As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
Now, a different question: if a brand does not provide content that engages, educates, or excites their ideal customer, do they create content at all?
In business, ineffective content is invisible. It doesn't get clicks or visits, and it won't help you convert leads. As a result, it fades away, taking up space in your HubSpot File Manager or Google Drive. You wonder, "is content marketing important?" as you try to create more blog posts, eBooks, and videos, hoping to strike gold and make something that drives results.
But generating new content won't solve your problem. If you're creating content that doesn't engage, or you're not participating in content marketing at all, your challenge is the methodology behind content marketing. You don't understand it, and before you create any additional material, you need to learn why content marketing is important in the first place.
Why Is Content Marketing Important?
Nowadays, customers have an overwhelming amount of choices. On any given day, you could find e-commerce companies that exclusively sell your favorite Keto snacks or a selection of car window protectors with your favorite cartoon characters on it. There's a never-ending supply of products and services to fit every preference and taste, and this is why content marketing is essential.
Regardless of what you sell, content marketing will be what helps you attract and retain customers. Otherwise, you will get lost in a sea of options. If your urban customer is looking for a monthly ride pass, they can go to Uber, Lyft, or an array or rising ride-share companies. When they need more storage on their laptop, they'll consider Dropbox, Google Drive, an external hard drive, or a variety of cloud storage competitors.
That's why the best brands build trust and awareness with content. It can help you outpace your competitors, nurture customers through stages, and provide the necessary context for existing customers to get the most use of your product.
Here are the top brands that prove content marketing should be a priority for your brand.
With the rise of quick graphic design tools like Canva, Stencil, and PicMonkey popping up, Adobe Photoshop's position as a top photo editing tool isn't 100% secure. As a result, they need to ensure that their existing customers get the most use of their product.
The use of videos such as The Beginner's Guide To Photoshop helps with this, providing future and existing customers guidance on how to use the platform when they're first starting out. If you want to replicate their approach, think through the early questions and challenges your customer will have about your product or service, and present content that solves for it.
General Electric is a multinational conglomerate, so they don't need content right? That's not necessarily true. Even with their success, GE makes a substantial investment in content marketing. By developing podcasts, original stories, videos, and more., they stay relevant and in the forefront of their customer's mind.
But GE also creates content to help attract employees. To compete with tech startups, GE uses a series of YouTube spots to follow the journey of Owen, a new GE engineer that tries to explain his job to friends and family.
GE got an 8x increase in job applications from the spots, proving that they take their "imagination at work" seriously.
Slack is now the most popular go-to work messaging app out there. But there are still a lot of choices for messaging apps, such as HipChat, Skype, Google Hangouts, and many other Slack alternatives. That's why the company continues to invest in material that will engage their target customer, who they know inside and out.
The Slack "Work in Progress" Podcast talks about career paths and professional journeys, with episodes such as Big in Japan, where a theme park mascot travels around the world to rediscover her roots.
Kickstarter is an innovative brand, so they probably don't need content to keep visitors coming, right? Nope. Kickstarter is another brand that needs to engage with their audience consistently, with the rise of competitors like GoFundMe and Facebook fundraising.
They need to attract people who want funding for their projects or businesses, or they risk losing their footing in their unique niche.
In one of the best examples of utilizing a different channel to drive engagement, Kickstarter's blog on Medium talks about movers, shakers, and new ideas. With content like Planning Your Perfect-Sized Kickstarter Book Project, the team at Kickstarter shows that they're the experts in bringing your dreams and goals to fruition.
Additionally, Medium for marketing is one of the newest ways to reach customers, with brands using thought leadership and educational pieces to gain their trust and respect.
HubSpot is a marketing and sales platform that people use to run their businesses (including us.) But they're not the only one out there, with significant competition from Marketo and Pardot, with some brands even considering HubSpot vs. Wordpress. To remain as the leader of their industry, it's critical for HubSpot that customers get answers to all of their questions, and can get the most out of the platform.
However, it's equally important that the customer is successful with their business using HubSpot. That's why HubSpot goes above and beyond with content that covers common trends and concerns of entrepreneurs, such as this video discussing whether or not you need an SSL certificate.
Although it wouldn't be the fault of HubSpot, the company knows if the customer does not experience growth using the platform, it's likely they will go elsewhere.
Another critical aspect to content marketing is distribution, especially when you're first starting with content. If you don't find a way to spread your content across multiple platforms and sites, you'll struggle to reach new audiences. That's why social media management platform Buffer focuses on guest blogging, a tactic that requires excellent content and sound outreach strategies.
Here's an overview of the growth in traffic Buffer saw during their early days of guest blogging.
(Source: Cognitive SEO)
By focusing on generating sign-ups, the brand finds the right guest posting opportunities and establishes long-lasting relationships with influential bloggers and writers. As a result, they get their message in front of the right audience, generating around 100,000 users within the first nine months of using the approach.
What Customers Need From Your Content Marketing
Your content marketing needs to be more than a way to generate leads. Your content needs to help your customer get closer to their ideal. Going back to the HubSpot example, if their customer does not increase their revenue, sales, or customers, they could easily find fault with the platform. It doesn't matter that HubSpot is a marketing automation tool. If they are using your product or service and still experiencing their core challenges and problems, they will eventually make a change.
That's why content marketing is important. You need to find ways to stay relevant, top of mind, and continue to help your customer grow and evolve. Otherwise, you'll be a short-term solution and a pit stop on their overarching buyer journey, and not their long-term partner. To learn more about creating experiences that can help nurture and engage your audience, check out our free eBook, Conquering the Inbound Marketing Mountain.
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