If you made a resolution to nurture and grow your content marketing strategy in the New Year, you’re in good company. Seventy percent of B2B marketers report a year-over-year increase in the use of content marketing, and there’s a good reason for that: studies have shown that offering the right high-quality content to your target market leads to increased sales, valuable upsells and important repeat business.
Supercharging your content marketing this year simply makes sense, and here are five tips to keep in mind as you move forward:
- Start with a Strategy: You can have a lot of useful information to share with potential clients, but if it’s not part of a well-planned strategy, it will be a wasted effort. You want to offer content that fits into your overall marketing plan, aligns with your product or service offerings, and builds confidence with your target audience. You’ll only move the needle if you create a long term plan for releasing content that makes sense within the context of your product line and branding efforts.
- Bank on the Relationship – Not the Deal: This means you need to know who your targets are, their points of pain, and how to woo them over time. When you post content that is useful and accessible, and spans various points across the purchase cycle, you position yourself as an expert in the field, regardless of the size of your business.
Building a relationship begins with finding the right targets. Start with clean, qualified email data – either from your own house list or from a reputable data acquisition service, or a combination of the two. Most outside services will help you pinpoint prospects right down to their geographic location, business title, industry, size of organization and more. And the most respected acquisition firms will also allow you to make ongoing use of email data throughout the year to maximize your investment and augment your existing lists. Your goal with those individuals who have opted in to receive your content is to develop an ongoing relationship with them – a relationship that is not only anchored by your targeted or personalized content, but that is also nurtured over time, including after any initial sale.
- Don’t Over-Sell: The key to earning confidence and loyalty lies in being helpful and offering both expertise and solutions that address customers’ needs. Predict what questions your targets will ask, and answer them. And be sure to keep the focus on the customer, not on your product. This probably seems counterintuitive, maybe even painful, for sales executives and some marketers, but it’s an approach that delivers brand awareness and trust. Point of fact: 71 percent of executivessurveyed by The Economist Group said content does not make a positive impression when it feels like a sales pitch.
Decision makers will see through a thinly veiled sales pitch and lose respect for you, but they will appreciate real solutions, and they will remember your company when it comes time to make a related purchase if your content resonates with them.
- Call to Action: Customer-focused doesn’t mean no reference to your product whatsoever. The content you are offering is your expertise, and that is naturally going to include some connection to your product. As long as the content is useful and truly customer-focused, a reference to your product with a gentle call to action is natural and expected, according to Marketing Land.Your call to action is also your path to tracking the effectiveness of your content offering. Within the context of a well-designed content strategy, use analytics to track not only email open rates, but to also detect which of your online resources are viewed the most frequently and by whom. Just remember, the goal here is relationship building, not a single closed sale.
- Give Them What They Want: Despite the rise in popularity of online video and audio, the written word, and specifically, email, is king when it comes to content marketing. Decision makers still want to read – not watch or listen to – the most pressing information they need. Studies show that data sheets, white papers and case studies are the types of content most valued by decision makers. Video may be flashy and exciting, and it has its place on many marketing channels and social platforms including Facebook, but it’s not how B2B decision makers want their most important data delivered.
These are the ground rules to an effective content marketing program. What strategies have been the most successful for your organization?
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