Brands have been sharing their stories with consumers in an effort to drum up business for centuries. But according to the Content Marketing Institute, what most consider to be the first official attempt at “content marketing” can be traced back to 1895. That’s when John Deere published the inaugural edition of its customer-focused, brand-driven magazine “The Furrow.” Filled with articles on farming, tractors (John Deere ones, of course) and other topics of interest to those living agrarian lifestyles, the magazine is actually still in print. (And it’s still quite popular, too, boasting a circulation of nearly 600,000 in the U.S. and Canada, and nearly 2 million globally.)
What is content marketing, and just how widespread is it?
Content marketing — a term coined in 2001 by Cleveland, Ohio-based Penton Custom Media — involves the strategic creation and distribution of content (including magazines, blog articles, videos and even social media posts) that doesn’t explicitly promote a brand, but instead aims to spur consumer interest in its products and services. And since it got its official name roughly 20 years ago, the practice has become quite commonplace among businesses and brands.
In fact, according to HubSpot, 82% of marketers report that they actively employed content marketing in 2021 — marking a 12% rise from the preceding year. And further, according to a 2021 report by the Content Marketing Institute, more than 80% of professional marketers consider content a core business strategy.
So why has content marketing gone so mainstream among marketers? The short answer: because it works. While the inundated-by-ads modern consumer has grown leery of in-your-face, hard-sell advertising — and often tends to avoid it when he or she sniffs it out — content marketing employs a more subtle, soft-sell approach to catching consumers’ interest and keeping it, all the while gently nudging them along the path to conversion.
9 big benefits content marketing can bring for your brand
Consider these nine ways that, when executed consistently and with a high level of quality, content marketing can boost your brand or business:
1. It boosts your SEO (and, consequently, your web traffic)
Search engine giant Google and its algorithms love high-quality content. In fact, having high-quality content on your website that answers consumers’ search queries is at the foundation of capturing organic search traffic. So, the more high-quality content you have on your website, the higher you will rank on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) when consumers mount searches related to your content — and the more traffic you’ll get.
2. It elevates brand awareness
No matter where consumers find your content marketing assets, they’ll be exposed to your brand and its offerings. That is the case whether it’s on the above-mentioned SERP, via a link sent by a friend, directly on your website’s blog page, in printed assets like your brand magazine, in your email newsletter or anywhere else. To amplify the enhanced-awareness effect among members of your target audience, produce content on topics they’re likely to be interested in, and they’ll be more likely to find you when they look for it.
3. It establishes you as an authority in your industry
Providing high-quality content can position your business as a leading source for information in your area of expertise. This, of course, is likely to make consumers see you as an expert in your field, increasing the likelihood that they will turn to you when they need help or are looking to make purchases in the area. And further, thanks to Google’s E-A-T guidelines, it can help your website climb in the search rankings.
4. … and can help you build trust
When your brand is a consistently reliable source of quality information on your products and services, topics related to your industry, or anything else, it will also help you build a high level of trust in your brand among consumers. In turn, this trustworthiness is likely to put your brand in a strong position among consumers when they need your products and/or services.
5. It can convey your brand personality
Throughout all of the content your brand produces, you’ll have the opportunity to let your brand’s voice and persona — both critical elements of a strong branding strategy — shine through for consumers. And in doing so, especially over time, you’ll help your brand establish stronger connections with consumers and create brand loyalty among your customers and audience members.
6. It can amplify your social following
As the content-marketing assets you create help you grow your authoritativeness in your industry and consumers’ trust for your brand, you’re also likely to find that many of your readers and viewers will follow your brand’s social media pages so they can stay up to date in their areas of interest. (On that note, be sure to include highly visible opportunities for consumers to follow your brand on social media when you share your articles, videos, etc.) And the more followers you have on these platforms, the stronger connections you can create with these consumers — and the more likely they are to become brand advocates.
7. It’s highly cost-effective
In many cases, the only cost associated with content marketing is the time spent producing your assets. This benefit is reflected in research showing that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing alternatives, and that it has further been shown to generate roughly three times as many leads as traditional marketing channels per dollar spent. And because your brand’s content-marketing assets are typically housed on your own website, they won’t expire/disappear like most types of paid advertising, but instead stay there as long as you’d like to offer compounding value.
8. It can ultimately increase conversions
Considering all of the benefits mentioned above, a strategically executed content-marketing campaign can eventually result in increased conversions for your brand. After all, targeted, trusting and interested consumers are more likely than the typical consumer to make purchases from your brand — and are also more likely to become repeat customers. (Along the way, to facilitate increased conversion rates, be sure that your content-marketing assets include strong calls to action that clearly direct your readers and viewers to take the action you’d like for them to take.)
9. It can make life easier for your sales and customer-service teams
It’s a safe bet that the members of your customer service team spend a good deal of their time answering the same customer questions every day. And the same can likely be said about your brand’s sales team regarding questions from prospects. And when you’re looking for content-marketing topics, creating articles and videos that answer these common customer and prospect questions is the perfect place to start! And once you have those assets in place (somewhere on your website, for example), answering these recurring questions will be a lot easier for each of these teams, as they can simply send a link to a full explanation of all the details.
Does your business have a compelling story to tell, but maybe lack the high-level writing skills on staff needed to tell it effectively? At Brandon, we have a full content team of experienced writers and editors, all of whom have been working in content marketing for years — and know how to catch and keep consumers’ attention. To get started with professional writing help that can elevate the effectiveness of all of your written content and marketing campaigns, contact us today.