We know that content marketing is a vital part of any marketing services these days, especially for businesses with any kind of online component. We also know that your or the decision makers that you may report to will need more than general platitudes about how content is great: Evidence of success, connection to leads, and statistics are necessary. Proof, in other words.
Well, you’re in luck! Today we’re talking about specific ways that content marketing influences sales, and why it can be so effective. If you haven’t looked at the data in a while (let’s face it, we’re all pretty busy these days), then you may be surprised to see just how powerful content has become for improving leads and sales!
Content has a very interesting role as a lead builder that not all businesses recognize. Did you know that are 70% of the buying decision is currently made via online research before the buyer even contacts the business? That’s a whole lot of people who are making up their minds about a purchase before they first give a call or fill out a form.
So how can a brand reach them? Through useful, easily available content. This “frontloading” for decision making means that content is even more important for drawing your audience through the sales funnel…sometimes all the way through.
A common complaint about content marketing is that it takes up too much of the marketing budget, and that the company needs enough money for paid advertising, because of course you need paid advertising. The problem with this mindset is that it no longer matches the current marketing world. Hubspot has an great collection of statistics that state, among other things, that since 2017 content marketing gets around three times more leads than paid advertising. Paid advertising has a diminished role into today’s online world: It’s pushed to the sides, relegated to only the briefest appeal, and instinctively ignored by the majority of internet users. No wonder content is starting to produce more results!
Another complain about content is that people keep wanting to make it: That sounds funny, but it’s a tough sell for a small company that already has a foundation of sales-oriented content, and doesn’t see the need to pay for more. However, content doesn’t work that way: A certain amount of content, usually around 10% according to Hubspot, is “compounding” or content that becomes very popular and actually starts acting as an organic introduction to the brand for online users.
This compounding content doesn’t become less useful over time, it actually grows more valuable, accruing a sort of online interest and yielding as much traffic as any 6 other posts. Ongoing content is worth it just to produce this compounding effect – let alone the SEO benefits of producing a stream of new content.
An interesting kind of intangible transaction happens when brands offer valuable content, such as research, whitepapers, and how-to guides. Customers feel fine about offering their own information in return – and that’s how leads are built. For example, around 42% of marketers have found that offering downloadable content in exchange for contact information like an email address is one of their most effective tactics. People feel good about giving something if they know they are getting something in return.
It’s natural to lose some customers over time – stuff happens. But did you know that the average U.S. business loses about 20% of customers every year because they don’t spend enough time with customer relationships? Content provides a buffer zone that helps retain customers that might otherwise drop out because no one is answering their questions or reaching out to them.
FAQs and product guides can provide answers for impatient customers, even if you don’t have the manpower to personally answer every question that comes up (this ties in well with the increased amount of research that B2B customers are doing online). Email and social media outreach can keep your brand in the minds of customers who haven’t made a purchase in a while, making it more likely that they will return!