But what is “content marketing” and why should tech founders care about this marketing technique?
Let’s start with a definition. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
A new study, by CMI and MarketingProfs, shows that 90% of B2B companies use content marketing as part of their marketing strategy. The most widely used forms of content marketing are articles (used by 79% of firms), social media (74%), blogs (65%), and e-newsletters (63%).
Why is content marketing so important for tech founders? There are many reasons, but here are the top 10:
- Engage customers: Posting content on your site and sharing this via social media provides a great starting point to engage your customers and prospects in two-way conversation. This is an excellent chance to learn more about your customers and about their interests in your industry and products.
- Brand awareness: Every time you produce and share a new piece of content, you’ll have a chance to engage customers with your brand and raise awareness about your startup. According to the above mentioned CMI and MarketingProfs survey, brand awareness is the #1 goal for businesses using content marketing.
- SEO: Search engines love fresh, high quality content that is linked to from other websites and is shared via social media. If you focus your content around long-tail keywords (and phrases) specific to your business, you’ll increase the chances of having content that is well ranked in organic search, which in turn will drive qualified inbound traffic. Tip: Don’t forget to include a call to action adjacent to your content.
- Cost effective: A survey by Hubspot shows that inbound marketing (of which content marketing is a part) is 60% less expensive than paid approaches (outbound marketing) for lead generation. This makes content marketing an excellent way for startups to maximize the return on their often limited marketing investment.
- Retention: A static website with quickly aging content is not particularly interesting for prospects or existing customers. In contrast, a site that provides new, engaging material on a regular basis is a real draw. If prospects visit your site regularly, they’re more likely to become customers. Furthermore, you’re more likely to retain existing customers if they find ongoing value by engaging with your company.
- Social media: Creating engaging content for your site provides you with valuable content to share via social media. Since the content resides on your website, you will drive traffic back to your site. Sure you can use social media to just share 3rd party content, but this typically drives traffic to their website, not yours.
- Build trust: When you create content that is informative, educational and helpful, you build trust and significant goodwill with your customers. You also demonstrate to your customers that you understand the market that you’re working in, giving them confidence in your company and products. This is critical given that startups typically face a significant confidence gap relative to established firms.
- Differentiation: Through the creation of valuable content you can set your company apart as an industry thought leader. This will differentiate you from competitors, even if your products are relatively similar. In addition, once you have a significant stock of content on your site, this creates an important barrier to entry. It will take significant time for competitors to build up their own online presence.
- Sales cycle: For many startups, a long sales cycle can be a killer. The great thing about content marketing is that it turns cold leads into warm leads. By engaging your prospects with relevant information, you’ll be educating future customers about your industry and market. Prospects will quickly move up the learning curve and feel more confident and comfortable about making a buying decision.
- Expertise: Creating content about your industry can be a valuable technique for building expertise. It forces you to conduct ongoing research, stay in-tune with the latest trends, and to seriously reflect on the issues you are writing about. Reflecting and writing ensures you are on the cutting edge in your space, which will help you stay ahead of your competitors.
One of the easiest ways to get started with content marketing is with a company blog. You can write original posts, provide your expert commentary on 3rd party articles (e.g., see Daring Fireball), or curate 3rd party articles on a particular topic (e.g., see Techmeme). Just remember, the key is to provide significant value to your prospects and customers, not to just write about the latest happenings at your company.
If you aren’t convinced yet about the importance of content marketing, check out this list of curated articles:
- 5 Reasons SMBs Need Content Marketing
- What are 4 Key Goals in content marketing
- Content Marketing for Startups
- Content Marketing Tactics Now Critical to All Businesses
- How to Build Your Business With Content
If you’re interested in staying current on the latest news about content marketing, you should follow @intigi on Twitter.
If you’re a tech founder, and want to learn about the latest tips for building a successful tech venture, you should follow @foundersnetwork.
About Michael J. Fern
Michael is the CEO, cofounder of Intigi. Intigi is an online service that helps marketers find, curate, and share engaging content so they can build their company’s thought leadership and increase qualified website traffic. To learn more, please visit http://intigi.com.
About Thue Lægdsgaard Madsen
Thue is a Social Media Intern at Founders Network and a Graduate Student at Copenhagen Business School. Founders Network offers peer mentorship to tech startup founders. To learn more, please visit http://foundersnetwork.com.