This guide provides you with a simple introduction to Content Marketing, keeping it relatively light and jargon free.
Content Marketing at its most basic level is the providing of content (Blogs, eBooks, White Papers, Video etc.) in order to drive customers towards your business (with the end goal being the generation of qualified leads).
Here are 5 steps to start you on your way in developing a successful content marketing strategy:
1. What is your end objective?
This will probably be sales leads, data capture that can be followed up with either email marketing (marketing qualified leads) or your sales team contacting your potential customer (sales qualified leads).
2. What are your customer personas?
This is similar to describing your target audience, with a little more detail. Think of it like your target audiences turned in to characters. For example if you were an Airline you may have several:
Jack the Backpacker: Travels regularly but on a tight budget. Always looking for the cheapest route to the strangest locations.
Fiona the Business Exec: Likes to travel with style and comfort, mostly to popular city airports.
The Smith Family: Go away once a year, like a deal but also want some comforts to keep the kids happy.
Remember to be realistic; the idea here is to segment your audiences so that the right content can be decided. If your customer personas are not an accurate representation of the real world market then you will end up wasting time and energy writing content that does not appeal to anyone.
3. What content and when?
The first step here is to think of content that will match your customer personas needs and ‘pain points’ i.e what problem does your products resolve. We like to break this down in to 3 types: Awareness, consideration & decision (This is similar to the AIDA model, originally developed by E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898).
At the awareness stage you are looking to make your customers aware of your business and the industry you are in. If your customers are at this stage they are not looking to buy, so sales promotions will be of little interest to them. This is about informing the customer, especially those new to the industry. Think basics, not technical expertise here.
The consideration stage is aimed at the customers who know about your industry, or the type of product you provide. This stage is a chance to show how informative your business is. Providing tips, guidance and how to guides surrounding the product.
Finally the decision stage is for customers ready to buy. ‘Buyers Guides’, ‘Installers Handbook’ and other content that signifies wanting to own or use the product in the imminent future should be provided here. Where possible you will want to ‘gate’ this content. See section 4 for more on this.
Once you have decided the content and segmented it into these 3 sections you should then link the content together to form a journey. For example if your product is a bicycle the following journey could be an option:
|Using cycling to improve your fitness. (Blog)||Road Bike vs. Mountain Bike, a quick guide. (Video)||Road Bike Buyers Guide (Gated E-book)|
As you can see, each piece of content is aimed at a different section of the customer lifecycle (no pun intended). Think of it like a funnel, and at each stage you are narrowing the audience down to those who are looking to buy. But how do you know which customers are looking at the ‘Decision’ content? This is where we move to step 4.
4. Gate your best Content.
This term simply means content that your customer will have to pass through a ‘gate’ to receive. By this we mean they have to trade some of their information to access the content.
Taking the example journey in section 3, whilst we will let anyone view the blog & video, if they wish to access the buyer’s guide we would ask them to input an email address and name. We know this person will be interested in buying the product, and so it is safe to assume that the email address and name provided are a sales qualified lead. Remember that gated content must be worth the customer giving their information for. If it is the same information they could readily find on another website they will not be willing to invest. You can gate content at other stages of the product lifecycle if you deem it to be valuable, just remember that the leads gained this way at earlier stages may not be looking to buy yet, so don’t bombard them with sales emails.
5. Promote it!
Seed your content online. Send links out to industry journalists / blogs and post across your social networks. If your content remains informative and not ‘sales-ey’ it has a good chance of appealing to industry press and becoming highly shareable.