How Content Marketing Will Grow Your Business
The aim of content marketing is to constantly surround your prospects and customers with relevant material that informs, entertains and supports at every stage of the sales funnel.
David Clarke, director of DBS Internet Marketing shows businesses how they will grow using content marketing
Content Marketing is a buzzword at the moment but this form of marketing has been around for many decades. Not surprisingly, content marketing originated in the USA with John Deere's publication called "The Furrow". Like it or not, most marketing ideas head eastwards over the Atlantic to the UK.
The central theory behind content marketing hasn't changed but the way it is delivered has been completely transformed. Today, nearly all sales and buying decisions are made online.
Although the internet has only been around for a generation, the way it's been used for content marketing has evolved rapidly.
Getting your company to the top of the organic listings on Google was initially seen as the only way to go. If your firm wasn't in the top half of the first page of Google you more or less knew your company had "had it" in terms of traffic, enquiries and sales unless you turned to pay per click advertising.
Internet users have now become more savvy, possibly less trusting and certainly more demanding of a website's content.
Your Known Market
It sounds obvious but it's worth saying that your web visitors are your "known" market – they've heard of you as they are on your site.
We'll deal with how to use content marketing to collar your "unknown" market later in the article.
Your customers and prospects will quickly leave your website if they don't see what they want.
As well as vital information about your firm's products and services your site needs to surround its visitors with relevant supportive information. This will probably take the form of articles, blogs/news and FAQs.
Having relevant content will make you appear as the industry authority and the automatic go to people. It might convert visitors immediately or have a slower burn but it captures the whole spectrum eventually.
You need to give a great deal of thought to your website's content and develop a strategy for at least 12 months ahead.
Articles tend to be lengthier than news/blog posts. You're reading an article now and we've aimed to split it into logical sections and also use graphics – hopefully you'll agree that this is a good idea.
Spend some time creating attention grabbing headlines. Headlines have sold newspapers and magazines for years and they will make sure people start to read your article.
A title of "A brief history of content marketing" is not as effective as "How Content Marketing Will Grow Your Business".
Most people read website articles for one reason. They want to know what's in it for them.
A tried and trusted headline formula is a numerical one e.g.
This style of headline works because it peaks people's curiosity. They can probably think of 2 or 3 reasons why websites fail but want to read the article to see if they are doing something wrong on their own website and make sure they are not missing anything. By not reading the article they are saying "I'm OK if my website fails."
The "numerical" style article may be easier to write for some. Rather than blasting out 1500 words in one sitting the writer can deal with one point at a time, probably from a list of pre-prepared bullet points.
What to write about:
If you are completely bereft of ideas and don't know where to start think of the questions that your customer and prospects always ask and the pain points they have. This will probably form the base of a good few articles.
A good content marketing agency will have a full series of thoughtful questions for you to go over with them that will make article topics surface easily.
One of the biggest mistakes we see is when businesses write one article that covers everything when this could have been split down into a series of articles.
Try and keep your articles "evergreen" by avoiding time-related statements such as:
2016 will see a turning point where more than 50% of the UK will switch to XYZ
This will date your article and make it appear less relevant to your audience in the future. It's a bit like reading an old school text book and seeing "one day man will land on the moon".
Material for news/blog posts on your website can come from a variety of sources. The sources below are proven to be a good combination.
Split out your articles:
Articles can be split down into smaller, bitesize chunks. For example, a "6 Reasons Websites Fail" article can easily be split into a series of 6 news/blog posts that deal with each point and link back to the main article. Proper planning for the future really helps here to organise your content marketing efforts.
Relevant industry news:
Be on the lookout for news that would be relevant to your customers and prospects. When you find it pick out the good bits and craft your own short blog post. You're saying to your customers and prospects "I saw this and thought of you". Obviously don't use news about your competitors.
People buy people. People are interested in other people even if they don't know them well.
It doesn't take a lot of organising to constantly surround your customers with information about your team. They all have birthdays and will most likely have achievements in both their work and personal life. Think fund raising, triathlons, Race for Life etc. Your company will have newsworthy events through the year too. Make sure you capitalise on them!
Think about setting up a system so that whenever you make a news/blog post all your customers and prospects get an email with a link to it.
Social media posts
Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn are the perfect vehicles to supplement your content marketing efforts.
People who follow you on social media will see your daily posts. The more you post the more you will surround your known market with relevant content. This makes you the authority figure and the go to people.
As with news/blog posts a combination of sources works well:
- Link to a news/blog post
- Relevant industry news
- Human interest
You should definitely link your social media posts back to your website. Your website is your firm's shop. Use social media to drive people to your shop where they can, buy, enquire, telephone or subscribe.
Your Unknown Market
This section covers how to use content marketing to reach your unknown market.
Your unknown market is people who have no idea who you are and have never visited your website.
If you've read and understood the "Known Market" section then you will have realised that your website can quickly build up a fantastic bank of highly relevant content for your existing customers and prospects in the following formats:
- News/blog posts
- Social media posts
It's great that your existing customers and prospects will now be supported and informed by your content and its bang on line with your content marketing objectives.
The next step is to push your content out to your unknown market – in other words putting your content under the noses of people who would be your perfect customers but have no idea that you even exist.
If you've done it right it's highly likely that the overwhelming majority of your content will be "evergreen" which means it will be continually relevant and stay "fresh" for your readers.
You have a whole host of options to you to push out your content including a series of targeted e-shots to a purchased database that link to your articles.
Social media is the perfect place to promote your content with paid for marketing on:
- Facebook – see our Facebook Marketing video.
Using social media you can perfectly pinpoint your perfect customer in your perfect geographical area.
Plan and develop a content marketing strategy that your firm can maintain in terms of both writing and publishing. This could be, for example, a monthly article, weekly blog post and daily social media activity.