Net Promoter Scores and social impressions, click-through rates and SERP rankings; it’s fair to say that content marketing provides plenty of yardsticks against which to measure performance. Ask your boss, though—or your boss’ boss—and you’ll be reminded just why ‘the bottom line’ entered the general lexicon.
Put another way: if your content marketing isn’t selling, then don’t be surprised if the Board ain’t buying it.
The good news is that content marketing can sell—and how. Whether it’s about building awareness, generating leads, or increasing the lifetime value of your customers, content is the most versatile weapon in your armoury. A great strategy will deploy content in a variety of ways, addressing different people in different ways at different times; put it all together, and you’ll be left with a well-oiled, multi-faceted sales driving machine.
So how does it work? Well, let’s start big…
THE BROAD CHURCH
Just as footfall has long been seen as a fundamental requirement for brick-and-mortar retailers, online traffic is a dealbreaker for any business with an online presence…which, in 2021, basically means every business on the planet. Your website has the potential to act as your shop window, your showroom, your demonstration area, your sales floor, and everything in between—but it’s all worth naught if you’re not getting people there in the first place.
In that respect, content is your friend. Improving your Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) ranking; extending the duration of each visit to your site; increasing the number of pages viewed per visit; and improving your levels of engagement across social channels; these are all areas to which content is perfectly suited.
Well-written landing pages incorporating best practice SEO will cast a wide net, and strong evergreen content will give you an always-on framework from which to build. Social media activity that garners likes, shares and feedback will exponentially increase the number of eyes your brand lands in front of.
And while this serves as a foundation for everything your strategy should encompass, it’s important to remember that it’s just that; a foundation, or a starting point. Establishing a presence and attracting traffic is merely your ticket to the dance; now that you’re there, it’s time to figure out how to make the most of it…
While casting a wide net works for quantity, your real work begins when you zone in on your target market; the audience that’s actually going to buy what you’re selling. Identifying your audience is a mantra that comes up again and again in content marketing, but that’s for good reason; content marketing is about giving people what they want, where and when they want it, and it’s impossible to achieve without knowing your stuff.
If you’re familiar with how to build customer personas, you’ll understand just how much goes into getting a detailed picture of your customers. It’s the information that will allow you to tailor your content to best connect with those you’re looking to reach; an indispensable part of devising a strategy that delivers results.
You’ll likely have had a small taste of this earlier—like crunching keyword metrics and utilising different social channels—but from surveys and focus groups to deep dives into digital analytics, you’ll need to know your audience inside out. What formats do they enjoy? What are their pain points? What influences their purchasing decisions?
Because once you can answer those questions, you can start building the content you need to push them towards buying what you’re selling.
A JOURNEY SHARED
At the crux of using content marketing to drive sales is the notion of guiding customers from one stage of the sales funnel to the next—that is, from awareness, through to consideration, and then to conversion. An easy, three-step plan, right?
Well, no. Far, far from it. In reality, a customer journey these days can be a long and winding road, with myriad touchpoints; a hundred indecisions, visions and revisions, if you will. Try as you might, you’ll never own the entire path, either. There are simply too many sources, too many influential factors, and too many things outside of your remit for you to possibly control the process from start to finish.
The best outcome, then, is ensuring that whatever part of the journey a customer might be on, you’ve got the right thing to engage them at that moment, and guide them towards the next step.
They might be on the very brink of making a purchase, they might be taking their first proper look around the market, or they may be scrolling through their social feeds oblivious to a product’s very existence. Whichever the case, you’ll want your content to be tailored to addressing them there and then, and helping to push them towards the next stage.
In this sense, you really are driving sales; building your strategy to ensure that everything is constantly moving towards the next step of the customer journey. And while it might be tempting to complete the analogy by positioning sales as the finish line, there’s a kicker that might just be the most valuable contribution of them all.
Studies have suggested that attracting a new customer can be up to five times more expensive than keeping an existing one. Customer retention is often overlooked, but represents an extraordinary opportunity for enduring results—and content marketing is the ideal tool to elevate your game.
Every customer wants to feel appreciated—whether that’s being welcomed into a community, being acknowledged as an important stakeholder, or simply being reassured that their decision to support your business is a good one. To that end, content marketing’s unique ability to engage and add value is a game-changer, capable of building the type of loyalty and long-term relationships that fuel lasting success.
BEING THE BEST ANSWER
If the above makes one thing fundamentally clear, it’s that there’s a whole lot to consider when it comes to driving sales with content marketing. But if there’s a single point of focus, a north star to guide your journey, it’s this; whatever the question your audience might have at a given point, your content should provide the best answer.
‘Being the best answer’ is a content marketing mantra—and that’s because it works. From first contact to after-sales engagement, ensuring that everything you put out there is purposeful and pointed towards the next step in the journey will not only deliver results across just about any metrics you wish to use, but also turn your content marketing into a well-oiled sales-driving machine. In today’s always-on digital landscape, that means selling while you sleep.
And that’s the sort of thing to get your Board on board.