Content Marketing has become one of the hottest topics in marketing, for good reason: it works. Here are just a few statistics to explain why:
“Two-thirds to 90% of the buying cycle is completed before a B2B buyer ever speaks with a sales rep.” – Forrester
“Business buyers spend just 21% of buying cycle in conversations with salespeople, instead spending 23% of the time in conversations with peers and colleagues and 56% of the buying cycle searching for and engaging with content” – IDG Connect
Here’s a quick definition of content marketing via searchengineland.com:
But even more than simply building “reputation and visibility”, content marketing can generate leads and drive them through your marketing funnel until you can convert them into sales. Who doesn’t want more sales?
Here is the five step process you can use to create your own successful content marketing initiative:
1. Create Your Content Marketing Strategy
Before you type a single word you need to define who your target audience is. Without that golden nugget of information, you’ll be wasting a huge amount of time creating content that won’t help you attract potential customers. In fact, this is one of the biggest mistakes companies make in their content marketing efforts. So before you go any further ask yourself the question: who am I trying to attract and engage. Once you answer that question you’ll be able to create the type of content that will speak to your target customers.
Check out this article via Conversioner for an in-depth look at how to create a marketing persona.
2. Find Out What Your Target Audience is Searching For
Even though the primary purpose of content marketing is not SEO, is still plays a significant role on your SEO strategy. In order to attract some of the billions of daily searches to your content, you need to include the keywords that they are searching for. That’s where keyword research comes into play.
Open up the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool and type in the words that you think your potential customers are searching for. Then use those keywords in your content title and occasionally in your content. Don’t “stuff” your content with the keywords — that’ll just get you penalized. It also will be apparent to your readers that you’re just trying to game the system and they’ll leave and bounce over to your competitors.
Here’s the bottom line: if you write informative and engaging original content, you don’t have to focus specifically on keywords. That’s because you’ll already be using them naturally, and Google is smart enough to figure out what your content is about without seeing the same keywords repeated multiply times in each paragraph.
3. Create Your Content
Now that you’ve identified your audience and your keywords, it’s time to start creating your content masterpiece. If you’re a good (or competent) writer, then writing an effective page or post is the way to go. If writing isn’t your forte, you can shoot a video, record a podcast or create an infographic. Whatever works best for informing and engaging your particular target audience. Successful content marketers use a combination of many different formats to deliver their message (check out the video at the end of this post!).
4. Distribute Your Content
You’ve heard the one about the tree falling in the forest without anyone watching? Well, if you create an awesome piece of content but no one sees it — not very productive. You can organically distribute your content to your target audience directly via an email list (which you hopefully have been building) and social media. Just be sure to identify the social media platform that your target audience uses before spending time sharing. Read this post for how to do that.
Getting influencers to share your content is amazing, if you can make that happen. How to do that is a whole other topic beyond the scope of this little old post. Here’s an article to get you started on influencer marketing.
5. Don’t Forget Your Call to Action
People are finally reading your content. Now what? That’s exactly what they’re probably asking. “Now that I’ve read you’re content and like what you’ve said, what should I do about it?” Given no other options, the reader will most likely leave your site, move on with life, and probably never return. What a waste that would be.
You must provide your reader with a call to action (CTA) tell them exactly what it is you want them to do next. Ideally you’d probably want them to buy your product or contact you to set up a consultation. Most readers won’t be ready to that. They need more time to research and decide. What you want to do at this point is to get their email address so that you can remain in contact and continue to educate and engage with them until they are ready to engage in a purchase or sales conversation.
Every piece of content you create should have a call to action directing the reader to take the action you want them to take.
You usually have to offer the reader something of value in exchange for their email address. That could be a free trial, ebook, tips or whatever you feel will do the trick. Read this post for more insight into this.
Without a call to action, you’re leaving money on the table.
6. Marketing Automation in Action
Once you’ve got your readers email, you should add it to a leads list in your email marketing program. The goal now is to nurture that lead down through your funnel until he or she is ready to become a customer. This nurturing process can be automated — yes, that’s what they call marketing automation. To do this you’ll need to create a series of emails that will be automatically sent at regular intervals. Most email marketing providers make it easy for you to set up a series of automated emails.
Each of these automated emails will be more content that you need to create. You might also decide to link to other pieces of your content within the emails. You can read more about these emails in our free ebook – The Digital Marketing Blueprint.
Following these 6 steps should help you get your content marketing campaign up and running, and generated new leads. If you have any questions or need help developing your own content marketing strategy or campaign, please let us know and we’ll be glad to answer your questions and assist.
For more about our content marketing process, check out this video: