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The Case for Content Marketing

By Thomas Young 

CONTENT marketing Data Blogging Media Publication Information Vision Content ConceptWhen it comes to digital marketing tactics, there are six areas of great importance that should be a part of your digital marketing plan:

  1. Offline Sales and Marketing
  2. Email Marketing
  3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  4. Social Media Marketing
  5. Influencer Marketing
  6. Content Marketing

These are all critical parts of your marketing. At the core of each area is content marketing. Not only is it at the center of digital marketing, it is also a stand-alone tactic in its own right. However, content marketing often does not get the attention it deserves. You don’t want to neglect this tactic – especially when you pair it with a powerful SEO strategy to ensure that potential leads can easily find helpful solutions to their problems that inspire them to convert on your website.

Creating excellent content is hard work and not everybody can do it. However, content marketing is by far the most powerful of your key digital marketing tactics, and the post-COVID landscape has only made it more important.

Let’s take a look at why content marketing is critical to digital marketing success.

Content Marketing Fuels Growth

Content marketing supercharges all the other inbound marketing tactics. It’s the most important driver of SEO, it gives you a stream of material for use in email marketing and social media marketing, and it can connect you to offline sales opportunities and influencer marketing opportunities you might not have found otherwise.

Content marketing is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal to make your brand human; to endear your business, products, and services to potential customers and clients; to make your business into something people can trust and see as a guide, or even as a friend. It’s the best tool you have for getting your foot in the door when it comes to reaching potential clients and customers.

And that’s not just sentimental fluff. One of the great strengths of digital marketing is the ability to track and measure data. Since all this content is digital it is trackable. You can record and measure the metrics to prove just how successful content marketing can be in driving sales results!

Content Marketing Drives ROI from SEO and Ads

Here’s what we at IW have learned about content marketing through the years:

For the average website, content marketing drives conversion rates from SEO and  paid digital ads.

If you think you don’t need to care about content because you have plenty of paid ad campaigns going on, you’ve got another thing coming. Your ads are only as good as the content people read on key website landing pages.

Paid ads, like all the other tools in a marketing team’s toolbox, are an extremely powerful tool in the digital marketing ecosystem. But what I’ve seen in my years of experience with digital marketing is that for the average website, the average pay-per-click (PPC) campaign delivers fewer conversions when great content is not part of the equation.

Good content can complement and strengthen your paid ad campaigns!  

This is also critical to be found organically through Google searches. Unlike PPC, you pay nothing to Google to have your content ranked in their search results—the only cost of content marketing is the cost of labor.

On top of that, the more useful and helpful content your website has, the better it performs in search results, and the better your chances of drawing people to landing pages optimized for conversion become. Websites with more content get more traffic, and websites that get more traffic get more conversions.

Get a High ROI from Content Marketing

Content marketing costs less than outbound marketing and generates more leads.

Outbound marketing is about spreading your message far and wide to potential customers through activities like trade shows, seminars and webinars, cold calling, commercials, print ads, and so on. It’s a lot like job hunting, particularly if your strategy for landing your next job is going onto Indeed or Glassdoor and shooting out dozens of resumes and cover letters at every opening you see and getting a handful of interviews in return.

But just as there are more efficient and more rewarding ways to job hunt than by tackling the problem with sheer volume, there are more efficient and more rewarding ways to generate more leads for your business—techniques that bring your audience to you. These are inbound marketing techniques, and content marketing is a huge part of inbound marketing.

Every passing year, many outbound marketing techniques grow less and less effective and useful. Trade shows and seminars still have a place in marketing to B2B professionals, but as for other outbound marketing channels—advertisements, cold calls, cold emails—the average human gets sicker and sicker of them every day. 

Think of how ubiquitous ad-blocking browser extensions for web browsers have become, or how the past decade’s streaming revolution was fueled by people who just never wanted to see an ad again.

Blog posts, social media posts, and engaging graphic and video content work because while people may hate ads, they love engaging and interesting material that leaves them smarter and better-informed than they were before—bonus points if it makes them laugh or smile. 

Instead of reaching thousands of people and getting back a dozen leads, you can reach thousands of people and get back hundreds—and you can do it for cheaper.

The expertise and manpower for implementing a content marketing campaign will almost universally get you more bang for your marketing buck.

People Research Business Solutions Online

More than half of B2B prospects get their news from digital content channels. They also research business solutions using digital content. The days of spending hours in sales meetings are long gone.

