There's a phrase that's repeated quite often in the marketing industry: "Content is king." It's hardly an exaggeration to say that content, more than anything else, is the engine that propels the consumer through the sales funnel. Most companies understand that valuable content, aligned with each stage of the buyer's journey, is a key to increased profits and sustainable growth.
Even the best content won't have an impact unless it's delivered to the right people, at the right time, through the right channels. So the question that marketing departments have to answer, year after year, is: How can we create (and distribute) high value content? Or in other words: How can we become a master at content strategy and development? Let's dive into that question below.
Just as there are several ingredients that must come together in order to make a delicious cake, there are also several components that must work together in order to form "good content" — that is, content that fulfills its purpose. Here are a few of those components:
Besides the obvious issues around plagiarism, non-original content can make a prospect wonder: "If this company is repeating another organization's message verbatim, why not bypass them and go directly to the source?" Granted, good content often includes reference links to back up assertions made.
Nevertheless, it's important to develop original content in order to attract and keep the attention of prospective customers, even if that originality comes in the form of a unique brand voice or tone, rather than a significant divergence from similar content.
A piece of superior content will almost invariably have a strong CTA at or near the end of the post or video. You don't want to just engage your consumers; you want to clearly outline what their next step should be. CTAs that use strong verbiage ("Download Now," "Sign Up Today," etc.) and attention-grabbing colors like red or orange tend to be very effective at generating leads and converting prospects into customers.
A lot of content is designed to answer common questions that consumers have; after all, a high percentage of online searches are initiated because people want to find answers to specific questions. The best FAQ-style content answers the right questions, and does so concisely, with maximum efficiency of language.
On the surface this may seem like a little thing. However, what would it say about your company if all of your blog posts are riddled with easy-to-spot spelling and grammar errors? You may lose a lot of credibility in the eyes of consumers. In fact, some consumers may decide that if your business doesn't have enough care to proofread its blog posts, it certainly won't care for its customers. The same principle holds true for outdated or garish formatting. (Please, no Comic Sans for your web pages!)
There are other factors that you should consider in the process of developing a superior content marketing strategy. First of all, it's important to recognize that sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, you should work closely with your sales reps when creating new content.
For example, identify key goals that your sales team is trying to meet. Ask them about customer pain points that they've noticed from past interactions. It may even be a good idea to mine your sales reps for information about popular phrases that consumers use, or common interests and concerns that they've brought up. The takeaway is that your sales reps are "on the front lines" when it comes to business-customer interactions - and their insights can help shape and optimize your content strategy.
Identify content that aligns with questions from prospects.
As mentioned previously, the primary purpose of content marketing is to move your prospects through the sales funnel. If there are any "bottlenecks" in the process, the root cause often comes down to a lack of information — in other words, consumers have a question, but there's no content available to answer it.
Make sure that your content strategy includes helpful information that aligns with consumer queries. If there are no existing bottlenecks, find out which pieces of content are the biggest contributors, and label them as "Important."
Identify what content needs to be tweaked to provide the most value.
Once you've identified your important pieces of content, decide which ones can be refined for maximum impact. This refining process doesn't have to be extremely complicated or labor-intensive.
For example, maybe one of your high-performing blog posts simply needs to be updated for the current year. Or perhaps a keyword analysis uncovers the need to adjust a focus keyword in order to capture more traffic. Whatever the case may be, you can always A/B test your adjustments and go back to the drawing board as needed.
Take note of which pieces no longer belong in your strategy.
Low-performing content not only yields minimum ROI, but may also become needless clutter in your content strategy, distracting prospects from more valuable posts/videos. If a piece of content no longer fits in your strategy, don't hesitate to trim the fat.
Sometimes your best content comes from an unexpected source. For example, have you considered transforming product spec sheets, comparison charts, or technical manuals into pieces of content for mass consumption? The fact is, buyers at a certain point in their journey (specifically, the "evaluation stage") may want access to the information contained within internal documents. If you curate that information and deliver it to your audience in "bite-sized" chunks, your transparency may convince many of them to purchase from your brand.
While it's important to develop single pieces of content that are valuable in their own right, the ideal situation for any business is to have all content directed towards a specific goal (typically customer acquisition). Perhaps the best way to achieve this consolidation effect is to create a customer journey map, and then match your content to each "stop" along the way.
Once you've completed your customer journey map, you'll be able to create a well-rounded database, or "content library" that can meet the needs of any prospect at any point in the journey, and propel him or her onwards to the next stage of the funnel.
How can you create a customer journey map? There are a number of steps involved in the process, which may include:
How can I make content that's unique and engaging?
You may need to leverage your knowledge as a subject matter expert to develop more in-depth content; or you may need to develop a more engaging "brand persona" to attract your target audience.
How should the content be shared?
You want to distribute your content through the channels that are most popular with your core demographic. For instance, if your primary audience is made up of tech-savvy Millennials, you may want to focus your content delivery efforts on trendy social media platforms, or partner with influencers that will share your content and promote your brand.
Finally, once your content strategy is in place, you'll need to occasionally evaluate your content's performance, both in part and in its entirety. You'll need to use key performance indicators (KPIs) that are appropriate for your business objectives.
As you go through the evaluation process, be sure to gather feedback from your sales team. They may be able to help you identify opportunities for improvement in the next iteration of your content strategy.
Of course, the creation of high value content may not be one of your core competencies. If that's the case, don't worry: our team of marketing experts at Brightlark Digital can guide you through each step of the content creation process, from developing the customer journey map to optimizing a key piece of content. Reach out to us today to learn more.