You might be thinking to yourself, “Amanda, why in the world would you sit down and write this massive guide? Long-form isn’t always the answer!”
That’s 100% valid. But it occurred to me that a guide like this could be very useful to content marketing newcomers and experts alike.
If you’re new to content marketing, this guide will help you see all the ways you can utilize it.
If you’re a content veteran, you can confirm you’re getting the most out of every piece of great content you produce.
And for any content marketers, this post can help you get buy-in for your marketing plan with folks who aren’t as familiar with the strategy and its benefits.
So I’ve listed every benefit I can think of, sorted them into categories, and added some tips on how to measure these benefits.
Here they are — you can either read the whole guide or jump to the benefits that interest you most.
Content marketing can:
- expand brand awareness
- communicate your brand voice/vibe
- answer your prospects' biggest questions
- show the impact of your product/service
- help retain current customers/clients
- Improve your chances of ranking for relevant terms
- Help Google (and users) understand your brand
- Build great links
- Supercharge your social accounts
- Fill gaps in your social calendar
- Incentivize email subscribers
- Bring email subscribers to your website
- Create space for comments/engagement
Let's dive in!
#1 - It helps build trust with your audience
It’s hard to trust a person who doesn’t communicate with you, and in the same way, it’s hard to trust a brand that doesn’t have anything to say.
Some brands stick solely to brand messaging, which can and has worked, but it also doesn’t give you a lot to work with in terms of connecting with folks. And when you expand a bit and speak to the wider industry, you can establish yourself (and your brand) as a thought leader.
Whether you decide to write a post about what your company strives to achieve or you create a resource that benefits your potential customers/clients, high-quality content allows you to demonstrate your values and, thus, start building trust.
Oura, a ring that collects and provides insights on your health data, has a blog that features a variety of posts, including a section titled “Research & Validation.”
These blog posts don’t just share interesting stories — as the section title suggests, it validates Oura’s usefulness, thus building trust. It’s hard to build this kind of credibility without content.
#2 - It expands brand awareness
Every single thing you create and promote provides a new access point for a potential client or customer to become familiar with your brand.
You’re trying to reach people in every part of your marketing funnel, and you need something to move them through. Content is often the answer here.
For example, blogging works well at the top of the funnel. You can have an awareness piece of content that ranks in Google and gets your brand name out to folks in the early stages of the buyer’s journey. Look at this Google search I did below.
By having this evergreen content and ranking for this keyword, Indeed is getting out there in front of people who may be considering a career change (and interested in the career-related content they offer).
Don’t just stick to things that are super on-brand, especially if you just want to get your name out there in association with your industry. Do keyword research and explore what other related topics are of interest to your target audience.
#3 - It can help communicate your brand voice/vibe
A brand is made up of so many facets of a company’s efforts, from customer service to the website to leadership commenting on brand reviews online.
But it can still be tough to communicate your brand’s full “personality” without using content.
Take this HelloFresh example. Instead of changing the copy on their website or any of their core branding materials, HelloFresh can show their fun/humorous side through content.
It offers extra entertainment value to folks while still maintaining its core messaging elsewhere of being nutritional, stress-free, etc.
So, think about how content can help you illustrate all aspects of your brand that you want people to see.
#4 - It can answer your prospects’ biggest questions
There’s a lot of overlap between marketing and sales, and that’s best illustrated by content that helps convert middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel visitors to your site. A blog post explaining the benefit of your service or product can serve as good conversion content while also serving as good educational content in the sales funnel.
This blog post by Shopify is a great example.
It’s extremely thorough and directly helps anyone who’s interested in starting an online store. From an SEO perspective, not only are they ranking for more branded terms, but they’re also ranking for really important conversion terms like “start online stores” and “how to start an online store, according to Ahrefs.
If you’re having trouble getting buy-in for content marketing campaigns, this is a great place to start because it has direct benefits for sales and conversions.
#5 - It shows the impact of your product or service
Nothing says win-win like content that illustrates how awesome your product/service is because not only does it often move people through the funnel and convert them, but it can also be a helpful tool in sales for those who didn’t see the content before converting.
Case studies are a great example of this, and most B2B brands have some sort of case studies or testimonials on their site to prove their brand is valuable.
