The Content “Halo Effect”

What is the effect on SMBs of your content marketing? Does it simply drive awareness or leads, or can it go deeper? To answer this question, we recently surveyed over 500 U.S. SMB principals on what content marketing can motivate them to do, or how it can change the way they think about your brand. The learnings might surprise you.

Trust

More than three in five SMBs (62%) agree or strongly agree with the statement “After I have read or viewed marketing content (without having to provide my contact information), I have a better feeling toward the company that sponsored it.” In a word, content marketing generates trust. The number decreases to two in five (42%) when registration is required, but either way, content marketing can be an effective way to create goodwill towards your brand.

Transactions

More than half of SMBs (56%) agree or strongly agree with the statement “I am more likely to do business with the sponsoring company after reading or viewing their marketing content.” In brief, content marketing generates sales. It is especially powerful if your content includes a link to your relevant offerings; 55% agree that they are “more likely to make a purchase if the marketing content links to product information.” Not all of your content should be product-specific, of course, if it is, be sure to link to relevant product pages and promotions.

Following up

Three in five SMBs (61%) believe that the content sponsor will follow up with them if they provide contact information, i.e., if they register for the content. Almost as many (56%) agree with the statement “By providing my contact information, I give the sponsoring company permission to contact me.” And two in five (39%) agree with the statement “I want to be contacted by the sponsoring company.” That’s good news for you; when a prospect registers for your content, they expect, and many even want, you to follow up with them.

When you do follow up, SMBs prefer an email with a special offer or discount. 62% want that option, followed by “email with content on a related topic” (56%) and to “be subscribed to an email newsletter” (44%). A little over one-third want a phone call.

The spice of life

SMBs vary widely in their responses; the survey results vary significantly among sub-segments. For example, businesses with fewer than 20 employees, businesses expecting no growth in 2014, businesses more than 10 years old, and respondents over 49 years old are generally significantly less likely than their peers to be responsive to content marketing. Don’t treat your audience as if it is one homogenous group.

Our report, Content Marketing for SMB Lead Gen, has many more insights on developing and promoting content to improve brand awareness and perception, and to generate leads, site traffic and sales. It also has insights on how SMB preferences vary by company size, industry, age, growth rate and location, as well as respondent age and gender, to help you optimize your content marketing approach for your specific audience.

About Stu Richards

Stu is responsible for setting Bredin strategy, as well as day-to-day management of company operations including marketing and business development, partnerships and alliances, product development, finance, operations and HR. A frequent speaker on marketing to SMBs, Stu has more than a decade of technology sales and brand marketing experience at IBM and Nabisco Brands. Stu holds an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College.