Traditional advertising often only ensures a low return on investment (ROI) and thus an increasing number of companies are turning to content marketing. According to the B2B Content Marketing Research 2014 conducted by the Content Marketing Institute together with MarketingProfs and Brightcove, 93% of the 4,000 US companies surveyed are already integrating this strategy in their B2B marketing communication.
As opposed to traditional advertising, customers are not directly confronted with offers and purchase requests. Instead they are provided with relevant quality information, which indirectly motivates them to obtain further information and make purchasing decisions. Those who are interested in the products welcome this strategy and remain loyal to companies that provide their potential customers with useful content continuously and at the right time. In this regard, content marketing differs from conventional advertising, to which customers have increasingly become immune. After all, consumers are subjected to an average of more than 5,000 ads or promotional messages daily (according to Yankelovich analysts) and have learned to largely ignore them. By the same token, people are increasingly deciding for themselves which messages they want to give their attention to at which times.
The concept of content marketing may simply sound like another word for public relations, but this type of marketing has taken on entirely new forms possibilities due to the technological advancement of digital channels like blogs and social media. Text, video clips and images can now be easily published by anyone with an internet connection. At the same time, upfront investment and production costs are low compared to conventional advertising, because free tools like content management systems (e.g. WordPress) are also excellent for professional use and the social web is accessible to everyone anyway.
In addition to increasing brand awareness and trendsetting, content marketing focusses on lead nurturing, new customer acquisition and customer loyalty. After all, publishing content not only often involves interaction with customers, but also makes use of the word-of-mouth effect. People like to talk about excellent content and share it with others. Breaking news and information on product innovations spread particularly quickly.
But despite all of these advantages, the B2B Content Marketing Research 2014 mentioned above revealed that 44% of those surveyed are pursuing content marketing without a real strategy – and therefore a lot of the effort involved remains ineffectual. This is especially alarming in light of the fact that B2B companies actually have the tremendous benefit of being very familiar with their customers and are thus in the position to use customer profiles to develop content that their target audience closely identifies with. This tight focus is a decisive factor for effective content marketing.