15 Benefits of Content Marketing: Why It’s Recession Proof
According to Forbes experts, there’s a 70% chance of an economic downturn or recession in 2023. While recessions are a normal part of the economic cycle, they can still have serious implications for businesses — especially marketers.
In times of economic contraction, marketers often must either justify their budgets or achieve more with smaller budgets.
So, they need to be more creative and focus on investing their time, energy, and resources into channels and strategies that provide tangible growth and a sustainable return on investment (ROI).
Enter content marketing.
Content marketing is one of the most effective and reliable marketing strategies for many businesses. When done well, it does much more than drive conversions and support revenue growth. Let’s take a closer look.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a strategy that involves consistently creating and sharing valuable content with your target audience. The ultimate goal is to generate leads and convert readers into customers.
Content marketing vs. digital marketing
Digital marketing refers to all the ways you can advertise and promote your brand on the internet, including content marketing. However, digital marketing also involves tactics that are more obviously geared toward conversions, such as paid ads and social media promotions.
In contrast, content marketing is more subtle. It focuses on educating and engaging readers first in order to build a relationship that eventually results in a conversion.
Advantages and disadvantages of content marketing
Like any strategy, content marketing has its pros and cons. If you want to figure out what’s right for you, it’s important to consider them.
In terms of advantages, content marketing can offer:
Improved search engine optimization (SEO) results
Credibility and trust with your target audience
Increased customer loyalty
That said, this strategy can involve more work or complexity.
Here are some of the biggest challenges businesses experience with content marketing:
Calculating content marketing ROI can have a higher learning curve
Finding quality content creators can be difficult
It can take longer to see results
Why is content marketing important in 2023?
Content marketing is about more than just bringing in new customers. It can help strengthen your brand and increase customer loyalty, both of which will be important as we move into a period of economic contraction.
In fact, the 2022 Content Marketing Institute (CMI) B2B Research Report found that 50% of respondents expect their B2B content marketing budget to increase in 2023, despite the high chance of a recession.
So what makes content marketing worth investing in during a year when the economy is contracting?
As we move further into 2023, B2C and B2B customers may be looking for ways to cut costs and eliminate unnecessary spending. Businesses will be challenged with keeping their hard-earned customers from churning.
That means marketers need strategies that can increase customer acquisition and retention. A content marketing approach supports both goals. It can bring in more leads at the top of the sales funnel and help maintain strong relationships with existing customers.
15 benefits of content marketing
Increased organic traffic
Better lead generation
Passive sales funnel growth
Trust and credibility
Improved customer relationships
More brand awareness
Larger social media presence
Support for the entire sales funnel
Higher brand loyalty
Improved conversion rates
Is content marketing right for you in 2023? Here’s a closer look at all the benefits a well-executed content marketing strategy can have for your business.
1. Improved SEO
One content marketing benefit is that it lends itself well to SEO efforts. When you consistently publish relevant and high-quality content, you ultimately create more opportunities to appear on search engines.
While blog posts often make up the core of your organic traffic, they’re not the only assets that can boost your SEO. Other types of content can appear in search results, such as case studies, white papers, infographics, and videos.
By publishing blog posts and other content-oriented pages, you give search engines more website pages to index, which increases your presence on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Without content marketing, your brand’s visibility on search engines may be limited to your homepage, pricing page, and product pages. A 2022 HubSpot study found that companies with blogs had 434% more indexed pages on Google.
Having more indexed pages also gives Google more context about your brand and which topics/keywords to associate it with. That helps the algorithm better understand and identify opportunities to show your website to people searching.
2. Increased organic traffic
Publishing content that ranks high on SERPs can drive more organic traffic to your website. The same HubSpot study revealed that companies with active blogs received 55% more traffic than those without.
In a recession year, the ability to use an inbound marketing approach to drive traffic to your website without paid ads can be a serious competitive advantage.
While paid ads may deliver faster results, you have to keep funding them if you want sustained performance. On the other hand, organic search traffic is much more sustainable and scalable.
Evergreen content pieces that stay in the top positions on SERPs can continue to bring new visitors to your website years after they were first published.
You can use content optimization tools like Clearscope to determine how to deliver the most relevant content for your target keywords and help your content rank higher.
3. Better lead generation
Besides supporting SEO efforts, content marketing works well as a lead generation strategy for your sales funnel and other effective marketing channels, such as social media and email.
In CMI’s annual report, 67% of content marketers said they were successful in building demand for their products and generating leads.
