How to Elevate Your Content Marketing Strategy
A content marketing strategy is more important today, than ever. To be successful, organizations need to create brand awareness, build reputation and nurture prospects through its sales funnel. The Internet has completely flipped the buying cycle, where customers have many more options. As a result, your content marketing strategy must focus on creating content that’s helpful to your target audience—whether it’s to educate, entertain or a mix.
Here are ways to elevate your content marketing strategy, to generate leads:
Develop a content marketing campaign
Content marketing is a tactic to highly consider, as part of your yearly marketing plan. Content Marketing Institute reported on 2019 content marketing predictions. One of the predictions, which supports my recommendation, is that a growing number of businesses will stop thinking about content marketing as a separate discipline and instead realize that all good marketing involves content marketing.
The plan for your content marketing campaign needs to include goals, tactics and ways to measure and increase marketing ROI.
Also, your content marketing plan must consist of the following:
- Target Audience Research – First, define your target audience. One of the ways you can elevate your content marketing effort is to think like the customer. Answer questions like, “how can I provide a solution to a problem that’s affecting my target audience?” or “what goal does my target audience want to achieve?”
- Competitive Intelligence – Identify your competitors. Then conduct research on what your competitors are doing in the marketplace. Some of the ways you can gain insight is through media, content and digital audits, as well as social listening.
- Keyword Research – In my latest blog about how to get traffic to your blog and generate leads, I shared the importance of keyword research. It’s not only necessary to conduct keyword research, it’s vital to how your blogs will rank. This upfront exercise sets the stage for your blog. Start by identifying top keywords to incorporate into your blog. Then, use Google to search for phrases that rank highly for a keyword(s) on the search engine results page. There also are paid services you can use like Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush.
Create quality content
This is central to elevating your content marketing strategy. Every piece of content that you create should consist not only of great content, but quality content, to increase organic traffic. This type of traffic is unpaid and generated by users who find your website after using search engines.
What ingredients contribute to quality content? First and foremost, content must be well-written, use correct grammar and not have any typos. Start by creating memorable key messages and connecting your value proposition to your target audience’s needs. Generate content that grabs attention and provides information. In the digital age, the best content is optimized for SEO to increase traffic. You can drive traffic by sprinkling keywords, in addition to inbound and outbound links, throughout your content like I’ve done in this blog. Be sure to include a strong call-to-action, to generate leads.
Blog posts, infographics, video content, news, case studies, webinars, checklist and white papers are all types of content. Think about which ones will be most effective in speaking to your target audience, depending on where they are in the buying cycle and how they consume information. Speaking of buying cycle, that brings me to my next point…
Frame content based on stages of the buying cycle
There are three stages of the buying cycle:
- Awareness – Prospective buyers don’t always know when an issue has become a problem that they need to solve. During this stage, your content should clearly define a problem that your target audience encounters. At this point, don’t mention your brand and turn the helpful piece into another commercial. Instead, tacitly promote your brand with embedded links that lead back to your website.
- Consideration – During this stage, prospects acknowledge the problem and conducts research to find a solution. Create content that helps prospects solve the problem. Use check-list blogs that show target audiences how to address the matter.
- Decision – At this point, prospects are ready to make a decision. Showcase your brand as the solution by name. Leverage case studies and press releases that portray your brand as the problem-solver/thought leader.
Buyers Journey (Hubspot)
Frame content to match these different stages of a buyer’s journey, to elevate your content marketing strategy and connect with sales activity. The goal is for your target audience to build a relationship with your brand, products or services during the different stages. Consider the various content formats that I shared and which ones will compel a deeper commitment from your targeted prospects.
Share content across multi-channel platforms
Once you’ve created great content, share it! Research the best ways and platforms, based on where your target audiences get their information. Social networks and email are two good places to start.
To boost engagement and conversions, you need to personalize your content for these platforms. By personalizing, you can deliver content in which individuals have already expressed an interest, thereby increasing engagement with your content and brand—which lead to more loyalty and conversion rates.
Once you choose the right social media platforms for your brand, create and share different types of content. In addition to social media, I also highly recommend including email marketing as one of the top ways to share content, build an audience and increase your customers and sales for a few reasons. As reported by Constant Contact, consistent with Radicati’s 2016 Email Statistics report, email will be used by 3 billion people by 2020. Besides the sheer volume of projected users, email marketing is cost-effective and continues to be one of the largely preferred ways of getting information, especially with the proliferation of mobile devices. It’s also highly measurable and targeted.
According to Chief Marketer, there are numerous companies who have successfully elevated their content marketing to engage audiences. John Deere is one of those content marketing examples. John Deere’s content and publication team created The Furrow, a print and digital magazine to help engage farmers with the brand. The magazine helps drive interaction and lead generation, through the dealer network. Subscribers must sign up through the dealer they purchased from, giving the dealer an opportunity for up-selling and cross-selling.
The content marketing strategy for John Deere has been effective, for the following reasons:
- The main goal was clearly defined: generate leads.
- The content is available in a range of formats and platforms.
- The content is framed, based on stages of the buying cycle.
- There are opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling, as follow up to the lead generation.
Similar to John Deere’s content marketing strategy, CMA used this approach for a content marketing campaign it built for Amerlux, a B2B LED lighting manufacturer, to generate more sales leads for its interior and exterior product lines.
Through a lead-generation program with content in a variety of formats, including blogs, CMA created a path to drive prospects down the sales funnel. Because this campaign was focused on moving prospects down the funnel, compared to general brand awareness campaigns, CMA developed a content creation plan that framed portions of the content in a manner that mimicked a buyer’s journey and executed it.
Topline results included driving 14,508 unique visitors to Amerlux.com, as well as 9,838 individuals to the “Locate Your Sales Rep” page on the Amerlux site. Additionally, 348 people provided their email address as part of the lead generation campaign.
The key to elevate your content marketing strategy is to understand your target audience, generate compelling content that speaks to them and distribute it through the right channels, at the right time. In addition, tell your story in a way that’s relevant and captures attention. Finally, create and distribute content that your target audience will look for, enthusiastically consume and share, throughout the buying cycle stages.
Do you need to elevate your content marketing strategy? Contact us today, to get the conversation started.
Kenneth Hitchner is the Content Strategy Director at CMA, a full-service communications, marketing and association management firm, which has provided its clients with award-winning and proven results for more than 30 years.