Content Marketing? Sounds like just another come-and-go buzzword, right?
Well in reality, Content Marketing isn’t some advertising gimmick—it’s a full-blown marketing phenomena, and your brand can benefit by getting in the game. In fact, Content Marketing is the perfect encapsulation of what it means to reach and engage customers in this digital age.
You see, while past generations of marketers focused on taglines, rehearsed pitches, and closing tactics aimed outward, today’s marketers understand that consumers dislike the hard sell.
Instead, they prefer the low-pressure process of conducting their own research, evaluating options, and making choices of their own volition. Content Marketing is a brand’s way of providing customer service to someone before they even become a customer.
So what is Content Marketing? Basically, the strategic placement of free, self-generated blogs, how-to articles, thought pieces, podcasts, webinars, etc. where specific targets audiences are likely to find it. As such, it’s designed to draw in leads who happen to be searching for ways to solve a problem. Thus, Content Marketing is Inbound Marketing.
Of course, outbound cold-calls, referrals, and spray-and-pray emails have their utility. But strong content marketing actually supplements and amplifies the efficacy of these tactics. Need to show people why you matter? Refer them to free, quality content that shows them.
Here’s a break down of the Content Marketing process.
1. Identify Objectives
Obviously, the goal of every business is to “increase profitability,” but that includes lots of moving parts. For instance, increasing the number of leads at the top of your funnel, persuading leads to spend money, creating brand loyalists who share your story…These are goals that can guide your content marketing efforts.
The next step involves digging into three main topics:
- Your Target Audience
- Your Competitors
Ask every client-facing employee in your company these and other questions: Who are your past and potential customers? What problems do you help them solve? Where are they going to consume content related to your industry? What are their pre-purchase pain points? Why did they choose you (or not) over your competitors? Use free online tools such as Hubspot or Xtensio to create fictionalized personas that represent the best possible portraits of your potential buyers.
From there, audit your own company to see where your strengths lie. What key differentiators do you bring to the table? What areas do you need to improve on? What content describing your value proposition do you already have at your disposal?
Look at your competitors and ask the same questions. See what top performing competitors are doing with content creation and social media. Although there’s no secret recipe to content marketing across a diverse array of industries, as much research as possible is the key to making it successful.
Next, analyze your fictionalized buyer personas and begin mapping out content ideas for stages of the buyer funnel, such as:
- Awareness (A potential lead needs to hear about your brand)
- Consideration (A prospect knows about your brand—is thinking about a purchase)
- Post-Purchase (A customer can be converted into a loyalist).
Content focused on Awareness informs people with challenges about possible solutions, and then your brand in particular. Think helpful, downloadable guides, webinars and videos with give-to-get CTAs.
Content in the Consideration stage becomes more product-centric. Leads know who you are, now show them why you’re the best! Think case studies, product comparisons, favorable product reviews, and thought leadership pieces that showcase how your brand is better. That research you conducted into customer pain points? Put it to work!
Post-Purchase content should be about generating enthusiasm. Think customer service when a customer least expects it—and most appreciates it. Think loyalty promotions, highly targeted articles, and especially personal follow-ups.
Assign dedicated writers to every piece of content. Leverage the wealth of expert personalities around you. The more fresh perspectives you offer, the more interesting your content is likely to be. Interesting content—that cannot be emphasized enough! We’ll write more about that next time.
In the meantime, ask yourself: Does it speak to who you are as a unique player in your industry? Does it adhere to your brand’s guidelines? Does it look great? Can you spell correctly?
After growing a bank of content, strategically map out the release process, deciding when and where your content gets posted. As content is released, regularly track important KPI’s that indicate whether you are achieving the objectives laid out in step 1. Impressions are great, but Click-through-rates, time spent, shares, and leads generated indicate how actually effective your content is.
Based on results, consider tactics such as balancing organic and paid outreach. Case in point: Facebook offers micro-targeting so you can get that great content in front of the buyer personas who are going to appreciate them.
Above all, be patient. Content Marketing develops momentum over time. So keep your content fresh and put yourself out there.