Now more than ever, it’s important that the content about your brand is relevant and useful to your audiences. You know why – and you’re probably as adept at using the available “advertising avoidance” tools as your potential customers are.
You and they use email filters, online ad blockers, DVRs, set up feed readers and scan caller ID, all with the purpose of avoiding what feels like a tsunami of spam: gads of content that’s irrelevant, unhelpful and often annoying. So, what’s a company to do to attract and retain customers?
Why content marketing is essential to your marketing mix
That’s not to say you should cut out traditional marketing methods like advertising. In fact, Nielsen reports that about 60% of consumers still trust TV, magazine and newspaper ads and think well of brand sponsorships.
So yes, a solid marketing plan will use a mix of the tried-and-true. But we’re here to say that content marketing should be a part of your marketing plan, running with the big dogs. Why? Nielsen also reports 84% of people trust word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know. What makes someone recommend a company to others? A good customer experience, which often hinges on a person getting the information (content) he needs when and how he needs it. And, let’s talk costs. When you compare content marketing to other tactics like digital advertising, content marketing is shown to drive three times the sales of digital advertising and reduce cost per lead by 80% in the first five months.
Good content attracts customers
A good content strategy ensures you’re giving potential customers valuable content when they’re doing their research. And who doesn’t want something great for free? While the types of content and the channels you offer it through will vary, two things must always be true: it must be relevant and convenient for your audience to find, access and digest. When developing content to attract potential customers, there are three basic buckets to consider and use to move customers through the sales cycle:
- Awareness-building content. This establishes your company as an expert about something, whether it’s a niche relevant to a very specific audience or expertise that more broadly positions your company as a leader in your industry. Not specifically touting your company, products or services, awareness-building content demonstrates you’re engaged and a knowledgeable resource in your field.
- Educational content. Here’s where you get closer to talking about your products and services. This type of content addresses your audience’s pain points and provides answers to problems that your products or solutions can solve.
- Conversion content. This is the sales pitch, but you still have to offer value. Creating compelling offers like ebooks, white papers, guides, freemiums and trials (and adding a clear call to action) won’t annoy potential customers. Instead, they’ll feel like you’ve got their backs. Plus, the effort you’ve invested in creating awareness-building and educational content over time will make it more likely you’ll be top of mind when it’s time to purchase — making it less of a hard sell.
Good content retains customers
Once you’ve acquired a customer, you’ll need a constant supply of useful, valuable content that will help ensure the long-term customer experience is a good one. As Ardath Albee, author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, so clearly explains, you need a different content strategy for your current customers than for your potential customers. Why? You’ve solved their original problem.
As existing customers now, they’re looking for content that helps them get the most value from their investments — like user tips, self-help troubleshooting FAQs or thought-leadership articles and educational information that helps them effectively address related issues. And potentially helps you cross- or up-sell.
It’s a lot of work to create great content that will attract and convert customers. Don’t let it go to waste by dropping the ball once someone is in the door. It takes a solid content strategy that’s in line with your overall marketing strategy to create effective content marketing programs that will resonate with both prospective and current customers.