Do you know that 89% B2B businesses are using content marketing to promote themselves (source)? 73% among these say that they plan to continue with content marketing, not as just a campaign, but an ongoing process of promotion.
Companies like IBM, American Express and Coca-Cola have completely switched over to content marketing from conventional advertising.
According to this Hubspot study, companies that publish more than 16 blog posts every month get 4.5 times more leads than companies that publish 0-4 blog posts every month.
Content marketing is one of the fastest growing industries in the high-tech area reaching $32.3 billion in 2018, says this Forbes article.
Why is content marketing performing better than advertising?
The biggest feature of conventional advertising is that it is interruptive. There you are, watching your favorite program on TV, or watching the football final, or browsing an interesting web page, and bam! Suddenly, an advertisement pops up. Whether you want to watch it or not.
There used to be a time when we used to see advertisements between programs. These days we watch programs between advertisements.
On the web, web pages are splattered with totally unrelated advertisements.
Consequently, people have found ways to sidestep these intrusive advertisements. You get ad blockers on the Internet. The set-top boxes allow you to fast forward ads on your TV programs. People prefer streaming services like Netflix over conventional TVs precisely for this reason.
This is one reason why content marketing works better than advertising.
Another reason is, advertising can be expensive. PPC campaigns, since you are paying for every click, can be prohibitive for small and medium-sized businesses. Putting up banners can be expensive. Advertising on TV and print media can be expensive.
As you can see in the above graphic, digital ad spend has overtaken TV advertising.
Not just expensive, the advertising cost is recurring. People remember you only when they see your ads. Not because they might be having shorter memories. There are so many similar ads. If you are a web design agency, there are scores of other web design agencies promoting their own services. If you are promoting a health supplement, there are scores of other health supplements being promoted.
This is true for almost every business. People remember you as long as you advertise. You stop advertising, you are out of people’s minds.
Content marketing comes to your rescue.
Although, regularity is also needed in content marketing, it is less expensive and more effective than advertising.
Listed below are few benefits of content marketing:
- Educate your customers
- Differentiate yourself from your competitors
- Tell success stories
- Encourage your customers to engage with your brand
- Create brand awareness
- Establish an emotional connection
- Generate repeat business from existing customers
- Build brand loyalty
- Improve search engine rankings
- Bring down your advertising costs
Why would some people prefer advertising over content marketing?
Advertising is still alive and thriving. Even YouTube sometimes insist that you watch an advertisement completely before proceeding to the video you want to watch.
So, as long as media consumption is there, some form of advertising is always going to be there.
A big reason businesses prefer advertising over content marketing is a perception or misperception that the returns are faster. You pay for the ad and the ad immediately begins to show. Those who are interested will get attracted to it.
Besides, content can’t be everywhere.
Facebook, for example, is a social network and the success of your content depends on the number of people liking it or sharing it. Still, its platform allows you to “boost” your posts, which is a form of advertising. The platform also makes money through direct advertising.
Every content-based platform sustains itself through advertising. Google’s entire existence depends on advertising as of now. Even your mobile apps show ads to earn revenue.
Content marketing depends on your ability to carry out a sustained content publishing and content distribution exercise. The results come when you have created a considerable amount of content. The results are great, but you have to be patient.
Advertising, no matter how inefficient and unreliable it is, gives you the results immediately. It depends on numbers and your ability to spend money. The more money you can spend, the more success you can expect.
The benefits of advertising are
- Quicker brand awareness and recognition
- Better for promoting limited time offers
- It can generate instant traffic to your website
- Quicker targeting of a specific audience segment
Advertising can be compared with spamming. Why do you think spamming still is a big business? There was a time when 90% of the emails on the Internet were spam. These days (by March 2017) the figure has come down to 56.87% (source Statista) not because a lesser number of people want to use spam but because email services are becoming more efficient at identifying and isolating spam emails. Still, it is a thriving business because if you can send out millions of emails and even if the success rate is 0.01%, you get your ROI. The same is the case with advertising.
Let’s briefly talk about the benefits of content marketing over conventional advertising.
Educate your customers
Educated customers are in a better position to take decisions in your favor. Educate them about the benefits of doing business with you.
Educate them about the benefits of your product or service. Educate them how you can help them solve their nagging problems. Through constantly publishing informative content you can keep your prospective customers and clients well-informed.
Differentiate yourself from your competitors
Advertising is ubiquitous. It is everywhere. Every business uses it. If you have money, you can advertise. The problem is, your competitors too have the money to advertise.
When everybody advertises, there is nothing to distinguish one business from another.
With content marketing you can have a unique presence for yourself and your brand. A well-formulated content marketing strategy automatically makes you great content for your business in such a manner that your business name or your brand name stands out among the crowd.
People know your brand and your business on the strength of the content that you publish.
Tell success stories
Once people start using your product or services, you will begin to have success stories – of how people implement your solution and solve their business or personal problems.
Through regular advertising it is not possible to cover every success story. Through content marketing it is.
Reading success stories is very reassuring especially when you need to make an investment.
