Have you heard or read the sentence “content is king” recently? If you haven’t, we’re glad that you found this article, because this is the core truth of online marketing these days. The era of banner ads displayed indiscriminately on various websites is gone. Putting up a website and waiting for customers to come running is the shortest route to business failure.
So what does this phrase, “content is king”, really mean? It means that businesses need to start giving before they ask for customer loyalty and their hard-earned money. The process of deciding what to buy and from whom has changed dramatically during the last few years. The key factor which has prompted this change is the social media.
Understanding the Customer’s Decision Process
Let’s say that a person needs a new vacuum cleaner. During the ‘90s and early 2000s, the person used to drive to a home appliances store, look at a few vacuum cleaner models and make the decision. During the late 2000s, the customer browsed for the websites of home appliance brands, found their favorite model of vacuum cleaner and placed an order.
Right now, people perform a Google search for “affordable vacuum cleaners” or “top rated vacuum cleaners” and post messages on the social media asking their friends to recommend them a vacuum cleaner.
So, how does the buying decision relate to content?
It’s very simple: Google searches return results based on published content by companies which make and sell vacuum cleaners, while social media answers are based on how much your friends trust one brand or another.
In a nutshell: content marketing is the core marketing and advertising activity of any company which wants to be successful in the social media era. It is both efficient and inexpensive, so it is the best marketing strategy available for startups and small businesses which cannot afford to invest in expensive and complex marketing campaigns. The statistics speak louder than any other arguments: 89% of startups use content marketing.
Growing Big with Content Marketing
What does sharing content really mean? Shared content is any form of interesting, useful, helpful and true information which either provides entertainment or a solution to a problem for people who receive it. Content can be in the form of:
– Youtube videos
– Links shared on the social media
Each form of presenting your content will attract a certain category of people, so this is why we speak of a good content marketing mix – sharing information in different formats to attract as many people as possible.
Now, let’s leave the theory behind and go more in depth with what really matters – the evidence that content marketing really works and that it has made small startups successful, growing from zero to millions of dollars in revenues almost overnight.
Big Industry Names Who Got Their Content Marketing Right
The cheap alternative to taxis in some of the largest cities in the world has a clear business vision and it promotes it intelligently and efficiently through its content marketing: the modern lifestyle, the need for quick, flexible and affordable transportation, the ability to rely on a well-known network of taxi alternatives, and making quick bookings from your smartphone.
Uber bet on video as its first choice content marketing format – and it won the bet. Their strategy is putting their drivers under the spotlight, letting them share their stories, show people around their cities and recommend landmarks and tourist attractions. Uber’s Youtube channel now contains over 16 playlists featuring different countries they operate in, shared client stories, behind the scenes videos of Uber management at work and the latest news from the transportation industry.
The social media marketing tool saw an amazing growth to over 100,000 users in only nine months from its launch date. They winning strategy? Guest posting on various blogs and establishing strong and long lasting relationships with influencers in the blog world. Their blog post “30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself” has gained nearly 500,000 Facebook shares, 30,000 Tweets and over 160,000 pins on Pinterest.
One of the leading companies in designing successful landing pages templates operated during their first two years with only one person in their marketing team. Their job? Writing blog posts on a consistent basis. As Rick Perreault, the CEO of Unbounce states: “The day we started coding, we started the blog. We focus on creating quality content on our blog and distribute via social, some posts being pretty epic in size/scope.”
One of the most successful inbound marketing platforms grew its business by 350% in just one year, reported $20 million in revenues for service sales in 2011 and currently has 25,000 leads per month. All these are entirely the result of content marketing: blog posts, webinars, and videos.
Ginny Soskey, section editor of the marketing blog of Hubspot shares a few words of wisdom on this topic: “I think that content that focuses on your audience and on your audience’s needs ends up being quality because it’s serving them. I would say bad content is that self-serving content that is really focused on you as the writer or you as the company instead of focusing on the people you’re trying to reach.”
One of the most popular and successful business blogs has grown to fame (and countless subscribers) through its high quality and interesting how-to blogs and videos. How successful have they become with this content strategy? They have reached and maintained the threshold of one million unique site visitors for 10 consecutive months without using any paid traffic strategies. This is the ultimate proof that good and original content, shared frequently, is the key to growing your number of subscribers.
In conclusion: if you plan to start a business and grow it without spending an arm and a leg on marketing and advertising, then content marketing is the answer.