Content marketing may be all the rage, but in reality it’s even more important to your business than you might think. That’s because your content isn’t just a lead generation tool — though it serves that role too — it’s also a representation of your brand. It helps shape the way that your customers perceive you and ultimately plays a role in whether or not they decide to do business with you. So if you’ve been thinking about content as just another add-on, think again. Your content is your brand ambassador and an integral part of attracting and retaining customers. Let’s look at four reasons why:

1. It’s your primary means of communicating with your customers.

In the digital age, it’s almost a certainty that the first contact potential customers will have with your business is through your content. So whether it’s your website, Facebook page, or blog, the content associated with your company will go a long way toward shaping their first impression. And we all know how important first impressions can be.

The last thing you want is for consumers to be put off by poorly written, mistake-laden content. The quality of your content matters, and not just to language geeks like us. According to a recent survey, 74 percent of respondents said they were conscious of the quality of spelling and grammar on a company’s website. Of them, 59 percent said that bad grammar and spelling mistakes would prevent them from making a purchase because they wouldn’t trust the company behind it to provide good service. The message that you’re sending to customers is that if you don’t care enough to get the basics right, then you probably won’t care about the stuff that really matters, either.

2. It says who you are.

Your content is the voice of your brand. Words have impact and are just as memorable as logos or colors, so when you’re writing or publishing anything in relation to your company, product, or service, it needs to reflect who you are as an organization. For example, if you’re a hip energy drink supplier aimed at the 20 to 30-year-old market, you might want to publish a certain amount of fun content on your Facebook or Twitter pages. You can get away with things that aren’t strictly related to your product, but that will build your audience and attract like-minded customers. If you’re a realtor, your tone might be more formal. In fact, you might concentrate on publishing regular articles on the local real estate market, how-to guides for potential landlords or property buyers, and industry news.

The point is that you need to carefully consider both what you’re saying and how you’re saying it because it’s all a reflection of your brand. The bottom line is that whether your customers like you and connect with you will often inform their decision to buy from you.

3. Your content has impact.

When it comes down to it, it’s pretty simple. Bad content can damage your brand while good content can improve it dramatically. In a recent study into the connection between content quality and brand perception, we found that only 23 percent of people who read very average content formed a positive first impression of a company, compared with 60 percent who read good-quality content. In other words, by simply improving the quality of your content, you can increase positive brand perceptions by as much as 139 percent.

Not only that, but better content means people buy more. The same study found that among the people who read the better content, intent to purchase was 104 percent higher than among those who received average content. So the takeaway is this: Better content equals improved brand perception and ultimately more sales. You just can’t argue with that.

4. Content builds trust in your brand.

By offering valuable content to your customers — content that contains useful information, practical advice, and specialist knowledge — you can build authority and trust. We’ve all done research on the internet before buying something or making a big decision, right? So if a consumer comes to your website and finds good quality content, advice, or expertise, and keeps coming back to take advantage of the information you’re giving them for free, you’re more likely to secure them as a loyal customer.

When you help customers make good purchasing decisions and give them useful information, you’re getting them on your side. It may be that they come across your content way before they’re ready to make a purchase, but they’ll likely remember you when they are.

The Bottom Line

Your content and your brand are intrinsically linked. Every word that you write is a reflection of your brand and can go a long way toward making or breaking your business. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to focus on creating the best content possible. That means content that’s well written and provides real value to your audience. If you do that consistently over time, you’ll be well on your way to building a strong brand.