The need to market a business and its products/services is a given. In a world of constant and instant communication and a certain level of public distrust of marketers and marketing, if you are not producing marketing content, you are not in the game. We use the word “content” broadly, to include short messages (140 characters) to blogging and reports, white papers, or e-books.
People are consuming content everywhere, and they expect your business to provide the kind of content that will help them solve problems and make decisions. According to a new Nielsen study, about a third of all young adults even consume content in the bathroom. If you are not feeding this hunger for content, you are ostracizing yourself outside the consciousness of your market.
There is a new article in Fast Company, in which Francine Hardaway argues that the blog is dead and will be replaced by a new content format that makes everything more accessible on a smartphone. To the contrary, however, the exploding popularity of tablets combined with evidence that a significant and growing portion of the public still choose to consume “long-form” content (blogs, white papers, reports) on those devices, we do not recommend abandoning long-form content just yet.
Consumers seek the type of content that will answer their questions and meet their needs on a range of devices and platforms. While many social media platforms require short messages or prefer that shared content be heavily supplemented with images and video clips, there is abundant proof that consumers still read blogs for the information and insight they provide. In fact, as buyers research products and services, they turn to articles, white papers, studies, spec sheets, and even e-books for the information they need to make decisions.
Blogging is not dead – at least not yet. A recent study by HubSpot (an internet marketing firm) revealed the following:
- More content on a website generates more inbound traffic (for both B2B and B2C companies, though more significantly for B2C firms). The greatest increase occurs after the website reaches 400 to 500 pages.
- After about 400 pages, inbound leads also increase significantly, especially for B2B companies.
- Increasing blog frequency from once per month to 15 times per month results in a substantial increase in traffic (again, more noticeably for B2C firms).
- It takes time for a blog to produce traffic. The increase in traffic becomes greater after 50 – 100 blog posts are published.
- Blogging helps to generate traffic for businesses of all sizes.
- The greatest impact on inbound traffic is for small businesses.
Long-form content – articles, reports, studies, white papers, e-books, slide presentations, webinars – are still valuable to potential clients. At various stages in their decision-making, consumers want different kinds of information from businesses. For example, the first need is for unbranded content that demonstrates credibility or thought leadership. Once you earn trust and respect, prospects want more information about the benefits provided by your products or services. The next step might be a desire for more specific information about your products, services, pricing, or the company.
The type of long-form content you produce must be determined by the nature of your products and/or services, the information desired by the consumer, and the format in which the consumer wants the information to be presented.
Many small business owners (and some mid-sized business owners) are overwhelmed by the demands of content creation for the range of platforms and needs. After all, you built your business on your knowledge and skills. You might not feel you have time to produce content in addition to producing products and/or services and managing the business.
There are several ways to “produce” the content. For example, you can hire a content marketing firm or a social media marketing firm, or a firm that provides integrated marketing strategy and services. Other options include:
- Producing content yourself
- Having employees produce some of the content
- Using content produced by other similar businesses
- Using content produced by your suppliers
- Buying generic content from a content farm
Remember, much of your content can be repurposed. Blogs can be combined into an e-book, articles can be expanded into white papers, and surveys can be combined into a report. Blogs can be broken into smaller pieces and shared on social media.
Marketing today is about content, even video and images. Many small businesses find content production challenging due to time constraints. However, your business cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and watch your competitors play – and win – the game.
Content is critical. Websites with 51 to 100 pages draw 48% more traffic than websites with 50 pages or less. If you are not producing marketing content, you simply are not in the game.
By Vickie Pittard, Partner
Little Black Dog Social Media & More