For marketers who are always looking for ways to stretch their budgets, content marketing provides excellent, cost-effective opportunities across an array of platforms, devices, and formats. The caveat, though, is that to be successful, content marketing requires consistent efforts in strategy, branding, creation, promotion, and distribution. Therefore, you must make both a human and financial investment if you want a quality content program that works.
Regardless of whether you’re a B2C, B2B, not-for-profit, or solopreneur, content marketing is cost effective, particularly when you consider the value it provides in three key areas:
Content marketing improves search optimization
Content marketing supplies relevant responses to search queries by continually adding product descriptions and details and by answering customers’ questions. Further, by focusing each piece of your content on a keyword phrase and incorporating relevant links, your content can enhance your search visibility. Additionally, by creating your content in a variety of formats — using text, images and video — you will increase the number of search results that will direct potential customers to your business.
Based on HubSpot blogging research, 52 posts is the inflection point, where traffic increases due to the presence of deeper content, links, and commitment. Since a blog is effectively a content marketing system (CMS) and is often at the center of a strong content marketing strategy, this holds for content as well. So when you have a back catalog of related content, your search results will improve, thereby reducing your organic search expense.
Actionable content marketing example: In his presentation at Content Marketing World 2012, Marcus Sheridan, owner of River Pools and Spas, revealed that he used a combination of blogging and creating an eBook to drive traffic and leads to his pool company during an economic downturn. These efforts enabled his company to dominate the search rankings, which contributed to increased sales at a time when many in his industry were struggling.
As a small business owner, Sheridan paid for his content with his time and knowledge of the pool industry. This was an opportunity cost. Further, by putting out information on the industry, Sheridan raised his industry profile to the status of go-to expert — even though he can’t install a pool!
Content marketing provides “rent-free” media (aka advertising)
While content marketing doesn’t substitute entirely for advertising, it reduces the need to buy media space on third-party sites. Content marketing builds internal media in the form of websites, blogs, email files, text files and social media outposts.
Through these vehicles, marketers can distribute their message in a contextually relevant way to a broad audience. According to Nielsen, branded websites are three times more effective than digital ads.
Actionable content marketing example: Kraft Foods’ website is a Top 5 site in the food category — a distinction that enabled Kraft to distribute a custom print magazine without having to rent names to create an enviable customer list. Further, Kraft brands have strong followings and high engagement on their social media outposts, such as Oreos’ Facebook page.
To develop this top-quality content, Kraft budgets for a combination of internal staff costs and external agency and content creation fees. Even with these expenditures, Kraft still saves money in the long run because these forms of content are less expensive (based on HubSpot research that shows inbound marketing is over 60 percent less expensive than outbound marketing) and don’t require media spend.
Content marketing supports lead generation and sales
Based on findings by Eloqua, the cost per lead decreases 80 percent in the first five months.
Actionable content marketing example: Unlike other think tanks that create world-class research, consulting firm Altimeter shares its research freely on its blog and SlideShare.
According to Todd Wheatland (author of The Marketer’s Guide to SlideShare), Altimeter gets most of its business leads from SlideShare. From a content marketing perspective, understand that Altimeter doesn’t just throw up a low-cost survey; it does in-depth interviews with the top people in its research focus areas, adds its own consultant’s insights, and incorporates strong graphic design elements to make its points accessible. There’s a real cost and opportunity cost for this content investment, but it yields measurable, high-quality results.
How to get higher demand generation returns from B2B content marketing
To ensure that your content marketing plans stay on track and deliver cost-effective results, you must measure your outcomes against your goals and fine tune your plans as you see what’s working and what isn’t as you track toward your business objectives.
Have you proved that content marketing is a cost-effective investment for your organization? If so, how did you make the case, or what were your business results?
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