“I understand the value of traditional customer relationship marketing, but how can internet marketing possibly strengthen customer relationships?”
For those of us who grew up with traditional marketing strategies rooted in building and maintaining customer relationships, it can be a bit challenging trying to discern how something as impersonal as the internet can possibly leverage and nurture customer relationships. But it works, and companies are increasing their bottom lines because of it. “How?” you ask! With content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is about connecting with your customers without pushing your services on them. This is the hard part for business owners to overcome who have always been taught to promote and push their product or service out to prospective customers.
According to the leading experts on internet content, The Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Now What Business Owner or Marketer Wouldn’t Want to Do That?
Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy.
It also serves to establish you and your business as a trusted expert in your field. When you provide real information that clients and customers can relate to and use, it shows them that you are invested in them as people and not just someone you can sell to. Once they see that they can trust you, your relationship will grow stronger.
How Do You Know What Type of Content is Useful?
I would love to frame this question as it is the most important step and is often missed in content marketing! Identifying the optimal content that will engage your customers begins with understanding your customers and prospective customers, and then creating personas. It’s important to understand their pain points, fears, goals, and their buying decision making process. Otherwise simply creating content based upon what you think will hit the target with your customer will leave you disappointed in the results.
It is critical that your content doesn’t sound like a sales pitch for your services or products, or your customer will “delete” your information. After all, on the internet the customer or prospect is in the driver’s seat--not you! By providing useful information, you are establishing trust and rapport, and you are subtly telling your prospective customers they can trust your services as well. You have earned that trust by showing them that you not only understand their challenges and care about them, but you have also demonstrated your expertise and the value you can bring to them.
Does Content Marketing Really Generate Leads?
The benefits content marketing can bring to your business are proven. In addition to building brand awareness, establishing your business as a go-to resource, and establishing you as an industry thought leader, take a look at these awesome eleven statistics:
- Year-over-year growth in unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs 2.5%). (kapost)
- 78% of small businesses attract new customers through social media. (Relevanza)
- 34% of all leads generated by marketers in 2013 came from inbound marketing sources. (HubSpot)
- 54% more leads are generated by inbound than by outbound. (HubSpot)
- 72% of Marketers think that branded content is more effective than magazine advertisements, 69% say it’s superior to direct mail and PR. (customcontentcouncil)
- HubSpot customers average a total of 9,100 leads after 1.5 years of inbound marketing. (HubSpot)
- Brands that create 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month. (HubSpot)
- Businesses with 31 to 40 landing pages got 7 times more leads than those with only 1 to 5 landing pages. (HubSpot)
- Those with over 40 landing pages got 12 times more leads than those with only 1 to 5 landing pages. (HubSpot)
- Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Forrester Research)
- Website conversion rate is nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs 0.5%). (kapost)
Content Marketing is Here to Stay!
Internet marketing is not a strategy to overlook and pretend it doesn’t affect your business in some way. Every business, whether BtoB or BtoC is and will continue to be affected by the internet because that’s where your customers are! If you are not engaged in content marketing or you jumped into content marketing but it’s left you without results, then it’s time to evaluate your options and plan to incorporate a content marketing strategy into your overall internet marketing plans.
What benefit have you experienced with growing your customer relationships with content marketing?