Are you struggling to keep up in a digital world?
With an ever-increasing number of businesses popping up online, the competition for sales is getting tougher and tougher.
Nowadays, buy-one-get-one-free offers, glossy leaflets and flashy websites don’t necessarily lead to more sales or customer loyalty.
In this blog, we’ll speak about content marketing: what it is, why it’s so important, and how you can create your very own strategy for business growth in 2021.
What is content marketing?
First things first.
Before we get into the ‘why we should do it’ and ‘how we do it’, let’s first look at what content marketing actually is.
The Content Marketing Institute define it as:
“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.”
Great. But what does this mean to you and me?
Well, if we break down the key words it becomes a lot easier to understand…
Strategic – Your content is planned in line with meeting specific business goals.
Valuable – Value to the customer can be thought of as ‘total gain minus total cost’. A good content marketing strategy can improve value by improving total gain or reducing total cost.
Relevant – Map your content to each stage of the customer journey so they are getting the right kind of content to help them progress to the next stage, which is ultimately a paying customer.
Consistent – Regular content, available to prospects and customers at all stages of the decision-making process, keeps your brand front of mind and improves your chances of being top of the pile when a purchase is made.
Attract – Increase brand awareness by getting in front of new prospects with engaging content.
Retain – Keep customers coming back by maintaining engagement and giving them reasons to be loyal.
Clearly defined audience – It is vital to understand your target audience so you can create content that they find compelling. To do this, we recommend building customer personas and we offer a free tool to help – click here.
Why is content marketing important?
Now we know what content marketing is, it’s time to turn our attention to ‘why is it so important?’.
When looking at ANY marketing and sales strategy, the underpinning principles are always:
- Promote – That is to let potential customers know you exist, what your products or services are, and how they provide benefits
- Sell – That is to persuade buyers that your product or service is the best solution for them and get them to commit to purchasing with you
Bear in mind, good strategies start with the customer because, ultimately, they get to decide where they spend their money, whether it be with you, a competitor, or nowhere at all.
Content marketing is no different, the aim is to promote and sell.
The reason content marketing is so important now, vital in fact, is because it’s arguably the best way to promote and sell in today’s online world.
Think about this, 4.66 billion people worldwide are active internet users and with this comes ease of access to information. That means that every decision (yes, including whether or not to buy from you) can be assisted by powerful search engines like Google, or online communities on one of the many growing social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Then think about this, in the 2017 book Value-ology, the authors claim that B2B buyers tend to be over 60% of the way through the sales process before they contact a salesperson. So, if you’re not visible online, the chances are you will never get the opportunity to sell to them in the first place.
To reiterate, almost two thirds of the world are online, including your customers and your competition.
If you want to increase sales, you need to be online and you need to attract and retain your target audience. This is where a content marketing strategy comes into play.
What are the benefits of content marketing?
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. How do they make decisions about buying products or services?
Typically, it’s going to look something like the buying journey (or decision-making process) below:
The brilliant thing about content marketing is simple.
When it is planned well, and executed and delivered consistently, it can be applied to each stage of this consumer decision making process. In other words, you can help your target audience through their buying journey to reach a destination where they buy from you.
Even after they have made a purchase, you can utilise content marketing to increase up-selling and cross-selling opportunities, encourage customers to become returning customers or, even better, brand advocates.
How to get the most out of content marketing
At the time of writing this blog, if you were to ask Google ‘how to get the most out of content marketing’ it would return 1,760,000,000 results. That seems a little like overkill to us, especially when the truth really is very simple.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak”
-Hans Hoffmann, Introduction to the Bootstrap
The simple steps to follow to create and deliver good content marketing are:
Master these steps and you will be producing content that will help your business grow. Below, we’ve delved into each of the steps to help you become a content king or queen.
1. How to PLAN for content marketing
In order to plan your content marketing, there are three steps to follow:
Step 1: Map your customer’s pain points
The best way to map your customer’s pain points is by creating a buyer persona (sometimes referred to as an avatar). This is a fictional character, based on experience and research, that embodies your ideal customer.
If you haven’t already created a buyer persona, that should be top of your to-do list. Knowing your customer, their wants and needs, allows you to increase the value you offer. Check out our free persona profile template to get started.
Step 2: Map content to the customer’s pain points
The next step is to map the appropriate type of content to each pain point.
For example, if you have a product that is complicated by nature, a pain point for your customer might be setting it up or general use. You may already include printed instructions, but a video tutorial would be an excellent tool to help customers get a better understanding. You can imagine this would improve customer satisfaction if they were struggling with the printed instructions.
Alternatively, an estate agent might identify that a pain point for their customers is moving to a new area. They could produce a blog about each local area (relevant to the properties they advertise) with information on nearby transport, services, activities, restaurants, schools and events. In any case, it is important to make sure the content is appropriate to the pain point.
Step 3: Map the content to the buyer journey
Finally, you’ll want to map the content to the appropriate stage of the buying cycle. To use the examples above – you would only promote your tutorial video to customers. You may, for example, include a link to the video if you send an email receipt.
And the estate agent wouldn’t post a blog about a specific area to their main social media channels, as most of their audience are probably not looking to move into that specific area. Instead, on their website, they may link each property advert to the blog relevant to that local area.
The idea is that your content is easy to find for the people that need it and doesn’t interfere with those that don’t need or do not want to see it.
2. How to PRODUCE content
Firstly, it’s worth noting there are many different content formats at your disposal. This graphic from Neil Patel’s website paints a good idea of the number of possibilities:
As mentioned above, you need to pick the appropriate content for your customers – so don’t feel the need to produce as many different types as possible for the sake of it.