The internet isn’t just for fun anymore—it’s at the core of business at a foundational level.

Whatever industry your company exists in, quite a lot of the news you get about your industry is most likely coming from digital content channels—your LinkedIn or Twitter timeline, for example, Google search results, email newsletters, and YouTube channels. 

You’re keeping up-to-date on your field through the internet, using its algorithms to have laser-targeted content delivered right to your front door—and so are over half of your potential clients and customers.

Digital marketing is all about using these digital content channels to reach your audience of potential customers and clients. And creating relevant and interesting content and distributing it through an effective digital marketing strategy is your way to get potential prospects’ eyes on your business.

To paraphrase Kevin Costner in the classic film Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. It’s not enough to just have a website anymore, you must also have great content. 

Content is what you must build if you want your prospects to come to you through the digital channels we all use every day.

Content Marketing Begins with a Fantastic Blog

Websites with blogs get 126% more leads than websites without blogs.

Just having a blog puts you in better shape than competitors who don’t have one, though real growth, of course, requires good, helpful content and a thoughtful SEO strategy to pair with it. 

And the bigger your blog, the better!

One of the many reasons why having a blog improves your site’s ability to capture leads is that when Google or other search engines are deciding where to rank your site for various keywords, one of the driving factors guiding their decision is a website’s size relative to its competitors.

Good, useful, informative, and interesting content—content people will want to read, not spam—makes your website bigger and more of an authority in Google’s eyes. The more useful content your site has on it, the easier a time you’ll have ranking along with or even above your competitors in search engine results.

Having a blog helps you build credibility as a trustworthy source of information in your industry as well—so you aren’t just impressing Google, you’re impressing your potential customers. And this shows in the statistics we’ve seen in our clients’ outbound marketing campaigns.

All in all, across the board, better blogging means more organic traffic, more leads, more conversions, and more business for you!

Google’s search algorithm evolves constantly to ensure that pleasing the algorithm is as much of a 1:1 match with pleasing the user as possible. In the early internet, search results were rife with “black hat” SEO which focused on using cheap tricks to boost useless spam content and game the system, and every subsequent update to the algorithm has further decreased the viability of these methods. 

White hat SEO, combining content that is clear and helpful to readers with strategies designed to optimize its relevance for given search keywords and phrases, is crucial to making your content reach its full potential.

The lesson? 

Be the good guys and write good and helpful content, and you’ll always be on Google’s good side!

Google rewards excellent content with long-lasting search engine results.

Excellent Content is a Competitive Advantage

Everybody in your industry is producing content: content that catches their customers’ eyes; content that inspires them, educates them, informs them; content that turns them from a faceless business to a mentor, a guide, or even a friend.

The reason why everyone is producing content is simple: because it works. And because all your competitors are creating content, you can use the content they’re making to make your own business’ content better!

What are your competitors doing? What sorts of articles are they putting on their blog? How attractive is the layout of their website? What are they doing right that you’re not doing? What are they doing wrong that you can avoid? And what are they doing now that you can do better tomorrow?

These are all questions you can ask yourself by studying the content your competitors make. And remember—your competitors are studying you, too. Or, at least, if they aren’t right now, they will be.

Go read the content of your competitors and find ways to improve upon what they are doing to better meet customers needs.

Organic Content Drives Leads and Sales

Directly or indirectly, the content you write and post on your website plays a critical role in turning visitors into leads and leads into customers.

You are a thought leader in your industry. This is true of any successful business.

Being a thought leader means that people find your company’s website and are convinced by the resources you have available on it that you know what you’re talking about, that your company’s product or service can help them solve their problems, and that they can trust you.

Being a customer is a big commitment, and lead won’t be ready to commit to being your customer until you’ve satisfactorily proven your credentials as a thought leader to them. Thought leadership is essential for converting leads, and content is essential for thought leadership. Content marketing, especially blogging, is how you prove your authority, your trustworthiness, and your relevance to potential clients.

We’ve learned through working with our clients that if you aren’t doing content marketing, you’re handicapping your own ability to promote your thought leadership, making your goal of converting your lead into a customer up to six times more difficult to achieve.

Great Content Lasts Forever

Great content is indexed in Google and will market your company for years to come as long as you maintain an updated website.

Good content, like a good story, is eternal. That’s why content marketing is the oxygen of the Internet.

What makes great content?

The best content creates a connection between your company and the personal story of readers in your target market.

