Content Marketing 101



Why is content marketing important?

Before we load up on content strategy, let’s talk about why content marketing is important to your organization.

The premise behind content marketing is simple: the way buyers search, compare, and select products has changed. This is true for both consumer and business buyers. For example, according to Forrester research 92% of B2B purchases start with search and 68% of B2B buyers prefer to research online on their own.

A companion trend to the rise of content marketing is the greater responsibility marketers have for company revenue. Increasing Sales and Revenue was the top priority for CMO’s in IBM’s comprehensive 2017 report on the modern marketing mandate.

With more potential customers starting (and even finishing) their shopping experience online, content marketing is the most effective way to reach your target audience. Content marketing means providing valuable content to your target market in ways that help them navigate their journey from the point they become aware of the challenge they’d like to solve through the stages of consideration, selection, use, and advocacy of your offerings. 

Who should be doing content marketing?

The short answer is that nearly every organization should be involved in content marketing. 

Content marketing for education purposes is most relevant for audiences that spend effort searching, researching, selecting, and mastering products and services. This applies to B2B and B2C industries alike including technology, professional services, healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, electronics, automotive, durable goods, and many others.

Content marketing for entertainment or inspiration purposes can apply to just about any industry as a way to build brand awareness and trust.

Marketers have embraced the reality that buyers want to shop and not be sold to. HubSpot estimated in 2018 that 74% of organizations globally were primarily focused on an inbound marketing strategy vs. primary focus on an outbound strategy.

How effective are organizations at content marketing?

Since the fuel for content marketing is the content itself, it can be easy to jump straight to creating content - especially with the pressure to produce results yesterday. However, success through content marketing takes a well-thought strategy and dedication. You need to have a good plan in place, and then you need to consistently work your plan to achieve results.

Despite the promise of content marketing, good marketers can struggle to achieve the desired results. According to a March 2019 Heinz Marketing study sponsored by ON24, only 13% of us are extremely or very confident that our content is driving the desired results. Similarly, the Content Marketing Institute reports that only 29% of B2C marketers and 26% of B2B marketers rate their organization’s content marketing success as very or extremely successful.

Every marketer tasked with driving results through content marketing should have a documented content strategy. The Content Marketing Institute consistently finds that the large majority of organizations finding success with content marketing have a documented content strategy while the least successful organizations do not.

Put simply, great content marketing can be a key driver to sales and revenue for your organization; however, it only works if you have smart, documented strategy in place.

You may not be a content marketing expert yet, but you should be thinking hard about how your organization can take advantage of this powerful approach to marketing. It matches how buyers prefer to engage with your brand, and it helps tie marketing activities to revenue. Most organizations would like to increase their content marketing effectiveness. The first step on that path is to maintain a documented content strategy. Chapter 2 (Content Strategy Basics) will introduce you to the four key elements of content strategy.