What Content Marketing Is In 2020 And Why It’s Important

You’ve probably heard the popular saying “content is king.” But, never has content marketing been more crucially needed than right now. Between the COVID19 pandemic and global civil unrest, rooted right here in the US, more people are online, consuming information.

That means that building and establishing a digital presence is more important now than ever before. Further, it’s not enough just to build a brand with a digital presence – you have to consistently maintain that digital presence to attract your ideal audience, nurture them, and stay top of mind.

According to Hubspot, “70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing.”

That means a majority of businesses see the importance of content marketing and make it a priority. But, you know what that also means? A majority of businesses are adding content to digital platforms – which in turn is adding to the noise people have to sift through when they come online.

It’s getting harder every day to stand out with unique thought leadership, expertise, and an attractive brand. That’s why it’s important to develop differentiated, thought-provoking content that gets your audience to listen to what you have to say – then take action.

2020 is the most difficult year most of us have experienced – not just as organizations, but also as humans. There are very few people who could have predicted a year like 2020, yet here we are. Those of us who work on the back end as marketers are seeing a lot of brands, from solo-entrepreneurs to large corporate conglomerates, pull back on marketing to save on budget.

But, if leaders of businesses want to have a fighting chance of coming out of 2020 with profitability and sustainability, it’s imperative that they and their teams take the time right now to be intentional about their content marketing strategy.

So, let’s take a hard look at what content marketing is today and how it can help businesses break through the noise and overcome the challenges 2020 has brought us.

What Content Marketing Is In 2020

The Content Marketing Institute gives this official definition of what content marketing is:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Let’s talk about what that really means.

Though content marketing has been used for decades, it’s never been used quite the same as it is today. In the 1980s or 1990s, content marketing may have looked like a one to two pages “article” in a magazine that explained the benefits of a certain cream or diet solution. Or, maybe it was a “free” cookbook made by a popular food brand.

In the early 2000s, content marketing could have looked like ebooks, blogs, reports, and even the early stages of video marketing – most of which was generalized, formal, and pretty superficial when it came to the value delivered.

Today, content marketing has become much more diverse, complex, and personalized. (Of course, there are many different types of content between the beginning of content marketing and now – check out this fun infographic on Hubspot.)

It’s no longer enough just to get in the hands of (or on the screens of) a group of people that include your target audience.

In order to quickly establish your brand as a leader, expert in your field, and highly sought-after brand, you have to get very specific about who you need to market to, where to meet them, and what to give them of value when you’re there.
That’s what content marketing has evolved into.

Here are some stats to help you get a grasp on how you should be thinking of content marketing in 2020:

  • 49% of marketers are delivering content aligned to the customer journey (Contently)
  • 52% of millennials want to see video in their buying journey (Hubspot)
  • Organic content marketing gets 3 times more return than paid search advertising over the long haul (Content Marketing Institute)
  • Longer content generates 9 times more leads than short content (Wordstream)
  • 80% of leaders would rather learn about a company through an article versus an ad (Wordstream)

Looking at these statistics, it’s easy to see just how important value-packed long-form organic content linked to a strategic customer journey really is. There’s no denying it – the proof is in the numbers.

Why Content Marketing is Important

Why Is Content Marketing Important

For businesses who thought in 2019 that they could cut straight to the sales without putting in the work by leveraging paid advertising to micro offers and an optimized funnel, there’s bad news to report. People are getting smarter by the day – 200 million use ad blockers, meaning organic content is still crucial.

Smart leaders know the real value in content marketing and continue to make it a priority for their businesses. In fact, here are some numbers to prove it:

  • 88% of B2Bs use content marketing strategy (Wordstream)
  • 84% of B2Bs are outsourcing content creation (Smart Insights)
  • 90% of marketers say repurposing content is more effective, cost-efficient, and time-efficient than creating new content from scratch each time (Databox)
  • Most companies spent over $10,000 in content marketing in 2019 and 62% of those companies expected to increase that amount 2020. (SEMrush)

Why are these numbers important? The stats above tell us a few things.

  1. More businesses are investing in content marketing. (And most smart businesses with teams of decision-makers don’t take investment decisions lightly, by the way. They want proof of ROI to invest.)
  2. More businesses are getting omnipresent – putting out more content on more platforms at an increased rate. (Meaning they are showing up all the time in many creative ways so their ideal audience is always thinking about them!)
  3. More businesses are hiring strategic specialists so they can get an advantage and stand out amongst all the content being published.

The “spray and pray” method of spreading the same bland, superficial, useless content on multiple platforms is no longer working. In fact, I’ll go further and argue it never really did and only created the “noise” we’re dealing with now online. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find really valuable content that teaches and entertains.

It’s not enough to just have content.

You have to get up close and personal with your target audience, find out what their thought processes are, find out what they need at their specific stage in their journey and give it to them. You have to have the right content at the right times in the right places.

That’s what content marketing really is and why it’s important.

How It Can Help a Business or Brand

Without consistent content and a digital presence, customers are left to wonder or assume what your brand is, offers, and stands for. The more you can get thoughtful content in front of them in your unique voice while delivering value, the more your target audience will connect with your brand and see you as a trustworthy source of expertise.

Some will argue content marketing is a long game that takes time to get traction. But, today, the benefits of content marketing are two-fold:

  1. Ideal consumers gain awareness, the brand garners trust, and a connection is formed.
  2. Content continues to earn its right to stay relevant through Google the longer it lives and is engaged with, therefore increasing brand equity for the business over time.

So, don’t discount the immediate value of content marketing just because you’ve heard from SEO specialists that it can take up to 6 months to rank higher on Google. Your content will start working for you right away and continue to do so – IF you meet your consumers where they’re at.

