Why Content Marketing Needs To Be At The Heart Of Your Customer Acquisition Strategy
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Content marketing should be at the heart of your marketing strategy, allowing you to build a relationship with your target audience, bring your marketing cost down, and increase your customer lifetime value.
Marketing never was a topic of interest to me. While at university, it was the class I hardly attended, having found the topic too “fluffy” and not numerical. This was in the early 2000s. With the internet, and the rise of the likes of Google, Facebook, and online businesses, marketing reinvented itself and has become data driven, actionable and easy to measure.
Today, I can confidently say I am a self-taught expert in digital marketing since I have been practicing it since 2014, with the startup I co-founded, ChefXChange.
It would be impossible to cover the whole spectrum of digital marketing in one post, nor would I be pretentious enough to say I could, therefore I will cover a segment which I consider to be the most important and often overlooked. It is because there is no easy win as it involves a lot of work. I’m talking about content marketing. Today, this channel is our most important one when it comes to customer acquisition and I will tell you why.
What is content marketing?
First things first, let’s define content marketing. According to The Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is “… a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience- and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Let’s break this up for you in simple words. Content marketing is a long-term strategy with the aim of building a strong relationship with your target audience by providing them with high-quality content that is very relevant, as often as possible. Basically, content marketing is a way to show your customers that you actually care about them, which is not really the case of one-off advertising that just puts a product or service in front of your eyes. Ironically, Instagram, which was created to be a content platform, has now become an advertising platform, where so called influencers just get paid to promote products, losing their identity and hindering that relationship they had originally built with their followers.
When you think about it, content is and should be at the heart of everything you do. If it is not found in all your digital marketing verticals, you’re doing something wrong:
- Social media marketing: Content marketing strategy comes before your social media strategy.
- SEO: Search engines reward businesses that publish quality content consistently.
- PR: Successful PR strategies address issues readers care about, not their business.
- PPC (pay-per-click): For PPC to work, you need great content behind it.
- Inbound marketing: Content is key to driving inbound traffic and leads.
As an example, at ChefXChange- Your Online Destination for Culinary Experiences, we have created our blog with the sole purpose of providing free and insightful content to our target audience. You will find recipes, tips on hosting for any type of occasion, birthday and anniversary ideas for your loved ones, and many more. That content is what permits us to be found organically on the internet and building a strong relationship with our target audience.
Content marketing is about emotions
Today, more than ever before, people want to feel like you care about them. The world is louder and noisier, any kind of information can be found in milliseconds, and attention is our most valuable resource.
Content marketing is the best way to reach that objective. In our day and age, there is no need for a business to sell the specs and performance of a product or service. Caveat Venditor and Caveat Emptor mean that today your prospective buyer often knows more about your product than your sales people, and they will come to you only if they need help or a last push to buy your product.
Some figures from Marketo below:
- The average buyer guides themselves through 60% to 90% of the traditional sales funnel before ever contacting a brand or salesperson.
- 81% of shoppers research online before setting foot in a store.
- Consumers spend an average of 79 days conducting online research before buying.
While these consumers do their research online, this is where your content marketing comes to play. Let’s say a potential customer’s partners’ birthday is coming up and they are running out of ideas. Typically, they would go on Google, typing something like “birthday ideas for my partner.” At this point, you as a business would like one of your blog posts titled “Five Best Birthday Presents For Your Loved One” to show up in that search. That potential buyer would then read some interesting content that will trigger emotions, and immediately create that loyalty to you leading them to purchase your product or service.
Content marketing is a marathon not a sprint
We previously defined content marketing as a long-term strategy and building relationships. Last time I checked these cannot be achieved in a matter of hours or days, but more like months and years.
As mentioned above, consumers spend on average 79 days conducting online research before buying. This means that as a business you need to make sure that you appear as often as possible on their radar during that research phase, for any type of keywords they would search for and which are relevant to you. This requires extensive research, understanding what people search for, volumes for these searches to prioritize keywords, periods during which people search, and so on. Rest assured that a lot of this research can be done easily through tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Keywords Everywhere. You then need to build a content strategy and plan your content on a weekly basis.
By the time your potential customers make a purchase decision, their loyalty already lies with you. They will purchase your product or service and prefer it over competitors’ options.
Benefits of content marketing
We touched upon two of them earlier and I certainly hope by now you can clearly understand the benefits of content marketing:
- Increased brand awareness leading to higher sales: As prospects and buyers search the web for answers to their questions and solutions for their problems, your brand continues to show up.
- Better and more loyal customers: Content marketing helps to further establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry, which strengthens relationships with buyers.
- Cost savings: It is not a short-term strategy, but over time, a library of great content will continue to reach more qualified leads and interested buyers, therefore reducing your paid marketing.
To recap, whether you have a small blog or run a multinational company, content marketing should be at the heart of your marketing strategy and, in the long run, will permit you to build a loyal relationship with your target audience, bringing your marketing cost down, and increasing your CLTV (customer lifetime value). I always recommend creating that content in-house, especially in the early days, as no one better than yourself identifies and understands your product or service. Additionally, doing things in house will also translate better with your target audience as that content will feel more “natural/home grown."