Content marketing success is choosing the right topic for the perfect audience on the best distribution channels.
Remember that you’re publishing content that informs, that helps people do their jobs. If people are looking forward to your email blasts and blogs, you’re doing a great job. You should be thinking about where these people are in the sales funnel.
1. Understand your audience
Before you start creating your content, you need to understand your customer. Ask yourself who is your:
- Current customer?
- Potential customer?
Who would find your content useful?
Creating a customer or buyer persona is a valuable exercise. This is based on demographics and behaviors of the customers you have–and those you want to have.
Creating segmentation so you’re marketing differently to each unique group
Let’s look at a couple of customers in your database.
- One is your desired customer—smart, tech-savvy Chloe who totally gets everything the first time and is eager to see a preview of the next software rollout. Chloe has purchased your software for her company and understands the software’s potential and loves the way it integrates with other applications.
- And then there’s Helen. Helen is a potential client who works for an IT manager. She’s in a strategic position as an influencer and could be making important recommendations, but prefers not to. Always expect Helen to call and ask for more instructions on how to use the new enhancement. You can send her a link to the excellent video tutorial that your tech team totally nailed, but you know it won’t be enough. Helen is always going to be very high maintenance. She may or may not ever become a client.
Just as Helen and Chloe are two separate segments in your database, they’re at different places on the sales funnel. Think about how you will market differently to them. You’ll want to include Chloe on new products/updates and invite her to your spring gala fundraiser. Helen will receive only the most general information. If you can’t get past Helen and build a relationship with someone else in her company, this relationship may not be worth more effort.
2. Map the content to the sales cycle
Could this example be any clearer? The scale and cost of the commitment drives the content
- If a buyer is considering a one-time license fee for software that costs $50/year, you might detail the software’s benefits in two-three paragraphs and include a few customer testimonials.
- However. if a buyer is purchasing several hundred licenses for software that cost $100,000, this is getting into some serious money, and the content totally needs to step up. This calls for case studies, product sheets, a video and integration guides.
Let’s break it down so you can see exactly what type of content to produce
- Awareness phase of sales funnel. Content to increase your brand awareness by promoting your brand. Blog posts, white papers, webinars and infographics. These will still be at a pretty high level.
- Evaluation phase of sales funnel. Content that will increase the marketing qualified leads (MQL). Buyer’s not ready to make a decision but understands that your brand is a leader in this field. Provide case studies, webinars, video and tech guides.
- Purchase phase of sales funnel. Content that will turn a marketing qualified lead into a sales qualified lead (SQL). Getting closer to a decision, so the content should make it easy to choose your product over that of a competitor: Implementation guides, free trials, and live demonstrations.
3. Create the content @ 2 thousand words/article
You now understand the customer and know what type of content goes with each stage of the sales cycle. Now it’s time to create different types of content that decision-makers want to read before making an important decision. 65% of B2B buyers value research reports and studies compared to any other content type (followed by technical guides, insight, white papers, and articles). Despite user-content protest, longer content ranks higher than shorter content. Remember that Google needs words in order to go to work. The number of words you need to write to rank in the top ten? It’s 2,000 words.
To increase traffic and show that your content marketing efforts are adding value for your business, those cheesy little 400-word posts are simply not good enough. Longer content is also shared more on social networks. Content that’s 3 thousand words is shared 2-3 times more times than 1-thousand word articles.
I have an ongoing battle with my clients because they never want to include more than a few sentences per page on their websites. I argue that “you consider yourself an expert and you sum it up in two sentences?” They insist that no one will read it–and they may not. But if someone wants more information, it should be there for them. We can frontload the important information. What they don’t understand is that Google needs that content in order to go to work. It’s content that will help their websites show up in search.
To clarify, longer content will help you:
- Rank better in Google
- Get more social shares
- Get more inbound links
4. Promote content
You have to remember that content marketing is part content, part marketing—you’ve got to step up and promote it.
The most fundamental way to promote your content is to publish it to your website
- Create a blogpost and publish that blog to your blog, LinkedIn and other blog sites.
- I always post blogs to Google’s Blogger. It’s never a bad idea to be posting to a Google product.
- Once you’ve posted your blog, post an excerpt with an image to your social media sites—Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, etc.
- Use that blog in your email marketing blast. I love blogs because they’re the workhorse of a content marketing program. Post part of your blog to your email, then link to the blog on your website with Read more.
- Google AdWords campaigns: If you’re promoting a new white paper or eBook, you can create display campaigns to raise the visibility.
- Start using remarketing that will retarget abandoned visitors.
- Consider creating an ebook. Use this as intellectual property that users can download with their email address.
5. Get to know and understand your data and make adjustments
Did the content perform well? Did the content perform as you expected? You need to measure how well your content performs and analyze its progress.
To measure the content marketing success metrics, ask yourself these questions:
- How many page views does the content receive?
- What type of content is shared the most?
- What type of content is read the most?
- What keywords do people search for to find my content?
- How many leads did my content generate?
Remember that you’re generating data as you go along to help answer these questions. I use my own blog posts as content marketing case studies by analyzing the data of what topics/keywords work well.