I often use this case study we created when I’m a guest on podcasts, building a conference deck, or doing any sort of marketing effort that needs evidence that what we do works. But case studies like this are also used in sales to better illustrate our work to prospects.
Look at these examples from Monday.com, labeled as “Success Stories”:
Telling the story of the great work you do can provide a massive benefit for marketing and sales alike.
#6 - It helps retain current customers/clients
Similar to the previous section, you can use a lot of these bottom-of-the-funnel materials to keep your current clients or customers, as well. This is often a very undervalued part of marketing in general, let alone content marketing.
MasterClass is great at this. They take content from the courses they offer and repackage it in interesting ways. I have a yearlong subscription, and rather than just leaving me alone to eventually watch classes, they send emails engaging me in new ways.
For example, rather than just promoting the entire courses, they’ll pull chapters from different, related courses to pique my interest. I received an email about their writing classes because I took the Margaret Atwood one. One section of the email said, “Realize your writing dreams,” and included example chapters from writing courses.
This is a really smart way to try to pull me back in without the pressure of starting an entirely new class. It’s also a great example of how repackaging content can be just as effective as creating new content (though they do that, as well) when it comes to maintaining customer relationships.
#7 - It improves your chances of ranking for relevant terms
Without content, search engine optimization hardly exists. The whole point of optimizing for search engines is having a website you’re trying to rank, and presumably, that website needs to have content on it in order for it to be at all useful.
But you probably want to rank for more terms that are relevant to your core pages, like your products, services, about page, etc. That’s why so many companies have blogs or resource sections — to provide additional value and to rank for other related keywords relevant to their target audiences.
Take a look at this example from BB&T.
The piece is very straightforward (and appears to be optimized to earn the featured snippet, which it earned).
In fact, it has the No. 1 position for a number of relevant keywords (snapshot from Ahrefs).
By creating this content, BB&T is helping people who want tips on how to save money for a downpayment, who also happen to be one of their target audiences, since they provide mortgages.
This is the perfect example of how effective content can provide value, build organic traffic, and raise awareness among your potential clients and customers in a sustainable way.
#8 - It helps Google (and users) understand your brand
When you create strategic content for your website, it allows Google’s bots to get a better understanding of what you offer and what your website is about.
If you want to be seen as an expert in something, you’re going to need more than a few service/product pages. You’re going to need content that demonstrates that expertise.
If you don’t believe me, then believe Google, as quality, relevant content has long been considered one of the primary considerations of their ranking algorithm. If you care about organic search, you need to care about this.
When coming up with an on-site strategy, many brands employ a cluster content strategy, which features a “pillar” piece of content that delves into a more general topic (like your core areas of expertise) and then related “cluster” pieces of content, which explore more specific subtopics related to the subject matter of the pillars.
We use this approach with our clients and have seen pretty impressive results. And it makes intuitive sense to create content about the general topics but then dive in deeper to illustrate your specific expertise on subtopics, as well.
#9 - It’s the best way to build great links
Link building is by far one of the hardest parts of SEO. If you work on the content side of things and you aren’t sure why link building is important, the simple explanation is that Google uses links from other sites as an indicator of whether you know what you’re talking about.
And it makes sense — if no other website finds your content interesting or trustworthy, they’re probably not going to link to you, right? So Google is looking for these backlinking signals to see if you’re creating content that’s worthy of being linked to by other sites. If you have a lot of relevant, high-quality backlinks, you’re more likely to see better rankings for your website pages in Google results.
Building these links, though, is a very difficult task. But there is a way to do it successfully and at scale: a combination of data journalism and digital PR.
Basically, you create newsworthy research, whether it’s new studies, surveys, or reports, and then you pitch that new information to the media. It’s a lot of work, which is why we do it for our clients, but it can mean significant growth over time if you invest in it.
For example, for our client Stoneside, we surveyed Americans about their plant purchases and related behavior during the pandemic in 2020.
In creating content deserving of links (at Fractl, we call it “link-worthy” content), you’re not only providing value to publishers and a wide audience, but you’re also helping to bolster your backlink portfolio and improve your site’s SEO.
