We are officially in the middle of 'Marketing-as-a-Service Month' and have been providing you with best practices about how to better align your sales and marketing teams to produce the best results possible in terms of funnel conversions and closing customers. However, we have yet to cover arguably the biggest topic of all – content strategy.
As experienced inbound marketers, we know that content is an essential tactic for success in SEO, brand awareness and lead conversion, but thinking about content with your sales process in mind (as well as your marketing processes) calls for a new take on content.
However, before you tackle your content strategy, get a handle on your buyer persona – to make sure the words you are putting down on (digital) paper are going to strike a chord with your ideal customer. Have a quick read of our ‘Are Buyer Personas Really That Important?’ blog.
Now you are up to speed we can get into the nitty-gritty. There are four key elements to building a winning content strategy:
- Stop talking about yourself
- Take your customers on a journey
- Make sure you are scratching their content itch
- Be where they are. Always.
Stop Talking About Yourself.
In the initial early stages of the buyer's journey, it's easy to start rambling on about what you do best and the brilliant services you provide, and is too often what businesses do when initially building a traditional website (unlike innovative ‘Growth Driven Design’ websites). However, your content offerings need to instead provide educational, insightful and engaging nuggets of information to your readers. Focus your content around your buyers challenges and the gaps in their business that are preventing them from reaching their goals, but resist the urge to talk about your solution. There is no need, it's too early in their decision cycle, they aren't thinking about solutions just yet. By positioning yourself as a helpful thought-leader in the industry in which they reside, you are already coming off as a firm that is knowledgeable and generous with their opinions on best practices.
We call this ‘Top of Funnel Content’ (TOFU) content. This refers to blogs, newsletters, LinkedIn articles and social posts. The reason why this needs to be a self-less offering of information is because TOFU content resides in the ‘attraction’ stage of your inbound marketing process. Essentially you need to 'woo' your lead by talking about them and tending to their wants and needs – I mean no-one wants to go on a second date with someone who spent the whole first date talking about how great they are and not let you get a word in edgewise! TOFU content is your first date conversation, so make sure you make a good impression.
Take Your Customer On A Journey.
‘Top of Funnel’ tactics are just the tip of the iceberg. You need to take into consideration the whole buyer's journey from first click to close when planning your content strategy.
Buyers obviously need different content to progress from stage to stage of their journey and so your messaging must tell a logical story that encourages your buyer to the next level of their buying decision. If your content doesn't move your buyer along their buying journey, it's simply ineffective and should be scrapped. The later stages of the buyer's journey is a perfect time to liaise with your sales team, as they will often have a better understanding of what it takes to get a lead over the line to convert to a customer. Work hand in hand with them in defining the key pieces of content to progress buyers on their decision making journey. For example, the sales team might know that if an individual has visited at least ten pages of your website, that they often are looking for validation that your business knows what it's doing. The perfect piece of content to provide them with at this point might be a powerful video testimonial with key statistics on what results the client has achieved showing that you have specific industry experience in helping firms like them.
This piece of content can then be placed in your content strategy and more precisely in automated workflows so that if anyone does meet the criteria of visiting ten website pages then they will be sent this content piece.
Make Sure You Are Scratching Their Content Itch.
This is essentially a slightly crude way of saying ‘ know your audience’. You need to make sure that you are providing content for your buyer in a format that suits them best.
For example, white papers are excellent pieces of content for technical buyers seeking proof that your solution is fit for their purposes, whereas a case study may reassure a CEO that you have extensive experience in their vertical market or a ROI online tool could demonstrate perfectly to the CFO that she will get her money back on investing in your solution within her desired time frame.
We would recommend for this element of your content strategy, to do as much research as possible and perhaps even conduct a survey with your current customers to see what type of content appeals to them the most.
Be Where They Are. Always.
This part of your strategy is perhaps the most vital, as if you aren’t placing your content in spaces where your buyer can find it, then you are essentially making it as difficult for them to find you as playing Pokémon Go with a blindfold and a broken phone.
You need to ensure that you are distributing content into the channels where your buyers are active. This is another area where your sales team can really help you out as they are likely to be (or at least should be) connected to your target buyer personas online. This means that they should have a good understanding about whether your ICP is more likely to hang out on Twitter, or likes to keep things personal with Facebook, or loves to get involved in a comment war on LinkedIn. Be sure your sales teams are on the right platforms and share content through their profiles. In addition to that, by publishing content through your sales team, you will position them as influencers in your industry and help your buyers to see them as a good source of information to help them solve their business problems. Equally, when buyers are later in their funnel, one-on-one meetings, intimate breakfast meetings or seminars might be a better channel to share your content pieces.
So there you have it, the four key elements you must complete to ensure a winning content strategy. If you have any questions or would like to pick our brains on this topic, please feel free to get in touch whenever suits you best. We can also offer you more in-depth information on this topic with our ‘Marketing-as-a-Service Month’ eBook ‘3 Reasons It’s Time To Redesign Your Sales & Marketing’. To grab a free copy, click on the button below:
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