Why Content Marketing Is More Important Than Ever in 2021

Published on February 17, 2021

What do we mean when we talk about “content marketing?”

And we don’t mean that as a Philosophy 201 question, or anything like that.

No, we mean it literally: In practical terms, what is content marketing, and what does it do for small businesses like yours?

Content Marketing: A Brief Rundown of a Vital Digital Marketing Strategy

To the first part? We tend to define content marketing as a digital marketing strategy that lets you create and share multimedia content online, in order to reach audiences organically, and generate interest – and conversions – for your brand.

Content marketing can also be thought of as inbound marketing – it’s all about sharing content that gets new audiences to come to you, rather than requiring you to spend, compete, and struggle for their limited attention. 

In practice, content marketing can take many forms. Video production, graphic design, blogging – all of these are viable types of digital content that can net results for your brand, provided that they are distinct, compelling, original, and genuinely valuable to audiences. Successful content marketing factors in who you are trying to reach, and what they are interested in seeing. 

What really matters, then, is how you share and promote this unique, creative content, in order to generate your inbound traffic and leads. Most often, we see content marketing efforts play out across a few channels, including:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    SEO is the art and science of elevating your brand’s position on search engines, such as Google. In addition to having a responsive and well-performing website, generating original content is one of the most effective ways to get your site noticed, and ranked, by search engines.
  • Social Media
    Social networks – including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram – are some of the most effective and far-reaching publishing platforms in human history.
  • Email
    Across the world, we send billions of emails every day. One of the most effective ways to reach and retain customers is to appeal to them in their inbox, with fresh content, deals, and digital newsletter offerings.

Does Content Marketing Work? Assessing Its Impact in 2021

What’s the value of content marketing? There are a lot of different sources out there, who may give you a lot of different answers about this seemingly simple question.

Here’s what we know for a fact: Content marketing is one of the most powerful inbound strategies out there, for businesses of all sizes and from across every industry. Whether you’re looking for higher rates traffic, greater brand awareness, or more conversions, there is a content strategy that can generate results for you. The digital shift that we all saw during lockdown in 2020 reinforces this. Consumers today are more reliant on technology than ever. Content marketing is how you guide searchers and social media users into your funnel, turning strangers into prospects. 

Need a little more convincing? As you mull over whether 2021 is the right time to start with a content marketing strategy, consider these three incredible stats:

1.) Compared to Paid Search, SEO Generates 3X as Many Leads Per Dollar Spent

You read that right!

In today’s digital landscape, many doomsayers argue that it’s now necessary to pay up in order to see any sort of ROI for digital marketing. But statistics show that more dollars aren’t necessarily the best solution! Instead, the answer on how to make the most out of your marketing budget may be to invest in a smarter, more sustainable long-term strategy.

That’s what content marketing is all about! Remember, the key to content marketing, including SEO, is that it generates inbound traffic and leads.

In other words, content marketing appeals to internet users – and prospective customers – who are already searching for what you have to offer. This audience never goes away. There will always be people out there looking for local service, or the answers to questions that only your brand can provide. And, with a savvy strategy in place, your content will always be out there and accessible, waiting to pull in your new audience when they’re ready to start exploring on the channel of their choice.

What’s more, over time, SEO builds its own momentum, with results that tend to compound the longer that a campaign goes on. Content marketing takes time – but it’s a strategy that pays off in the big picture. Whereas paid outbound advertising needs a constant budget to keep going, your SEO strategy is a self-perpetuating machine, chugging along for longer and generating more consistent results, with lower upfront costs to boot.

Speaking of which…

2.) Content Marketing is 62% Less Expensive Than Outbound Marketing

According to one study, inbound-focused content marketing generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing – for less than half of the cost! Another research study suggests that small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without.

It’s hard to overstate just how much that equation – i.e., more business, for less cost – could mean for your brand. That extra cash in your pocket could mean the chance to hire another employee, to invest in a storefront, to diversify your marketing budget. We could go on; trust us, we’ve got plenty of ideas, and you probably have a few of your own.

The bottom line? Content marketing isn’t a vanity project. It’s not only for brands with bottomless budgets and time to spare. It’s a grounded strategy, one that works because it’s rooted in real human behavior.

What do we mean? Well, consider the history of marketing.

A few decades ago, the average person saw a few hundred ads per day, be they in print, on billboards, or served over the airwaves. Today, the average person sees thousands of ads every day. We’re bombarded all the time, not only through those conventional advertising methods, but also online. Google, Facebook, YouTube – the places in which we spend the bulk of our time online are also the places where advertisers bombard users with the hard sell.

Consumers today don’t want to be pitched to – they want to learn, to explore, and to be given the chance to make decisions on their own. For that reason, obvious, conventional advertising just isn’t going to cut it. Understanding algorithms and feeds is only going to get you so far. Instead, the real way to reach consumers today is to make contact with them where they live, using the sort of content and voice that they would prefer to engage with.

With that in mind? Consider that, by some metrics, 70% of people say that they would rather learn about a company through articles than through a traditional advertisement. Perhaps this is why long-form blog posts have been proven to generate 9X more leads than other types of marketing materials.

Content marketing is about understanding your audience, and serving them what they want and need, when they want it. This is how you reach new users, and build brand loyalty in order to keep your existing customer base happy. It’s a strategy rooted in real people, who can make a real difference for your business’s bottom line.

3.) Content Marketing Is a Key Differentiator for B2B and B2C 

Whatever space or niche you’re in, your competitors are using content. In a 2020 poll of B2B brands, for instance, 

  • 86% used content to create brand awareness
  • 79% used content to educate their audience
  • 75% used content to build credibility and trust
  • 68% said content marketing was effective at nurturing subscribers, audiences, and leads

Of this group, 84% say that they outsource their content creation to a reliable third party. 88% of content marketing “top performers” prioritize the needs of their audience over their sales message, and 75% of top performers use paid social as a channel.

With findings like those, it’s worth asking yourself – what do those brands know that you don’t? And, more importantly – what results are they getting, and how could your business be doing even better?

To borrow a sports metaphor – since we know that digital marketing and baseball actually have a lot in common – you have to play to win. If your brand isn’t competitive when it comes to content marketing, you could be outstripped by your peers and your competitors, who are putting these affordable, sustainable strategies in place to expand their reach, drive in traffic, and increase conversions.

Looking for Content Marketing Help?

If you’re interested in learning more about how to put a practical content marketing strategy into place for your business, Geek Chicago is here to help!

Driven by our deep knowledge of digital trends, our years of experience, and our passion for all things geeky, our team has what it takes to set you down the path to content marketing success. We believe in a comprehensive and holistic approach to content marketing, one that brings SEO, email, social media, and effective web design/development together, in order to bring more traffic, leads, and conversions to your business.

Curious about our philosophy – or some of the results we’ve earned for past clients? Want to know what it would take to get started? Don’t hesitate to drop us a line today to get the conversation started!