The kind of content you create depends on your audience's needs at different stages in the buyer's journey. You should start by creating buyer personas (use these free templates, or try makemypersona.com) to identify what your audience's goals and challenges are in relation to your business. On a basic level, your online content should aim to help them meet these goals, and overcome their challenges.
Data-driven advertising: Users generate a lot of data in every step they take on the path of customer journey and Brands can now use that data to activate their known audience with data-driven programmatic media buying. Without exposing customers' privacy, users' Data can be collected from digital channels (e.g.: when customer visits a website, reads an e-mail, or launches and interact with brand's mobile app), brands can also collect data from real world customer interactions, such as brick and mortar stores visits and from CRM and Sales engines datasets. Also known as People-based marketing or addressable media, Data-driven advertising is empowering brands to find their loyal customers in their audience and deliver in real time a much more personal communication, highly relevant to each customers' moment and actions.
Paid social can help amplify organic content, using social network advertising tools to target the audience. Using the rugby example, on Facebook you could target people who like other leading rugby fan pages. I recommend testing paid social campaigns to promote key content assets like reports and highlight important news/announcements. With a small budget you can quickly measure amplification impact.
At my own company we’ve used content marketing to grow more than 1,000% over the past year. Potential clients find our content, find value in it, and by the time they contact us they’re already convinced they want to work with us. We don’t have to engage in any high pressure sales tactics, it’s merely a matter of working out details, signing an agreement, and getting started. The trust that usually needs to be built up during an extensive sales cycle has already been created before we know the potential client exists.
I find that companies without a digital strategy (and many that do) don't have a clear strategic goal for what they want to achieve online in terms of gaining new customers or building deeper relationships with existing ones. And if you don't have goals with SMART digital marketing objectives you likely don't put enough resources to reach the goals and you don't evaluate through analytics whether you're achieving those goals.
This refers to your ability to rank for certain keywords. For instance, say you sell shoes online, you will need to optimize your site, backlinks, website speed and much more so that you can “rank” high for certain keywords that are highly relevant to your business. Relevant keywords may include “buy shoes,” “shoe sale,” “where to buy shoes,” and so on. Once you can rank high (top page) for these keywords, you will enjoy an increase in traffic and business as a result.