#10 - “Social-first” content can supercharge your accounts
Sure, you can tweet inspirational quotes or post an image of your office on Instagram and call it a day. But if you want a truly engaging social presence for your brand, you have to be providing value (as is the case with every marketing channel).
One way to do that is to create “social-first” content, or content specifically made with your social audience in mind. This allows you to provide really tailored value to each audience on your various platforms.
For example, look at this video Netflix tweeted.
They’re not asking their followers to click a link; the content is right there for them. I’m not on the Netflix team, so I don’t know if it was created specifically for Twitter, but clearly suits the platform well and wasn’t promoted there as an afterthought.
#11 - You can fill gaps in your social calendar by promoting your longer-form content
When you share content you’ve created for other reasons (blog posts, research, etc.) with your social channels, you’re both helping to promote and distribute the work you’ve done to your wider audience while also diversifying the type of content you’re providing to them on the platform.
Here’s another Twitter example.
"I felt connected to this character. She's brave but also spends a lot of time being scared; she's powerful, but she's also very gentle. She felt very whole." — Queue cover star Jessie Mei Li on playing Alina Starkov in @shadowandbone_.— Netflix Queue (@netflixqueue) April 30, 2021
📷: Dana Scruggs https://t.co/2nmUYi1n7N pic.twitter.com/hBepHfIcps
The Netflix Queue account promoted a longer interview on Twitter with a quote and photo. When you’re already developing content, you can use it to fill out your social media calendar and get it in front of folks who might be interested in the piece.
While it’s possible to stay just on social channels and only share images and short text, it’s valuable to have more substantial content to provide from time to time.
#12 - You can offer subscribers exclusive resources
This is top of mind for me because it’s exactly what we do for our Cashing in on Content Marketing newsletter subscribers.
Every month, we provide a little bit of extra content, whether it’s a deck to help you get buy-in for content marketing or snippets of interviews that were never released to the public.
By having “bonus” content you can give to email subscribers, you can incentivize signing up.
Note: This can double as a section about lead generation/conversion rate optimization, as well — by providing something people want and asking for their email addresses (aka creating “gated” content), you can build a solid email list and/or potentially drive new leads (and then new customers!).
#13 - You can bring subscribers from your email to your website
I’m used to getting a bunch of emails from brands with discounts and promotions, and I often ignore them. Most times, I’m not looking to buy anything in particular, so the deals don’t mean much to me.
So I was intrigued when a site I love, Society6, started sending me horoscope emails.
I don’t particularly care about horoscopes, but sometimes I read them for fun, and the fact that this was coming from an e-commerce site piqued my marketing interest. While I thought it was a weird choice at first, I ended up kind of loving the idea.
Why? Not everyone who shops on Society6’s site will love astrology, but for those who do, they’re immediately sucked into the email and the brand. It’s not just an email about their products — it’s an email with content you might be interested in that then ties into products on their site.
When planning your email marketing, think about what content would interest your subscribers and how that ties into what you offer. Providing that added value to them will not only get them back on your website but might even convert them if your tie-in is well done.
#14 - It creates space for comments and engagement
Earlier in the article, I talked about how you can reach your audience and provide value through content. But you can also foster community with it, which is a whole different level of engagement.
Whether it’s on social media, an exclusive Slack channel, or anywhere else on the web, if you’re trying to build a community, content can help encourage ongoing conversation.
If you’re the one creating valuable content, you can leverage it in this way to spark discussion and also get the bonus benefit of potentially being mentioned in other communities, as well!
Why Content Marketing Strategy Matters
For those of you keeping score, I listed 14 benefits. And trust me, there are more ways it helps other tactics like PPC, but those aren’t my expertise, so they’re not as prominent in the piece.
Overall, in order to promote your brand, you need something to promote. Sometimes that’s your specific product or service offering, sure, but your digital marketing team might want something else to work with to get your message out to a wider audience, whether on social, using digital PR, paid ads, etc.
Staying brand-focused all the time might start to feel like a flurry of constant ads, which might not land well with audiences.
That’s why quality content is often a foundational piece of all marketing tactics. If you’re trying to get buy-in for content marketing, consider using the following sections to illustrate how content can amplify other tactics that are already working for your brand.