It’s not uncommon today for a business operator to ask, “How does content marketing increase sales?”
Terms like digital marketing, content marketing and, to the point, Google have infiltrated modern marketing discussions. Yet, does everyone truly understand it?
Buzz phrases like content marketing or inbound marketing sound nice in a room full of marketers, but in the end, what do they really mean for business?
Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing – and Where Content Fits
You can start by considering the dramatic shift in recent years from outbound to inbound marketing.
For what seems like forever marketers relied on the outbound concept – that is, actively going out and seeking customers using a broad net, such as print, display, mail or broadcast advertising.
Then came the internet, and the concept of inbound marketing and its focus on attracting customers inwardly.
That is, providing information about what’s being sold, and by whom, to help potential customers make decisions.
Inbound marketing is a process with several steps, from awareness to a consideration phase to decision time – and content marketing is helpful in each.
Providing informative and compelling content in whatever form, from website pages to blogs, email newsletters and more helps attract potential customers.
Your business content informs them while at the same time providing insights to educate you – in terms of their likes, wants and desires.
This helps separate those casually interested from those who are very interested, the so-called qualified traffic. This, in turn, creates what is known as lead generation.
Content Marketing, the Answering Phase and Lead Generation
In the middle of this process is an answering phase, when in the old days a customer might ask a lot of questions, such as the hours spent with a car salesman.
In the past, they might ask about mileage per gallon, a car radio system or available colors.
Today, customers can learn all that before even contacting your company. They depend on internet search engines to do so, which is another benefit of solid content marketing.
You’re not only educating customers in advance; solid content also educates search engines to deliver your information directly to those who seek it.
Having a solid content marketing program helps generate leads, and can help separate cold or warm leads from the hot leads every business wants.
While it does this, solid and consistent content also promotes a significant long-term goal: brand positioning.
Content Marketing for Branding: Think Long-Term
Branding can be a rather nebulous concept, not always understood by business leaders, but the best work it for all its worth.
Ask Nike, Coca-Cola or Apple what well-established branding can do for a company. Content marketing can position a company as a leader in its field, and convey to potential customers its expertise, and willingness to share information.
In the end, content marketing helps convert customers who may have begun with only mild interest.
Summary: Content Marketing and Increased Sales
So how precisely does content marketing increase sales? In summary, it helps attract, educate and convert potential customers into sales.
While it may not carry the same pizzazz as a network television commercial or a glossy magazine ad, content marketing is more focused on attracting customers who already have an interest in your product or service – as opposed to trying to reach the eyes of every person regardless of disposition to buy.
Content marketing increases sales by attracting leads; qualifying leads according to the propensity to spend; establishing a brand position in marketplaces; answering questions when customers are in the period of deciding whether or not to buy, and educating to help buyers finally pull the trigger.
Inbound marketing attracts traffic to your business website, nurtures those already attracted, and ultimately helps convert them into customers.
A solid content marketing plan develops a healthy communication line between a company’s sales efforts and its customers. It’s about building trust so customers take positive action.