When you are about to purchase something, you want to get reassurance from other people who have already bought your product or service. This is why it is very important to publish and share success stories of people who have benefited from your product or service.
Encourage your customers to engage with your brand
When people engage with your brand they tend to remember you more. This is why it is very important that you engage your prospective customers and clients regularly and repeatedly, in a fruitful manner.
Content marketing allows you to do that. It gives your customers and clients a reason to interact with you, visit your website or blog repeatedly, or leave comments on your social media updates.
This way eventually when they need to do business with you they remember what sort of business you provide.
Create brand awareness
Through content marketing you can create brand awareness by publishing useful content on your website as well as on your social media profiles. Your content comes to be known for its usefulness and relevance.
You should also make sure that your content ranks well on search engines. This way people can easily find it. This creates brand awareness.
People constantly come across your content – useful and informative content. When they appreciate the usefulness of your content they have a positive association with your brand.
Establish an emotional connection
With strategic content writing you can establish an emotional connection with your prospective and current customers and clients.
What is an emotional connection?
An emotional connection is when people feel good when they come across something from you – an update from you on their timeline, something that reminds them of you, a blog post that you have published to inform them or educate them, or something amusing that you have shared with them. They form positive associations with any symbol that reminds them of you.
An emotional connection can only be established through content marketing. Although it can also be achieved through advertising, it rarely happens. The worst thing about advertising is, people already have a negative notion about it. For them, conventional advertising is, constant pestering.
Generate repeat business from existing customers
A lot of business comes from your existing customers. Tragically, according to this Forbes article, 60-80% of the customers who were extremely satisfied with a particular business never do business again with that particular business.
It is not that they no longer need to do the business, it’s just that, the business that satisfies them never follows up, never keeps in touch.
This LinkedIn Pulse article quotes a Gartner study that says that for the company used in the study, 65% business comes from existing customers and it costs five times more to attract new customers than to keep existing customers coming back.
Content marketing allows you to keep in touch with your existing customers whereas advertising is always aiming at getting new customers.
Of course, getting new customers for your business is very important, but keeping your existing customers (people who have done business with you and are satisfied and happy with you) coming back to you is even more important.
When was it the last time you saw an advertisement thanking existing customers?
Through content marketing it’s very easy to maintain a constant contact with people who have already purchased from you. You have their contact information. They may have also subscribed to your mailing list. They might already be following you on Facebook and Twitter.
Keep in touch with them. Keep them educated. Keep them informed.
Build brand loyalty
You can learn a good example of brand loyalty from Apple. The company has diehard fans. So does Tesla.
Through content marketing you can build a loyal customer base. People often like to keep in touch with companies and businesses they have bought products and services from.
It’s easier to provide engaging content to people who have already contacted you. Constantly provide useful content. Provide content in their preferred format and medium. Be useful to them. Always update them when you have a great offer.
The best way of building brand loyalty is by providing stellar support through your content.
Publish helpful articles and blog posts regularly. Publish a comprehensive FAQs section covering all possible questions, problems and their solutions.
The more valuable content you publish and distribute, the stronger and more widespread will be your brand loyalty.
Improve search engine rankings
One of the greatest benefits of content marketing is a better SEO. Every business wants to improve its search engine rankings. But what do the search engines want? What does Google want?
Google wants quality content? How does Google know that you are publishing quality content?
You may like to read Do you know how Google actually ranks your content?
Although search engines like Google have very complicated algorithms to evaluate the quality of your content, no amount of AI can be as smart as human beings. So, Google also observes how people behave towards your content.
People are going to react positively to your content only if you publish high-quality content. You cannot make people like your content. They are going to like it, react to it, engage with it, share it on their social media timelines and link to it from their websites and blogs, only when they find your content useful and relevant.
A well-executed content marketing strategy ensures quality content on your website and positive social sharing. This in turn improves your search engine rankings for your important keywords. When you are constantly publishing content relevant to your business you cover all your primary and secondary keywords and search terms, automatically.
Bring down your advertising cost
Better search engine rankings. Greater level of engagement. Better conversion rate. More social sharing. More incoming links.
As your organic presence on the web increases, your advertising cost begins to come down.
Until your content has significant presence on the Internet, you may have to rely on conventional advertising, but as you begin to consolidate your presence on search engines, on your own website and on social media and social networking websites, you need to advertise less and less.
Because your organic rankings improve, you no longer have to spend money on AdWords. Since your content creates more buzz on social media websites, you don’t have to buy advertisements over there. You don’t have to buy links because people link to your website on their own.
Why more businesses are ditching conventional advertising and embracing content marketing?
Frankly, content marketing is more effective, but more than that, it is more meaningful. It helps you nurture relationships with your present and prospective customers and clients instead of constantly bombarding them with impersonal messages. People relate better to the quality content that you broadcast regularly.
Nobody cares about advertisements these days. People find them annoying. They are constantly employing ways to skip advertisements or completely ignore them.
Content, on the other hand, they embrace. Make it amusing. Make it useful. Become a part of the lives of your customers and clients through your content. You don’t need to advertise then.