As a business owner, you’re probably already producing content, whether that’s in the form of the monthly newsletter you send to clients or your social media posts. But when it comes to converting content into sales, you need a thoroughly researched and targeted approach. That’s where content marketing comes in.
What is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as follows:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
The key word here is ‘strategic’. This is because although many business owners recognise the importance of having an online presence, the content they produce will not necessarily fulfil the ultimate aim of attracting and retaining clients. Without a strategy to achieve that aim and a thorough understanding of your audience, content is nothing more than white noise and consequently a waste of your valuable time.
Types of content marketing
The type of content marketing you do will depend on the nature of your business, the stage it’s at and the demographic of the customer you are trying to attract. However, the content marketing you engage in can include:
- Your website as posts, guides/downloadables and video
- Media as podcasts, guest posts and videos
- Organic and paid social media posts on your prospects’ favourite platforms
- Email series or newsletters targeted to your mailing list
As well as helping you take a step back to identify exactly who you should be talking to, a digital marketing expert will also be able to support you in creating this kind of content which may be new to you.
It’s a competitive world out there, so your first instinct may be to promote your business in a crowded marketplace. However, to truly engage with your prospects, the secret is to give them content that is useful and relevant to them rather than focusing on talking about yourself.
In the long run you will win favour with your audience by providing content that is genuinely valuable to them as it helps build the trust that is necessary to convert your audience into customers. Play (and win) the long game by resisting the urge to promote yourself in the short term in the interest of the bigger goal of building a genuine relationship.
Content marketing and the sales funnel
Each stage of the all-important sales pipeline can be aligned to relevant content marketing strategies:
Targeted blog posts, digital adverts, videos, infographics, organic and paid social media posts are tried and tested methods to engage with prospects at the initial awareness stage.
To build your potential customers’ curiosity about what you have to offer, you can pique their interest with blog guides, FAQs, Live Chat, webinars, targeted ads and promotions and giveaways.
To embed your prospects’ wish to buy your product or use your service, emails, demos, free trials and product videos will come into play.
The previous steps lead to your prospect taking action, at which point your content marketing strategy has taken you to the email and phone consultation stage.
With your competitors using similar strategies to lure your hard-won customers away, you need to work hard to maintain their support and encourage them to recommend your offering. That’s where referral programs, special events, surveys, beta testers and special bundles come in.
Creating your content plan
To provide valuable content for your customers, you first need to understand what is important to them. Begin by asking yourself the following questions:
- What has happened? Why are they looking for your product/service?
- What do they want to achieve?
- What are their concerns and objections?
- Why would they work with you over the competition?
- Why would they work with the competition over you?
Once you have an answer to these questions, you can do an audit of your current content and review how much of it caters to your ideal audience at each stage of the buying journey. From there you can move on to the following:
- Use SEO keyword research highlighting what your prospects are searching for to drive the Awareness stage.
- Review your competitors to inform your Interest stage.
- Ask your sales team about the questions they are most often asked to get an insight into your Desire stage.
- Consider how to streamline your onboarding process for the Action stage.
- Maintain loyalty with improved customer experience and customer service based on feedback and referral and loyalty schemes.
Again, the expertise of a marketing specialist can be invaluable to gain these valuable insights that will help your business grow.
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