The Value of Content Marketing
Content. It’s arguably the most important piece of the digital marketing puzzle. It’s what your audience sees about your company and how they typically engage with your brand. Done correctly, content attracts prospects and drives interest with the goal of converting them to customers. It retains customers by consistently delivering relevant, high-quality content they value, like, share and follow.
With the right marketing content delivered at the right time, you can establish your brand as a trustworthy industry leader and expert, driving traffic to your website for a relatively low cost compared to other forms of marketing.
Here are just a few interesting statistics about content marketing:
- 90% of marketers already leveraging a content marketing plan will continue to invest the same amount into their content, and 66% say they will increase their content marketing budgets. Only 3% plan to decrease their budgets.- Content Marketing Institute
- 93% of buying cycles begin with a search engine. – Marketo
- Total demand for B2B content has risen 33% since 2019. – Chief Marketer
- Companies that deploy a content strategy see roughly 30% higher growth rates than companies without content marketing, and 47% of buyers view 3-5 pieces of content before they talk with a sales rep. Inbound marketing close rates are up to 10x those of outbound marketing, and companies with a blog generate 67% more leads than those without one. – Reforge
Content marketing works. But should you outsource it or write it in-house? Let’s take a look at what it entails.
Not All Content Is the Same
It’s easy to see that content is the foundation of most effective marketing strategies, but is it something you can do yourself or should you outsource it to an agency? First, it’s important to understand what types of content we are talking about here.
Content can come in multiple types, including blogs, webinars, videos, podcasts, infographics, social posts, etc. And those can offer up all kinds of formats.
Most desired content formats
Chief Marketer reports what people are attracted to most when it comes to content:
- eBooks – 43%
- Guides – 8%
- Cheat sheets – 8%
- Tips and tricks guides – 7%
- White papers – 7%
- Webinars – total buyer registrations increased 63% YOY and virtual event registrations increased by 139%
The key is to mix it up. You don’t want to only produce tips and tricks blogs. Your readers may get bored and you’ll lose viewers. Similarly, not everyone will take the time to read a long-form whitepaper. You don’t know exactly what every consumer is looking for at a precise moment in time, so you want to provide a variety of content formats and types to capture everyone where they are in their search intent.
Content Is Not a Once and Done
Content generation must be constant. Basically, you need a content engine, one that is capable of generating all types of content in a regular cadence. It’s not something you assign to someone when you think about it or you approach haphazardly, just throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping something sticks. It takes planning, data and analytics, and experienced marketers who know what works and what doesn’t.
You can create your own engine or rely on others to be that engine on your behalf.
eMarketer says 60% of marketers create at least one piece of content per day. But this all depends on your strategy and company type. For instance, smaller companies need around a blog a week to keep readers engaged, while larger companies often produce daily content to keep their industry-leader status.
No matter how often you post content, you can’t just push it out randomly and hope to reap the benefits. It’s a constant effort and takes time to generate results. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Keeping a content schedule is essential to building organic traffic (traffic that comes to your site from a search engine) and brand awareness. To get the most bang for your buck and efforts, you need to push out the right types of content regularly; it’s the only way to gain SEO momentum. Google algorithms start to notice you and your content gains traction, moving up on the search results so searchers find you.
And that’s the whole point of digital marketing: You want searchers to find you.
Consistent content helps all content and the overall site to perform better. You can create fresh content or refresh older content, but if you want to be seen, you have to get out there. It’s much like professional networking. If you don’t constantly put yourself out there, going to or creating events, booking appointments and building your network, you lose relevancy.
That’s a Lot of Content
As you can see, generating content is a full-time gig, and it’s often overwhelming if you don’t have comprehensive resources. Some companies have an in-house content team capable of continually delivering great content based on accurate data they have at their fingertips.
Others may have some resources but not all the bandwidth or analytics they need to create enough of the right content. And then many, especially startups and newer companies, don’t have any content experts on their team or marketing analytics tools and need to outsource completely.
One of the deciding factors of whether to write all of this content on your own or outsource comes down to resources. Generating a regular flow of content isn’t as easy as writing a blog and posting something on social media.
Content Is Not All the Same
Just because you’re generating content regularly doesn’t mean it’s the kind of content that’s going to make a difference in your marketing strategy. Anyone can say they can write a blog or an eBook, but will anyone read it? Does it have a chance to build brand awareness, build a fan base or lead to a conversion? It all depends.
The three most fundamental characteristics of content are:
1. Content has to be good.
Content has to be relevant, high-quality content that your audience will take the time to read, download, or listen to. It must be written well and provide value to the reader, often answering their questions and guiding them to a solution without being self-promotional. There is an art to it, and you can spend a lot of time and money creating content that no one pays much attention to because it’s either poorly written, irrelevant because it wasn’t based on data, or too salesy.