You also need to consider what you can produce in-house and what would be better outsourced. It’s important to remember that your content portrays your company, therefore poorly constructed content may have an adverse effect on your brand. Sometimes it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
If you do outsource, be realistic with your budget. You need to have a consistent stream of content because large, unexplained gaps will cause the customer to question how active and organised your company is.
So, while you may outsource videos, photography, blog writing and social media management, you could supplement these with interviews, guides, Q&A sessions or press releases that you create yourself.
At 10X Marketing, we offer different content packages so companies can choose what’s right for them.
3. How to PROMOTE your content
There are two considerations for promoting content: where and when. Of course, you could answer these questions with ‘everywhere’ and ‘all the time’, but this would be a bad idea.
Firstly, it would cost a lot in resources and time to adapt your content to all platforms. It would also cost a lot of money because some platforms (like television or radio) come with a large price tag.
Secondly, it’s likely that customers would become fed up hearing from you, which could lead to them tuning out and missing the message you intended to deliver.
So, where and when?
The solution for both links back to the customer.
When building your buyer persona, you should have identified what communication tools they use and what their interests are. Use this information to decide the best way to promote your content.
For example, if you’re trying to raise awareness for a service targeted at salespeople that spend a lot of time on the road travelling to and from customers, then the answer to ‘where?’ might be the radio, service stations, or receptions of hotels that are popular for business use.
Now, let’s look at ‘when?’.
Carrying on with the example of salespeople, let’s say the service on offer is a premium holiday package aimed at bringing the family together to create fond memories.
You might time your radio ads so they align with events they are most likely missing out on due to travelling, such as: picking up the kids from school, eating dinner with the family, relaxing and watching a film together, or putting the kids to bed.
It’s easier for the listener to relate to your message at these times – as opposed to the middle of the day when their main concern is making it to their next meeting on time.
So, think about ‘where’ and ‘when’ is best to engage with your customer. Remember that some methods of distribution will cost you, which may be in addition to producing content, so be realistic with your budget and get savvy to ensure a consistent approach.
Tip: Using social media to deliver advertising messages is very popular because of it’s low cost and wide reach, but consider why your prospect, or customer, is on social media in the first place. Is it to connect and network? Is it for a light-hearted release with entertaining content? Or is it to share a heart-warming story? Remember that their social media is ‘their space’ and sales messages might be seen as obtrusive and annoying.
4. How to ANALYSE your content’s performance
Proving that content has a positive return on investment (ROI) is arguably one of the most difficult things to do – but it’s not impossible.
Traditionally, ROI is calculated as:
It’s worth noting that some of the gains from investment aren’t tangible, such as increased brand awareness or recall, thought leadership qualities, or reputation. Therefore, when calculating ROI you may need to assign a value to these attributes if they are important to you.
With this said, it is also important to know what you are trying to achieve with your content to analyse how well it is doing.
For example, if you’re a start-up and your goal is to increase brand awareness, then likes and social follows can be useful. These are often referred to as vanity metrics as they don’t necessarily translate to sales.
Therefore, the key is to know what you want to achieve and why. Then you will be able to start measuring whether or not your content is successful.
The main metrics for analysing content performance are:
- Consumption metrics
- Page views
- Time on page
- Unique visitors
- Clickthrough rate
- Open rate (email)
Google analytics allows you to track most of these metrics. Downloads, open rate, and clickthrough rate need to be tracked through marketing automation software.
- Retention metrics
- Return website visitors
- Bounce rate
- Blog/Newsletter subscribers
- Social media followers
- Number of people saving your content
- Sharing metrics
- Shares and retweets
- Company hashtag use
- Company tags by external social accounts
- Number of backlinks
- Sales metrics:
- Direct orders from content pages
- Percentage of sales opportunities influenced (influence determined by you)
- Value of opportunities influenced
5. Ways to AMPLIFY your content and get more out of it
So, you’ve planned, produced, promoted and analysed your content – for some this might seem like the end. But not for content kings and queens.
By repurposing your content, you can get additional pay-off from your hard work.
Repurposing is the practice of re-using and re-shaping your existing content to increase its reach. This is an important step to increase engagement.
To make this easier to understand, let’s again use the example of promoting a premium holiday package aimed at bringing the family together, with the target audience being busy salespeople that miss a lot of family time due to their time out on the road.
So, you’ve created a series of radio ads and brochures to display in hotels frequently used for business trips. These are great tools because you’ve thought about the ‘where’ and ‘when’ to engage with your target audience. But, are you reaching all of the target market? There’s a chance that a number of potential customers either won’t listen to the radio station you’re advertising on or will ignore the brochures on display.
Repurposing is all about using the materials you have in different ways to make sure you’re reaching as much of the target audience as possible.
So, you take the visuals and the copy from the brochure and post a series of social media ads. You may also use it to create a short advert in a popular business magazine or blog.
Create easy-to-consume chunks that build interest and desire to learn more about your product or service which, ultimately, leads to sales.
Well, we’ve made it even easier by creating a free ready-to-use content repurposing matrix which gives you a whole host of prompts and ideas about how to re-format your content and leverage different distribution methods. Click here to download your copy.
What’s stopping you now?
There you have it. Your comprehensive guide to growing your business through content marketing in 2021 and beyond.
You’ve got the ammo, now it’s time to get started and become THE content king or queen!
If you’ve read all of the above and still have hesitations, questions or queries then get in touch with us here at 10X Marketing – we love all things content marketing and would be happy to bounce ideas around.
Don’t forget to use our free and ready to use tools as mentioned above, or you can access them all right here.
P.S. We’ve created content marketing packages, bringing together our most popular services at competitive rates. Why not check them out if you need a helping hand with your content marketing output?