As has always been the case, the best message isn’t propaganda. It’s content. It’s funny or useful or interesting in its own right. In short, it has a purpose that goes beyond just serving its own interests.
What do you call that kind of message? Content marketing. The idea here is that if you make your products or services part of something bigger like a humorous newsletter or a really useful e-course, people aren’t just going to put up with your ad. They’re going to seek it out, on purpose, because they want to consume it.
In fact, this type of marketing is driving b2b sales today. Here are three reasons why.
1. We’d rather find out than get told.
According to B2B PR Sense Blogs, 80 percent of company decision-makers prefer to get information from articles, not traditional ads. It makes sense. Who wants to listen to the same old self-promotion song when they could be getting information and insight that will really help them succeed?
2. We live in an era of online shopping research.
Content is really useful when you’re coming to the Internet with a specific question on your mind. If you can anticipate that question and answer it for a potential customer, they will be happy, and you will have their ear.
3. We are addicted to quality.
With all the marketing messages floating around these days, fluff has little appeal. Customers are attracted by content that offers something of genuine value, not just a flashy headline that promises much more than it delivers.
When Eccolomedia teamed up with Global Marketing Insight to look at how companies examine content copy, when making a tech purchase, it found that 64 percent of B2B tech customers typically read 2 to 5 pieces of content before buying, and they rate white papers as the most influencial factor in their purchase.
In a way, what’s true about marketing now has always been true. People like what’s interesting, useful, informative and insightful. We like being handed something that’s truly going to make our lives better, our decisions easier. We don’t like being talked down to. We don’t like listening to those who can only talk about themselves.
Content marketing: the communications channel that pulls its weight
There are many different types of customer communication, from carefully-timed smartphone notifications to good, old-fashioned direct mail. But on the Internet, nothing pulls its weight like content marketing.
Perhaps that's why Smart Insights predicted in 2014 that content marketing would be the most commercially important digital marketing trend of the last twelve months, outranking big data by 15 percentage points.
What makes it so special? It's versatile, for one thing. "Each time you publish an original blog post, you're creating a new opportunity to get found in search engines, get shared on social media, get linked to by other sites, and get a new person to interact with your company," according to Lindsay Kolowich at at HubSpot's Marketing Blog.
It also has the power to help you deliver a better experience to customers. "By informing them what your priorities are and who your employees are, you establish what level of service to anticipate, and what type of professional will perform the service," said Jeff Sexton at Web Marketing Today. "You create a method for your customer to measure satisfaction. And a satisfied customer is a repeat customer."
What's the best frequency for content marketing?
Short answer? The more quality content you publish, the more traffic you're likely to get. HubSpot found that companies which published 16 or more posts per month got got almost three and a half times more traffic than those that published four or fewer.
The visibility you get from increased traffic feeds directly into the customer experience equation. "As companies are becoming more and more focused on the customer experience, they are turning to content marketing as a way to position themselves as a resource in their industry,” Jeff Charles mentioned at Small Business Trends.
- • The frequency of your posts helps determine how much traffic you get
- • The quality of your posts sets expectations, positions you as a valuable resource for your audience, and boosts your satisfaction scores
- • The satisfaction you generate contributes to your customer retention stats
In short, as you retool your marketing strategy for 2016, don’t underestimate the impact of communications frequency on customer retention and please don’t neglect the importance of content marketing as a communications channel.
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