The term content marketing has been thrown around for a while now in the business world, and it’s becoming increasingly popular as a lead generation mechanism. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, 90% of business-to-consumer marketers plan to employ content marketing in 2014.
But what exactly is content marketing, and how can you use it to generate leads for your small business? This article will address both questions.
What Is Content Marketing?
In short, content marketing encompasses any marketing method that involves creating and sharing content in order to acquire new customers.
What’s the Purpose of Content Marketing?
Rather than selling a specific product or service, content marketing is focused on providing valuable information to readers. The goal is to inspire interest and brand loyalty among online readers who will then become more likely to turn into revenue-generating customers for your business.
What Kinds of Content Can Work for My Business?
The great thing about content marketing is that it can take many forms. You’ll need to consider what makes sense for your business in terms of your industry, personal interests, and staff bandwidth as you put together a content plan. Here are a few types of content you can use to generate leads:
- Blog Posts: Hosting a blog for your business is an easy way to share valuable advice or entertaining content with prospective leads.
- Social Media Posts: Social channels allow you to share news, information, and other engaging content with both current customers and potential leads.
- Videos & Photos: Share quick insights, show behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business, and spotlight happy customers with visual content.
- How-to Guides, Whitepapers and eBooks: More in-depth publications such as how-to guides, whitepapers, and eBooks can provide real value to consumers and generate concrete leads you can follow up with about your products or services.
- Tips and Comments: Providing tips on forums or commenting on review sites with helpful information can also generate leads if you link back to your business website.
When Should I “Gate” Content?
Marketers often talk about “gating” premium content. “Gating” simply means requiring a user to submit contact information (name, phone number, email) in order to access a particular asset.
Generally, more in-depth pieces of content such as how-to guides, whitepapers, and eBooks are the kinds of items marketers will “gate.” Requiring contact information from viewers will, by necessity, turn some people away. Keep in mind that whatever kind of content you offer has to be worth a reader “paying” for it with their information.
The Bottom Line
Content marketing can take many forms, depending on your audience and industry. Developing and publishing great content will take time and effort, but the effort will be worthwhile when you start landing new leads—and converting those leads into customers.