Why Content Marketing is Important for 2019 and Beyond
- Reason #1: Customers are and desire to be more informed.
- Reason #2: Customers lack trust more than ever before.
- Reason #3: Customers want an experience more than anything else.
There are few things in life as unpredictable as buyer behavior.
Businesses pay thousands and millions for great marketing in their best attempts to anticipate, or perhaps just keep up with, customer preferences.
Content marketers have an edge: user engagement defines the direction of effective content marketing.
The reasons for why content marketing is important pertain to ongoing changes in customer behavior. More than previous decades, modern research indicates that without solid content marketing strategy, businesses can’t keep up with customer demands and competitors.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing enables the inbound marketing process. In inbound marketing and sales, customers find your business more organically, specifically through meaningful engagement online.
Content marketing refers to the process of creating content that effectively attracts customers and guides them through the sales process. Effective content marketing follows the sales funnel: awareness stage followed by consideration stage and ending with a sale.
The most effective approach to content marketing is by way of using cornerstone content for each stage of the customer funnel. All social media posts, videos, podcasts, etc. flow from the cornerstone content. Businesses that are serious about content marketing work with inbound marketing agencies and content marketing specialists.
Content marketing does not eliminate the need for outbound sales, such as cold calls and paid advertising. However, content marketing – being the key ingredient to successful inbound marketing – enhances a more positive sales experience for both the customer and the sales rep. Even more important, inbound marketing brings a business its most informed customers, with the result that customers are collaborating with sales and customer service.
Inbound and content marketing is a more intuitive way to increase brand awareness and sales. It is the fastest, long-term approach to making one’s business more profitable than anyone ever imagined.
What research informs these current and future trends?
For the purpose of this article, the Startup Scaffold team consulted the following research reports.
B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America (Content Marketing Institute)
2018 B2B Buyers Survey Report (Demand Gen Report)
State of the Connected Customer, 2nd Edition (Saleforce Research)
I’ve extracted the highlights from these research reports to identify reasons why content marketing is as important as it’s ever been for businesses in the 21st Century.
Reason #1: Customers are and desire to be more informed.
Thanks to Google and the power of search engines, customers know more. Not only that, but customers grow in their thirst for quality information in an ever-growing Information Age.
In an interview with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk claimed that human beings are already cyborgs. From Elon’s perspective, our ability to “recollect” vast amounts information comes not solely from our brains but from the mobile devices in our hands. Our smartphones literally make us a smarter species.
“Google” today is both a search engine company and a verb.
Content marketing is informative.
Customers want content. More than that, they want to retreat to their safe space, understand their problems, and make the right choice the first time when deciding on a solution.
Tethered to their smartphones and accustomed to nonstop innovation, todays consumers and business buyers are more informed and less loyal than their predecessors.
Today’s customers (both in the consumer and business sectors) are hungry for omni-channel interaction (that is, consume information content across a variety of blog, audio, visual, and video content).
Customers take their time when evaluating purchases — whether to compare options online, ask friends on social media for references, or use a different device. Winning customers today requires demonstrating a firm understanding of their unique needs, objectives, and circumstances. It also takes an ongoing investment in the relationship well after the deal is done. Sixty-one percent of customers say a commitment to their success or satisfaction strengthens their loyalty.
Businesses that take the time to invest in their online presence with meaningful content marketing will find their sales staff more effective. That’s because customers won’t fight the sale when they understand what they need. The content marketing efforts of that business served that customer in the way he/she wanted to be served.
Content marketing is verifiable.
Sales people that “lie” in order to get the sale are exposed in minutes. Customers find out quickly with authoritative information online. Frequently, car buyers walk onto dealerships knowing more about the vehicle in question than the salesperson assisting them.
Businesses should do their homework, apply that expertise to making their products services great, and then publish their homework in digestible ways online. If the published content is accessible to the average customer, they will absorb it before they ever begin shopping for vendors.
Nearly all of the most successful B2B content marketers (90%) prioritize the audience’s informational needs over their sales/promotional message, compared with 56% of the least successful.
Reason #2: Customers lack trust more than ever before.
Businesses really need to understand: customers’ first reaction is to disbelieve what your sales team tells them.
What really matters is that you understand the lack of trust that exists between customers and businesses. It will put you in a better mindset to earn trust with customers. They will appreciate this more than you can imagine.
To win hearts and wallets, companies must not only deliver amazing marketing, sales, ecommerce, and service interactions, but also prove that they have the customers’ best interests in mind.
Content marketing creates value with customers.
Many customers think that businesses will hold back value as a way to “snag” them into a sale. So give them value up front. Build a content marketing strategy that delivers value to customers for free.
You don’t have to give customers “the whole kitchen sink.” But you can guide them in their quest for knowledge about their problem. And you can help them discover their hidden needs and basic industry terms/solutions.
96% of the most successful content marketers (aka “top performers”) agree that their organizations have built credibility and trust with their audience.
Content marketing is collaborative.
Businesses that work together with their customers win the day. Content marketing arms customers with the information to help you help them.
Customers that better understand their problem and the solution your business provides creates a new identity in that purchase. Your customers felt like they solved their own problem, even though they paid you money to help them. This is the essence of building trust and loyalty with customers in the 21st Century.
Reason #3: Customers want an experience more than anything else.
All said, guiding customers through their buying journey is an experience customers relish. And when content marketing is done well, everyone in your organization – sales to customer service – will feel that same level of satisfaction.
Businesses that involve every department in contributing to and understanding the buyer’s journey become more unified through the process of content marketing strategy. And the relationship between each department and its customer builds greater success as a result of the content.
Content marketing is intuitive of customer needs.
Inbound and content marketing requires you to walk in the shoes of your customers. The problems of your customers have to be clear and as painful for you as it is for them.
When your customer’s struggle becomes more clear, you can begin creating content that delivers personalized value to the customer right away. The customer will appreciate your intuition to know and understand their struggle. They will assume (accurately) that “intuitive” is a key piece of your business’s DNA.
Content marketing done well is a unique display of emotional intelligence on behalf of the organization. It demonstrates your intent to meet their hidden needs, not just the ones they are fully aware of immediately.
Content marketing is responsive to customer feedback.
Companies have gone out of business due to poor customer reviews. In contrast, little known businesses have exploded as a result of raving customer reviews.
Customers believe each other over your sales team. Don’t assume that reviews are merely a place for customers to take their frustration at life out on your business. Quite the opposite, millions of customers jump at the opportunity to give honest feedback to help their fellow customer.
Seventy-two percent of customers share good experiences with others — a full 10% more than those that share the negative.
It isn’t merely customer online reviews that matter: in local establishments, the experience your customers had matters even more. They will quickly spread the word in your neighborhood.
Smart content marketers capitalize on these moments with case studies and press releases. Particularly for B2B companies, before-and-after stories with customers is a publicity opportunity for you and your customer.
In conclusion, content marketing holds the key to addressing ongoing change in consumer behavior.
Businesses that develop their content marketing efforts are already reaping the benefits of greater sales and loyalty with customers. The rest will grow more confused and, quite possibly, even less informed than their customers. Content marketing retains your company’s relevance in your industry and keeps you agile for the day that your customers’ buying behavior changes again.