As long as there have been humans, there have been stories. The story was probably the second thing we ever invented after fire—because, of course, once we had fire, somebody had to sit by that fire and tell scary stories to their peers.

Stories are what make us human. It is what helped us survive as a species before the written word. We are hard-wired to remember stories, because our survival depended on it!

And as long as there are humans, there will be stories. The Epic of Gilgamesh is still around today; Beowulf, the Odyssey, the Iliad; thousands of years later, the ripples these stories made in the pond of human history are still radiating out to the shore.

Great stories help us learn and teach us how to live.

Of course, your blog post or social media post campaign isn’t the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Odysseus’ voyage home, or Beowulf’s monster-slaying career. And of course, it doesn’t have to be. But good content should always be a good story, and good content marketing has something in common with all of these stories—it’s evergreen.

It’s evergreen because of the lessons learned that help people in their daily lives.

A good blog post on your website, infographic, or video isn’t just something that you post once, promote once, and then forget about like print or TV ads that run for a set time and then disappear. Good content—and great content especially—will be relevant today and tomorrow, and next week, and next month, and six months from now, and a year from now—maybe even a decade from now.

As time goes by, you can keep investing in that blog post, updating it as needed with new information, new context, new CTAs, and so on, keeping it relevant for years to come. And as long as you do the maintenance work to keep that post relevant, which could be as little as a few touch-ups once or twice a year, it will keep performing for you as an asset in your content marketing strategy, keep drawing new potential clients toward you, and keep converting those visitors into leads.

The same goes for every piece of content that you put on your website or social media channel. Great content with lots of useful information can give you a steady stream of new customers and clients for years and years to come—and that is one of the greatest strengths of content marketing.

Think of it a bit like being a musician and collecting royalties on the sales of your CDs or your songs being played on streaming or on the radio. You only have to record the album once to get a long-lasting stream of ROI from it.

Marketing Strategy Comes Before Effective Content Marketing

How do you make content marketing work for you?

It takes a comprehensive and strategic approach to your digital marketing efforts to make your website and business grow. If you’re not making use of content marketing, then your strategy isn’t truly comprehensive—and on the flip side, if you’re making use of content marketing but not the other marketing tactics that go along with it, your content won’t reach its full potential for growing your business. 

You can see in our case studies how the comprehensive approach leads to impressive growth in online sales, website conversions, and overall web traffic.

Content Marketing is Hard Work

As mentioned above, content marketing is often neglected because it’s often the hardest thing to do. 

Most people hate to write. They hated it in school and they don’t like it today. Don’t let obstacles get your way.

There are a whole lot of barriers to content marketing that can seem insurmountable: your marketing team might not have the time or the people to devote to creating content, or the people in your marketing and sales team might lack the skill set that effective content creation requires. And while some people write like it’s the air they breathe, for some people writing is like pulling teeth.

None of these barriers to content marketing should get in the way of you taking advantage of content writing.

The best option is to find and work with professional writers who love to write. This may be an outsourced contractor who can learn about your business. 

You can also seek out a third-party freelance writer to complement your marketing team, or you can hire a writer who will join your internal marketing team. Or you can hire a marketing agency that offers a dedicated content writer to enhance your marketing strategies.

Each option for integrating a content writer into your business’ marketing strategy has their advantages and disadvantages, depending on your business’ unique situation and needs. However you do it, though, connecting a professional writer into your company and training them in your business marketplace is the key to producing excellent content for your inbound marketing strategy.

Get Help with Content Marketing

If you’d like to learn more about crafting effective written content as part of your inbound marketing strategy, take a look at our blog posts, The Ten Rules of Content Marketing:

For more tips on choosing a digital marketing agency that will work best for you, check out our blog post, Pick the Right Digital Marketing Agency for Help with Marketing Tactics.

Intuitive Websites is dedicated to providing comprehensive marketing strategies for our clients, with a stable of writers experienced in crafting great marketing content for businesses in just about any industry or field.

Learn more about getting the most out of marketing with IWSchedule an intro call to start leveraging our content marketing capabilities

Thomas Young

Thomas Young is the founder and CEO of Intuitive Websites and author of “Intuitive Selling” and “Winning the Website War.” Tom has over 25 years of experience in marketing and sales, and is a Vistage speaker and a national speaker on Internet Marketing and Web Usability.

Willow Ascenzo

Contributing author: Willow Ascenzo, one of IW’s content specialists based in southern Wisconsin. Prior to joining IW, Willow had over six years of experience crafting long-form website content for various tech startups in the Madison area.