The Internet has drastically changed the relationship between buyers and sellers. There was a time when a buyer had to rely on a salesperson to educate him or her about the merits of a product or service. Salespeople relied on printed brochures and sell sheets to explain the features and benefits of their products. In the post-Internet age, buyers are empowered and have most of the information they need and no longer trust salespeople to guide them along the buying journey.
In fact, Gartner recently completed a study which determined that buyers have completed about 70% of the buying process online before they even consider contacting a company or a salesperson. Today’s buyers educate themselves about the most important features of a product, they can read about best practices when implementing solutions, pitfalls to avoid, etc. They explore the web to find the answers to their questions and you need to make sure that when your prospect asks a question, you and your organization are there with the answers.
Content marketing is all about determining what questions your prospects are asking and providing those answers anywhere they are searching for them.
The Three-Step Process for Successful Content Marketing
1) Determine the questions that are being asked
The first step is to know your audience. What pain are they experiencing that has led them to search out your services? What questions do they have about your product or service? What do they need to know to be a better consumer and make the right purchasing decision for their organization?
Assemble anyone in your organization who deals with prospects and customers on a daily basis. Work with them to put together a list of possible questions. Next, see if you can restate these questions into search queries and type them into Google. What do the results look like? Are there strong answers there? Do you see an opportunity for improvement? Lastly, if you have a Google Analytics account, you can determine how often these search queries are entered in a given month to give you some idea of the frequency of searches.
2) Develop Content that addresses the questions being asked
Once you have explored the kinds of questions being asked online, you can begin to map out the kinds of answers you can provide prospective buyers. Many organizations make the mistake of providing a sales pitch instead of an answer. Try to put on the hat of a trusted advisor and focus on the desired outcome that your solution delivers and not on any particular product or service offering. You want to be seen as an expert in your field. If a buyer decides that they want to proceed down the buying path, they will naturally include you as a potential partner in the process.
As much as possible, you want to make your content interesting, clever, informative, and entertaining. This can be difficult but you want to make sure that your content is more compelling than any of your competitors. Many organizations are beginning to use video as our collective attention spans get shorter and shorter. Whatever format you choose, you need to make sure that your content addresses the questions and search queries you identified in the first step.
You can take advantage of marketing automation technology that will scan your content and give you an SEO score for how relevant your content is for specific search terms. This is a great way to assess how well your content answers specific questions.
3) Develop the best ways to get your content in front of your Prospects
Now it’s time to share the content you have worked so hard to create. The first option is to create a link from your website to a custom landing page that presents the content. By creating a separate landing page, you can track how many visits this page generates to give you a way to measure success. You will also need to decide on which content you make available to all visitors and which content you “gate”, or require the visitor to provide an email address to access the content. Marketing automation platforms provide the tools to make it easy to create landing pages, track specific visitors, and measure results.
Additionally, you can share your content with members of your email list. You should create a specific email and include a link to the landing page. Make sure you spend time to thoughtfully consider the subject line. The average person receives about 120 emails per day and you want to make sure that your email stands out as being particular relevant to that person.
Lastly, you should try to determine where your prospects live online. Are there industry sites that are popular or associations that they belong to? You can use a site like PR Web to publish your content out to a wide range of potential readers. You want to cast as wide a net as you can imagine and think of creative ways to get your content in front of your prospects.
Your prospects are increasingly spending their time online and using the Internet to identify potential partners. If you want to be one of the organizations they consider, you need to create content that they can find online and will be informative and relevant.
You may also find a marketing automation platform makes it easier and more efficient to create and publish content and most importantly, turn those anonymous visitors into leads for your organization.
If you would like to learn more about Content Marketing and Marketing Automation, contact Clarity Marketing Services.