Why content marketing?
When done right, content marketing (aka inbound marketing) can help your business website:
- Get found online
- Establish your business as an authority in its field
- Address your buyers’ needs, questions, and concerns
- Generate leads
- Nurture those leads until the buyer is ready to speak with sales
Why bother? Two reasons.
- Your customers are going to the web to help them with their purchase decisions
- For many businesses, content marketing is essential because it is the most efficient and effective way to attract leads and customers
Who needs content marketing?
There are two types of markets, in particular, where content marketing can make a big difference for your business.
1. Highly competitive
If you are in a highly competitive market and people look for businesses like yours online, they need to be able to find you on Google. To help you get found, even among all that competition, you can implement either or both of these two tactics:
- Buy ads on Google (SEM – Search Engine Marketing). SEM can produce immediate results, but there is no long term benefit.
- Attract visitors “organically” via an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) program that includes producing new content for your website on an ongoing basis. SEO takes longer than SEM for the results to produce optimal results, but those results should be more long-lasting and help position you as an authority in your category. In addition, you can post the content you create for your website on the social media platforms where your buyers hang out.
Many businesses do both. Some do both and reduce (or eliminate) their ad spend once SEO has kicked in.
2. Medium to high consideration purchase categories
In some categories, where buyers give a purchase more than a passing amount of consideration, 70% of shoppers will have made up their minds about what they are going to buy before they ever speak with a salesperson.
Products and services that require more than a passing amount of consideration from the buyer tend to share one or more of these characteristics (relative to their personal or business life):
- Complex – may require a considerable learning curve
- New to the market
- Game changing – expected to have a major impact
- Out of the mainstream
From the buyer’s perspective, examples of purchase decisions that require at least a moderate amount of consideration include:
- Finding the right architect and/or builder
- Replacing a vital business process software
- Creating a new look for your trade show booth
- Reducing a building’s energy consumption
- Selecting which new car to buy
- Hiring a content marketer
When content marketing works
Content marketing works only when it is relevant in terms of the buyer’s need and stage in the shopping process (buyer’s journey).
There are many companies that put a lot of content on their website but still talk mainly about themselves. In traditional marketing, this kind of writing is known as trying to sell features instead of benefits.
Yes, the features of your products and services are important. Buyers will want to make sure that your offer “does this.”
But, you have to see content through your buyer’s eyes. The fact that your solar panels produce a certain quantity of electricity is probably not as important to your buyer as the fact that they will never have to buy another kilowatt from the electric company.
Mid to high consideration shoppers go through several stages before they are ready to negotiate or buy.
- Something occurs (before they even begin their shopping) that makes the purchase highly desirable or necessary
- Determining what they hope the purchase will achieve (what a successful outcome looks like)
- Finding all the options available
- Deciding which options to consider
- Evaluating those options
- Discussing their evaluations with other decision makers
- Getting input from peers/friends
- Narrowing their options to a small number they are willing to speak with
Not every shopper will go through all of these stages, and they won’t necessarily occur in that exact order.
It is critical that you understand your ideal customers’ journey well enough to know the process they go through and what factors influence their decision making.
Once you truly understand your ideal customer, you know exactly what content to create so you can reach them at every stage on their journey.
Strategic at heart
Content marketing is strategic at heart because there are so many things you need to know and so many choices you have to make in order to use content marketing efficiently.
Without a sound strategy, what you might call content marketing could just as easily be described as throwing content into the Internet and seeing what comes out the other side.