According to a 2011 study by the Content Marketing Institute, 90% of B2B marketers are participating in content marketing and plan to allocate 26% of their total 2012 marketing budgets on this practice.
One of the best ways to build a brand and deepen customer relationships is via content marketing. It’s fundamentally the creation, publication, and distribution of relevant, high-value content, tailored to the needs of targeted groups. The Content Marketing Institute’s definition also includes the desire by vendors to attract, acquire, and engage with audiences.
Marketers are communicators of value and have been transformed into educators. Buyers are seeking information from vendors on how to solve business issues. Companies that embrace good content marketing practices are destined for more leads, conversions, and sales.
With the explosion of easy online sharing and distribution of information, marketers now have a way to scale and reach many more people. Good content is an integral part of search and social media networking, and can take many forms, including articles, case studies, blogs, whitepapers, and videos. Many people are responding well to visual content over plain text. It won’t be long before we see more of the social network Pinterest in the B2B marketing world.
Let’s look at 5 content marketing strategy steps aligned with a buyer’s journey:
1) Goals and Objectives
Content strategy begins with defining goals and objectives. By understanding what needs to be achieved, more applicable content can be created for target audiences. Some questions to ask: Who are you selling to? What are their goals? What are their problems?
2) Search Engine Optimization
There is an incredible amount of information found on company websites, blogs, and in posted articles—content needs to be optimized for search and aligned with keywords and phrases used by a target audience. It’s imperative for prospective customers to be able to locate companies that may fit their specific requirements. Most buyers will conduct their research online and engage with their social networks prior to contacting a company.
3) Engagement Begins With Social Media
Social media should be part of every marketing plan, which not only attracts initial interest in an organization, but also enables stronger and deeper customer relationships along the entire buyer journey.
Think about triggers, such as new product announcements, industry trends or business issues that may generate interest by target audiences; audit how well the content matches customer needs; and develop an editorial calendar that addresses buyer personas and stages.
The goal is to move the prospect deeper into the sales funnel (to the next buyer stage) by the use of what is termed lead nurturing. Prospects can discover and respond to key business issues presented by vendors, as they seek information of value—including research papers, best practices, or industry benchmarks.
Conversion is the last buyer stage. Marketers must facilitate the prospect’s understanding on how desired business results can be achieved with a company’s solution. The development of proof points, case studies and customer testimonials are important content enablers of conversion (the buyer’s final evaluation and selection takes place).
Some metrics of interest include: page views, bounce rates, lead generation numbers, sales lead quality, number of sales conversions, SEO page rankings, and the number of external links.
While many marketers only look at website traffic metrics, some want to see a direct correlation of the content produced with sales conversions. With proper software automation in place, it’s possible to gauge which content and social media channels are driving more sales.
Why should content marketing be part of every marketer’s arsenal? It’s one of the best ways to reach targeted audiences with a distinct company voice, establish thought leadership, and generate interest in a company’s products and services. Good content is the foundation for the entire customer engagement process.
I welcome hearing which content marketing tactics are working best for your company? How do you measure success?