Content is king.
If you’re business is involved with IT or digital media, you’ve undoubtedly heard this popular adage more than a few times. The phrase originally entered our lexicon when Bill Gates used it as the title of an essay he posted to the Microsoft website in 1996. In addition to the title, Gates book-ended the famous post with two statements that have proved incredibly prescient.
He started the essay off by predicting, “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”
And he concluded with, “Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products—a marketplace of content.”
While those statements might seem like common sense now, given the state of the Internet in the mid-1990s, they were downright prophetic at the time.
Back then, the nascent World Wide Web was only accessible and regularly used by an extremely limited number of people, mostly self-described “computer geeks.” And for those who did surf the web, the experience consisted of exploring a comparatively miniscule collection of absurdly primitive websites, glacially slow modem speeds, and practically non-existent mobile technology.
Yet for those living in 1996, the infant Internet was as cutting-edge as you could get. And as Gates pointed out, absolutely brimming with potential.
The content marketplace
Today, the “marketplace of content” has arrived, and as Gates predicted, it’s dominated by those companies that create the most innovative content. In light of this development, the strategy of creating engaging and informative digital content for marketing purposes, or “content marketing,” is something that every entrepreneur with a web presence should be actively pursuing.
The reason content marketing is such a huge phenomenon is simple: It works. In today’s digital-everything world, creating click-worthy content is one of the best ways to attract people to your brand and convert them into paying customers—and even turn them into diehard fans. To this end, here are a few of the potentially game-changing benefits you can achieve through effective content marketing.
1. It generates a higher return on a smaller investment
One of the best parts of content marketing is that it costs almost nothing, especially compared to other forms of advertising. Indeed, studies show that content marketing typically costs about 62% less than traditional marketing methods, yet it generates three times as many leads.
What’s more, creating high-quality content can be as easy as writing entertaining blog posts or posting helpful video tutorials. Though you can hire content marketing firms to produce content for you, today’s technology makes it a snap to produce professional-grade content totally on your own. In fact, content marketing is something even small startups with no advertising budget to speak of can pull off.
2. It boosts search-engine rankings
Whether its Google, Chrome, or Yahoo, achieving a high ranking on a search-engine results page (SERP) is one of content marketing’s central goals and benefits. Every person who clicks through from a results page to your website is a potential customer, so the higher up your content appears in the rankings, the more web traffic you’re likely to generate.
The key to achieving top-of-page SERP results is based on having high-quality content. While there are other more “meta” strategies, such as search engine optimization (SEO), that can improve your ranking, the most critical thing is having content people actually want to read, view, and/or listen to on a consistent basis.
And we’re not just talking about websites here. You should fill all of your brand’s digital properties—blogs, podcasts, email campaigns, social media accounts—with premium content. For best results, all of those properties should also be interconnected using inbound and outbound web links.
3. It positions your brand as a trusted authority
By filling your website and other digital properties with lots of informative content, you can position your brand as a credible authority in your particular field or niche. Being viewed as an authoritative resource not only increases your brand’s exposure, it also boosts customer trust and loyalty.
Entertaining content makes great eye candy, but content that delivers practical knowledge and advice is often much more effective. In addition to proving that you know your stuff, such content provides visitors seeking information and answers with a valuable service free of charge.
“Giving away” content like this builds trust because it shows you actually care about your web visitors and aren’t just trying to sell them something. The more people turn to your site for free expertise, the more likely they are to turn to your brand when it’s time to make a purchase.
4. It drives repeat visits to your website
Posting fresh, engaging content on a regular basis is the best way to attract the most eyeballs. It’s simple math, really: The more often people visit your site—and the more time they spend there—the more likely they are to make a purchase.
Not to mention, Google and other search engines place a premium value on how fresh your content is, so the more new content you post, the greater your chances of achieving high SERP rankings. That said, when it comes to creating fresh content, your focus should be on quality, not quantity.
Churning out content just for the sake of posting something new will make your site seem spammy to both visitors and search engines alike. Better to post one high-quality piece of content a week than five crappy ones.
Avoid legal landmines
Though content marketing offers seemingly unlimited potential for brand promotion, it also comes with some potentially perilous legal landmines. For one, digital marketing often requires you to collect, store, and process sensitive customer data, and if you don’t stay apprised of laws governing data protection and privacy, you could run into trouble.
In 2018, for example, an array of complex regulations related to data privacy were passed in both Europe and California, with more legislation likely on the horizon. If your content marketing doesn’t fully comply with these new laws, you could be subject to significant fines and/or other penalties.
Moreover, some big companies “bully” smaller ones over alleged intellectual property violations in their web content. Getty Images, for instance, is infamous for issuing threatening letters demanding immediate payment from companies who’ve mistakenly used their stock images without paying licensing fees.
And Entrepreneur magazine has actually sued dozens of businesses for using the word “entrepreneur” in their branding. While the publication owns a trademark for the word, whether or not your use of it is an actual infringement is a grey area that must be decided in court. However, unless you have the financial resources to defend yourself from the magazine’s high-priced lawyers, you could be looking at serious consequences.
Given these risks, when developing your company’s content marketing strategy, you should consult with a Creative Business Lawyer® to ensure you’re in full compliance with the latest laws and aren’t setting yourself up for costly lawsuits. Contact one today to learn more.