For consumers, the ad age is long gone. Banner ads, pop ups, paid search, cold emails, and other forms of digital advertising are all being ignored, reported, or even prevented via ad-blockers. In fact, recent data shows up to 80% of users will ignore paid advertising.
So why do businesses continue to lean on paid ads to increase their reach and gain new customers?
Statista found that while businesses world-wide poured $333 billion into advertising, $35 billion of that was lost to ad fraud, with US companies taking the largest loss. And while $6 out of every $10 in marketing budget is spent on digital advertising in the US, 30% of that is poured into paid search via Google – just to be ignored by 80% of the people who might see it.There has to be a better way. And, fortunately, there is!
Content Marketing is Better Than Paid Advertising
So, where are those 80% of users turning for information about the products they want to buy if they’re ignoring paid ads? They’re turning to organic results, reviews, and various forms of content found primarily on social.
Social media influences one-third of online shoppers who are making purchasing decisions today, second only to organic search. This is likely due to the relationship and connection building qualities that social media instigates. In either case, it’s the content that is drawing the attention.
55% of B2B respondents in this Demand Gen Report said they recently increased their reliance on content to research and inform their purchasing decisions. Correspondingly, 62% said they engage with 3-7 pieces of content before connecting with a salesperson. Another 39% stated B2B vendors could improve their content by being less salesy.If that wasn’t inspiration enough to ditch the annoying ads and beef up your content strategy, consider that content marketing costs upwards of 60% less than traditional methods, yet generates 3 times the interest. Also, organic outperforms paid astronomically.
The Benefits of Content Marketing
We’ve established that content marketing costs less, produces better results, and that many businesses are wasting their budgets on ad spend. But what are some other tangible benefits of ramping up your content marketing strategy?
The New Normal
In 2022, the average time US internet users spent online was about 7 hours, with 2 and one half hours of that time spent consuming social media content, 2 hours reading press media and other content, and one hour listening to podcasts. The rest of that time was divided between video/tv content (3 hours 20 minutes), music (one and one-half hours), and games (one and a quarter hours).
People are spending the same amount of time consuming content online as they do working and sleeping each day. And they’re doing that while ignoring paid ads at a rate of 80%. This demonstrates, without doubt, that people want entertaining and educational content. It’s the new normal.
You can either pay for ads that people will mostly ignore or harness a piece of that 7 hours and grab someone’s attention. Why not give people what they want?
Effective content helps you connect with your audience by meeting them where they already are while focusing on their needs, interests, and challenges. Don’t try to make sales. Instead aim to educate, entertain, and instigate interactions. Show a bit of personality. Show that you’re more than a business (you’re human too) and help consumers get to know your brand. What sets you apart from others?
Be sure, your competitors are already doing this. If your audience can go to your competitors to easily find what they want, why should they come to you instead?
If your competitors are already:
- hosting informative and engaging websites with huge online blog libraries and knowledge bases
- nurturing attractive and engaged social media profiles
- creating entertaining and educational videos
- harnessing their thought leadership position in your industry
… you’ve got some catching up to do.
Build Reputation, Authority, and Trust
The major reason content marketing improves ROI is because it’s about building connections, relationships, interactions, and discussions – not just with potential customers, but with existing customers too.
It’s informative and fun. It solves problems and equips people to tackle obstacles in entertaining ways. It considers feedback and takes action as a response.
Effective content marketing leaves an impression with consumers that when they needed to solve a problem or learn something new, you helped them do it.
And that’s what builds reputation, authority, and trust.
You offered value and meaning. You gave people an ecosystem of information, guidance, and human connection to solve their problems.
And the more value you provide, the more loyalty you will build.
That’s what establishes you as a leader, attracts new customers, and secures the ones you already have.
Know Your Customers Better
A high performing content strategy isn’t a sales pitch, it’s a discussion. It considers the viewpoints, needs, and desires of the audience and creates a conversation which then leads to solutions, and ultimately, conversions.
You can get this information through content by using it to:
- monitor feedback via comment sections and “likes” on social posts
- see which content posts get the largest response
- measure which videos are watched most frequently and get the most comments
- follow what collateral people most download
- see which pieces of content are shared the most
- create live events with Q&As at the end
- release polls and surveys
- ask for direct feedback through optional text form fields
The more opportunities you create to start a discussion, the more feedback you will get, the more you can improve your product and positioning, and better match your consumer’s needs.
You get to know them and what they really want better, which equips you to offer products and services they actually want to buy.
Improve Your SEO
Creating content allows you to respond to online search queries by utilizing keywords and phrases in your blogs, videos, FAQs, Knowledge Base, and social. Answering the questions people are most searching for online generates organic traffic that continuously builds your Google and other browser rankings over time.
The same cannot be said for paid ads. They require a consistent influx of money, need constant and extreme key word optimization to succeed, and offer far less bandwidth (remember paid ads are mostly ignored today).
There are a lot of cost effective or even free ways to use content marketing to improve SEO. For instance:
- Blogs, Knowledge Bases, and FAQs create more pages to index and more opportunities to respond to search queries. This increases your chance to appear in search results.
- YouTube videos seem to be preferred by Google and are usually featured in the first page, at the top of search results.
- Google Business Profile helps you to rank locally, so you’re competing only with businesses in your local area rather than nationwide.
- Social media posts are appearing in search results more frequently; usually featured in the first page, in about the middle of results.
- Websites with more content increase their chances of convincing users to stay for longer. Higher on-site times lead to better ranking, particularly with Google.
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Support Your Other Marketing Initiatives
Which leads to this ultimate point:
It’s practically impossible to implement successful marketing channels today unless you’re using creative content:
- If you have a social media page, you have to push content that attracts interest and shares your purpose for being there.
- If you want your emails read, you need to offer value and entertainment through content. Cold pitches don’t work anymore.
- If you’re pushing paid ads, guess where they need to lead? To content.
- And what about the most powerful marketing channel of all, word of mouth? Today it’s fueled by content. People share it, repost it, like it, comment on it, talk about it, share it at work, etc., and all that action increases your reach.
Content is the glue that holds all your marketing efforts together and creates the cohesive vision and representation of your company. It’s the guts of the message you’re trying to send out to the masses.
You can’t operate in today’s marketing landscape without it.
Start Upgrading Your Content Strategy Now
All this being said, content marketing isn’t all roses and rainbows.
It’s time-intensive both to produce and to see results, especially for SEO. It needs to consider its audience and have a strategy behind it. You have to choose topics carefully and understand which kind of assets your particular audience prefers most. You have to know what resonates with them, and how they want it delivered.
You should never create content just for the sake of creating content.
Create a strategy, know the message you’re trying to deliver, and check in with your audience frequently. Fruitful content marketing is not a set it and forget it initiative. Adjust as needed and give it plenty of time. Try new things and, most importantly, listen to your audience.