Here are just some of the ways content marketing can boost ROI for your business:

  • Expand your audience base by getting in front of new consumers with relevant information.
  • Keep your audience – when your consumer base is getting regular binge-able content that gives them value they’re going to keep paying attention. We all know how short attention spans are these days.
  • Increase leads when qualified target audience members see how you can help them through your value-led content
  • Increase conversions – people who consume your content are 6x more likely to convert to buyers
  • Earn brand loyalty and affinity (having raving fans!) – which leads to brand advocates and referrers

We’ve made the case for content marketing. You now know just how crucial it really is. But, how do you tackle it?

How to Do Content Marketing Differently in 2020

The key to getting short-term and long-term benefits of content marketing is to make unique branded content that allows you to infuse your values and beliefs into the expertise you are sharing. The method to do so is to put that unique content in front of consumers where they’re at.

The Old Way of Doing Content Marketing

Consumers are smart and savvy. Many of them have already figured out that the bait dangling in front of them in the form of a lead magnet is just a way to get their email address so they can be advertised to. People are exhausted by inbox overwhelm, so the way we think of customer journeys has to be reassessed.

In the last decade, a customer journey may have looked like this:

  1. Consumer searches for a solution on Google and clicks on your site.
  2. Consumer reads a blog post and downloads a free resource that has an enticing headline promising to solve their problem.
  3. Consumer gets information, but not enough to solve the problem – and in many cases not enough to interest them to continue learning more from the source.
  4. Consumer gets an overwhelming amount of emails in their inbox leading to more blogs, resources, and offers. (Or worse, no follow up at all.)
  5. Consumer may eventually buy an entry offer, which later leads to a premium offer or upsell.

But, here’s the thing – consumers don’t actually want to be led down that long journey in all cases. That’s not to say there isn’t still value in some of the content marketing methods that are tried and true. If done well, they still work. And you do still have to earn your place from the Google gods (AKA their machine learning tools) to show up and get seen by ideal consumers in search.

But, why do only the things that just work sometimes when you can blend in something that works really well much sooner?

The New Way To Do Content Marketing

What works really well, today is delivering personalized value-first content up front.

Before making your consumer obligate themselves to a long journey of content sent their way before they find solutions, give them value up front and show them the way sooner. Shorten the customer journey so you can earn their trust faster.

Here are some ways to do that in 2020:

  • Show up. Most leaders realize the fastest way to build a relationship that leads to a sale is to connect face-to-face, in person. But, the next best thing – something you can do to reach more people way faster? Show up on video. Show your faces. Video has very quickly outpaced every other medium for content marketing and the reason is that it is more personal, interactive, and engaging.
  • Deliver value up front. Don’t make someone hand over an email list in order to learn something they need to make a decision. Deliver the value right away – on your site, on your social media platforms, at in-person (or virtual right now) events. And while you’re at it – deliver this value with video.
  • Ask questions. You’ll struggle to attract and convert leads if you don’t know what they’re thinking. Because the way we think, work, and make decisions is changing at an exponential rate, you have to keep a pulse on your consumer’s thoughts and behaviors. It’s not enough to go off of consumer research you did a decade ago. You have to constantly refresh your awareness of your consumer and act with agility when it comes to your marketing.
  • Make the offer. It sounds crazy, but many businesses simply don’t ask for the sale soon enough. They take too much time to “nurture” their leads. That means the leads that need a solution right now will find it. And if you’re not offering the solution they need, they’ll find it elsewhere.
  • Be Different. There are over 30 million small-medium sized businesses and 95% of them fail within 5 years. One of the reasons? They fight to get ahead because they aren’t standing out. In fact, 42% of startups fail because they aren’t positioned well – responding to a current and relevant market need.

How to Show Up Differently with Digital Marketing

In order to stand out, you have to be different.

Those who win in content marketing:

  • Consistently post new and repurposed content, staying top-of-mind for their ideal clients across the customer journey
  • Deliver personalized, relevant, valuable content based on what their target audience needs, wants, and is ready for at their stage of the buying decision process
  • Maintain a differentiated position as an authority in their field of expertise

But, many businesses do things based on industry standards, which quickly get outdated and blend in with the mass marketing being thrown at consumers. And, even more detrimental, many businesses approach content marketing backwards.

For most teams, content is just an item to check off their list. The first step should be getting clear about how they want to show up differently, who they are targeting, and what value they can offer that gives them the most leverage.

Instead, many teams hire outsourced content writers without the foundational strategy. Or, they have poorly defined strategy lacking in goals that are aligned to the overall organizational goals. The lack of strategy leads to missed opportunities, poorly defined or undefined KPIs, bloated budgets, and inefficient work.

Instead, many teams hire outsourced content writers without the foundational strategy. Or, they have poorly defined strategy lacking in goals that are aligned to the overall organizational goals. The lack of strategy leads to missed opportunities, poorly defined or undefined KPIs, bloated budgets, and inefficient work.

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So, the first step is to get clear on the overall annual organizational goals, the annual marketing goals, quarterly marketing goals, and a clear content strategy that is aligned to those goals.

Why You Should Make Content Marketing a Priority Now

We know why strategic content is important – but the time, effort, and budget needed to do content marketing gets in the way sometimes so leaders put it on the backburner.

While these organizations are procrastinating on making content marketing a priority, someone else in their industry – a competitor – is seeing the value in prioritizing it and going all in on strategic content.

So, don’t allow your brand to be shadowed by another because they are putting relevant, timely, and useful content out. Get ahead of the game and make content marketing a priority for your business so you can actually grow the awareness of your brand in an authentic, relevant, exciting way and increase your revenue with all those new qualified leads.

What Content Marketing is in 2020 and Why it's Important #ContentMarketing #Content #ContentStrategy

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