Is your Content Marketing Engine up and running yet? It should be, as it turns out content marketing is highly successful in generating high quality leads, retaining customers, and creating company / product evangelizers. According to GfK Research, 80% of decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles vs. an advertisement, and 70% say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company.
Still not convinced? Read this!
One of my favorite content marketing resources, CMI, defines content marketing this way:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
How to get started with yours? Begin right here with these critical 3 steps that get at the meat of the what content your audience wants.
1. Understand from your customers’ viewpoint, what pain points your product addresses — what problems it solves — and why it solves them better than similar products. If you don’t know this, your product won’t resonate with your audience. The best brands understand that success doesn’t come from hitting your audience over the head with your definition of your product, but by starting with their needs and then communicating how your product addresses those needs.
And the content in your Content Marketing Plan follows from there.
To get to an understanding of customer needs vis a vis your product, ask yourself these questions (NOTE: if you can get the first two answered, you’ve got 90% of your marketing messaging done!)
- What does a typical day look like in their world?
- What are their fears, hopes, frustrations, pain points, wishes, or dreams?
- How can your product address these?
- What do they hope to gain from using your product?
- What would it take to make your customers “successful”? How can your product help with this?
- Do your customers repeat quotes, defining words, or similar questions?
- Where are they use your product? What is the environment?
- Is this a positive or a painful experience for them?
- How can you make that experience easier?
If you have the resources, you can turn this exercise into the creation of buyer personas.
2. Identify what kinds of content your customers/personas want (and help answer the questions above) by using the following tools :
- Conduct customer surveys, interviews & focus groups
- Review your customer service log and talk to your sales team, and look for common themes in questions and problems
- Research using Google Search – when you search using the questions you found above, you’ll find the websites and content that are currently doing a good job or poor job of answering those questions
- Look at your successful competitors and determine what kind of content they are producing
- Use social listening tools to find out what and who your audience is talking about. A few of the well-known tools:
- Use your webiste’s or blog’s Google Analytics to gain insight as to what keywords are used to reach your site.
3. Build your Content Strategy by distilling the results of the two exercises above, using the summary questions below:
- How can you answer the problems and frustrations of your audience with content?
- What are some of the content topics on which you’ll focus?
- How can you focus more around the things they love or find useful?
- What kind of language, terminology and tone of voice will your audience most appreciate?
- What medium or format do they like to engage with the most? If you don’t know, start out trying all relevant formats and see which resonate the most.
- Do they respond to data/graphs and images (in most cases, yes!)
- Where do they hang out online? This becomes the basis for your Content Distribution Strategy.
- What blogs do they read?
- Which social media platforms do they use?
Now that you’ve got your content topics, language and tone of voice, content formats, images and distribution figured out, you can organize it all into an Editorial Calendar, which is the topic of my next blog post. (Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds!) Stay tuned!
Overwhelmed by the thought of creating your own content marketing strategy? Or simply need a one-off, conversion-friendly white paper, infographic, or case study? Email carla@3to5marketing and let’s generate some leads!
I’ll start by saying that this question is more complex than it looks. Bad news.
But the good news is that you can uncover the issues impacting traffic, and/or jump right into resolution, depending on your timeframe and resources. Here are some of the top reasons for decreasing website traffic (assuming it’s even a metric you need to get worried about – see#1 below), with suggestions for resolution, as well as additional resources.
- First, know that the success of a website is not necessarily measured by web site visits alone. Additional metrics from Google Analytics should be considered. Ultimately, you want qualified leads coming to your site; rather than an increasing number of unqualified leads. Unless you can tell which you’ve got, it’s hard to make a judgement about traffic alone. If you know your site is set up well to drive traffic, then look to optimizing your marketing efforts as a start.
- In reality, businesses have to market a lot to drive traffic to their site. (I’m going to assume you’ve already optimized your site for SEO).
- Email is the most successful traffic driver. Make sure you’re doing all you can to collect the email addresses of your interested-but-not-yet-ready-to-buy prospects. If you are, then email them regularly with valuable content which includes links back to your website (and make sure there are good reasons why they should want to click back to your site!)
- The next best source of traffic is Thought Leadership, otherwise known as Content, i.e., blog posts, webinars, white papers, conference talks, etc.
- Frequent (but valuable!) blog posts drive traffic. A recent Hubspot study showed that “companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.” . In other words, you gotta’ blog a lot!
