Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. –Content Marketing Institute
Content Marketing Goal: Convert readers into advocates, leads and customers
According to the 2014 BtoC Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends–North America study, conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, more than 50 percent of B2C marketers (52 percent, to be precise) have no content marketing strategy.
The study reports adoption rates of content marketing are on the rise and confidence has grown:
- 90% of B2C marketers are using content marketing, compared with 86% last year.
- B2C marketers have rated many tactics higher in effectiveness this year; in-person events and eNewsletters top the list of effective tactics.
- B2C marketers are using all social platforms more often, with LinkedIn use registering the biggest jump (from 51% to 71%).
- B2C marketers confidence in the effectiveness of video use polled at 65% approval rate.
Crafting a strategy for content marketing is a big hurtle for small and large companies alike. Another challenge after creating great content is planning and deploying a solid plan for great distribution to get the message to the targeted audience. Getting the right content in front of prospects is the key to moving a buyer through each stage of the sales cycle.
Where does content marketing fit in the four buying cycle steps?
Awareness –Buyers identify a need and recognize your product/service as a solution
The key is to reach the buyer with your branded message at the point that they become aware of the need. You must first know where they go for information and be able to quickly articulate the key benefits of your product or service and how it solves their need. A well planned promotion helps stimulate the ultimate reality of reeling in interested buyers and then guiding them through the rest of the sales cycle.
Consideration – Buyers formulate criteria and evaluate based on level of importance
As the buyer digs deeper, after having interest peaked during the awareness stage, the ability to convey benefits that coincide with the buyer’s needs is crucial. Your message can help them set the criteria that only you can meet and apply importance to key benefits of your brand. Adding in testimonials, product/service satisfaction ratings, awards and other validating information aids in establishing credibility which helps lead buyers to the purchase step. This is the stage where offering information of value in exchange for customer contact information is recommended. ( IE: No-cost consultation/evaluation, White Paper or Case Study download, access to an educational webinar, subscription to a relevant e-newsletter or an expert article) Short of making an immediate purchase, these become leads that can be nurtured and eventually moved to the purchase step.
Rule #3: Give your prospects enough facts, and no more, about your product and how it will benefit him, to convince him that he is justified buying. -Dale Carnegie-The 5 Great Rules of Selling
Purchase – The value proposition and promotions
The buyer has decided on a product/service that best matches his need and has assigned a value in order to make a purchase. If you offer a compelling promotion and have established value and benefits during the consideration step, you should be in good shape at crunch time. It is highly recommended that there is a mechanism in place to capture customer/client contact information (email address, phone #s, etc.) at the point of sale to foster an ongoing relationship for future sales.
After-Sale – Reinforcement and referrals
Repeat sales and referrals are the gravy associated with the buying cycle and is often overlooked. Your product/service after-sale cycle may include support, appointment reminders, and tips for use or maintenance as a few examples. Any reason to provide excellent after-sale support and relevant communication with each customer/client impacts future buying and fosters positive word of mouth.
Content Marketing Tip 1 Action
A Documented Content Marketing Strategy Improves Effectiveness
Of course, it is optimum to work with a professional marketer when creating your “voice” or messages for the targeted customer/client, but your expertise in each product or service is instrumental in the creation process. Most importantly, it is key to document your content strategy for continuity and to boost overall results of your marketing.
The outcome of the study from the Content Marketing Institute gives the following advice based on the statistics discovered during the study:
“While half of marketers say they have a verbal content marketing strategy, only 27% of B2C marketers have taken the time to put their strategy in writing. Of B2C marketers with a documented content marketing strategy, 43% say they are successful at tracking ROI (compared with the 23% cited for the total sample.) This is just one example of how those who have documented their strategy differ from their peers. Other attributes include: allocating more budget to content marketing, producing more content, and distributing their content more widely via social media. The key here is the same one we reported with the B2B report: If you want to be more effective at content marketing, put your strategy in writing.”