If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?
Hopefully this is not a quote you can relate to when it comes to your content marketing strategy.
With recent studies showing 70 – 90% of the buyer’s journey being completed prior to engaging with a vendor (Forrester), and 71% of enterprise purchase decisions beginning with research conducted via search engines (DCA Group), many marketers are turning to content to attract prospects.
Hubspot says marketers who blog are 13 times more likely to drive positive ROI, and respondents to its State of Inbound 2014 rank blog content creation and content distribution/amplification as two of the three top inbound marketing projects.
Content can be a great tool to educate prospects, frame a situation, gain, and close on, leads. For some of our clients, at Zenzi, targeted and relevant blogs and articles, from as many as ten years ago are still regularly drawing quality visitors to their web sites.
But, as Robert H. Lauer says, “Nothing worthwhile ever happens quickly and easily”.. An effective content marketing strategy takes time and effort.
Social media expert and author of “Return On Influence,” Mark Schaefer warns of content shock and the potential rapid diminishing returns of content once it’s released. Given the abundance of content all around us –YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video, Twitter users tweet 277,000 times, Apple users download 48,000 new apps, ALL every minute of the day! Schaefer warns content will go unseen unless it’s truly top shelf. To effectively inspire action, content has to be worthy of talking about and sharing.
How can you ensure that your content hits the mark and you are creating valuable information that gains attention and converts to leads? Following are 4 key principals of effective content marketing.
Create With Purpose.
Content must be targeted and relevant. This can only come from having a deep, intimate understanding of your audiences and what matters to them most. At Zenzi, we serve as an unbiased third party to interview customers about their positive experiences, as well as those that did not go with a given brand. We strive to understand not just their experience with the product, but the prospect’s motivations, challenges and emotions in dealing with common problems and how the brand can help. You can also gain some of this information from going to industry events, listening to feedback from analyst firms, talking with customers and prospects yourself. The key is to understand your audiences, their challenges, their obstacles and constraints, fears and uncertainties, and questions about your brand and to create content to those specific needs. On top of this you must offer true value. Vague or overly promotional content can be a turn off to prospects. Instead, focus on offering helpful insights on a key issue your customers face or offer other interesting information they can use. This will shift your prospects’ perception of you from a brand that is marketing to them, to one that is helpful and truly understands their challenges.
Create Once and Use Everywhere.
Every one of us learns differently, including your customers. Give them options when it comes to digesting information. Slice and dice longer content pieces like white papers and articles into much shorter formats, quotes, and visual content. Consider a mix of in-depth articles, case studies, shorter blogs, infographics and, even video, often overlooked with content marketers. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a one-minute video equates to 1.8 million, says Larry Cardarelli Executive Producer MultiVu, and a former producer for Lou Dobbs and CNN and freelancer for the BBC, Fox, and ABC News. Pages with video are often favored in search, Facebook video content is often shared twelve times more than print, and the second largest search engine next to Google is YouTube. According to a recent PRNewswire/Cision survey, 76% of communicators planned to use more visual storytelling in 2014. Images, video, white papers, case studies, tip sheets, customer testimonials are different formats of content your brand should consider.
Create to Promote.
Good content is only as good as it is leveraged effectively. Whether you post it on your own site to help with long tail SEO or syndicate it to other industry and magazine blogs to help gain traction from their audiences—or use a variety of different angles and formats on several sites— you still need to promote it. 92% of business to business content marketers use social media to do this, with LinkedIn being the primary platform for 94%, followed by Twitter (88%), Facebook (84%), Google (72%) and Google+ (64%).
Though you might think certain platforms like Facebook are just for consumers, 41% of B2B companies say they too have gained a customer through this medium, and enticing with content is the way to do it. LinkedIn enables marketers to sponsor posts, targeting audiences down to a specific region, job role, size company and more to grow reach—all for a very low cost that can be set to pay per click through.
Measure and Refine.
What is working? What is not? While it is important to know the answer to these questions, 21% of B2C marketers that use content say they fail to track Its ROI, according to the Content Marketing institute’s B2C Content Marketing report.
Marketing automation tools, like Hubspot or Marketo, can push great insight to your inbox regularly, or you can use plain old Google analytics to determine which content is driving and retaining readers. Check out platforms like http://buzzsumo.com to analyze the topics that perform best for any set of key words or competitor.
For more ideas on how your company can leverage content to develop deeper connections with prospects or for feedback on your existing blog or website, email me at email@example.com