This is the 3rd post in a series of three. You can read Planning For Success here and 10 Factors To Improve Conversions here

Your website should be viewed as a book, taking people on a journey, telling a story with a beginning a middle and an end. Every business has its own unique story to tell and the content marketing plan allows businesses to set out how they are going to tell their story to the world (or at least, to their potential customers).

The content marketing plan helps you understand market opportunities and how to address them. It enables you to map your content-related activities to your overall marketing goals by determining:

  • How and where to publish each piece of content
  • The resources required
  • Priorities
  • Scheduling
  • Roles and responsibilities

Taking a content marketing approach can level the playing field, it can help smaller, agile businesses punch above their weight and allows them to compete directly with bigger businesses that may be at a disadvantage because of long decision-making cycles and internal politics.

Why You Should Consider Taking A Content Marketing Approach. The third article in a series of 3. Click To Tweet

When planning and delivering your content marketing activities, here are 10 factors to consider.

1. Tell your story
The attention span of today’s shoppers and searchers is reckoned to be less than 10 seconds, I don’t think that’s too different to my own children’s behaviour and I reckon there is a content marketing lesson to be learned here.

The one thing that never fails to catch the attention of my children and keeps them enthralled for hours is a great story. Whether they’re reading on their own or being read to, it’s the one time that I can guarantee peace and quiet throughout the house.

Most businesses play the numbers game and market their products and services to one large homogeneous mass of people on a transactional basis making it extremely difficult to engage with them. So they never reap the benefits that an enthralled audience can bring. By keeping your visitors interested in what you have to offer they are more likely to return to your site.

2. Laser target your message
The key to success is to identify the pain points of your prospect and build your marketing message around them. What is it that keeps them awake at night? Why would they buy what you have to offer? What can you do to help them?

Find the answers to those questions and you’re on the road to success. So when it comes to launching your new product or service, your content needs to shout out “we understand your problems and issues” “our red widget xls can solve those problems and issues and reduce your cost by…….” you get the message. David Meerman Scott explains it pretty well in his Gobbledygook Manifesto.

Glossy brochures cloned from a static website with plenty of corporate text highlighting best in class, market leader, been in business for x years, don’t work anymore. The problem is no one identifies with that approach, nobody talks like that in real life, or if they do they tend to be the ones standing on their own at parties.

To be successful you need to get under the skin of your prospects and really understand their business issues, so get out from behind your desk and hit the road.

3. Understand the buying process
Only 5% of first-time visitors to your site are in buying mode so make it as easy as possible for those people to do business with you, don’t ask for too much information on your online forms and have your contact details on every page of your website. Make sure you have plans in place to try to engage the 95% of visitors who won’t buy (yet) but may do so in the future. Offer them the opportunity to sign up for your enewslettter or blog, offer an ebook or access to a webinar in exchange for their email address so that you can nurture those leads towards a sale. But mostly just make sure your website has great, customer focussed content, looks good and is easy to navigate, then there’s more chance that they’ll revisit.

Your website visitors are on a journey researching and comparing what's on offer. Don't try to sell to them until they're ready or you'll lose them. Click To Tweet

4. Map your customer’s journey
In the good old days, Steve your key account manager would visit a prospect, explain who he was and provide an overview of the company and its products and services.

That approach is becoming more difficult; buyers are spending more time researching their options online and they’re not engaging with sales staff until they have researched not only what you have to offer but also how you stack up against your competition.

This is a major change because what was primarily the domain of the salesman e.g. the first 60 to 70% of the buying cycle is now becoming the responsibility of marketing.

This isn’t about selling, this is about raising awareness of your solutions and answering all of the questions your prospects may have as they move through the 3 key stages of the buyers’ journey e.g.

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Decision

If marketing have done their job properly your sales rep may get an invite to discuss the buyers requirement (perhaps along with one or two competitors) he can answer any outstanding questions and then try to close the deal.