At this point, you might be wondering how content marketing can be so effective at driving leads if it’s not as conversion-oriented as strategies like paid ads.
First, it brings more people to your website. The more people at the top of the funnel, the more opportunities to convert. And second, content marketing has roots in the idea of providing free value, which gives users a tangible reason to stay engaged with your brand.
4. Passive sales funnel growth
Content marketing assets aren’t limited in the same ways that individual sales representatives are. For instance, hundreds of people can read one piece of content at the same time, and they can access it even when your offices are closed.
This means you don’t need to expand your sales team to drive the bottom line. You can be more effective with your existing team.
DemandGen’s 2022 Content Preferences Survey found that 72% of B2B customers interact with at least three pieces of content before connecting with a salesperson. Consumers still want to get to know the brands they buy from. They’re just changing how they learn about you.
Blog posts and other content pieces can start to build relationships with potential customers (especially those in the early to middle stages of the funnel) and generate leads. Meanwhile, your team can focus on higher-impact activities.
5. Trust and credibility
When the economy contracts, trust becomes an even more valuable commodity for businesses. Brands that can position themselves as credible allies have a better chance of keeping existing customers and driving new sales.
While some digital marketing tactics are excellent at grabbing attention, content marketing takes the cake for credibility and relationship building. A whopping 77% of content marketers in the CMI survey said their strategies helped them build more trust with their audience.
Online content is one of the principal ways consumers begin to build relationships with brands now, and sharing relevant content helps you build trust with potential customers.
You can use your content to position yourself as an expert and highlight trust signals, such as customer results, testimonials, and reviews. Case studies are especially helpful because they leverage actual performance and word-of-mouth marketing.
Finally, every piece of content represents an opportunity for you to prove you understand your target audience and its pain points. The more you provide relevant value and prove your expertise on topics that affect them, the more they can trust your brand.
6. Brand authority
Another benefit of creating and sharing valuable content is the boost you receive in your brand’s perceived authority. Over time, publishing content on topics related to your products and services helps position your company as a knowledgeable expert in the industry.
Here are some different ways you can use content to build authority:
Provide answers to your target audience’s most common questions
Conduct surveys or studies and publish the results
Collaborate with other authoritative brands
Showcase your in-house experts
Topical authority and perceived expertise provide several advantages, such as higher credibility and more accurate brand associations. Both help ensure that your brand gets exposed to the right potential customers.
Plus, readers who view you as an authority in the industry may be more likely to trust your products and services.
7. Competitive advantage
Establishing yourself as a content marketing leader in your industry is an effective way to create and maintain a unique advantage over competitors.
In the CMI study, the most successful content marketers significantly outperformed their counterparts in key performance metrics like lead generation and loyalty.
Here’s how the top performers compare with others:
66% of top performers effectively nurtured leads (compared to 54% average)
62% of top performers generated more leads (compared to 42% average)
59% of top performers improved brand loyalty (compared to 44% average)
Over time, the ability to generate leads, nurture them throughout the customer journey, and win more loyal customers will set your brand apart from others.
8. Improved customer relationships
Companies that want to remain competitive moving forward need to master the ability to build and nurture relationships online.
Data forecasts show that the e-commerce portion of U.S. retail sales will increase to 21.9% by 2025. As more shoppers are researching and making purchases online, opportunities to build in-person relationships may not be as available.
Content helps fill this gap by giving your potential and existing customers a way to interact with your brand on their own time and terms. Your content marketing strategy can help you establish a personality and tone for your online presence so customers find it easier to relate to your brand.
9. More brand awareness
An increase in brand awareness may be one of the most significant benefits of content marketing. In fact, 83% of the content marketers in CMI’s survey noticed this benefit.
An effective content marketing strategy improves brand awareness in several ways.
First, higher visibility on SERPs gets more eyes on your brand as people search for related keywords. Even if people don’t always click on your link, they’ll see your brand name on the results page and start to associate you with the right keywords.
Second, appearing higher in relevant SERPs can improve your chances of receiving more backlinks, mentions, and citations in another brand’s content. When other brands cite your content in their posts, your perceived authority increases.
Third, continually pushing out high-quality content can establish you as an influential thought leader in your industry. This can lead to opportunities like interviews, panels, and guest posting engagements that display your brand to a larger audience.
10. Larger social media presence
When the economy contracts, brands benefit from connecting directly with their target audience.
The CMO Survey from 2022 shows that 41.4% of chief marketing officers (CMOs) began selling directly on social media in the past three years.
