There’s no question about it – business owners who leverage content marketing strategically have a tremendous advantage over those who don’t. In fact, content marketing can increase the number of leads a business gets by up to six times.
At our firm, we often see one of two things happen when it comes to B2B marketing: either teams don’t use content marketing much at all or they spend a lot of time, budget, and energy putting out too much content.
Neither is ideal.
When done right, content marketing can be the lead-generating machine your business needs to keep your cash flow healthy and grow your business.
Ways Content Marketing Can Help Your Business
As shared in the last post about what content marketing is, these are just some of the ways content marketing can boost ROI for your business:
- Expand your audience base by getting in front of new consumers with relevant information.
- Keep your audience – when your consumer base is getting regular bingeable content that gives them value they’re going to keep paying attention. We all know how short attention spans are these days.
- Increase leads when qualified target audience members see how you can help them through your value-led content
- Increase conversions – people who consume your content are 6x more likely to convert to buyers
- Earn brand loyalty and affinity (having raving fans!) – which leads to brand advocates and referrers
To have these results, you have to be strategic about your content.
In order to have a strategic marketing plan that allows you to put out the kind of value that gets people to recognize, become loyal to, and buy from your brand, you have to first understand how content marketing works.
In this article, I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to using content for inbound marketing to generate brand awareness and leads.
What Does Content Marketing Include?
Sure, everything you put out for your brand – blogs, emails, newsletters, web pages, social media posts, print materials, and more – can all be considered “content.”
But, the term “content marketing” is used to describe the strategic approach marketers use to generate relevant and useful content to ideal prospects at every stage in their customer journey and buying process.
So, to give a blanket answer to this question would be a mistake. Every business has unique target audience segments, offers, customer journeys, and differentiators.
To develop a strategic content marketing plan that works, you have to do some ground work. You must understand who your customers are specifically, what they are thinking at every stage in the journey, and what would be most relevant and useful to them at that stage.
Giving your ideal consumers small wins along the way will help them believe in the big wins you can give them later.
Businesses that deliver relevant and useful value up front win.
That means content marketing has to include consumer research, analysis, and insights. Otherwise, how would you know what would be most useful to them at every stage in the journey? That leads us to the next question.
When to Use Content Marketing?
In order to know when to use content strategically, you need to first understand the journey your ideal consumers go on.
What would be the first touchpoint in a customer journey? Where do people first encounter your brand? Is it on social media? Through paid search ads? By referrals? Think about the places people first “meet” you and what kind of value you can give them straight away so they are intrigued to learn more.
Examples of Content at the First Step in the Consumer Journey – Brand Awareness
Content for customers in the first stage may include:
- Social media content
- Paid search ad content
- Relevant blogs related to what your ideal consumers are searching for
- A lead magnet you share as a helpful resource in networking or social media groups
- A sell sheet or brochure
- Useful and timely videos that show up on search, social, and other places (not gated)
Once the right audience members have gotten this useful value, they’ll want to learn more. At the very least, you’ll want to stay in touch with them so you can stay top-of-mind. That means when they’re ready to buy, you’ll be there.
And don’t just leave it up to your ideal consumers to find you. You should be going where they are and delivering value there as well.
Examples of Content in the (Typically) 2nd Stage of the Consumer Journey – Brand Engagement
From the first value-based content piece, you may decide to lead them to a longer piece of content that gives them deeper value. This would be your “lead magnet” – because it attracts leads further down your funnel. This is typically (but not always) the next step in the consumer journey.
Content at this stage in the funnel could be:
- Resource guides
- White papers
These longer pieces of value-based content give consumers quick wins, help you earn their trust and loyalty, and boost your credibility as an authority in your industry.
Examples of Content Further Down the Funnel – Nurturing Leads
Giving consumers relevant, useful, valuable resources is great. But, you can’t just give it to them and disappear. In order for your brand to stay relevant in their mind, it’s important to stay in front of them consistently.
This can be done a couple different ways:
- Regular emails
- Branded newsletters
- Social media consistency and outreach
- Relationship nurturing (if you work on relationship-based models)
- Printed, mailed materials
And remember, not every consumer will be at the same stage in the buying journey. That means not every consumer who finds you will be ready to buy when they do. That’s why it’s so important to stay consistent and relevant when it comes to your content marketing.
Making Content Marketing Work For You In 2020
In thinking about how you can approach your content marketing in 2020, it’s helpful to have the research done first. Then, make sure the consumer journey is clear. Finally, work backwards in the reverse order of the steps people would go through in the consumer journey.
So, to recap, here are the steps to making content marketing work for you in 2020:
- Market Research
- Customer Journey Mapping
- Conversion-focused Email Nurture Sequences
- Longer-form Content Lead Magnets
- Blogs, Videos, and Other Long-form Value-based Content
- Social Media and Other 1st Touch Content
While you’re thinking about embarking on your new content marketing plan, make sure you have your overall organizational goals in mind and are aligning all your marketing efforts to meet those goals.
Need help developing a marketing plan and content calendar? Book a call with me and we’ll talk about whether the 90-day Marketing Mapping Session is right for your brand, right now.