Content marketing has experienced a lot of traction in recent years. As a marketing channel it is shown to outperform direct advertising on key metrics. Studies suggest, content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
You can’t sell products and services if people don’t know who you are. When done correctly, content marketing can play a critical role in raising awareness, branding and building relationships.
We’ve seen a shift in the way people view brands and what they have come to expect of brand relationships. For example, a study by Label Insight found that, “94 percent of all consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand when it commits to full transparency.”
Content marketing’s approach to create and distribute valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a target audience — and drive conversions, can aid in this quest. When coupled with social media, both channels can raise brand awareness and impact a variety of business goals.
Content marketing is not sales
A salesy approach to content marketing misses the point. Rather, adding value and sharing content that relates to your product or service in an indirect way is more effective.
Ellie Pierce, Director of Content Strategy at Lindsay, Stone & Briggs, notes that you should, “think about your potential customer. Think about the problem you’re trying to solve for that customer. Think about how they feel, what they need and what their specific problems are at different points along the way to buying your product. Then think about where you can meet them during these different points in their journey, and how you can provide value to them where they are.”
“This is called channel planning,” she adds. “Done well, it helps you avoid doing things like serving up decision-making content to customers who are barely in the awareness phase of the funnel.”
Content marketing allows you to share your expertise and relevance. “Content marketing is all about publishing content to attract more traffic, while sales is about landing more deals,” adds Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom.
The type of content you share to aid in the decision-making process will vary based on audience preference. However, when it comes to a B2B audience, studies show that, “most B2B buyers say they rely heavily on white papers (82%), webinars (78%), and case studies (73%) to make purchasing decisions. Close behind are e-books (67%), infographics (66%), and blog posts (66%).” When you provide value in these formats, you inherently add value which can have an impact in the buying journey down the road. Content marketing is undoubtedly a long game.
Social media has a role to play
Similarly, social media should not be used as a hard sell tool. As Social Media Examiner suggests, “social media isn’t primarily about driving sales or influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions. If that’s what you bought into, you’re going to be disappointed. Social media marketing is about making emotional connections through positive customer experiences, exceptional service and engaging conversations.”
When done correctly, social media plays a fundamental role in the performance of content marketing efforts. “Customers who encounter positive social customer care experiences are nearly 3 times more likely to recommend a brand.” (Harvard Business Review) Furthermore, “Content marketing isn’t just about what’s created. Content marketing is about the entire process, including the way you distribute and promote that content.” Social media is about sharing (distribution and promotion of your content). The two work hand-in-hand.
Building an active social media presence to complement content marketing can lead to increased awareness, engagement, relationships and leads.
Content marketing and social media play a major part in sales, but they all play different roles that require a separate strategy and yet a holistic approach. Consider your strategies for each channel and how they can work together to meet your business objectives.
Chloe Anthony-Pillai is the content and social lead for startup HowNow. HowNow gives experts and influencers to tools to monetize their knowledge through creating and selling courses in their own online school, where they can teach in a virtual classroom.