“If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.” – Zig Ziglar
No truer words could have summed up content marketing than the words of the famous Zig Ziglar. In a world where we are inundated with commercial messaging, businesses must create marketing that customers WANT to consume to truly stand out from the crowd.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a form of marketing that provides valuable, informative material to an audience without a direct sales pitch or call to action. When done correctly content marketing positively influences a customer in some way – either to share the content or deepen a relationship that ultimately turns into a sale.
Content marketing can come in many different formats:
- White papers
For this post, we will focus on blogging as the main content marketing format. When you are just getting started, blogging is one of the easiest forms of content marketing and there are many benefits that we’ll cover.
Content Marketing Success Stories
Buffer, the popular social media sharing tool, attributes its success to content marketing. “We definitely have gained a lot from doing content marketing and I’d say the first 80,000-90,000 users came through our content marketing strategy,” says Joel Gascoigne, founder of Buffer.
Their success comes from not only creating great content on their own blog, but also from guest blogging on other popular blogs.
Neil Patel, co-founder of KISSmetrics, credits content marketing as the main reason that readership grew from 0 to 350,000 readers. The KISSmetrics blog now accounts for 82% of their overall traffic and over 70% of their leads.
Benefits of Content Marketing
Rank Higher on Google
Search engine optimization, otherwise known as SEO, is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s “natural” or “organic” results. According to Google Webmaster Guidelines, the key to a quality website that performs well in search is to focus your website and content on users not search engines.
First and foremost create original content tailored to your target audience. Secondly, create regular content even if it’s one post a week. This signals to Google and other search engines that your website is constantly creating fresh and valuable content.
Lastly create content under a certain theme. For instance, on SmartShoot, we write frequently about video marketing because we want to help our customers better market the videos we create for them.
By creating quality content related to video marketing, search engines see us as an authority on video and thereby ranks our other web pages related to video higher in the search results.
As an example, our blog post Top 5 Video Editing Apps for iPhone generates over 8,000 visits every month through search engines.
Establishes You as an Authority
Another benefit of content marketing is that it establishes you as an authority in your niche. With the massive amount of content available, the key here is to establish yourself in a very targeted and narrow niche.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, staying narrow and targeted allows you to dominate your niche and stand out from the crowd. For example, when popular blogger Derek Halpern started his website Social Triggers he didn’t start a blog purely on online marketing. He narrowed his focus on three big topics: lead generation, email marketing and psychology.
As he established himself as the go-to person in his niche, slowly and surely people started seeing him as an expert in the broad topic of online marketing. When you’re seen as an expert in a certain niche, people start associating you as an expert in other similar and related niches.
Builds Trust – The Psychology Behind AMAZING Content
In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini outlines the rule of reciprocation as a key driver of persuasion. The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us.
In one study, a university professor sent Christmas cards to a sample of perfect strangers. The response he received was astonishing – holiday cards addressed to him came pouring back from the people who had never met nor heard of him. The vast majority of those who returned a card never inquired into the identity of the unknown professor.
By creating amazing content that resonates with your audience and helps them achieve their goals, you are tapping into the rule of reciprocation where your audience is obligated to repay you – be it shares on social networks or actual sales.
It is so widespread that after intensive study, sociologists such as Alvin Gouldner can report that there is no human society that does not subscribe to the rule of reciprocation.
In closing, content marketing is a powerful tool that not only puts your business in front of your potential customers, but can lead to tremendous growth for your company.
How will you start using content marketing?
About the Author
Steve P. Young is the Director of Product Marketing for SmartShoot, a marketplace that connects businesses and individuals with freelance photographers and videographers from around the world.
Want to add video to your content marketing? Download the free Complete Guide to Video Marketing eBook.