5. Identify the right content and the right format
Content can be produced in many formats from text based content like eBooks, blog posts, whitepapers and case studies to media based content such as videos, webinars, podcasts and infographics. The rise of image and video based social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, Vimeo and YouTube coupled with the fact that video is far more likely to show up in the search results means that video should play an integral part of your campaign. The type of content and the topics that your audience are interested in should be identified in the planning stage. Checking on past history of what was successful and what wasn’t in conjunction with your web analytics data will help you conclude what’s right.

6. Create content to drive actions
Your content should tell a story that inspires potential customers to keep engaging with your business until they are ready to buy from you so you need to consider content for each stage of the buying cycle from visitors who are in research mode, looking to be educated to those actively engaged with you and seeking validation through case studies or testimonials.

Use good clear Calls To Action on each landing page along with lead capture forms. Capturing contact details within a permission based campaign allows you to use relevant and targeted email marketing to convert that contact into an opportunity through a lead nurturing and lead scoring process.

7. Actively pursue inbound links

Inbound links are links back to your website from other websites. They act as an endorsement of the quality of your site and can help your site rank better in the search results pages (SERPS). Not all inbound links are created equal and treated the same way by Google and Bing, therefore, it’s important to ensure inbound links to your site are relevant to your business. Creating great content on a regular basis provides a great reason for people to link back to your site but whatever you do, don’t buy links. That’s the route to pain and misery as it’s against Google’s guidelines.

8. Build audience personas
Write content for your prospective buyer, how do you do this? Well put yourself in their shoes and list all of the issues you think they may have. Give them a “persona” and build a profile, a representation of a target customer. By identifying the roles of all of the people normally involved in making a purchase decision e.g. an engineer, a project manager, FD or MD you can map out their pain points. Give them an identity e.g. Ernie the engineer, Polly the project manager etc. that way you can visualize and empathise with them.

Think about some of the following:

  • Where they live
  • What problems they may face
  • Their responsibilities
  • Their frustrations
  • What pressure are they under
  • What are their needs
  • What role do they play in the decision making unit (DMU)
  • Have they downloaded any prior content
  • What technologies would they be using to access content e.g. PC’s, smartphones, tablets etc.

When you’ve answered all of those questions you’ll have a much better idea of the type of content most suited to that “persona”. If you operate in the B2B sector the chances are that the purchasing decisions will be made by a number of people. Personas should be written for each of them.

If you can create and publish content that shows your audience that you understand their issues and you can provide a solution, you’ll build trust and credibility.

Segmenting your audience into key sectors or needs will make it easier for you to market to them by focusing your messaging to directly answer those needs. Click To Tweet

9. Plan to repurpose content
Creating great content isn’t easy, there’s so much content already out there that you have to rise above the noise and ensure your content successfully achieves its objectives. You also want to ensure you squeeze the most out of every piece of content you create to effectively manage your budget and amplify the impact.

Always plan upfront and reuse any content you produce at least 5 different ways (the rule of 5).

10. Tell don’t sell
People don’t like to be sold to so don’t use any content you produce as a blatant sales tool. The key to success is to help solve a problem or educate or entertain an audience through storytelling.

Most visitors to your website won’t be in buying mode, they’ll be browsing or researching your products and services. So don’t try and get them to make a purchase as soon as they land on your home page. Make sure to provide the information they need at all stages of their buying journey. Yes, they may want to purchase immediately so make it easy for them to buy or to get the information they need but don’t push for a sale at every opportunity.

Conclusion

A content marketing approach is much more than uploading the occasional blog or sending out an irregular email newsletter. To achieve content marketing success takes time and effort and should be part of your strategic activities.

If your marketing isn’t bringing in the results you want then we need to talk. I work with business owners, directors and heads of department who need help to develop their marketing strategy and implement their marketing plans. Check out my Effective Content Marketing options and then get in touch.

Call today on 01803 413481, email [email protected]

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