Marketing should be done in a way that is relevant and helpful to your target audience. It should never be too salesy. There is more competition now than ever to stand out as a brand and get attention. Providing engaging content that answers questions, helps guide customers through various options, and forms a connection with your brand is what content marketing is all about.
In this blog we look at content marketing in more detail and how to go about doing it yourself.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a digital marketing strategy used to inspire, engage, surprise and delight your target audience in the hope that they build a connection with your brand and keep you top of mind when looking to buy or use your services.
Content marketing can be entertaining, insightful, or useful. It can establish your company as a thought leader, an innovator, a helpful resource – depending on what strategy you go with.
Content marketing involves creating content such as newsletters, blogs, pamphlets, downloadable guides or white papers, social media videos,etc. When content creation is done right, it endears your company to those you are targetting.
Consistency is key when it comes to content marketing. Regularly posting high quality content is critical to create or nurture relationships with your potential and existing customers. If you have provided good quality content that made them think, or helped advise them you establish yourself as a valuable source – and they will return when they are ready to buy.
Why is content marketing important?
Here are four ways the research out there claims content marketing gives your business a competitive advantage:
- Businesses that use blogging see 67% more leads than those who don’t
- Companies that use content marketing experience 30% higher growth versus those who do not adopt this approach
- 72% of business to business (B2B) marketers say content marketing increases the interaction with customers and that they get more leads overall
- Forty-seven percent of buyers engage with 3-5 content pieces before they chat or deal with a sales consultant
So basically the message is clear. Content marketing is good for business.
How does content marketing work?
Your business can use content marketing for lead generation. You can use content such as case studies, guides or blogs to help customers who are at the research stage, trying tyo decide between different options, or ultimately to close a deal.
To do so successfully you’ll need to provide the right content at the right time i.e tailor your content to where your customers are in their sales cycle. This might sound complex but follow the below and we’ll talk you through it. We look at how different businesses use content marketing in each stage of the customer journey.
Awareness Stage Content
At this stage you need to be tailoring your content to the top challenges, questions and concerns of your target audience. What questions do they need answering? What are their most pressing pain points? Engage with them as if you were talking to them directly. This can be done in visual or written format. At this stage you should be creating content that is educational e.g how-to guides and walkthroughs. You should not be selling at this stage.
Best content for this stage: articles, videos, newsletters, blogs, guidebooks,
- A restaurant writes a blog post about planning an engagement party
- A candle brand posts a video about soy candle versus other types of wax
- A design firm creates a guidebook called “Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Designer.”
Consideration Stage Content
In the consideration stage, content be useful and have some product benefits. You need to educate the user about what features or functions to look for and how various features will help solve their problem. You can include some benefits of your products at this point, but remember that the aim her is to solve the customer’s challenges or pain points – not to promote yourself.
The most engaging content for this stage: case studies, how-to posts, checklists/worksheets.
- A security system company creates a checklist entitled “8 Ways to maintain home protection while you go abroad’ that details the features and functions that help you relax while you are away from home
- An architecture firm creates a video about “The Biggest Mistakes Most People Make When They Hire a Architect.”
- A wedding planner features case studies of successful weddings with a focus on the benefits they offer, such as “How to plan a vegan wedding’ or “How to Ensure Your Wedding Uses Sustainable Practices.”
Closing Stage/Purchase Content
At this stage, you can focus on sales, because the user is close to buying and hearing a sales pitch will feel natural at this point. They will want help choosing between products or service providers.
Here you should be focusing more on what differentiates you as a company. Your knowledge, expertise, social testimonals from other clients, reviews, and why you are the expert.
Best content for this stage: case studies, reviews, user-generated content, buyer’s feedback, product video, research reports
- A marketing analytics firm creates a research report proving that businesses that use data analytics in their strategic planning have more targetted campaigns and more leads
- A construction firm posts a video showcasing their projects
- A dentist showcases patient testimonials about price, quality and service
How to get started with content marketing
Content marketing can seem more complicated than it needs to be. In the end, successful content marketing campaign comes down to planning. It needs to be manageable and sustainable. Take these steps to get started:
- Identify your audience. Make sure your content speaks to the things are most important to your audience, what are their behaviours? What challenges them? What are their favourite things to do? Know them inside out. Write out a persona profile that you can always refer back to when you need inspiration or guidance on what content to create. That way you never lose sight of what relevant content is needed
- Determine the right formats: Does your audience like video or more written formats? do they like infographics? Tailor these to the different stages of the sales cycle. Awareness content should be short, concise, and make a statement quickly.
- Decide who will product your content: who is going to write, edit and proof your work. High quality content is just as important as the format and topics you choose to write it. Make sure a professional is writing it or looks over it if you choose to do it in house
- Determine how you’ll promote your content: How will you post about your content online? Are you putting money behind it? Where is your audienc emost likely to see it? Will they engage more on one platform versus another? This will also be determined by the stage of the cycle they are at
- Choose a sustainable schedule. When making your content strategy make sure it’s realistic. Are you going to be able to create 3 blogs a week? Or is once a month more likely? Keep track of how long it takes you to produce a piece of content and factor that into your schedule.
The importance of SEO in content marketing
Content marketing makes it easy for good prospects to find your business. One way this occurs is using search engine optimization (SEO).
Information abounds on SEO, but to begin, focus on a few important best practices.
Identify keywords for your content
Keywords are the first step when it comes to SEO and content marketing. These are the actual words that your audience use when researching on Google or other platforms.
When you use the right keywords in your content, you will boost your traffic. You should consider the below:
- User friendly language: language your audience actually uses everyday to describe their pain points and needs
- Relevant: keywords that match the services or products that you actually have on your website
- Specific: keywords that are very niche in your industry and specific to your target audience’s pain points
Consistent messaging – Walk the walk
Because of the importance search engines place on copy, using keywords throughout your content is important. Use the following guidelines:
- Don’t use keywords for the sake of it. Focus on 1 to 2 keywords and write as if you were talking to them in person. It needs to be user friendly and actually helpful
- Use titles and include keywords in them if possible. Make what the article is about clear and explicit.
- Use keywords throughout the piece of content. It should be naturally flowing and not explicitly full of keywords for no reason
Make sure you actually discuss what you are supposed to. Don’t use a clickbait or keyword stuffed headline and then go off topic. Good-quality content is content that is actually helpful and related to the headline.
Grow your business with content marketing
With helpful, entertaining and insightful content you can reach right people and build your brand.