in my first tip, I said questions are a strong foundation for getting started with content. These are key words. Questions are a critical piece of your content strategy, but should not be your whole content strategy. Pay attention to hot topics and developments in your industry and current events that impact it. These will heavily impact the kind of content audiences want from you. 
  5. Stick with it: Content marketing is like a strong marriage, 'til death do us part. — Ok, maybe not that long, but it is something you have to start and stick with for the foreseeable future. When you do, you will reap both big monetary and brand benefits.
     

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