2. Content has to revolve around SEO.
For inbound marketing to work, SEO has to be the primary focus. SEO is about knowing what your audience is searching for and delivering content that serves up the answer in the most consumable way. You have to use specific SEO techniques, ones that get you noticed by Google algorithms so you get eyeballs on your content.
According to Search Engine Journal, content in the first position on page one of Google gets clicked on nearly 30% of the time. The second search result on page one gets 15% of the clicks, and the third result gets 11%. Tenth position? Only 2.5% of the clicks.
Where your content lands on Google search matters. And those algorithms aren’t static; they change continually, so you have to keep up.
3. Content must follow the buyer’s journey.
As we said, not all content will be relevant to everyone. To get the most impact out of your content, you have to understand your audience and where they are in the buyer’s journey. From there, you want to tailor content so it’s relevant to their current stage. For example, you don’t want to continually produce intro-level content when you have consumers already versed and looking for more in-depth content.
The Content Marketing Dilemma: Keep In-House or Outsource?
If you have the internal resources to produce such content at a regular cadence, you can likely keep the job in-house. Even so, it’s a good idea to consult with a digital marketing agency to make sure you’re on track. Are you getting the results you should? Are there any opportunities for improvement? Are you missing anything from your content strategy? An annual analysis can’t hurt.
But we find that most companies need a little more help. They may have some resources for certain marketing activities, but they lack dedicated content resources who really know what they’re doing and are getting the results they need to impact change.
You have a couple of options here. First, you can leverage an agency to help with certain aspects of your marketing strategy, such as writing blogs or managing your social media campaigns. Your internal resources can concentrate on what they do best and have the bandwidth to do well and let the outsourced agency or freelancers focus on the more repetitive tasks.
But you may want to outsource all of your marketing content to experts, relying on their resources to manage and deliver all of the content so you can focus on other things. You can still oversee the content, ensuring it’s an accurate reflection of your brand, but you don’t have to worry about the daily minutia of content delivery.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
Cost and Skills
Yes, outsourcing is a cost, but there is a massive cost to not doing marketing content well. And hiring your own team of content marketers can be expensive and hard to sustain over time.
ZipRecruiter says a Digital Content Manager’s salary ranges anywhere from $40k per year to over $90k per year in Austin (salary will depend on location). And that’s just someone who manages the content; they often are not the writers. Salary.com says the national average for a digital content writer is over $65k. That’s just one writer. You may need more than one at some point.
Outsourcing costs are highly dependent on the agency. They may offer packages for a certain price and/or you can pick and choose services on an as-needed basis.
And if you choose to hire freelance writers instead, you still need a content manager to manage the strategy and execution. Freelance writers may charge by the word or the project, and their rates will depend on their experience and the project scope.
No matter which direction you go, you need to make sure you have talent with the right skills working on your content. Not everyone is a good writer or understands SEO. Be certain whoever you hire has deep expertise in both.
Flexibility and Scalability
Digital marketing demands flexibility. Content must be dynamic, requiring your resources to “go with the flow” and deliver the types of content your audience demands right now. Your team, whether outsourced or in-house, must be able to adapt.
Many startups and newer companies realize they need help with their content marketing strategy and delivery for a while, but then as they grow, hire talent to fill some or all of those roles. The beauty of hiring an agency is that they will grow with you, offering just what you need right now without any long-term commitment. You can scale up or down or leave them altogether when needed.
It’s Worth Evaluating an Agency
Ultimately, deciding whether to outsource or write in-house is about resources and skills – resources in the context of people and budget, and skills in terms of how versed your people are with digital content marketing.
Are you confident you have the in-house team to continually execute high-quality, relevant and diverse content? If so, you’re likely set to keep the job in-house. If you can’t check all of those boxes, it’s best to leave it to experts who can. And even if you think you’ve got this content marketing thing down, it’s a good idea to compare your operating costs to run it in-house versus an agency. Then, compare the results you’re seeing doing it in-house with what an agency can prove they’re able to do for you. Only then can you be certain you’re making the right decision.
And if you’re wanting to start on the right footing or are ready to pass the baton to experts, an outsourced agency can help you design an effective content marketing strategy, among many other critical marketing strategies, and provide ongoing deliverables to help you reach your marketing objectives. Consider them an extension of your marketing team or a completely outsourced marketing department. Either way, you’ll have all the resources and tools you need to achieve the best results.
Contact Zilker Partners to learn more about our Digital Marketing services, including a full-service digital marketing agency you can outsource some or all of your digital marketing efforts and digital marketing recruiting if you’re ready to hire your own digital marketing team.