As a CFO, my day is spent dealing with hard numbers. I ask the toughest questions: Is it worth the money? Why?
Many small businesses struggle with making the most of their precious marketing dollars. With marketing and PR, it’s not so easy to measure ROI, especially when it comes to something like content marketing—which many organizations are now using in addition to more traditional marketing efforts.
Content marketing builds on traditional marketing by focusing on the creation and dissemination of interesting and engaging content with the goal of attracting and retaining a specific target audience, and to drive consumer action as well.
Here’s my take on what you can get for your dollars when you invest in content marketing.
Better engagement with consumers
Traditional advertising is less and less effective; most consumers are bombarded with too many messages throughout the day. The Internet, however, gives the typical buyer the power to easily research and compare products, read customer reviews and in-depth information, and even do some last-minute investigation with their mobile devices before committing to a purchase. Rather than “pushing” out commercial messages in the traditional style, savvy brands are learning it makes better financial sense to “pull” consumers in by providing something they need: good information.
That’s where content marketing comes in. If your company provides helpful product or service information through a website, blog or other social media content, consumers are more likely to engage with your brand as they research their options.
For example, if you run a tax preparation service, good SEO content (optimized with keywords a consumer looking for tax resources would be likely to use in an online search) will help ensure that consumers can find you online during the time of year they need you. Once a consumer does a search and finds your site, they’ll be more likely to spend time there and trust your expertise if the content is helpful and interesting. With any luck, they will make your site a regular resource during tax season (and throughout the year), and turn to you when they need assistance.
Efficient customer retention
It used to be that customer service required nothing more than a friendly sales clerk and a liberal return policy. Now there is so much more you can do for your customers. Do they have questions about the best way to use the item? Can you help them make the most of your service? Do you have valuable updates you can share with your client group?
It has always made good financial sense to make sure your customers are happy in the first place rather than having to go back and fix a situation later. Support and helpful ongoing information can help prevent the expenses associated with the increased staff time needed to deal with unhappy customers, and the additional marketing resources needed for damage control.
For instance, if you’re running a real estate office, your customers will have lots of questions, even after the sale is complete. In addition to making sure they are happy with your service, you can offer help with information about relocation, or advice about contractors or insurance. Good content provided by you could help to ease their transition to a new home, and make your service that much more valuable.
You don’t want to lose touch with a customer after they’ve purchased something, especially if you have other products or services to offer them. A great way to continue the relationship is with content. Are there product enhancements or add-ons they may be interested in? Are there future events they should know about? If you are continuing to add value, your customers will think of you first when they need to purchase again. A small investment on your part will result in longer and better relationships.
For example, if you’re running a Pilates studio, you don’t want your customers to fade away after completing one set of classes. You want them to try a new class, maybe sign up for personal training, or attend a special workshop at your location. By continuing to offer content that expands on your customers’ learning experience, and lets them know about the benefits of ongoing exercise, you’ll strengthen your connection and increase the likelihood that they’ll become long-term patrons.
Content marketing is the most efficient way to spend your marketing budget because it’s the most effective. It uses the power of social media to greatly increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts by reaching consumers where they already are, and when they are ready to buy.
What kinds of content marketing have worked for your company?
OPEN Cardmember Gary Pedersen is the CFO of Brandpoint, a content marketing company offering content creation, SEO, social media and distribution services that build exposure, credibility and awareness for brands.