Content marketing is an absolute must for your business in the 21st century. Marketing and advertising are changing drastically, and in an evolutionary process of natural selection, it’s either sink, or swim.

Content marketing is a key part of executing an effective marketing strategy and can be instrumental in driving the continued growth and success of your business. Creating and sharing relevant, impactful content that provides value to your audience is the ultimate objective in a content marketing campaign. Great content marketing will pay for itself many times over by engaging your audience, growing your audience, and earning their attention and trust. When this is achieved, your business will be top-of-mind, naturally leading your audience to making purchases from your business.

Effective content marketing for small business owners can be the difference between stagnation and snowballing growth. In order to accomplish this, your online content marketing strategy needs to identify content that your audience will find beneficial to their lives.

Below, we’ve listed five reasons why your business needs content marketing, and how content marketing will help to transform your brand’s strategy and aid growth at relatively little cost to you.

1). An Affordable Way to Expand Your Audience

When your content marketing campaign is in full-throttle, its relevance and value will attract prospective clients and expand your audience. You can fight and pay for readers, followers and site visitors, or you can craft a content marketing strategy that captures the attention of a broader audience and sends visitors flocking to your site. Content marketing is so great because instead of paying for a non-existent or irrelevant audience, you’ll get connected with a receptive audience eager to engage with you.

2). Build Strong, Lasting Relationships with Your Audience

Businesses with the ability to consistently add value to the lives of their prospects and clients will establish strong, meaningful, lasting relationships with their audiences. It’s not enough to just to expand your audience and have 100,000 followers—you have to build a relationship and connect with your audience on a personal level. Demonstrating your value and commitment to the B2C relationship through a content marketing campaign your audience will engage with on a regular basis will help you maintain close ties and an ongoing relationship with your customers.

3). Establish Credibility and a Positive Reputation in Your Market

The ubiquity of Internet has given the average consumer the knowledge and power to better understand products and resist traditional sales pitches. Establishing credibility and a positive reputation in your respective industry will go a long way. Sarah Smith, PhD, a content marketing specialist and former marketing professor at Missouri State University, notes that studies show the majority of consumers prefer to learn about both companies and products through articles, not advertisements.[1]

4). Improve Content & Search Engine Rankings

A happy consequence of a killer content marketing plan is that you’ll have more high-quality content floating around, which search engine algorithms will respond to by improving your website’s ranking. As its name suggests, content is the key component of content marketing, and a successful content marketing strategy will fill your website with relevant, timely, useful content—all while bumping you up in search engine rankings.

5). Convert Your Audience into Paying Customers

Utilizing content marketing as a means of converting your audience into paying customers is a highly effective, sustainable strategy. Content marketing will help automate your broader sales and marketing plan, and yield compounding results through referrals and repeat business. By continually presenting your audience with content that is both practical and helpful, your business will grow its audience, earn a reputation for trust and excellence, educate prospective customers, and position itself to close more new, repeat, and referral sales.