So you’ve launched your business – developed a bright idea, secured the financing, begun to attract customers and even thought about branding. Now you need to sort out some paid advertising, right? Well actually, that might not be the best next move. The statistics reveal that paid advertising is actually becoming less effective. A huge proportion of the population now use ad blockers, either automatically included in some browsers or downloaded separately. More than 615 million devices now have installed ad blockers – even on mobile or tablet devices. All of this means that digital display advertising is being seen less, and potential customers are also increasingly adept at tuning our advertising content that they do see.
The Content Marketing Solution
The answer to this, and so many other woes is contained within content marketing strategy. If your business isn’t on board, then you need to be – not only to replace traditional formats but also to boost your SEO and form meaningful connections with your customers. Content marketing doesn’t just mean articles – there’s a whole raft of potential avenues. These methods allow you to position your company as a whole thought leader, establish great relationships with your customers and improve your engagement rates.
Does It Work For SME’s?
There can be a perception that developing a strong, multi-channel content marketing strategy requires deeper pockets than the average Small To Medium Enterprise (SMEs) can countenance. You see the amazing videos, podcasts, infographics and articles pushed out by the global superbrands and wonder how you could possibly compete. But the great thing about this approach is that the most important factor is something which has nothing to do with budget – authenticity. If you have the right message which adds value to your customer at the right time, then patchy production values don’t matter as much. It’s all about providing a service. People typically prefer to learn about your business in a way which feels more organic than paid for ads. Customers go out actively looking for content which suits their needs, so use this to your advantage. Sell replacement parts for ovens? A series of videos on how to diagnose faults and make the repair – with parts purchased from you of course – is a great way to add value for customers and establish a trusted relationship.
Creating The Right Content
But how do you know what information and format your customers want to consume their content in? The answer is simple: ask them! Great content creation should always be data led. Either source existing insight into the demographic you’re targeting or do some primary research by adding a survey to your website, holding a Twitter poll, asking a question on a LinkedIn group, or even conducting some social listening. Be guided by what your customers want – don’t think of a format and then shoehorn the content in. If you have worries about creating a steady stream of items, then there are plenty of certification courses on content marketing which can be done part- time or as distance learning and which may be a worthwhile investment of your time. Or you may choose to go external and hire a marketing agency to co-create a strategy and author some killer content together. There are experts out there who understand exactly how to connect with your audience and author content which moves them from a prospect to a brand advocate seamlessly.
Generating Return On Investment
In terms of your bottom line, content marketing is a gift. It generally involves much less cash outlay than traditional forms of advertising – averaging about 62 per cent less upfront cost. That should be music to your ears as a start-up with a lean budget. But the benefits to your bottom line don’t stop there – research shows that content marketing usually generates around three times as many prospects– and that they tend to be ‘warmer’, or more receptive to making a purchase. Because of the inherently social nature of most of the platforms, you are also far more likely to benefit from people sharing and making your brand even more visible – as long as the content you create really serves a need or had an emotional resonance.
Establishing A Relationship
Today’s customers are very resistant to being sold to, and starting off with something highly transactional is very old school and unlikely to get the best results. Avenues like social media are a conversation, not a soap box, so dial down the promotions on blast all the time. Find topical events to create a dialogue around. When people follow you on social media or subscribe to your updates, it’s likely they do want deals, promotions and information on sales, but it’s all about delivering them at the right time to influence action. The beauty of content marketing is providing value to customers beyond this limited scope – adding information or enhancing their lives in some small way. Warming up prospects like them and then serving your best offers at the right time will lead to far higher conversion metrics.