Is content marketing effective? Without a doubt, yes. It's also growing in popularity—according to a recent CMI/Marketing Profs report on B2B content marketing, a whopping 90% of companies are using content marketing, and two-thirds of them plan to increase their spending on content over the next year.
However, for many people, content marketing elicits as many questions as it provides answers. Just what is content marketing, anyway, and how does it work? If you have questions about getting on board with content marketing, you’re not alone. Read on for answers to some of the most common questions about content marketing.
Content is free, right?
Well, not exactly. Content can be one of the most cost-effective marketing tools out there, and yes, it can sometimes be free to create and publish. But if you plan on using it extensively in your marketing efforts, you should definitely plan on making room in the budget for it.
The fact is, unless you can create, publish and distribute your content entirely on your own, content marketing is not free. Good content marketing will inevitably require an investment—of time, money and human resources. Content will most likely need to be outsourced, an editorial staff will need to be hired, social media accounts will need to be set up, maintained and monitored and technology for handling it all will need to be acquired.
So, I don’t have to do traditional marketing anymore?
While content marketing can replace some aspects of traditional marketing campaigns, it should not become the only weapon in your arsenal. Content marketing is a wonderful complement to traditional marketing methods such as direct mail, print ads and cold calls. Together, all of these methods can tell the full story of your brand and capture the different ways that consumers absorb information.
The great thing about using a mix of marketing tools is that when one starts to lose its effectiveness, you can start putting more resources into another. Is your blog readership down? Step up your direct mail campaign. People not responding to your cold calls? Develop an email list for an email newsletter campaign. And so on ...
Who’s responsible for the content?
It's a good question, and one that many marketers and site owners fail to ask in advance. Quite simply, the answer depends on how you structure your content initiatives. Will you have a publishing staff that is 100% in charge of producing, curating, publishing and distributing your content? Or will you allow everyone to contribute to the cause?
Anyone can pitch in when it comes to content marketing. From the CEO to the entry-level assistant, from the marketing department to your sales team, your employees have stories to tell, and this is what makes content marketing such a powerful promotional tool for your brand.
How big a part does social media play in all this?
How big a role social media plays in your content marketing strategy is ultimately up to you, but keep this in mind: the new search engine algorithms give a lot of clout to content produced, published and shared on social media, so it's important that you make your content easy to share. Without a well-maintained social media presence you won’t be able harness the full potential of all that awesome content you've worked so hard to create.
YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest are effective vehicles for the rapid distribution of your company’s marketing content. Social bookmarking sites such as Technorati, Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon make sharing your content easy. Get your staff involved in updating your social media accounts and link to them from your website and blog. Your activity on these social sites forms communities of interested people who are more likely to convert into buyers than your average site visitor.
Content marketing is on the rise, and with good reason. Take advantage of the many benefits of content marketing—you'll find it's an invaluable business strategy.