The popularity of content marketing has grown exponentially over the past several years. Businesses of all sizes and in all industries have begun to realize the benefits of creating value for prospects that makes them more willing to engage and more susceptible to becoming customers.
Unfortunately, many companies take an unstructured approach to creating and marketing their content online. In fact, according to a recent study by Smart Insights, half of all digital marketers do not have a content strategy, preferring instead to simply guess which topics the reader may be interested in.
Filled with enthusiasm at the outset, these eager marketers brainstorm ideas and create a bounty of content designed to attract prospects and convince them to open a dialog with the company’s sales team. Once the content is complete and published, the newly-minted content marketers sit back and wait for the world to come pounding on their door. Sadly, reality rarely lives up to expectations and the highly-anticipated organic traffic never builds and crests into lucrative sales.
What’s missing is a strategy and a structured effort to create, disseminate, and promote all that valuable content. An effective solution begins with a comprehensive analysis of what motivates the target audience – what information do they want and what “pains” are they trying to cure? Content marketers can then address their ideal sales prospects with clusters of content developed around their target audience analysis results producing one content cluster for each overarching topic.
A central piece of content, such as an eBook or Executive Guide, forms the foundation of your content strategy and should be broken out into smaller, more specific content pieces such as blog posts, emails, video clips, and social media posts. Each one contains at least one link back to the central piece.
In this video, Dave Orecchio describes the important elements of how to turn content into cash.
For some marketers, old habits die hard and they make the mistake of creating content that is not much more than a thinly-veiled sales pitch. What they may not realize is that up to 80 percent of organic search is informational. In other words, searchers are looking for expert advice to help with a specific problem or question. The best way, then, to attract eyeballs is to align your marketing and sales efforts and provide solid, reliable information that answers potential customers’ questions at the various stages of the sales process.
That doesn’t mean your content has to read like a technical paper. In fact, prospects will hang around your website longer and take more time to read your content if you make it easy to read and even inject a little humor into it. Remember, you’re trying to educate and entertain your target audience so they download and share more of your content more often.
New Search Engine Optimization (SEO) methodologies favor content created in “topic clusters” around a central, long-form, premium content piece known as a “pillar” page because it supports the entire content campaign. The comprehensive pillar piece is broken down into subtopics addressed in shorter pieces such as blog posts, each of which contains at least one link back to the pillar page. Collectively they act as a net to snare a wide range of prospects searching specifically for those various subtopics. The strategy behind this structure is to create valuable blog posts that rank highly in search and then apply rank value to the pillar page across several pages.
So how do you determine what subtopics to write about? Identify the top reasons why customers buy your products or services and then determine several subtopics based on the challenges customers face for which they found your offerings a good solution. For example, if speed is a main reason why someone buys your product, a potential subtopic in your cluster might be “5 Reasons Why Speed Holds the Key to Success.”
Marketing and sales teams are often divided by a chasm of cross purposes. In many organizations, marketing gets accused of creating campaigns that are ineffective at delivering qualified leads, while sales gets accused of being unable to close all the “quality” leads marketing delivers.
Content marketing, and the strategies that make it work, gives you an opportunity to get everyone on the same page. The key is knowing the difference between creating content to help marketing attract qualified leads and content that can help sales turn prospects into customers.
Marketing content should be designed to initially attract prospects at the beginning of their search for a solution to their specific challenge (see the section above about topic clusters). This might be as basic as brand awareness pieces to create better visibility in the marketplace for your company and its offerings. This content must then be leveraged in every channel your ideal prospects utilize to ensure you reach them effectively and efficiently. It can be various social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others. It might be organic search or old-school email marketing. Whatever channels you use, the content you put on them must create the kind of favorable awareness you need to make the short list for prospects’ consideration.
Sales content should engage the prospect once they enter the sales funnel. That means the content needs to provide progressively focused information that answers increasingly specific questions posed by prospects at each step of the sales journey.
Topics that have been developed for short-form blog posts and other messaging tools created in your topic clusters should be repurposed as shareable items in a sales content library enabled for outreach by sales. As they engage in dialog with prospects they should have a tool chest from which to grab the right tool at the right sales stage. Having this content available helps improve sales rep productivity -- delivering valuable information to the prospect with each outreach attempt while building brand value in the eyes of the potential customer.
Modern marketing and sales requires a significant investment in creating high quality content, sharing it digitally, and engaging prospects and visitors in ways they prefer. But quality content offers even more value – it’s also an investment in positive brand-building. Improved organic ranking of content on your website keeps a fresh flow of new visitors to your site and contacts for your marketing pipeline.
Content refactored for sales increases sales productivity, helps your team close new deals and increases revenue growth. We have entered into a new era of digital business which continues to disrupt traditional brick-and-mortar marketplaces. The strategy for success is to be laser-focused on digital engagement with prospects and leveraging your content marketing investment everywhere.
Bristol Strategy is a full funnel inbound marketing agency and inbound sales agency offering the full complement of Inbound Marketing services that enable our clients to surpass their business objectives by transforming the way they engage with their buyer on-line. Reach out to us to learn more about how our experience and capabilities can help your business grow.Image Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo