Contrary to popular opinion, I think that you cannot precisely measure the effect your content marketing has on your business. Don’t get me wrong, as any other content marketer out there, I use reach, engagement and sentiment to measure the success of my content marketing strategy. However, no matter how important these metrics are to me and my CEO and how much they influence our strategy, we still know that my work impacts our brand on many different levels which we cannot actually translate into numbers.
Although there’s always room for improvement, there isn’t a real scenario in which we could ever think: “Hey. Content marketing isn’t really working for us, maybe we should quit doing it.”
Apart from generating buzz and building internal and external links, your content has an impact on how your consumers perceive your brand. More often than not, it’s the thing that encourages them to go ahead and buy something from you.
It has an enormous effect on sales.
Your content marketing represents who you really are, your core values, your strong sides and what you’re really about. It’s the best tool out there for gathering more conversions.
You cannot just rely on your products and services. No. You need to reach out and get people excited to look inside your walls and get familiar with your company, inside-out. Today’s consumers are extremely smart. They pay attention to everything.
This is where your content comes to shine. Your content represents the bridge between your brand and your users. It’s what keeps them coming back to your website over and over again.
If you take it seriously and maximize your efforts in this department, your content will basically become your most powerful weapon. It’s the only tool that really represents your knowledge and your company culture – you cannot just put that in plain numbers.
You can try to survey your users and form some sort of opinion based on the results you received from your critical group – but you’re still basically fishing in the dark.
You can never know for sure just how big of an echo your messages create online and just how much they influence people to really think about your company and services in a whole different light.
This is where things get a bit abstract. Your tone, your voice and the personal experiences you share in your case studies and blog posts will most definitely shape your audience, but you can never know to what extent.
That’s why, no matter what happens, content marketing was, is and always will be an invaluable part of my business strategy. If we imagine a business as a basketball team, then content marketing is definitely my best point guard.
Just like many of my colleagues, as a B2B and B2C content marketer, I do my best to positively impact every part of my employers marketing funnel. Exposure, discovery, consideration, product pages, conversion, customer service, retention – I produce content that’s specifically tailored to engage website visitors throughout every listed part of their journey.
The content you create should help your company lift the presence of the brand to match the aesthetics, voice and perspective that you’re communicating with their active and potential consumer base, but it should also educate your team to become better at what they already do.
Although I can write pages and pages on how content marketing empowers every part and side of our business, in order to cut things down to size and help you see why it’s such a crucial part of our strategy, in the rest of this post I will focus on only one thing – how content marketing empowers our sales.
Everyone knows that these days people hate being sold to, especially in the B2B world. No matter if they run a big or small business, most decision makers have already been marketed and remarketed thousands of times by hundreds of different salesmen from all over the globe. They know all the ropes and they’re immune to every sales tactic out there.
But, on the other hand, even though they don’t want to be sold to, they definitely still need to buy stuff.
So, knowing that these people like to make decisions for themselves, my job here is to produce as much valuable material as possible and post it all over the Web, so it helps influence their judgment when reviewing whether they should do business with me or one of my competitors.
In order to make this strategy work for you, you need to create tons and tons of high-quality content that offers solutions to your targeted group’s troubles.
Although this seems pretty straightforward, most people fail to create something that’s truly relevant to their targeted audience.
Why? – Well, because most content marketers forget to design customer personas and actually think as their desired users. Having this in mind, don’t just create “Why my product will solve your problems” content pieces. No one wants to read a brochure about your product. Instead, make it “How to solve this common problem with these cool strategies”. Trust me, it will make it’s way back to you and your value proposition.
But, when you’re done, you can’t just sit back and let the leads flow in. It rarely works like that. You have to generate it, then promote it.
Ok, in the previous section of this post we have already established that most businessmen don’t like being sold to. In fact, before they even start to consider if they should purchase something from a specific company, they Google their brand name and click on the first couple of links in SERP. Apart from that, they also tend to look at user reviews and testimonials online, in order to figure out if their targeted option is legit or not.
So, knowing how my potential users behave and what kind of information drives their decisions, I try to give them everything they need to know about my brand and company before we even formally introduce ourselves to each other.
Case Studies, Whitepapers, Examples of good practice, eBooks, Guides, Surveys, Audits, Infographics, Videos, Blog posts – I create all these things and post them online, so my potential clients can easily find them. But, I don’t just stop there. I promote my content, email it to them, get them into my lead funnel and nurture the heck out of them. I keep feeding them with relevant and interesting information and, 9 times out of 10 – that’s how sales happen.
One of the hardest things today is getting people to share their personal information with you.
Why? – Well, because they have been burned before. Most businesses out there tend to abuse people’s email inboxes. They tend to follow these so-called “prospects” like dogs around the Web, offering them this and that, without ever taking a second to actually think if those folks have even the slightest interests in paying for their products or services?
It doesn’t matter what you do or what you sell, you don’t want to chase leads that you don’t have any chance of converting into paying customers. It’s a huge waste of your time and energy.
What you want to do here is create a big net that will actually capture grade A fish in this endless digital sea.
Having this in mind, I strongly suggest that you create a lead nurturing campaign which includes webinars. The combination of the two is wildly successful in terms of building relationships with your prospects early in the buying cycle and, therefore, being first in mind when they are ready to purchase.
I like to keep webinars educationally focused, to draw people in with my industry expertise and thought leadership. Try to come up with a topic that is interesting and that ties in with what you sell – so you can show how your solution solves a common problem. Many people will just come to the webinars to learn, but others will be interested in your product/solution, and that’s where your content could actually create new sales.
When content marketers and salesmen really work together, it’s a real thing of beauty. Instead of being forced to chase their own prospects and waste so much time on chasing cold leads, thanks to content marketing, all your sales team has to do now is pull in the fish that’s already hooked on your bait.
As a content marketer, it’s in your best interest to work closely with sales. These guys can teach you all you need to know about buyer personas. Once you do that, once you figure out various scenarios by which your buyers buy, you’ll be able to design a whole library of content focusing on supporting your buyers complete path-to-purchase.
In this case, your content will help your sales:
*Be better prepared for their sales conversations.
*Gain access to selling tools to engage more effectively.
*Learn more about their audiences and what makes them tick.
When you have someone’s email address, you can either send out regular newsletters or go a step further and set up personalized drip campaigns. Depending on the buyer’s stage in the sales cycle and his interests, you can send automatic or personalized mails to him or her.
My suggestion is to always go for personal messages. Writing great follow up email is a whole new sales tactic. Luckily for you, the guys at HubSpot wrote this Ultimate Guide On How To Write Follow Up Email. Read it and learn everything you need to know on how to effectively re-establish contact with your leads.
In order to make your content work for you in this second phase as well, you need to group your customers by type of messaging and value points you’re going to approach them with. Once you do that, you can sit down and tailor relevant messages that will either stimulate them to finally become your user, or upgrade their service with you.
You can also send their information to your sales team, so they could call them and try to offer your services from a different angle. Once again, I’m using HubSpot as an example. These guys have been doing this for quite some time. I think it’s working out well for them.
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