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Why content marketing makes a better long-term investment than paid advertising
For many businesses, paid advertising is the bread and butter when it comes to generating conversions and revenue online. The problem is that by investing time and money in paid ads, many online businesses are missing out on the huge potential returns that a long-term content marketing strategy could bring.
In 2012, there were six times more display ads shown online than there were web pages on the entire internet. That equates to 2502 ads per internet user.  A little overkill, don’t you think? With so many ads vying for their attention, people are looking for truly valuable information instead, so much so that consumers are spending 50% of their online time checking out custom content . Your existing paid advertising may well be performing well, but have you considered that a content marketing strategy could perform better?
Why content marketing works
There are a multitude of ways in which content marketing can help you to boost your online presence and increase sales. Having a solid content marketing strategy in place allows you to kill several birds with one stone, something which paid advertising simply can’t do. Let’s start by taking a look at exactly why content marketing works.
A major part of any SEO strategy should be producing fresh, quality content. If you’re already doing this as part of a content marketing strategy, you’re onto a winner – all you have to do is optimise that fresh new content with your keywords.
More conversion potential
With paid advertising, you’re usually limited to short, sharp and demanding sales messages to call customers to action in order to achieve conversions. With content marketing, you have the opportunity to tap into an audience which is desperate for valuable content whilst providing tactful sales messages that can lead to conversions along the way.
Improve your brand’s rep
Content marketing is an opportunity to show off your brand’s knowledge and personality. It can help your audience get to know you better and to make them see you as a trustworthy, reliable source of information, products and services. If you also work on a social media content marketing strategy to expand the reach of your content, you will show your customers that you’re a well-known, established and trustworthy brand, which will further improve your reputation.
It works for every business
B2B and B2C content marketing strategies may look very different on paper, but they can both produce the same fantastic results. B2B content marketing may focus more on industry news and developments, with businesses focusing on demonstrating their advanced understanding of industry-specific topics in order to position themselves as authority figures. In contrast, B2C content is often more informal and entertaining, with the main goal being to inspire and excite consumers and to position their products as aspirational. Despite these differences, the ultimate goal for both B2B and B2C content marketing is to speak to the customers’ needs and to bring value to the brand and business through truly useful and engaging content.
Stats on content marketing and its effectiveness
The big question is, does content marketing really work? These stats do all the talking:
1. Adopters of content marketing report conversion rates almost six times higher than non-adopters (2.9% vs just 0.5%). 
2. 80% of B2B customers want to continue receiving and consuming content after they have completed a sale, suggesting that a B2B content marketing spend is crucial. 
3. 70% of consumers prefer to get to know a brand based on content rather than ads. 
4. Blogs can give websites up to 434% more indexed pages and up to 97% more indexed links. 
5. 78% of consumers think that brands are more interesting, building good relationships, when they produce good content. 
It’s not just blogs or articles that should be a part of your content marketing strategy though – video and social media play a huge role too.
Video content effectiveness
Video can help you to reach your audience more directly in a world in which attention spans are short and the demand for information in video form is high. It can also help you to showcase your products and services more efficiently. The following video content marketing stats  demonstrate just how effective and valuable video can be in attracting customers and getting those all-important conversions.
- Video on landing pages can boost conversion rates by 80%.
- Companies experience 41% more traffic when they use video compared to those who don’t.
- Companies that use video grow revenue 59% faster year-on-year than those who don’t.
- 40% of consumers say that video increases the chance of them making a mobile purchase.
- Video can increase organic traffic from search engines by up to 157%.
The impact of social media content marketing
We mentioned earlier that content marketing is helpful for SEO and can boost your search visibility and therefore organic traffic to your site, but if you combine it with an effective social media content marketing strategy, you can expose your carefully crafted content to even more eyes. Not only that, but having a presence on social media has a whole host of important benefits. It helps you to build better relationships with your customers by giving you a platform to directly interact with them. It also lets you show off your customer service skills in a public place, which can give your brand an even bigger boost.
33% of millennials identify social media as one of the most preferred methods of communicating with a brand, which suggests that increasing numbers of consumers are expecting businesses to be active and engaged on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Social media sites account for 23% of all time spent online  – social platforms are exactly where your target audience is, and where you should be sharing your content to get it exposed to as many people as possible.
Content marketing return on investment
So, we’ve outlined all the fantastic benefits of content marketing, but let’s get to the nitty-gritty – is it cheaper than advertising and will it provide a good ROI in comparison with paid online advertising?
The simple answer is ‘yes.’ Research has found that content marketing costs around 62% less than traditional marketing methods. Not only that, but it generates roughly three times as many leads.
The reason content marketing is such a valuable investment is that it can generate long-term assets and compound returns. Leaders in content marketing report that year-on-year growth of unique traffic is as high at 19.7% . Unlike with paid advertising campaigns which generate returns without creating new assets, content marketing allows you to gain an asset to your brand each time a new piece of content is created and released. In time, each piece of content will receive more and more views, more shares on social media and more backlinks from other sites. In turn, your search presence and domain authority will both improve, and all of this means more eyes on your brand and more conversions. It’s a similar situation for social media content marketing too; you can gradually build up your social audience over months and years, and see a gradually increasing ROI with each new post or status you publish.
Paid advertising costs both time and money, because someone has to manage your advertising campaign and you then have to shell out for clicks or impressions. You may get some immediate results, but it’s not a long-term investment. If instead you focus on investing in content marketers, you will receive a huge amount of expertise from copywriters, designers, developers, SEO strategists and social media specialists, and you also build up a fantastic portfolio of truly valuable content that will generate compound returns over months and years. When you look at it this way, content marketing is by far a more efficient investment for the long-term future of your business.
In terms of how much real return your business will get from content marketing, it all comes down to the amount of time and investment you’re able to put into your strategy and the quality and efficacy of your content. To give you an idea of what a successful ROI looks like, look to Julie Fleischer, former senior director of data, content and media at Kraft Foods. She claimed that Kraft’s content marketing ROI was four times larger than that of their most targeted advertising campaigns. 
It’s clear then that content marketing, when looked at as a long-term strategy and done well, can offer fantastic compound returns if you play the long game. Treat your content like assets and focus on steady, gradual engagement with your audience, rather than bombarding them with brash and expensive paid advertising which has little long-term payoff.