As we move into the fourth quarter, it’s common for businesses and firms to begin budgeting for next year’s marketing program. There are so many ways that precious marketing dollars can be allocated in pursuit of accomplishing business objectives, and it’s probable you could make a good case for most, if not all of them in your marketing budget.
Then there’s content marketing.
There’s little argument that content plays a crucial role in today’s information-driven world. Yet, it seems like content marketing budgets are often stretched far too thin for many businesses and firms throughout the year when compared to big-ticket line items like advertising and direct mail. We believe that’s traceable to two challenges: (1) uncertainty, or an inability to articulate return on investment (ROI) for content marketing efforts, and (2) effectively selling content’s true value across your enterprise.
A strong argument can be made that content marketing drives all marketing tactics in your marketing mix. In business sectors that increasingly rely on content to sell, content must be front and center in your marketing budget.
There are plenty of resources available to help you understand how to accurately gauge content ROI. In this blog, we’ll highlight several ways in which content enhances sales and specific marketing tactics. Hopefully, our insights can help you articulate that value as you make the case for content in your marketing budget.
Content and sales – a match made in heaven
The world is continually changing—and nowhere is that more evident than in the sales realm. According to Gartner, the average B2B buyer is 57 percent through the purchase decision before even engaging a supplier sales rep. In a world where customers and clients self-educate, content unquestionably takes the lead role in empowering that self-education—for B2B and B2C buyers alike. Quality online content that educates and informs buyers also helps to earn their trust, which facilitates the buying process and makes the job of salespeople easier. Additionally, it demonstrates tangible thought leadership, which earns companies and firms new business opportunities.
Sales professionals know all too well that there’s only so much time available to prospect, cold call, chase leads, respond to emails and RFPs and so forth. If quality content can help to inform prospects at the top of the sales funnel, a big part of their job is already done. Furthermore, the ROI on a sale is likely larger than it would be had that salesperson taken time to perform similar functions as those handled through quality content.
Content and search engine optimization (SEO)
Great SEO can bring hundreds or even thousands of targeted visitors to your digital doorstep. Yet, SEO isn’t something that should be undertaken lightly; it requires skill, know-how, insight and great content.
Creating relevant content is one of the most effective tactics you can use to build and maintain a winning SEO program for your business. Content on your website is multi-functional. It helps to educate, and build credibility and trust. It can be used to drive social media posts and backlink activity, which improves your chances to rank in organic searches. It’s also useful in creating category pages that can help your business rank for high-volume category keywords. Finally, fresh and relevant content engages visitors and keeps them on your site, which reduces your bounce rate.
According to the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) 2017 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report, 57 percent of B2B content marketers believe that social media shares are a key metric of success in their content marketing program.
Social media will continue to expand in the years ahead through existing platforms, and platforms yet to be created. As this occurs, engaging content must populate these platforms in ways that build your business’ credibility and trust and compel people to take the actions you desire.
Effective public relations is all about positioning a business and its products and/or services so that they stand out in a crowded marketplace. From building awareness and garnering media placements to generating demand and winning brand loyalty, content plays a pivotal role in helping to ensure consistency of messaging and positioning that messaging for maximum effectiveness.
Your email marketing efforts should be geared toward delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. That said, no email will build brand loyalty or drive sales if it isn’t populated with quality and relevant content. Email marketing continues to capture a significant chunk of many companies’ annual marketing spend. For your email program to generate high open and click-through rates and ultimately, conversions, the content within those emails needs to be spot-on.
Advertising and Paid Media
Despite the exponential growth of social media and other digital marketing tactics, paid advertising, in the form of television, radio, social, pay-per-click and other avenues, still occupies a big slice of the marketing pie for many companies. If advertising is a big spend for your enterprise, it’s wise to optimize it with quality content.
The buying journey encompasses prospect interactions at every stage. And all along the way, content can facilitate the journey and help lead prospects toward conversions. The CMI’s 2017 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report states that 63 percent of marketers surveyed are “extremely or very committed to content marketing,” while 22 percent are “extremely or very successful with their overall approach to content marketing” and 62 percent are “much more or somewhat more successful with content marketing than they were one year ago.”
Given the success that marketers are finding through content marketing, and given content’s key role in every marketing tactic your company will employ during 2018, we believe that maximizing your content marketing budget will help those tactics be as successful as they can be.