How do you make sure you’re marketing your business in the most effective way? One important way is to keep your marketing strategy current, if not ahead of the curve. Don’t be the last one not advertising on Facebook. Keep your business on the cutting edge in order to remain relevant and, more importantly, efficient and effective. In today’s world that means content marketing, and that’s exactly why we’re giving you this guide on why content marketing is important and where you should be focusing your efforts.

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What is Content Marketing?

If 10 content marketing experts were asked to define their field you might receive 10 unique definitions, but they will all likely point back to the same core concept.

Content marketing is a marketing strategy that revolves around the creation, publication, and distribution of content to a target audience in order to bring new traffic (and therefore new customers) to your business.

This is almost always done online through the use of social media, blogs and videos, and ebooks and other downloadable or interactive tools that share your brand and expertise with your ideal buyer.

How About an Example of Content Marketing?

Say you’re a personal trainer and your business has plateaued over the past year or so. You’re still looking to grow your client base, so you start a blog and write 2 to 3 keyword-optimized posts each week that explain how to get fit, eat right, and lose weight. These posts start to rank in the search engines over time and when spring hits, people start to search online about ways to get in shape for beach season. They come across your blog, read your expert posts, and keep coming back to learn from you week after week. While some of these people choose to make changes on their own, others decide that they should trust the expert to do what they do best and call you for a free consultation, eventually signing up for one of your training programs.

Content marketing like the example outlined above is one of the most effective ways to drive inbound leads to virtually any business.

Still need convincing?

Here are 10 Perfect Reasons to Start Creating Expert Content for Your Company Today

1. Build Trust with Your Visitors

As illustrated above, the personal trainer used his expertise to gain the trust of his online readers. The more content you create and share with your target audience, the clearer it becomes that you are an authority in your field. People trust experts and hire them to help solve problems.

2. Build Brand Awareness

Let’s be honest, most people don’t know about your business and it’s time to change that. If done correctly, you can use content marketing to significantly increase traffic to you site so you can get consistent, quality traffic and inbound links to your site, and expose them to a brand they never knew existed. You’ll be able to generate more awareness and leads for your business through your content and use it to demonstrate your skill and expertise again and again.

For example, your visitors bureau may create a weekly video series of simple 1-minute videos on how to make the most of a weekend in town. Your target audience gets to see your city and local businesses in action each week. The more they know and like your city, the more likely they are to become familiar and visit.

PRO TIP: You don’t have to create the videos yourself. Partner with vloggers and travel bloggers to produce this type of content in exchange for press trips.

Say you’re the marketing director for the Aspen Visitors Bureau. Have your team put together a series of weekly 1-minute videos about how to prepare for the upcoming ski season. You’ll be showcasing your city and driving traffic to your website, which has even more information and reasons to visit Aspen.

3. Great for Organic Search (SEO)

When you open your browser and type a keyword or phrase into Google, the search engine is working hard to bring you the most relevant information regarding your search query. When you are creating expert content for the sake of sharing useful and valuable information to your ideal target buyers rather than spammy sales (“look at me!”) copy, Google recognizes that your content is useful and provides the answer to people searching, therefore it will rank higher in the search results.

Search engine algorithms are always changing, but as long as you consistently create and keep your content current (up to date, not falling behind the times), informative (solving problems or answering questions), and relevant (has to do with the search word or phrase), it will rank higher and longer in the search engines.

4. Generates Leads for Your Business

This is the big one, so big that it should be number 1. We like to say “you can’t beat trust and awareness” and generating leads for your business is the reason any of us do any marketing at all. We need new leads to come to us and eventually buy what we are selling. Content marketing enables strangers to find you through your useful and informative content. Most of the time this is before they are even ready to make a decision to buy. Meaning, your competition isn’t even in the picture. Use additional premium content on your site (like ebooks) to draw them in even further. We need leads in order to sell, and content marketing is the way to reach them.

5. Attract Ideal Buyers

All that talk about leads is great, but an abundance of unqualified leads will get you nowhere. You need to attract ideal buyers or you’ll be wasting your sales team’s time.

The beauty of content marketing is that while you’ll be distributing proof of your expertise to the world, only people who are really interested in what you have to say are the ones viewing it.

Only people who are interested in your field of expertise are going to conduct a search that results in them reading your blog. Of these readers, only those who are genuinely intrigued by your brand are going to click through to your landing page. Of the readers who make it to your landing page, only those who were truly captivated by your content are going to fill out a form with their personal information in order to get their hands on more of it (think ebook, case study, checklist, video). You’ll have filtered out the lousy leads and your sales team will only be selling to those of the highest quality, meaning less time, energy, and money wasted. That’s the inbound marketing way.

6. Convert More Website Visitors into Leads with Lead Nurturing (Buyer’s Journey)

Don’t waste your content marketing effort by not leveraging it; instead generate leads throughout the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey consists of 3 main stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. In the following descriptions, you’ll play the role of a tax law firm in an example of nurturing a new lead, “Bob,” through the buyer’s journey. Pay attention to how the content provided through each stage helps keep him traveling down the sales funnel.

How to Nurture a Lead With Content Marketing

In the awareness stage Bob has just realized he has a problem. He received a delinquency notice from the IRS that makes him nervous, so he turns to Google and searches for “ways to reduce tax debt.” His search leads him to your blog post, which just happens to be titled, “The Top 5 Ways to Reduce Your Tax Debt.” While he reads he learns about ways to solve his problem, and Bob begins to trust your firm. He heads over to your landing page to download an even more detailed resource, your in-depth ebook called “7 Secrets the IRS Doesn’t Want You To Know.” You have demonstrated your expertise and secured his trust.

Bob is now in the consideration stage, where he’s evaluating the solutions to his problem. At this point he watches some of your videos, which detail how he can reduce his tax debt and checks out your case study on “How Mike’s Plumbing Paid Off Tax Debt in Half the Time.” At this point there is no doubt in Bob’s mind that your firm is an expert resource to help solve his problem.

As he enters the decision stage Bob is ready to make a move. He originally wanted to handle his tax problem himself, but after thoroughly researching his options he’s decided to hire help. His neighbor had highly recommended a different firm, but after viewing your pricing page he clicks on your free consultation offer and reaches out to you. Congratulations on your new customer! Content marketing helped Bob to find your business, qualify him as an amazing lead, and easily close the deal because he had already made the decision to hire you based on your content and expertise.

7. Your Visitors will Share Your Content on Social Networks

You’re an expert in your field and that means you know things that most others don’t. If your content solves a common problem in a unique way or distributes a piece of important information, it’s likely that other businesses will share content that helps make them look good as a thought leader/expert. Social media is quickly catching up with search engines as the best way for content to reach consumers.

Of course you should aim to create useful content that people want to read, but if you can create content that people share you’ll be way ahead of the game. The more people exposed to your content the better, and as we now live in the “digital, mobile, and viral” age, an especially exciting post may pick up enough momentum to put it in front of more people than you had ever imagined.

8. Gives People a Reason to Come Back to Your Website

When you provide people with helpful and informative content you’re beginning to build a relationship. You become a trusted resource and people return to sites that they know and trust.

Take, for example, Moz.com and their weekly online marketing segment “Whiteboard Friday.” Each week they deliver helpful, engaging content to their target audience, keeping readers coming back to their site week after week for more of the good stuff. The more you can engage your audience the better. Aim to form a community around your content.