Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Content marketing may be a relatively new term, but there’s nothing new about the concept. Rather than producing material designed to generate direct sales, it’s about creating content that offers value to the person consuming it.

Good content should seek to entertain, educate or empower.

In the past this could be done via magazines or direct mail, but this can be costly and isn’t easily accessible to SMEs. However, with the rise of social media and blogging, every business can also be a publisher and reap the benefits of content marketing.

Here are 5 reasons to ensure content is a core part of your marketing plans:

1. Web traffic

If you’re looking to drive more traffic to your website, content is a must. Having more content on your website means many more opportunities for potential customers to find you!

Websites with blogs have an average of 434% more indexed pages than those without, and each of those pages will have specific keywords relating to your industry. On top of this, Google tends to prioritise fresh content, so if you have a static website with no new pages you could be missing out on a lot of search traffic.

2. Brand awareness

Content is a great way to spread the word and introduce your business to new audiences. As well as increased search traffic (as mentioned above), it can also help to get your customers sharing and talking about your business with their wider networks. Their network may then go on to share it, and so on…

When content snowballs in this manner, you can reach an audience of thousands without spending a penny on advertising.

3. Industry reputation

You understand your business better than anyone, so share your knowledge and show off your expertise! Before long, people will come to view you as a leader in your field and you’ll reap the benefits of all the extra credibility that comes with a strong and trustworthy reputation.

4. Build loyalty

You don’t want your customers to buy from you once and disappear – you want them to keep on coming back for more! That means building a relationship and maintaining regular contact so that the next time they’re looking for the product or service you offer, you’re already front of mind. Fresh content offers a perfect opportunity to reach out to your existing customers with something they’ll find useful or enjoy.

5. Generate leads

Ultimately, the reason for any marketing activity is to generate new business and whilst content marketing isn’t suited to direct sales, it can be a fantastic source of leads. If you offer content of genuine value, consumers will often be willing to share their contact details in order to access it. Once you’ve collected these contact details then email marketing can be used to follow up with them and (hopefully) convert them into customers.

Are you using content as part of your marketing plan? What results have you seen? Let us know in the comments or contact us on Twitter – @CTCTUK