Digital advertising has come a long way in the past decade. There are a wide variety of online marketing methods for business owners to make use of. Yet despite all the advances and innovation, content marketing still reigns supreme as the best kind of digital marketing. It has multiple advantages over both traditional models as well as alternative types of online marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the most straightforward kind of digital marketing. It is intrinsically tied in with search engine optimization (SEO). Content marketing entails the creation of high-quality blog posts on a particular topic. This posts will demonstrate that the business (and/or person) is an expert in the field. Content marketing is defined as –
“A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”
Content marketing is a long-term approach. The results are seen over time as loyalty and reputation increases. High-quality content is used to create a positive relationship with customers, who tend to read about a product before making a purchase. Once they become familiar with a brand, they tend to stick with it.
The most obvious form of content marketing is where a company sets up a blog. Content marketing can also take the form of guest posting on external blogs. Some people classify social media as a kind of content marketing, which is accurate, but social media is big enough to be its own category. Giving away free eBooks is still one of the best kinds of content marketing and is utilized by all serious marketers. It has the added benefit of collecting an email address which tends to retain its value over time.
The classic kind of content marketing is the single blog set up by a person who delivers a post daily. It was (and is) a slow method that nearly always pays off once the person is willing to stick with it for at least 18 months and post on a near-daily basis. But the essence is always providing value to customers first and selling a product or service second, in contrast to other online techniques.
How Does it Compete Against Other Models?
There is a considerable amount of research to indicate that content marketing is the most effective kind of online marketing. As per the commonly cited Kapost study :
- Content marketing delivers three times more leads per dollar than traditional marketing
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing.
- For mid-sized companies, content marketing costs 31% less than paid advertising models.
- For large companies, content marketing costs 42% less than paid advertising models.
- Content marketing delivers better ROI over time compared to paid searches.
- Content marketing delivers high-quality repeat traffic where results compound over time. Paid advertising is short term with no long term equity delivered.
While content marketing is the dominant form of digital advertising with the best return on investment, it should be used in tandem with paid advertising for optimal results. Once a business has high-quality content on the site, paid advertising can actually become more profitable, as they will be led to a memorable and reputable site with lots of valuable information.
Content marketing stacks up well against all digital models, not just paid advertising. It is consistently identified by industry professionals as the best form of online marketing and it is the springboard upon which other marketing strategies can be launched. It provides information to be shared on social media, is important for the purposes of search engine optimization, generates brand awareness, and increases the conversion rate of paid advertising and email marketing. According to Josh Steimle of MWI Marketing-
“The return on investment for content marketing can be phenomenal…It provides additional content for social media marketing and contributes to SEO efforts by generating natural inbound links and building up good content on your website that gets found in search engines. In fact, for many companies, the bulk of their SEO efforts should be focused on content marketing.”
Other Benefits of Content Marketing
The primary advantage of content marketing is that the business owner owns the media. The information does not have to be hosted on an external site or social media. This can be compared to paid advertising where the space is effectively rented for a short time period.
Another advantage is that it is very cheap. Once a website has been created on WordPress or a similar platform, it is as simple as writing high-quality content consistently. The cost of this depends on the writer or agency, though content creation can be cheaper than hiring paid advertising specialists, who tend to be in short supply.
Content marketing is relevant for far longer time-periods. The idea is to create content that delivers consistent value to the customer over time. The effects of this compound over time. As a reputation is established and the site traffic grows, other marketing techniques can be integrated. It is possible to build up a large email list and create campaigns targeting this list.
It is also possible to explore alternative marketing techniques such as advanced paid search models and affiliate links to other products. These techniques cannot be used on their own or when just starting out.
Content marketing is the safest path that will always lead to increased traffic and conversion down the line. Once the blog or site gets enough traffic, it is possible to make significant income using only paid ads without selling anything.
Ultimately, content marketing is about providing value to the reader and establishing brand recognition. This does not entail constantly promoting the positive aspects of a business. Anything that is tasteful and relevant to the consumer and that gives them what they are searching for comes under the ambit of content marketing. The thing that separates content marketing is that it is orientated towards giving value to customers first as opposed to enticing them to make a purchase. This is quite possibly why it delivers the best returns and is the dominant online marketing method.
Richard is the owner and head of digital at Tailored SEO. He has worked in the digital marketing space for over 10 years and has worked with a wide range of clients.