Content marketing is the second pillar of twenty-first century marketing strategies (standing alongside our previous topic, email marketing). 91% of B2B marketers currently use content marketing, followed by a slightly smaller 86% of B2C marketers. Whether it's blog posts, webinars, podcasts or even video games, marketers are producing all kinds of virtual freebies to get their brand's name out there and foster positive feelings toward it. Today, we'll help you harness content marketing's inherent lead nurturing potential and use it to get closer to achieving your business' financial goals.
What Makes Great Content
Done right, content marketing can be a powerful source of revenue. It doesn't provide as consistent a return as email marketing, but companies who do use it can expect to see an average conversion rate 6 times higher than they would have had without it. This demonstrates the power it has to quietly perform lead nurturing functions without any active oversight past its initial production. Think about it - a lead could potentially go from skeptical to purchase-ready through content consumption alone, provided that they were exposed to the right stuff.
It also has one very important thing going for it: just one piece of content can reach any number of people for as long as it remains publicly accessible. This means that any one bit of content can continue to inform, entertain, and influence leads for years to come. Leads who stumble across an older post that just happens to be relevant to their needs are just as likely to become engaged with the brand as those who connect to a newer piece. Because of this, content marketing can have a cumulative effect for your brand once you've built up a back catalog of offerings. Good content marketing built with lead nurturing in mind needs to have lasting appeal that will keep views or downloads coming in based on the strength of those offerings alone.
Creating Content For Future Conversions
If you're ready to start producing content that will net you more engaged leads and more sales, here's what you should be aiming to do:
Offer Something Unique
Let's face it: there's a lot of content out there already. If you're going to add to the massive collection of books, blogs, videos and other things available on the Internet, you should do your best to make it something new and preferably also useful. This mandate is a big part of how food delivery company Blue Apron was able to grow 500% in just one year back in 2015. They recognized that although recipes are easy to find on the Internet, very few approach cooking from the point of view of a total beginner. To fill this void, they created recipes that break down fancy dishes into simple steps complete with illustrations and recommended tools. This got people interested in trying these exotic recipes and honing their cooking skills, which they could easily do with Blue Apron's service; the rest is history. Blue Apron hasn't been around long, but they've become a household name, and it's all because they made it their mission to provide value to their customers through their content marketing.
So what sorts of ideas can you develop to make sure you're creating something of value? One great option is to post about something specific your company does; for example, a factory might produce a post about their assembly line process and all the things they incorporate within it to make sure they end up with a quality product. Interviews with people relevant to your industry also tend to do well. Even if you're interviewing someone who another marketer has already spoken to, the final product will be the result of a dialogue going on between the two of you that couldn't be replicated with any interviewer other than you.
Finally, you can turn to problem-solving and how-to articles that give actionable advice. People love it when companies can solve their problems for them, especially when that help is available for free. If they know they can turn to your brand for the advice they need in a pinch, they will grow to trust your brand and want to buy from you in the future.
It's tempting to go very general when creating content - after all, who knows who might be consuming it, right? While you wouldn't exactly be wrong to think that, you'd be missing the point somewhat. Your main concern shouldn't be your consumers, it should be your leads. That sounds like a redundant statement, but there's a subtle difference. A person can only be a useful lead if they are in a position to purchase from you. This usually means they have to be close by, and that in turn means that you have a golden opportunity to increase their engagement levels by producing content marketing with a distinctly local flair.
If you want proof of how effective this can be, look no further than the success of one particular piece of content created by real estate company Movoto. They wrote a post for their company blog in 2014 that outlined the average reading level of Tweets sent from each state across the entire United States. This offered readers a chance to see what score their own state attained and to compare it with scores in the rest of the country. This novel way of examining some of the differences between states earned them nearly 32,000 views to their landing page, 14,000 shares on social media, and appearances in hundreds of online publications with both local and national coverage. People were incredibly interested in delving into the specifics of the place where they live, and Movoto was able to capitalize on that interest.
To achieve something similar yourself, you likely won't need to do a nationwide study like this. If you're a small company that primarily serves one location, you could try covering local events or mentioning local businesses and tourist attractions. If you're a larger organization, you can instead target your primary sales areas. While this doesn't work for businesses with primarily digital products, it's a winning strategy for everyone else - and as a bonus, it can even help give you a boost in your local SEO!
Opt For Longer Pieces
Have you ever had one of those flashes of inspiration that gives you a great idea that you could write pages and pages about? These kinds of ideas are delightful to work on, but they're usually impractical for marketing purposes due to the inherent length constraints of mediums like email marketing. Content marketing is the medium that lets you pull them out and run wild with them.
You can and should dig in deep when using this kind of marketing. Complexity and depth are usually rewarded with much greater user engagement and higher view counts than brief surface-level pieces. Content longer than 2000 words typically gets approximately 2000 more shares than content between 1000 and 2000 words, and approximately 3000 more than content with less than 1000 words total. Longer videos and podcasts also generally do better than shorter ones.
This doesn't mean that shorter pieces don't have their uses; on the whole, you'll probably find yourself producing many more of them than you will the longer and more involved ones. However, you should be prepared to invest in the long ones as well. Publishing these exceptional pieces at least semi-regularly will help to solidify your brand's reputation as a content provider.
Create Pieces For Every Step of the Buyer's Journey
Most marketers are familiar with the buyer's journey, or the steps spanning from when someone first becomes familiar with a brand to when they choose to purchase from that brand. The three major stages (awareness, consideration and decision) all prompt that person to seek out different types of content. A brand that has content marketing offerings available for all three stages is much more likely to be able to close a sale with that person than one that doesn't make this consideration.
Content for the awareness stage can be more general and entertaining than the other two stages. This is the time to let users know you're out there and can help them meet their needs. This is the most common type of content and includes staples like blog posts and short e-books.
Once they've moved on to the consideration stage, people usually look for more in-depth information on a company's actual products or services. This is where things like white papers and videos come in handy, since they can really delve into the specifics of what sets this brand apart from the rest. Content that compares the brand's products with those of competitors tends to do very well here.
Finally, there's the decision stage. At this point, your sale is all but locked in, and all that's left to do is assure your lead that they're making the right decision by opting for your product. Things like product manuals and case studies of past successes provide the knowledge they need to feel confident going forward with their choice.
You don't necessarily have to cover all these bases; some are a more natural fit for some industries and markets than others. You should just keep in mind that your leads aren't all at the same point in this process, and that your ultimate goal is to lead them through it to the end.
Unlock Your Content's Full Potential
Constructing a solid base of content marketing materials that were designed with lead nurturing in mind is one of the most effective things a marketer can do. With enough of this type of perennial content at your back, you'll have far greater lead nurturing capabilities and will be able to look forward to a bright future of higher sales.
We'll be back next time with more marketing expertise to share, so don't forget to check back soon!