A Strong Business Case for Content Marketing
Most marketers are making significant investments in content marketing to drive awareness, with the better practitioners using it to grow leads and revenue. If statistics about how many marketers are making the shift to content marketing are enough for you (and your boss) to move full steam ahead with your content marketing initiatives, then I’ve included some of this data below. If you need a better understanding of content marketing, its proven impact to marketers and real examples of it in action, then read on.
- 88% of B2B marketers in North America use content marketing. [Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs]
- 76% of marketers are increasing investment in content marketing. [Curata]
- What percent of marketers will increase their use of the following content marketing related activities: Original visual assets(73%); Original videos (72%); Original written content (69%); Original audio (26%). [Social Media Examiner]
- 82% of marketers curate content. [IMN, Inc.]
- Click here for even more data.
What is Content Marketing?
According to the experts, content marketing is:
- “developing, executing and delivering the content and related assets that are needed to create, nurture and grow a company’s customer base” [Curata]
- “process and practice of creating, curating and cultivating text, video, images, graphics, e-books, white papers and other content assets” [Gartner]
- “marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience” [Content Marketing Institute]
- “marketing strategy where brands create interest, relevance & relationships with customers by producing, curating and sharing content” [Forrester]
Is Content Marketing Really NEW??
Yes, marketers have been producing content for hundreds of years; however, this content marketing stuff really is new. It includes:
- New Content Formats;
- New Channels; and most importantly,
- A New Way of Communicating! (e.g., non-egocentric; by persona; by account)
New Content Formats
Yes, the traditional forms of content do continue to be highly valuable (white papers, case studies), however, there are new forms of content in addition to new ways to “package” content. (e.g., social media, eNewsletters, blog posts, videos, ebooks and infographics) [click here for a detailed white paper template]
New Content Channels
Here are just some examples . . . . And yes, I really do find it exciting how many opportunities we now have to distribute our content across the Internet:
A New Way of Communicating
The “old” way of using content was a one way communication by marketers to their prospects, solely focused on how great their company and products are, and why people should buy their products. This type of content certainly still has its place towards the bottom of the funnel; however, today’s content marketing involves also creating content that is educational, entertaining and relevant to an audience at the middle and top of the funnel, and even before our prospects enter the funnel/buying process.
The best marketers get this new way of creating and curating content, and have stopped egocentric marketing. Today’s content marketing is intended to build trust and a lasting relationship with prospects, so that they will look to your company when they are ready to enter the buying process. In many cases your content may not even have anything to do with your company’s product. (e.g., Curata published an entire blog post and template on Content Interview Questions and Answers to help their customers hire great employees and/or prepare for their own job interview)
The Real Benefits of Content Marketing
Content marketing offers real benefits. . . to you, your career, your company and your customers.
Buyers are Hungry for Better Content = Opportunity for Marketers
Buyers are hungry for better content, to help their career, to help them with their jobs and to help with their purchasing decisions; and they are on-line looking for this content before even reaching out to your sales people:
- 67% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions than they did a year ago. [DemandGen Report]
- Type of content used in the past 12 months to research B2B purchasing decisions: White Papers (83%); Case Studies (67%); Webinars (75%); eBooks (68%); Videos (63%); Blog Posts (56%); Infographics (52%). [DemandGen Report]
- “57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier.” (Corporate Executive Board)
- “67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.” (SiriusDecisions)
But don’t get too excited just yet at the thought of publishing all that wonderful content for your audience. As much as buyers value content, they are also overwhelmed by irrelevant and low quality content. Avoid the steps that will inevitably lead to a content marketing death wish. (e.g., creating boring content, only focusing on your product(s), not tapping into the power of content curation)
Content Marketing Impacts The Entire Marketing and Sales Pipeline
Content marketing is a lot more than simply a blog post or some infographics. From a marketing strategy perspective, content marketing provides value to awareness building, lead generation, sales enablement and revenue.
Curata asked 600 marketers about the impact of content marketing investment on each part of the pipeline. Two-thirds or more of marketers indicated a positive impact on each area.
Impact of Content on Curata’s Lead Generation Process
Curata depends upon content marketing for a significant part of its lead generation goals, with over 80% of sales opportunities being marketing generated. We have even completed an analysis of what types of content generate the greatest number of leads using a data-driven content marketing approach. For example, data analysis using our own content marketing platform (including integration with Marketo and Salesforce.com) indicate that, on average, long-form content generates 8x more page views, 3x more social shares and 9x more leads than short-form content. [Refer to this post on Data-Driven Content Marketing for additional details and content-related metrics]
Content Marketing Offers the Missing Link for Marketing Automation
Salesforce automation (SFA) fuels revenue by tracking and supplying sales opportunities and leads. Marketing automation platforms drive SFA by supplying marketing qualified leads. But what drives the marketing activities and leads of marketing automation platforms? The answer is CONTENT!
Content is the fundamental currency for marketing automation. Like a car without any gas, marketing automation will not get very far without content.
Content is needed for everything from a website (which is tracked by marketing automation), to email campaigns, to even pay-per-click landing page offers.
If it were not for content, many of the key parts of marketing automation would cease to function. With no content, drip campaigns would come to a halt — there would be no content to drip to leads. With no content, lead scoring would stop since there would be no content for a lead to browse on a site. With no content, many demand generation campaigns would come to a halt because there would be no enticing offers for many lead capture landing pages.
Given that content is crucial to the customer acquisition process, what tools and technologies can support this? There are a myriad of content marketing tools out there. But there’s still a need for a Content Marketing Platform (CMP) that sits on top of the Marketing Automation Platform and Sales Force Automation system. This CMP needs to supply content downstream to generate and nurture leads, that are then converted to opportunities and revenue by sales. [Refer to The Emergence of the Content Marketing Platform to learn more about this market evolution, the leading CMP vendors and how much you should expect to spend for this new class of software]
More Data Demonstrating the Benefits of Content Marketing
- 36% of companies with a documented content strategy indicate that their content marketing is “very effective” or “extremely effective.” [Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs]
- 77% of all companies rate their social media marketing successful to some extent at achieving the most important objectives set for it. [LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community]
- The power of the blog as a part of a content marketing strategy:
- How effective have B2B marketers’ content marketing efforts been at delivering business value? Very Effectively (14%); Somewhat Effectively (51%); Neutral (27%); Somewhat Ineffectively (6%); Not effectively at all (1%) [Forrester]
Real Life Examples of Content Marketing In Action To Help Build Your Business Case
There are many great examples of content marketing in action. I’ve included just a few of them below, including a cross section of small and large companies.
Alcatel-Lucent has built a microsite for its IT audience that is building thought leadership for the Alcatel-Lucent brand and driving referral traffic to its other web properties.
Company Description: Alcatel-Lucent is a leading innovator in the field of communications technology, products and services. With over 150 years of experience, they provide solutions for enterprises, service providers and governments worldwide.
Content Marketing Opportunity: Create a thought-leadership resource for a global technology audience with the most relevant, diverse content on emerging technology and executive-level business strategy. The site is also intended to drive web traffic to its other web properties.
Web Site: IT Strategist
What is it? Alcatel-Lucent created a destination site designed specifically for IT professionals that want to learn and stay up to date on enterprise-focused IP infrastructure and communication solutions along with top IT issues
What does this site contain? A mix of content created by their own expert staff, coupled with curated content from across the web; thereby bringing in the best that industry experts have to offer. There is a hyper-focus on creating and curating content for their target audience, IT professionals. This content supports Alcatel-Lucent’s direction, and provides them the opportunity to bring in 3rd party perspective which supports their brand image.
- Alcatel-Lucent is getting more information out to readers and validating credibility with industry insights by publishing 5-30 relevant articles per day on the IT Strategist and only spending 45 minutes to an hour on daily curation using content curation sofware.
- The higher volume of publishing has resulted in increased web traffic.
- The IT Strategist is becoming a go-to source for emerging technology information and executive level strategy planning.
Verne-Global has built the #1 media site on Google search for news about green data centers by using content marketing. As a result, it is the leading referral site of qualified prospective customers to Verne Global’s corporate site, with approximately 15% of traffic sourced from it.
Company Description: Verne Global is a wholesale supplier of ‘green’ data center space that provides a 100% renewable power solution at cost-efficient pricing. Based in Keflavik, Iceland and Washington, D.C., Verne Global helps corporations solve their abundant energy consumption problems by providing an alternative, environmentally green way to store data.
Content Marketing Opportunity: Educate the market about the inherent benefits of the green data centers by using content marketing, and then strategically divert prospective customers to the Verne Global solution. (i.e., referral traffic)
What is it? A robust news and opinion site to establish Verne Global as the leader in green data centers.
What does this site contain? Original, created content (blog posts) and high quality, relevant curated content
- It has quickly become the hub for up-to-the-minute IT energy efficiency information from around the world, with 000’s of hits each week.
- The greendatacenternews.org site is the #1 organic Google search result for “green data centers”. This is a key factor in this site being the source of 15% of total traffic referred to the Verne Global corporate site.
- The greendatacenternews.org site is a 2 time Stevie web site awards winner.
Lenovo has pre-loaded its Companion app on all Windows 8 PCs and tablets globally. Lenovo offers robust global and local content to 7 key markets through this app, thereby, providing the best experience for its customers with their Lenovo PCs or tablets.
Company Description: Lenovo is a $39 billion global Fortune 500 company and a leader in providing innovative consumer, commercial, and enterprise technology.
Content Marketing Opportunity: Increase daily visitation, encourage repeat users and build customer loyalty for Lenovo by providing current, high quality, localized content (created and curated) for a global audience in the Lenovo Companion app which is pre-loaded on all Windows 8 Lenovo PCs and tablets globally.
What does this application contain? Millions of Lenovo users have one app, one place on their PCs or tablets where they can check what is new with their system and Lenovo, access support when needed, and read up on tech developments and opinions from a stable of Lenovo experts, partners, publishers and bloggers.
- Average daily visitation to the Lenovo app has increased 113 percent and repeat visitation has increased 143 percent as a result of their increased use of content marketing – created and curated content.
- The Lenovo Companion is the highest performing of all the Lenovo-developed Innovation Apps.
With the above information in hand, you’re now in a position to build a more solid business case for your boss to invest in content marketing. Key steps to help build a plan to share with your boss include:
- Develop a preliminary content strategy (check out this post for how to create a content strategy)
- Cite any data you can from past experiences within your company about the power of content marketing, and use the data in this post (Arnie Kuenn recommends using a pilot program to help get data to build your case)
- Explain how content marketing can help achieve your marketing goals.
- Be prepared to overcome objections.
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