How valuable is content marketing to your brand?
by Terena Chetty. A simple way to ascertain whether marketing content adds value or not is to consider the “shareability potential” of it.
by Terena Chetty. The term “content marketing” is a strange one, even to many marketers themselves. After all, isn’t all marketing about content? While it’s true that all marketing contains some form of content, what sets “content marketing” apart is that it is value-centric. For example, you could have an ad that focuses on the features of a product as part of a brand-centric approach to marketing. However, the very same company could assess what its audience wants and needs; and develop content in a more user-centric based approach. Such content could include tips, advice, value-rich information (such as industry statistics), how-to guides, best practices, infographics, long form relevant written content, and so forth.
A simple way to ascertain whether marketing content adds value or not is to consider the “shareability potential” of it, i.e., how likely it is that a particular content piece would be shared by the average person. Take for example content by a home security company: an ad showing a list of their packages and prices is less likely to be shared extensively versus a content piece with tips on how you can help reduce the chances of a break-in when you are away on holiday. The latter will have even more “share” potential if it is published just prior to holiday periods such as the December break.
In many cases, content marketing requires a willingness to share Intellectual Property (IP). For instance, a life coach can publish a 20-minute video on positivity and manifestation to attract an audience. Yes, it means that part of his or her expertise is distributed for free, but such value-add content results in creating a higher potential of sales conversion – the viewers of the video become potential buyers of a paid webinar on positivity, for example.
Why content marketing matters
Content marketing is not simply a “nice-to-have” approach, but allows you to connect with audiences in a way that drives tangible business objectives. This includes:
- Value drives sales: Value-centric content drives increased consumer interest and awareness of a brand. This then creates an exponentially larger pool of prospective customers – companies with a strong sales conversion process will undoubtedly see the benefit of user-centric content that generates in-bound interest.
- Customer experience (CX): Brands that offer value to customers in different ways, including through marketing content, have a better public perception. Strategic value-driven content helps build positive brand equity and trust, particularly when such content has a level of authenticity and credibility.
- Brand awareness and education: Content marketing promotes increased brand awareness and a deeper level of understanding when it comes to what a company stands for and the benefits offered through its products and / or services, as well as helps create a need for the solutions offered by the brand. Content such as articles and op-eds (thought leadership content) are highly useful in delivering more in-depth and insightful information. This could be about a brand, its services or products, the industry it operates within or even broader related issues.
- Interest and engagement: The attention span of a consumer is rather limited when it comes to receiving marketing content. People are bombarded with marketing messages and sales pitches at every turn, and often receive them as “white noise”. Effective content needs to grab the attention of a user in a very short space of time, making content marketing an excellent tactic. Take for example content that starts with “Tips to…” or “5 ways to improve…” or “The 4 best…” – such content is far more likely to drive engagement with a larger general audience as opposed to direct marketing content.
What do the stats say?
Research by SEMRush as part of their landmark State of Content Marketing 2022 Global Report (conducted across 20 industries and 1 500 businesses) include the following impactful insights:
- 97% of surveyed respondents claimed that content was a tactic that formed an important part of their overall marketing strategy in 2021.
- 78% of brands that were successful with content in 2021 have a documented content marketing strategy.
- 46% of companies that had highly successful content marketing increased their paid content promotional budget in 2021.
- 72% of companies surveyed planned to increase their content marketing budgets in 2022.
While the above stats are impressive, it is important to note that content marketing does not fully replace other forms of marketing or advertising content. Instead, it works hand in hand with all other communication activities as part of an integrated marketing strategy. After all, once a brand has grabbed the attention of a would-be customer through value-centric content, a price list or more info on a service or product is the natural next step.
Leandri Janse van Vuuren, managing director of Social Media 101, emphasises that content produced should support the entire buyer journey as part of a strategic approach. “An effective content marketing strategy allows your brand to deliver the right content at each stage of the sales cycle – from awareness, through to consideration and ultimately purchase. It also is important to note that the content requirements for each stage of the marketing funnel will differ based on the specific business objective and KPI’s the brand wish to achieve. Each piece of content should be designed with the end user in mind, it is therefore important to have a clearly defined customer avatar to ensure the content resonates with your ideal target audience.”
The key takeaway is that content marketing is an effective tool that can support various business goals, and it should therefore form a central part of your communications strategy. Successful execution requires a deep understanding of your audience that will assist you to deliver on (or better yet, exceed) their expectations in terms of what “value” means to them. This will promote loyalty from your existing customers, as well as attract a broader, engaged audience of potential customers.
Main image credit: Pixabay.com.
Terena Chetty is head of strategy at 1Africa Consulting, and has extensive experience in public relations (PR), integrated brand strategy and consumer communications. She works closely with both pan-African and global brands, and holds a BA Degree in Communication Science (cum laude).
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