Any savvy marketer knows content marketing is key to generating more leads and sales. Great content provides an opportunity for companies to meet their target customers where they’re at, address their pain points, educate them, build trust and keep them moving through the sales funnel.
In fact, a recent stat from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) indicates that 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers view content as playing a key role in their marketing strategy.
Why is content marketing so important in the customer journey? Moreover, why is it so effective? Whether they’re watching television or browsing the web, modern buyers are constantly bombarded by ads, making many of them immune to these tactics. Yet, customers know the answers to their most burning questions are only a few clicks away. In fact, studies show 77% of adults go online on a daily basis and 26% are constantly online, making the Internet the perfect spot for companies to interact with customers. Content marketing enables companies to let customers find them and engage them when they’re ready to learn more, leading to more conversions.
Now that you know what content marketing can do for you, are you ready to boost your marketing efforts by creating content that drives conversions? These six steps will help you be on your way to creating a content strategy that works:
1. Identify your audience
A key to creating successful content is knowing your audience. Before you begin developing your content marketing plan, consider who your target customer is, what topics will resonate with them and whether the content you’re providing addresses their pain points and provides them with useful information.
More importantly, think about what type of content they will be most likely to consume — it could be video, blog posts, webinars — and where they’re likely to search for it. You also don’t want to make the mistake of creating content for your peers instead of your customers. By keeping your customer and their needs in mind, you’ll be able to provide content that is interesting, generates awareness and encourages them to keep learning more.
Content that does not resonate with your audience can leave your customers feeling lost and unable to see the value in what you’re offering.
For example, say you own a graphic design business and you write highly technical pieces on topics such as UI design and tracking APIs. While the content may be well-written, it may not provide the answers your customers are looking for. Your prospects are more likely to respond positively to content on topics such as, “How to make your website stand out from competitors,” “What should you budget for your website design,” and “Criteria to keep in mind when choosing the right designer.”
While certain topics may seem appealing to us in our own line of work, that may not be the case for our customers. That is why it’s important to often take a step back and evaluate whether the content we’re generating resonates with our audience.
2. Understand your buyer persona and know their pain points
To help customers find you, you must first know who they are and what motivates them to take action. When you develop your buyer persona, try to understand what appeals to them and what is preventing them from accessing your solution. As you embark on this process, consider these questions:
- What is their business background?
- What responsibilities do they have?
- What keeps them up all night?
- What are their pain points? What challenges do they face, and what do they need in order to overcome them?
Better understanding your customers paint points will enable you to more effectively target your content messages. As you’re embarking on the process of getting to know your customer, try consulting your sales or events staff, or other individuals in your organization who tend to have more direct content with customers and can provide insight into who they are and what they need. This context will allow you to create content that accurately addresses your buyer’s’ pain points and proposes a solution.
3. Search for content ideas outside of the marketing team
Now that you have some insight into who your customer is and what moves them, it’s time to brainstorm content. While the possibilities may seem endless, the challenge is creating content that is relevant and will catch your audience’s attention.
This is the part in the process of creating your content marketing plan where your sales and product teams can serve as a great resource. Sales will have a better understanding of what type of questions customers are asking, what language they’re using and feedback on the product. In turn, the product team can help you better explain what sets you apart from the competition. Similarly, talking to your events staff, engineers, and others in your company can offer you insight into what customers want, exciting product features and news to highlight.
You should also consider filming or recording thought leaders at your company, such as your CEO, next time they speak at an event. You can easily turn this into other shareable content you can use in your inbound and outbound marketing efforts – from a podcast, a short article, email, and a blog post, to a series of tweets and LinkedIn posts.
4. Serve the right content at the right time.
Timing is very important when it comes to serving content to your prospects. To figure out the best time to introduce your content, think about what your specific sales funnel looks like and what type of information your prospect needs at each stage in order to make their next decision.
For example, if you offer educational content, such as a video or webinar on best practices, when the customer is, instead, trying to compare your offerings to those of your competitors, that content will not resonate and help bring them closer to making a decision.
Serving the right content at the right time will keep your prospects engaged, make them want to learn more, and allow you to guide them towards their next step in the buyer journey.
5. Establish your distribution strategy
Now that you’ve figured out what type of content you want to produce, you need to consider the best place for your content to reach your customers. Where should your content live and where should you distribute it? Understanding which channels, platforms, and content formats your customers spend the most time looking at can help you create effective content and ensure that it gets looked at.
Content is not always one size fits all, so also think about how you can extend the life of your content by using it in multiple ways, offering it in multiple formats, and distributing it everywhere. Plan to break long content up into smaller pieces and different formats. If you have created a white paper or eBook, extract two main ideas and create short articles. Split out two more ideas and create blog posts. Promote them all through social media channels and email.
Don’t forget to maximize the visibility of your content by motivating your prospects to share. Include social and share links in your various content pieces – eBooks, web pages, emails, blogs, etc. – whenever and wherever appropriate.
6. Motivate your customers to take action!
Did you know content delivers 3x more leads than every dollar invested in paid search? That means that your next blog post, webinar or video has huge potential! But in order to see results, you must motivate your prospects to take the next step in the customer journey. That is why including strong calls to action (CTAs) in your content, whether it’s asking buyers to download an eBook or schedule an appointment, is a key component of an effective content marketing plan.
Confused about how to add CTAs to your content piece? If you’re writing content related to a popular service your company provides, you might want to end your piece with a CTA that says, “For more information about service packages, please fill out this form.” Or for an informative piece of content, you will need to link it to an eBook or resource and prompt your customer to fill out their information. That way, you can make your prospects known, keep them engaged and continue guiding them through the sales funnel. This critical step ensures you are able to drive more conversions and drastically improve the ROI of your content pieces.