Content marketing is on the rise. It’s little wonder. Content has never before had such an essential role to play for B2B and consumer marketers alike. But what exactly is it, and how does it work?

The world of content marketing is ever-evolving, but at its heart the foundation remains the same. It’s the process of planning and creating valuable, relevant ideas and information for your target audience, and sharing these in effective ways to aid buying decisions and prompt action.

Content marketing is certainly not one-size-fits-all. It’s not about taking a broad-brush approach and hoping for success. Content marketing success can only be achieved by taking the time to thoroughly research the wants and needs of a particular target audience and then developing the right kind of content that will appeal and add value.

Effective content marketing is hugely valuable. With Google regularly changing its search algorithms, companies that take the time to produce engaging, topical and valuable content will be rewarded from a search perspective. As well as boosting your site’s ranking, demonstrating expertise is also a great way of standing out within a crowded marketplace.

Cutting through the noise

Today’s audiences are hugely time-poor. On an average day, each of us will be bombarded with thousands of messages and demands on our time. These can come from our family, friends, co-workers, clients, or from a myriad of companies that we have some level of relationship with.

We live in a 24/7 world of communication. Our smartphones ping relentlessly throughout the day to alert us to incoming e-mails, social notifications and meetings on the horizon. We have to constantly decide what information is relevant to us, what requires action and what we should disregard.

With so much noise, we all have to act fast and be ruthless with our time. Good content marketers recognise this, pre-empting the information that will be useful to target audiences and delivering it in the right way to ensure that messages are heard, understood and appreciated. Content, used strategically and developed with purpose, should draw in relevant audiences by offering value at the right time in the buying cycle.

How does it work?

We’ve all heard the old adage that content is king. That’s true – but it’s the format that really makes the difference. Content comes in many shapes and sizes, and with the most effective marketers reportedly using an average of 14 tactics[i] there’s certainly plenty of choice out there.

Blog posts, videos, eBooks, webinars, whitepapers, infographics, social media content, podcasts and in-person events are some of the most popular forms of content marketing.

This list is ever-growing, but one constant remains.

Content must always be relevant.

The tactics that you choose will be very much dependent on the audience, and the action you want the recipient to take. The content might be the first step in kick-starting two-way dialogue between your business and a potential customer. It might be designed to enhance engagement with a known prospect. Or it could be used to demonstrate success and move a customer towards a sale.

Whatever the objective, the right tactics should be used at the right times. Content marketing technology such as marketing automation software is now rising in popularity because of this, driven by sales teams that are recognising the commercial value that content marketing can bring.

Why now?

Content marketing is growing in popularity, with 76% of marketers increasing their investment[ii]. Given the potential benefits, it’s not surprising.

  • Content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less[iii]
  • 67% of B2B buyers now rely more on content to research and make purchasing decisions than they did a year ago. 86% also “frequently” use mobile phones to access business-related content[iv]
  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads have a 1.7% close rate[v]

Offering up valuable insight through compelling content can lead to significant rewards. It can change the way your business is seen, draw in new customers and raise awareness on a vast scale.

All it takes is time, research and a passion for giving your target audience truly needs.