You have probably heard or read it before: content marketing is important to your online campaigns. Content is a leading channel of digital and inbound marketing – any reputable marketing firm, agency, or consultancy can tell you that content marketing drives new business for your brand through a combination of benefits that work hand in hand, providing you with brand authority, search engine visibility, and lead-generating web copy.

But how does this happen? Why does content marketing drive new business? Well, because:

Content is King…

Back in 1996, forward-thinking tech pioneer and visionary Bill Gates wrote an article with a central message that to this day holds true: “content is king.” From the point of view of a business marketing itself to digital audiences, content underlies nearly all of its online efforts, particularly organic campaigns like search optimization and social media. In this perspective, content is indeed king.

Rather than doing outbound marketing to the masses of people who are trying to block you out, I advocate doing “inbound marketing” where you help yourself “get found” by people already learning about and shopping in your industry.
– Brian Halligan, CEO, Hubspot

From the point of view of consumers, they look for content about products or services they’re interested in, and even after making a purchase decision, they then look for content pointing them to the best place to acquire what they want. In this perspective too, content is king.

… And Strategy Put the Crown on Its HeadNew Business through Content Creation

Content on its own, however, is insufficient. Strategy makes the difference. Content marketing is all about strategically bringing relevant content to its target audience across the phases of the sales funnel to create, nurture, and finally convert leads. Gates had the right idea: content indeed had all the potential to become king, but strategy is needed to put the crown on its head.

It’s this distinction that shows how your content marketing can drive new business. Let’s take a deeper look at the process and how content impacts the stages of your sales funnel:

Impact on SEO and Lead Generation

A sound content marketing strategy aims to consistently create fresh, high-quality content that bring organic traffic. Content marketing goes beyond just making your business more visible to search engines, however: as it strategically generates high-quality content, it also delivers the most relevant, valuable content in front of the right audiences, ensuring that as many readers as possible actually become leads.

This is achieved through coordinating keyword research and targeting, sales funnel alignment, and content development into a coherent content marketing plan that:
• Targets the right keywords that bring the right sort of audience to your website
• Aligns its content to where the target audiences are in the consumer journey
• Delivers truly relevant and valuable information through great content

But it doesn’t stop there.

Impact on Engagement and Lead Nurturing

Content marketing is an encompassing strategy that includes every facet of content that should be considered: from the keywords to use to the format of delivery – from articles to ebooks to inforgraphics. Sound content marketing strategy knows which format of content to use on who, and when.

Different forms of content focusing on various relevant subject matter delivering targeted marketing messages drives reader engagement, which in turn pushes leads further down the sales funnel. Eloqua’s content grid version 2 is an excellent approximation of best practices when it comes to matching content types to your target audiences’ stage in your sales funnel.

To simplify the concept, consider this: visitors simply interested in a product would best be served with articles containing general information on the product, while visitors ready to purchase said product can be shown an actual product white paper with a link to a point of sale page to close the deal. Vice versa, and this arrangement doesn’t work – you not only potentially lose visitors ready to purchase by providing them with general information, but you also miss the opportunity of drawing interested readers further into your sales funnel by shoving too much data into their faces before they’re ready.

Impact on Sales Copy and Conversion

Since we already mentioned point of sale webpages, let’s also touch on content marketing’s impact on sales copy and conversion. Content marketing extends to the landing pages and other parts of websites that perform hard-selling to leads; in fact, a large part of conversion optimization is tweaking the content of conversion-centric elements like calls to action in landing pages and submission forms.
Sales copy is all about persuasion, and genuinely high-quality sales copy is part of a sound content marketing strategy.

Evidently, content marketing is much more than blogging or making sure your webpages all have words in them. Gates was right: content is king, and your strategy can put the crown on your content’s head, empowering you to drive traffic, generate and nurture leads, and ultimately close deals. Content marketing truly does drive new business, and if you know how to, you can practically craft your entire inbound marketing infrastructure upon the foundations of great content.