Businesses today are searching for meaningful ways to connect with customers.

People are weary of “hard sell” tactics and wary of what they perceive as sales pitches. So, how do businesses bridge the gap between the products and services they offer and the barrier many have erected against standard marketing practices?

The answer is content marketing.

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.

Here are five reasons why content marketing improves your bottom line.

1. Thought Leadership

People are bombarded with information every day, much of it meaningless, so they tune it out.

Good content means providing useful information to your target audience that proves you understand their needs and have solutions that eliminate their pain.

Social Media B2B reports authenticity is the key to thought leadership. You need to acquire the necessary knowledge and provide B2B buyers with purposeful, practical advice.

In this area, size really does matter.

Increasingly, the trend is towards long-form content, which can be in the form of blogs, eBooks or case studies, for example.

According to searchenginepeople, long-form content is in excess of 1000 words, which provides the space needed for comprehensive, in-depth information.

Our clients are reporting a dramatic increase in one-to-one connections from readers of their content. In particular, blog posts that encourage dialogue have created an opportunity to connect – often starting out with a virtual coffee and ultimately leading to a business opportunity.

2. Content Marketing Builds Trust and Positive Customer Engagement

Who doesn’t want a relationship with a company they can trust?

When you show people you care about their problems and offer information that helps them make better decisions or solve a problem, you’re on your way to building a meaningful relationship based on trust.

Customers who find your content over and over while searching for advice begin to think of your company as an authority on how to solve their problem and begin to trust what you have to say.

Key Difference Media found that 78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships.

Business 2 Community reports brands that use content marketing effectively use it to help build trust in their brand, as well as generate extra website traffic from organic search results.

Providing valuable content, therefore, offers a richer opportunity to build and maintain relationships with customers.

3. More Website Traffic

If you build it, they will come. Or will they?

You bet. If, of course, you’re providing content your customers want. Good content ups the odds that people will visit your website through:

• Direct traffic from your established audience
• Traffic referred by people who love your content
• Ad-words campaigns targeted to your ideal audience
• Your content optimized through search engines, and
• Content that is shared on social media

HubSpot discovered that the more blog posts companies published per month, the more traffic they saw on their website. Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies that published between 0-4 monthly posts.

4. More Leads

Getting more leads as a result of higher website traffic just makes sense.

The more people are exposed to your content, the more they see how great your business is, not only because of your product or service but, more importantly, because of the time and effort you’ve taken to provide useful information.

Although producing fresh content more often drives website traffic, those older posts will also continue to generate value, too. Evergreen content means content that you can use over and over. It is just as valuable in 12 or 24 months as it was the day you posted it.

According to HubSpot, older posts will continue working for you long after they’re published. If you’re producing relevant, valuable content, then people will find your old blog posts in search, on social media, and through links on other websites – and some of those other visitors could convert into leads.

5. More Sales

Brian Sutter, in an article written for Forbes, says the “teach, don’t sell” approach is what makes content marketing work. The idea of content marketing is not to swamp people with ads or pitches; it’s to give useful, relevant information.

Although it sounds counter-intuitive, focusing on providing terrific, free content, or what Sutter calls “content marketing that is sales agnostic”, can result in a sale.

According to searchenginepeople, 77% of Internet users read blogs, and 61% had their decision to purchase influenced by a blog.

So, why does content marketing improve your bottom line? By becoming a thought leader in your sector:

• You establish yourself as credible and trustworthy to your audience;
• This drives more traffic to your website and creates the opportunity to generate leads;
• People come to trust your content, and will likely turn to you first when they need what you sell.

Do you want to generate buzz on a budget?

Mercer-MacKay’s unique program, Buzz on a Budget, helps technology companies – like yours – establish a consistent rhythm with content marketing and develop a social muscle with minimal investment.