What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the act of creating and publishing engaging and valuable content for your intended audience in order to help solve their challenges and meet their goals. By delivering helpful information, your business will strengthen its relationship with customers and prospects. And by positioning yourself as a trusted resource, you’ll gain new customers and retain existing ones, as well as boost general awareness of your brand among industry influencers.
Content marketing is an approach based on attracting prospects, not selling to them; on being audience-centric, not company- or product-centric. It’s not about slick advertising or hard-sell product pitches. Instead, your tactic is to deliver content that addresses your audience’s informational needs and questions at every step of the customer journey, whether they’re at the beginning—researching best practices or solutions to a problem—or close to a purchase decision and evaluating vendors.
Approaches to Content Marketing
Savvy marketers rely on content to build brand awareness, generate and nurture leads, educate customers and prospects, and establish trust and credibility. Content assets can support the customer journey at every stage of the marketing funnel. For example, thought leadership articles or eBooks with how-to’s and best practices can drive leads at the top of the funnel (awareness), while customer case studies, customer videos, and product comparison sheets can be leveraged at or near the bottom of the funnel (decision).
But success requires more than just producing and distributing content assets. Teams must take a strategic approach based on business goals and audience needs, articulated in a strategy (also known as a content marketing framework).
How It Supports B2B Marketing
Content marketing is arguably an even more important strategy for business-to-business marketing than for B2C. Consider that B2B buying cycles are often longer and more complex, and today’s buyers conduct extensive research on their own before making a purchase. That means B2B companies need to deliver a steady supply of valuable, high-quality content that meets the informational needs of buyers at every step and keeps them engaged over time.
To deliver results, B2B content needs to be done well. That means bringing creativity and fresh perspectives to technical topics or articulating a forward-looking perspective that establishes your brand as a bona fide thought leader. It doesn’t help that a glut of below-average content has saturated the market, so you need to make yours worth people’s time.
Does Content Marketing Work?
The ROI of content marketing is well established, and it has become a near-ubiquitous strategy among B2B companies. Consider the following:
- 30 percent higher growth: Companies that utilize it had approximately 30 percent higher growth rates than companies that did not, according to the 2018 ProfitWell Content Impact Study.
- 67 percent more leads: Companies with blogs received 67 percent more leads than companies without a blog, according to the ProfitWell study. And 47 percent of buyers view three to five pieces of content before ever talking to a sales rep.
- Increased brand loyalty: 96 percent of the most successful content marketers say that their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report.