We’ve been seeing a few articles cropping up recently, claiming that content marketing is dead.  This is a subject that rises to the surface from time to time, as up-and-coming marketers attempt to turn the industry on its head.

But is it true?

We certainly don’t think so!  It’s a claim that we’ve seen numerous times, as marketers claim that nowadays it’s all about ‘influencers’, or suggest some other scheme that they’ve devised for attracting visitors to your website.  But in our view, content marketing is something that’s actually more relevant today than it’s ever been, and here’s why.

The benefits of content marketing

Unlike most forms of printed material, such as newspapers, flyers and magazines, online content doesn’t have an expiry date.  The information that you publish online won’t get lost or thrown out, but will remain online for as long as you want it to, continuing to inform, engage and entertain your online audience.  Admittedly, your content may need to be updated from time to time, but with a little care and attention, evergreen content will keep on working in your favour when printed material has long since been consigned to the recycling bin.

And keep in mind that web visitors these days are looking for websites that generate trust and engagement.  With so much potential for misinformation – not to mention scams – at the forefront of everyone’s minds, anything that a website owner can do to encourage engagement with visitors is key to success.  Robust, helpful, relevant content goes a long way towards reassuring visitors that you know what you’re talking about, and that you are someone that they would like to do business with.

Great content also helps to generate leads.  Someone researching a potential purchase may stumble across your blog post about that particular item and, having read what you have to say, may decide that your knowledge singles you out as something of an expert in your field.  That potential customer is far more likely to make a purchase from you, than from a website that doesn’t provide them with the information that they’re searching for.

And on a further note, great content inspires loyalty amongst your current customers too.  Knowing that you regularly produce helpful and relevant content marks you out as an authority in your field, so you’re likely to find that customers keep returning to your site, since they know that they can trust your judgement.

But one of the truly great benefits of content marketing, is that Google and the other search engines absolutely love it – provided, of course, that it’s done well!  Regular updates, blog posts and high-quality content in general will see your site rise above your competitors, as it provides web visitors with extra value.

Is content marketing effective?

Of course, there’ll always be the naysayers, who will tell you that content is dead.  Everyone is constantly looking out for the ‘next big thing’, but in our view it would be foolish to ignore the numerous advantages that great content provides.

This is backed up by a recent article in Toolbox,  which reports that customers don’t behave as impulsively as they used to.  Rather than physically entering a bricks-and-mortar store and making an instant purchase, consumers nowadays spend time researching the products that they are interested in.  They may read reviews from other customers, scrutinise the specifications of the goods that they’re interested in, and even engage with stores that sell the relevant items to ask further questions about it.

If your website provides a potential customer with the answers to questions that they have about a product or service, then they’re much more likely to stay on your site to make the purchase.  And even if they don’t, your site will have created confidence in your brand, making it much more likely that they’ll return again at a later date.

And of course, let’s not forget the power of social media in spreading your content far and wide, reaching hundreds of potential customers at minimal cost.  Content that your readers endorse and enjoy is likely to be shared far and wide, spreading your brand’s message much further than you could hope for through your own efforts.  And as we’ve already discussed in a previous blog post social proof is an extremely powerful marketing tool that pretty much runs under its own steam once you’ve generated some interest in a topic.

How to create an effective content marketing strategy

Of course, with so many different types of business all generating their own content, it’s impossible to devise a one-size-fits-all content marketing strategy.  But every business with an online presence should strive to create a strategy that fits their business model and sets up a framework for producing high-quality content that readers will love.

Start by defining your content marketing goals.  What do you hope to achieve with your content?  Who are you hoping to attract?  What do you hope and expect that readers will do with the information that you provide?

Once you’ve defined your content marketing goals, you can turn your attention to your intended audience.  Knowing exactly who you are aiming your content at is crucial to developing the appropriate tone, so you need to amass as much information as you possibly can about your core market.   We’ve touched on how to create buyer personas in a separate blog post. It’s an important step in the process, as it enables you to ‘speak’ directly to your readership with a confident voice that they’ll respond to.

Now you need to find your ‘voice’.  This is something that can take time, particularly if you don’t consider yourself to be a gifted writer, but it’s a crucial part of the process, so it’s worth spending time on.  If you really aren’t confident, then consider hiring a professional writer, who will be able to produce high-quality content on your behalf.

You also need to decide what channels to use for your content.  From blog posts to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, there are plenty of options to choose from, so take time deciding which approaches are best for your particular needs and circumstances.  And remember, great content will find its own way of spreading through social media channels, as enthusiastic followers retweet and share the information that you provide.

Of course, we can’t possibly cover every aspect of creating high-quality content in a single blog post, since there are so many variables to consider.  The industry that you’re involved in, the size of your business and your core audience all have an impact upon your approach, so no two companies will adopt the same approach.

Here at Brookstone, we know what it takes to develop a highly effective content marketing strategy, so if you’d like any help or advice, just give us a call.  We’d be delighted to show you how we can help.