Aside from asking the obvious ‘What the hell is content marketing and why do I need it?’ perhaps the most common question people have when they’re first acquainting themselves with the wonders of using content to promote their businesses is ‘How does it work?’

Given how much potential your content has as a marketing device it can be seriously tough to understand how so much can be possible through the simple creation and sharing of blog posts, or vlogs, or podcasts, or whatever form of content you prefer.

Exactly why does content marketing work?

What is it about giving people free content that so effectively converts them into paying clients?

Well, first and foremost it’s important to understand that the conversion part of content marketing doesn’t magically happen of its own accord. 

There are a lot of components to content marketing, it’s complex, and as I like to repeatedly mention, it’s a long-game.

So while it’s incredibly effective, it’s only incredibly effective if you do it well and consistently. You have to do the work. But if you do the work, and do it well, content marketing works like magic.

But let’s say you’re up for that. Let’s say you’re totally prepared to learn exactly what to do and put in the work (or pay someone else to do the work for you), as long as it genuinely gets the results you want. It’s perfectly natural if, before you make that investment, you really just what to understand the WHY behind it all…

Why Content Marketing Works Like Magic

#1 It Consistently Drives Traffic To Your Website

The charm of content marketing really begins with traffic.

Creating consistent online content is the only way to drive traffic to your website without paying a fortune for adverts and the only way to ensure the people finding your site have enough to convince them to buy from you.

Which means that even if you’re happy to pay for traffic, you still need content.

So really, you might as well create content that effectively drives traffic to your site.

There are three main ways your content drives traffic, all of them important for a well-rounded content marketing strategy:

  1. Optimising your posts for search using effective SEO on every piece of content.
  2. Sharing your content on your social media networks and via email marketing.
  3. Networking with relevant ideal clients and professionals within your niche, and sharing your content with them.

While all three are effective, and ideally you should use a mix of the three in your strategy, SEO is the one you really want to focus on. It is the most powerful way to drive traffic, period.

#2 It Provides Real, Tangible Value To Your Clients

Here’s a simple truth: people are happier to buy something from you if they already know what they’re getting, know it’s good, and know they want more.

Content is like cheese in this respect, and I actually refer to this as ‘The Cheese Mentality’.

If you’ve ever been wandering the supermarket, had a quick nibble on a free sample of cheese, realised it’s delicious, and immediately picked up a pack and put it in your basket, you understand The Cheese Mentality.

Providing your ideal clients with something, completely free of charge, that brings them real value in a tangible (and preferably actionable) way is a surefire way to establish you in their thoughts as a helpful business, as a problem-solving business, as a proactive business that can make their lives simpler, easier, happier, healthier, funnier, more abundant, less stressful, or whatever special genius your products/services are capable of achieving for them.

And once they get a taste, they’re going to want more.

Just like a nice piece of cheese.

(I am aware that not everyone likes cheese…frankly I find this baffling as it’s my favourite food, but if you’re not a person with my mouse-like proclivities, do feel free to substitute the cheese metaphor with whatever tasty morsel you happen to have a penchant for.)

#3 It Builds Your Email List

An effective content marketing strategy will not only provide lots of free content, but plenty of extra content that links to it, which is available for the small price of handing over an email address and subscribing to the almighty list.

Building your email list allows you to nurture relationships with prospects and market to them directly. It’s perhaps the most valuable asset you can build for your business, and the only way to do it is with content.

Content that gets you found, so people can subscribe, content that gets them interested enough that they want to hear more from you, and content that they really, really want and are happy to subscribe to get.

If all you had to do at the supermarket to get more cheese was hand over your email, you’d do it in a heartbeat, am I right?

#4 It Demonstrates The Value Of Your Offers

A lot of the time when people buy something it’s something they’ve known for a while they needed. It’s not difficult to convince people to buy what you’re offering when they already know they need it, all you have to do is demonstrate you have what they need and are the right person to get it from.

While that’s not always simple, it’s considerably simpler than convincing someone to buy something from you when they don’t know what it is, what it does, why they might want or need it, or how it could possibly make their lives better.

A lot of the time, converting clients begins with showing them why they need what you have, because they’re not aware they need it.

That’s not to say you’re tricking them into getting things they don’t need! Rather, they are usually aware they have a problem, but they have no idea how to go about fixing it.

They don’t know that what you’re offering exists. Or if they do, they aren’t fully aware that it’s the solution to this issue they have.

Other times they are genuinely unaware of the problem, usually because they’re so used to it that it feels unavoidable, inevitable, and it’s never occurred to them to look for something to fix it, they simply accept it as a fact of life.

Your content is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the value of what you’re offering in the sense of the problem it will solve, and the way it will improve people’s lives. It doesn’t matter if that improvement is simply by providing them with a few minutes of entertainment, or totally transforming their lives, whatever you’re offering has the potential to make things better.

Your content allows you to show people how.

Beyond that, it’s the chance to demonstrate exactly how good it is at doing whatever it is it does, and why it’s worth the price you are asking for it.

Whatever that price is, whether it’s a big ticket item or a very small amount, people need to know that it’s worth spending money on.

Any amount of money.

Your content is the perfect forum for demonstrating your product or service, sharing case studies and success stories, or social proof in the form of testimonials.

#5 It Positions You As A Thought-Leader In Your Niche

People like to know that the businesses they buy from and work with know what they’re talking about. They are comforted by the demonstration of expertise that comes from content, and the fact they’re able to get a very clear understanding of your business ethos and level of knowledge.

Content is a constant opportunity to show people you really know what you’re talking about.

More than that, it’s a chance to distinguish yourself. To go beyond simply showing you know stuff, and show that you know original stuff, that you’re innovative, that you have different and better ways of doing things.

That not only are people in safe hands buying from you and working with you, the products or services they will get are unavailable elsewhere, because nobody does this quite like you do.

If all this sounds like great stuff that you really seriously need in your business as soon as humanly possible, check out my book, Divine Blogging, which provides you with a step-by-step guide to using my own signature content marketing service to supercharge your business. And if it all sounds great but like an awful lot of hard work, don’t worry, I’ll happily do it all for you…

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Hazel is an author, copywriter, content marketer and blogger. She specialises in helping creative entrepreneurs, coaches and small business owners harness the power of the pen (or keyboard!) to market their products and services through soulful selling. She's had several academic papers published internationally, and featured on sites such as The Huffington Post. In addition to her professional work as a writer, Hazel is also a fiction author. She has published several books and short stories, including The Uber Author Planner, Chasing Azrael, a Urban Fantasy novel, and Bleizgeist, a Dark Fantasy novella. Hazel has a regular weekly column on Sci-Fi Fantasy Network, and is currently working on her next novel, Death Becomes Me.