- In addition, consider other content mechanisms. For example, host a monthly webinar series providing prospects with valuable and relevant industry information. Find well-known guest authors to write white papers for which you can require email addresses to download. Record any panel or conference talks you give, and then post that content on Slideshare, as well as your own site, after the event.
- Finally, make sure you are distributing all this content across relevant social media channels frequently (this post shares frequency best practices)
- It may be that one or more of your competitors has done something new (such as increasing marketing efforts) and is suddenly drawing away prospects that may have gone to your site. It goes without saying that you should keep an eye on competitor marketing efforts.
- In the beginning of 2015, Google made a change to its search algorithm so that it now requires sites to be mobile-optimized in order to rank well. If your site isn’t truly mobile-friendly, it will definitely impact traffic.
- Finally, there are a host of website technical issues that can impact website traffic (e.g., site load time, accidental duplicate content, expired SSL certificate, etc.). You’ll need your developer(s) to investigate these.
There are certainly other issues that can impact site traffic, but if you go through the list above, you should be able to turn that trend around.
At first, it may seem like a benefit to be able to offer a whole lot of choices to your customers. Whether its choice of products, product bundles, colors, sizes, or pricing options, more is better, right? You offer so many choices, it sets you apart from your competitors. Your customers can pick exactly what they want because you offer so many. That’s how the thinking goes, right?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way at all — a fact which we often forget in our “more is better” world.
Here’s why. There’s a concept called the “paradox of choice”, which was identified and studied by lots of psychologists in recent years. What they’ve found is that having too much to choose from actually creates high levels of stress and anxiety, especially if the choices represent high-value purchases or outcomes. It turns out there’s a point at which too much choice causes paralysis (and hence indecision) at the thought that we might choose poorly. You may have heard this described as FOMO (fear of missing out). We’ve all been there, right?
Americans make 70 different choices every day. Talk about overload! Is it any wonder we can be indecisive?
Therefore, when you’re creating marketing messages for your products and services, think about the fact that someone’s purchase decision around your product might be #68 for that day. You can see why, at that point, they just want you to tell them what to buy!
So, guide them. Curate the information for maximum relevance.
- Think hard about whether or not your marketing message should lead with the fact that your product comes in 50+ variations. Maybe that’s not actually a good thing.
- If your product can be easily customized to reduce choices by say, asking a few questions; or it comes with a “default” setting; or additional choices can come at different stages of the purchase, then promote that in your messaging. Consumers will feel relieved that you’re helping them make a choice.
- (And if your product doesn’t come with the above, consider changing it so that it does).
- When offering pricing packages, for example on online subscription services, default to the medium option, rather than the highest or lowest priced.
- And finally (my own pet peeve), cut down on your CTAs! Whether it’s an email, blog post, or web page, don’t cram it full of multiple calls to action. Pick one primary and make it prominent. If you need to have secondary CTAs, make them less prominent so that there’s a clear hierarchy of choice.
>> Trying to find the balance between too much and too little in your marketing messages? I can help you negotiate that fine line. Give me a shout.
Interested in reading the scholarly evidence behind the paradox of choice? (I’ll admit, it’s a fascinating view into human behavior!) Start here:
When writing about your products or services, especially with more complex b2b products, it’s important to answer the three fundamental questions listed below. Answers to these questions clearly set expectations and communicate your product’s benefits. Not knowing the answers can be an obstacle to purchase.
- Why do I need (Product A) ?
- What problems does my business have?
- Which of those problems can be solved by Product A?
- Why should I pick your Product A over XYZ Company’s Product A?
- Ok, so what exactly will Product A do for me? What can I expect will happen when I hand over my money to you?
- What results can I expect?
- Have other customers seen results? What exactly?
- How does Product A work?
- When does it start working?
- How easy is it to implement?
- Do I need to purchase anything else to be able to use it?
- How long before I get results?
- How will I know I’m getting results?
These are questions that buyers ask when considering any purchase – but especially a purchase that is either an “unknown quantity”, or more complex, or involves a larger outlay of money.
Conversions happen when you tell prospects who have made their way to your front door, exactly what your product will do for them, followed by how it will do it.
And you have to tell them in a way that is clear, concise, compelling, succinct, and quickly scannable (that means they won’t read everything, so say it a few different ways). My favorite professor in business school used to say, in customer communication, “subtleties don’t push the ball forward.”
There. There’s your marketing secret to better conversions. Answer the Big Three questions about your product, and do it in a very clear, jargon-free way.
Need help answering the big three for your products? I can help. Contact me and let’s see what we can do.