The truth is that if your business is online and you’re unwilling to produce new content on regular basis, you’re just not going to get noticed. You’ll blend into the background amongst all the white noise of the internet.
Like any sales team that has no pitch, or an advertisement without a message, an online business with little or no content marketing simply doesn’t get recognised.
“42% of companies have an executive in their organization directly responsible for an overall content marketing strategy.”
- What makes great content, and how can you prove it?
- The 3-minute content marketing plan that gets leads and converts customers
- 5 options for non-blog-post content
“60% of marketers create at least one piece of content each day.”
The biggest problem with any content creation (with a view to marketing), is that the whole process seems slow. Even when it is published, how can you tell if your content is any good?
The way people become customers and buy from you has changed significantly over the last 10 years. No more can sales folks remain the sole gatekeepers of information. People can research and learn everything they need to about an industry or product before they buy.
“Content is the reason search began in the first place.”
– Lee Odden
Your customers now reach you later in their buying cycle; that is, closer to their final decision. It’s no longer about waiting for them to come to you for advice. You need to share and give away more than ever in order to build trust and show you know what you’re talking about.
On top of all that, you’ve got more businesses to compete with. Not just within your industry, but online. How does your business produce stuff that stands out?
“92% of marketers said their organisation views content as a business asset.”
– Content Marketing Institute
Why doesn’t it work now?
Content that is dull, dull, dull.
The biggest reason that businesses struggle with content marketing isn’t necessarily because they’re unable to create it. It’s because what they create is dull as ditch water.
The cycle goes something like this. We produce a few blog posts for our blog and then share them out. This will drive a small amount of traffic to our site. If the title and social post are boring, or unclear (another huge problem that content faces), it’s simply not going to drive much traffic.
The little traffic that the post does attract, lands on the post. But because the copy is dull, people simply don’t read on. And if they don’t read on they won’t sign up to a newsletter or email lead magnet. And that means we don’t capture many leads.
The leads that we do capture are then sent the same boring content, so they just don’t engage with us and convert into customers (probably unsubscribing so they won’t hang themselves).
So the alternative is that you need to really work hard at getting every line and word to compel readers to move to the next paragraph. Keep sentences tight and snappy. Use lurid, informative and engaging titles that clearly explain WHY something is important to read.
If you only want to produce safe, dull content, then that’s fine. But you’re just not going to get more customers with it.
“Content marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.”
– David Beebe, Vice President, Global Creative + Content Marketing, Marriott International
No clear link between content and next steps
Okay, so now let’s say you start getting more traffic because you’ve improved your titles and social posts. Your posts are now a great read and you can see more people are visiting for longer and your shares are up?
So how do we convert people that read a blog post into leads and email subscribers? They’re not going to just call you up straight away to buy (unless perhaps your posts are that good).
The reality is you’ll probably need to place a lead magnet and email capture form in front of them that’s RELEVANT to what they’re reading now.
For example, if you’re a motorbike dealership. You may have written a great post on keeping your bike protected in the winter. Everyone who reads that post is obviously interested in keeping their bike protected in the winter.
By offering the next steps as “would you like us to give your bike a winter check” or maybe “view this 10-point video on how to best protect your bike this winter” – you are offering something specific to and relevant to that post.
Not having a strategy
Sometimes your content marketing doesn’t produce the expected results. That’s not to say the whole system doesn’t work. It just means that you’re not producing the right content for the right audience yet.
By sharing more of what you’re great at, you’ll reach as many people as possible with your message. Everyone who visits certain posts are encouraged to take the next step via an email lead capture so you can send more useful content.
Your business needs a clear step-by-step process for producing, promoting and measuring your content marketing. And we can help give you that below…
“The only way to win at content marketing is for the reader to say, ‘This was written specifically for me.”
So how do we do it?
Let’s take a look at how we produce a smart content marketing strategy for our business and how you can do it for yours.
Whats the 3-step process?
We have a simple 3-step process to our content marketing that has increased conversions measurably. In particular, we don’t worry about the final core product sale when traffic lands on a blog post, and we look at what makes sense to sell to them.
By having a topic that we focus on for a 3-step process, for example “bike protection in winter”, we look at the most common questions and problems that people face. We’ll produce open, free blog content for this part. This is step 1 of the 3-step process.
Next, we’ll ask “if you’re serious about [problem or benefit], then you need to watch this”. This is our call to action. This is step 2 of the 3-step process.
We offer something for people who are serious about the benefit or problem that people are facing if they’re reading that blog post. For example, it could be like we talked about above, a video on how you protect your bike yourself or a free winter check if you come in.
The point is that we offer something specific and relevant to our readers so they understand what the next step is. We make sure to protect it with an email sign up or lead form so we can market to them later.
Finally, step 3 of the 3-step process is to say “while I’m here, why don’t we…”. Think of the reader who has checked their bike, then decided to bring it in for a free checkup. Or the reader who signed up to the free protection video.
Asking them “while you’re here…” or “while I’m with you…” is the best way to make a logical sale. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount. We’re just trying to get them to buy from us so they overcome their fear of opening their wallet with us for the first time.
Email marketing can majorly improve your conversions. It builds trust and another huge factor is that it can run entirely on automation.
Typically we use the below flow for our email marketing.
- Deliver the content they signed up to
- Welcome email with our details
- Similar topic content to add value
- Different topic content
- Sales email
- Similar topic content
- Sales email
What we’re doing is saying “if you liked that, you’ll love this”. It’s a simple tactic that lets us share more content with our subscribers and leads and shows them we just want to help. Eventually we’ll send a few sales emails to move them onto the next stage, asking ourselves “what is logical for this lead to buy next?”
Vary the post and delivery types
Content marketing thrives on variety. You don’t just have to write blog posts to share. You can produce different types of content for different purposes.
The truth is that most of the time the delivery method itself is NOT what people are interested in. But it does matter that you vary your approach in order to appeal to different methods that people consume.
You can even re-purpose content by turning older blog posts into some of the other methods below. For example, taking the same content in a blog post and doing a video piece to camera on the same subject, or turning the points in a video into a downloadable checklist.
- Video – Video is a hugely powerful weapon in your content marketing arsenal. You don’t have be a talking head in front of the camera if you’re camera shy. You can use animations or talk over slides.
- PDF – Compile a longer eBook from compiling a bunch of older posts, or write up a process to give away.
- Slides – Can be a deliverable in its own right, or a recording of a webinar. Slides can be a great resource for customers.
- Presentations – If you get the chance to do a live talk, record it and use that as content later.
- Infographics – Most people love infographics – they’re easy to reverse engineer and share.
In essence, all you really need to worry about is how you can help people. If you can focus on that and produce content proving to your customers how useful you are to them you’ll starting seeing great results.
We often hear “but I give away the farm they’ll do it all themselves and not use me”. There will always be a small percentage of true DIY-ers looking for stuff on the cheap and that are committed to doing it themselves. In which case there’s nothing you can or could have done to get them interested in buying from you. So you’ve not actually lost anything there.
However, there are the two other camps. Those that started out like the DIY-ers, who thought maybe they can do this themselves. But now, having read your content, they understand more of what’s involved and haven’t got the time, and so would now rather pay for some help from someone who knows what they’re talking about (and guess who they’re likely going to call?). The third camp are the ones that all along just want help from someone who can honestly help them. And again, your content will have positioned you as such a person or business.
If you’re truly serious about content marketing, make sure you check out our email marketing do’s and don’ts guide (see below). It’s a core component of content marketing and shows you how to get more leads to convert into customers on automation.