As the line dividing e-commerce and social media continues to blur, brands are seeing more financial gains from increasing their social media presence and followings.
If you want to boost social media growth, content marketing can help with that, too. Publishing relevant content increases your brand’s shareability on social media.
Someone who wants to share an interesting article, video, or infographic that you posted has just exposed your brand to their audience, which gives you a wider reach.
11. Support for the entire sales funnel
Great content can be useful to customers at each stage of their journey, from discovering your brand to gathering information and making a purchase.
In particular, content marketing can help you:
Respond to customer objections
Showcase results of existing customers
Highlight positive reviews and experiences
Generate demand for your products or services
Answer questions about your products or services
Demonstrate use cases for your products or services
Provide examples of the benefits your customers receive
A 2022 Wyzowl survey found that video is especially effective: 88% of consumers decided to buy a brand’s product or service after watching a video.
Video is an excellent way to show your product in action or provide tutorials that help existing users get the most out of your product.
Not to mention, creating useful content for each funnel stage also requires you to continually learn more about your customers' goals, pain points, and objections.
12. Higher brand loyalty
Great content can be especially helpful in supporting customers after they’ve made a purchase. The CMI report found that 63% of content marketers had success with using content to build customer loyalty.
In a practical sense, content can help customers onboard, troubleshoot, and get the most value out of your product or service.
Beyond that, content that helps people achieve their goals or be better at their jobs can continue to strengthen that customer relationship and result in higher trust and more loyalty.
This will be especially relevant for brands if we head into a recession. Customers may be looking for ways to cut their spending. But you can take steps to avoid customer attrition by building loyalty and reinforcing the value of your product.
13. Improved conversion rates
Besides generating more leads and organic traffic, an effective content strategy can improve conversion rates and drive more bottom-line growth in a few ways.
Specifically, content marketing helps you bring more qualified leads to your website because you’re creating content for specific buyer personas.
You also can tailor content to attract users based on geography, job title, industry, use case, and other characteristics. By doing so, your readers and potential customers end up filtering themselves. As a result, the most relevant audience members continue engaging with your website.
Plus, combining content marketing with SEO enables you to specifically target high-intent search keywords and capture more of the users who are ready to make a purchase.
You can leverage conversion-oriented content that asks for the sale in a lower-pressure way (as compared to sales meetings and ads). But you’ve earned more goodwill with your customers by first providing value with your content marketing.
In essence, you’ve given first, making your call to action (CTA) feel more reasonable and relevant.
During a period of economic downturn, marketing budgets tend to be one of the first to decline. According to The CMO Survey, marketing departments received 13.2% of an organization’s entire budget in 2021. But that was down to 8.7% in September 2022.
You can still build an effective strategy while keeping content marketing costs low, though. It doesn’t necessarily require paid distribution, unlike search engine marketing’s pay-per-click (PPC) ads or social media ads.
Content optimized for SEO can gain traction and continue to reach your target audience for several months and years after the first publication. In contrast, ads only last as long as you fund them, and other pieces eclipse social media posts on news feeds almost instantly.
During times of recession, your previous content marketing efforts can still generate leads and build brand awareness without the need to pay for ads.
You also can reformat and redistribute one piece of content, so you get more results out of your initial investment. For instance, you can use a webinar to create a blog post, shorter video clips, and infographics.
Creating a regular process and brand templates can streamline these efforts and further increase the cost-effectiveness of content creation.
15. Educated buyers
Having uneducated buyers and unqualified leads in your sales funnel can drain resources. Sales reps have to spend more time qualifying leads or answering frequently asked questions.
However, if your leads have already been interacting with your content, they’ll have a better idea of what your product does, who it’s meant for, and how to use it.
In fact, 72% of the marketers in the CMI survey said their content marketing strategy helped them successfully educate their audience.
Educated buyers are also more likely to turn into satisfied customers since they have more realistic expectations and a better understanding of how to get the most out of your product.
Final thoughts: 15 benefits of content marketing and why you should use it
Recessions force businesses to identify and focus on the activities that drive the most value. When customers look for ways to reduce spending, you need a marketing plan that can generate new business and help you hold on to the customers you’ve already won.
A good content marketing strategy can deliver sustainable sales funnel growth, increase customer loyalty, and support your business in good economic times and bad.
If you’re ready to take your SEO content marketing to the next level, explore Clearscope to eliminate the guesswork and start getting more from your content.
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