As 2015 winds down, “content marketing” is sure to make this year’s buzzword list. You may want to slam your head against your desk when someone uses it in a sentence these days, but PR and marketing professionals are using it for a reason – it works!
Today business-to-business and business-to-customer buyers scour the Internet for information, reviews and credibility. With so many communication channels available, it takes 7 to 13 touch points for a business to get a qualified sales lead, which makes brand-generated content more important than ever. In fact, Hubspot’s recent report says content marketing delivers 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing.
Content marketing is no doubt daunting. But AR|PR is here to break it down and make it efficient. Consider this article your Waze App for content marketing – helping you get to your leads the quickest way possible.
Fill Up Your Tank
When beginning a content program, don’t just write a lot of meaningless pieces chock full of target keywords thinking search engine optimization is all that matters. After all, you wouldn’t put 93 Octane in your Honda Accord, would you? Rather, be very strategic with each piece you write. What you put in your tank matters. You must fully understand your target audiences, and how they will best consume information.
Consumer decision-making is not randomized, but rather, follows a pattern. Marketers and advertisers have tried to pinpoint this pattern in order to strategically plan and execute content at each of these touch points, thus, purchasing funnels were born. Remember these, guys? You probably briefly learned about them in a college business class at some point. There are five mile markers in a buyer’s journey:
- Problem Recognition
- Information Search
- Evaluation of Alternatives
- Purchase Decision
- Post-Purchase Evaluation
When mapping your content marketing program, you’ll want to develop a planning calendar that aligns with each of these mile markers. For example, if you’re creating a technology solution for an entirely new market that buyers don’t know even exists, your buyers are bound to take a long pit stop at mile marker #1 – “Problem Recognition.” You’ll need to create content that explains to them why they’re experiencing a problem and how future innovation could solve it.
On the flip side, if you’re selling a CRM tool, your buyers are probably much further down the funnel (mile markers #3 & 4) since your market is very mature. You should serve these buyers up with information about why your tool is better than your competitors, proof points and incentives to push the buyer’s decision in your favor.
Hit The Gas
So you know what themes and storylines your buyers need. Now you need to package these topics into actual content pieces. The following are six examples of the most popular content marketing forms and use cases for each:
- Blogs: A blog is a medium that enables you to expound on specific subjects where your company excels. It also can help you recruit employees and promote products and services and exemplify your thought leadership in an industry.
- Whitepapers: These content pieces enable companies to fully explain their products or services. Specifically, in the technology sector, this helps clients explain the ins and outs of something far more complicated than could be explained in 140 characters.
- Case Studies: A case study done right can truly drive sales. Validation from a customer or partner is one of the best testimonials a company can receive.
- Videos: Awesome, short and engaging videos are nuggets of key messages that can display expertise, a product’s value and company culture. Now, more than ever, it is really important to integrate videos into press releases, social media content, blogs and your website to help secure media coverage and increase your SEO.
- Infographics: These are fun, engaging graphics that include stats, charts, graphs and other information surrounding a specific topic or idea.
Be Fuel Efficient
By now, you’re thinking “OMG. I have to write a zillion pieces of content this month from white papers to video scripts?!” Calm down. Just like my beloved Prius (She’s gone to auto heaven now. God rest her batteries.), there’s a hybrid approach to content marketing that will save you lots of cash long-term.
Think of content as a car frame. The entire frame might be a big, meaty white paper. But you can take that car frame apart and have a blog series, several mini-infographics, and a case study. Collectively, those pieces make one nice vehicle, but they can be very valuable when standing alone, too.
So, next time your CEO hosts a webinar with a customer, ask yourself “can I draft a case study after the webinar based on their conversation?” and “can I cut this webinar up into mini-video clips on hyper-specific topics?”
Enjoy the Ride
Your buyers are on a journey, which means your content marketing program is (or should be) aligned with that journey. So, sit back and enjoy each industry twists and turns. Along the way, you’ll be able to monitor and measure your performance and tweak your strategy to ensure you pick up as many qualified leads as possible. Interested in learning more? Watch this videocast I hosted with Atlanta conversion guru, Stacy Williams, earlier this year.
Anna Ruth founded AR|PR in 2012, which is the fastest growing technology PR firm, and 2014 Small Agency of the Year. She has a proven record of executing strategic online marketing campaigns and securing media coverage in some of the nation’s biggest outlets, such as CNN, Fast Company, Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch and Wall Street Journal. Named Metro Atlanta Chamber’s 2015 Business Person of the Year, Anna Ruth has shared business and PR strategies in publications such as PRDaily, Entrepreneur Magazine, VentureBeat and The Street, and is a frequent speaker at entrepreneurial and marketing conferences.