Not too long ago, there was no such thing as - or at least minimal awareness of – a content marketing strategy. Based on a number of new algorithmic updates from Google and the cost of paid search escalating, we marketers continue to search for better performing and measureable outlets to drive a client’s business. As we produce more meaningful content for clients and analyze how a target audience engages with it, we have seen that effective content marketing can deliver more value to a business beyond SEO or brand awareness. As part of a client’s competitor research and analysis, we see so much content being produced … and not the kind that offers any type of real value to the end buyer. We notice that the majority of the content had little to no alignment to a competitor’s business goals. Because many companies (and their agencies) produce a lot of content without a business strategy, we see and hear business owners and C-level executives questioning the ROI of content marketing. And they should. But when planned and executed the right way, a sound content marketing strategy can help a business acquire, nurture and convert customers. Here’s how.
SO WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING ANYWAY?
We see content marketing as the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and build relationships with your target buyer. Ultimately, the goal is a profitable customer action like a purchase or a registration. It’s a process to deliver value prior to, during and after they transact with your company.
We see content marketing, in general, as a three-step process. Top of the Funnel (TOFU) is the content produced to initiate a dialogue with a prospect. We offer them something of value so they enter our client’s ecosystem. We also refer to TOFU as inbound marketing … the process by which we empower the buyer to engage with our clients the way they want to versus our client’s forcing their agenda on the buyer. Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) is the time in which we nurture a new relationship. The prospect may not be ready to purchase yet so we need to continue to provide valuable content to help them along the buyer journey. The final step is Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU), where the prospect converts and becomes a customer. We still need to nurture that relationship because we want customers for life.
As a content marketing agency, Simply180 is a champion of content marketing (TOFU, MOFU, BOFU) done right. When implemented properly, content marketing can have significant impact on a number of business goals. We’re not spouting theory here. This is happening right now. So let’s tear down that sticky wall and see specifically what a content marketing strategy can accomplish when in sync with business goals.
CONTENT MARKETING BUILDS THE BRAND
Brand is the basis of all marketing. (We’ve talked about this before in our branding eBook, “Stand by Your Brand.”) And all marketing means content marketing. While many folks associate brand marketing with advertising, content marketing is also an effective strategy for creating awareness and reinforcing your brand. While not as glamorous or provocative as advertising, content marketing is organic, authentic, and a great way to begin and sustain relationships with prospects and customers.
LEAD CONVERSION AND NURTURING: GIVING AND GETTING
B2B and B2C consumers generally understand that they may have to give something to get something. That’s pretty much one of the principles of the lead conversion metric.
It’s also one of the strengths of content marketing. We’ll give you some great content, if you’ll engage with us, identify yourself and give us permission to market to you. The offer/content may be a white paper, subscription to a blog, access to a webinar or a live
event. And if you really want to accelerate your conversion rate, video should be a large part of your content marketing strategy. According to ComScore, after watching a video, 64% of viewers were more likely to buy online!
The idea here is that content – in whatever format your target audience prefers – is valuable when it’s relevant. And now it’s easier than ever to track and measure the path from lead to customer conversion by marketing with relevant content.
CUSTOMER CONVERSION: PROOF OF PURCHASE
Looking to convert more customers? Content marketing can do that, too. For those clients that sell product online, content marketing can help to drive more transactions. For those that sell a service or sell products that cannot be purchased online (particularly for those industries with high ticket items or long sales cycles), there’s no better way to move prospects along the buyer journey by getting them to want to receive and digest your content. The goal is to measure content marketing success in terms of “subscribers” by offering valuable case studies, digital downloads of helpful articles, and, as noted earlier, those all-important videos. The idea is to demonstrate why your solution is better and why your brand (Yes, keep pushing it!) needs to be their brand.
CONTENT REDEFINES CUSTOMER SERVICE
Enabled by a content marketing plan, great customer service is a primary business goal. It’s way more than user manuals, website FAQs and taking calls at a help desk to resolve issues. Once a sale is made, relevant content confirms in the customer’s mind, “Hey, I’m more than a purchase order – I’m a person.” People love hearing about new uses for the products or service they use. It confirms their purchase decision, inspires them to buy more at checkout and even encourages them to provide their own subscriber anecdotes. (Customers often find new uses for your products before you do!) So you always want to provide ways to channel their response and facilitate ongoing communication.
THE UPSELL: THEY KNOW YOU. YOU KNOW THEM.
Marketing no longer ends with the “checkout” button. Your knowledge of your customers’ purchase history provides a great opportunity to upsell and cross-sell. But the upsell must be earned with a content marketing plan that includes relevant information, as well as reminders of past purchases and suggestions for future ones. Amazon is great at this, but you can do even more. By providing original (or even third party content) to reinforce customer decisions, you’ll continue to meet sales goals, cross-sell into new products and services, and inspire ongoing loyalty.
GETTING YOUR CUSTOMERS TO STICK WITH – AND SPEAK UP FOR – YOU
One of the tenets of sales and marketing is that it takes a lot more time, effort and money to get a new customer than to keep an old one. So why wouldn’t any smart marketer have a customer loyalty and retention program as a business goal? Can’t answer that one, but we can attest to the fact that your content marketing plan is an integral part of your customer loyalty and retention program. We’ve already introduced the value of engaging customers and encouraging them to share their experiences. With their permission, these stories and other relevant content can be shared in first-person videos, webinars, eNewsletters or printed user magazines. When a critical mass is reached, you might consider establishing a user event as a highly valued invitation to loyal customers.
Over time, your loyal customers become brand evangelists (Think Apple Computer.) For these ambassadors, who create public forums and share their views via content marketing social media, your brand becomes an important part of who they are.
HOW TO STICK TO YOUR GOALS
If you are like our clients who struggled with and sought our help to:
- Increase awareness
- Reduce the cost driving website traffic
- Funnel more leads into the sales and marketing process or
- Improve customer retention
We can help your company develop a workable content marketing plan. That’s why so many of our clients stick with us. For a complimentary review of your content marketing plan or goals, please complete this form.
If not ready for a conversation, feel free to take advantage of some free content marketing, SEO, branding tools and articles in the Simply180 Knowledge Center.