Content marketing is the creation of various forms of customer communications, the overall purpose of which is to increase sales and profits. Typical forms of content include blogs, white papers, webinars, newsletters, infographics and videos.
Content marketing assets tend to be added to the website (such as to an online library) and customers are advised about this fresh material via social media and email. The key thing to remember is that there are two interlinked reasons why content marketing will increase sales – SEO performance and customer experience
SEO (search engine optimisation)
Content marketing improves SEO (search engine optimisation). This means that content marketing will need to form a crucial part of your company’s overall aim to achieve first page status on Google for natural (non-paid) search results. Content marketing on its own is weak. It requires traditional SEO activities (on-page optimisation and off-page link building) supported by social media marketing to be effective. Social media means normal conversation channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as social media repositories such as YouTube, Google + and Pinterest. These three repositories have what are called ‘barnacle SEO’ properties. They are where you can place your content marketing materials to provide off-page signals to search engine robots that sweep the internet looking for information to feed their algorithms. Remember, the ultimate aim of search engines like Google is to serve up the best results for customers when they type in a specific keyword search term. This means that they are looking for reputation and credibility in the websites which flag for a specific keyword search term – and content marketing is an excellent way to fly a bigger and more enticing flag than the rest of the crowd. In fact, pound-for-pound, digital marketing is by far the best strategy for start-up enterprises and SME businesses with ambitions to punch far above their weight and achieve first page status in a relatively short period of time, and for a relatively small financial investment. The bottom line is that most of your competitors won’t have great digital marketing strategies, so if you do decide to invest in the creation and deployment of a digital marketing plan (featuring content creation, bespoke SEO and social media marketing), your business is unquestionably going to be highly visible digitally in your marketplace.
The second reason why you need to invest in a content marketing strategy is to improve customer experience. Customers come in two primary forms: pre-sales and post-sales. In the pre-sales environment, in what is often referred to as the sales pipeline, customers can be categorised as suspects and prospects. The aim is to help the overall effort to turn as many leads into sales as possible. Well written and appropriate content will create a perception of a professional and credible organisation that knows what it is talking about. It will help it to stand out from the crowd. It will demonstrate added value and thought leadership. It will enhance the reputation of the brand and make potential customers much more willing to interact with staff involved in the sales conversion process, depending upon the shape of the business model in question, and then to complete a desired call to action. Content marketing helps to walk customers through ‘AIDA’ – Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action – which is a good way of understanding the underlying process which turns suspects into prospects, and then into customers. This is not the end of the story. A customer has the potential to become a repeat customer, of the same items as well as breadth of basket ancillaries, and can also be cross-sold other products and services too. They are also a valuable source of new business opportunities through word of mouth marketing.
That’s what content marketing is in a nutshell – the creation of various forms of media, the aim of which is to deliver high quality and interesting content to search engines and customers, the objective of which is to increase sales – by driving relevant traffic to the website, by turning suspects into customers, by increasing customer lifetime value, and by developing referral opportunities. One more very important thing to note – it should be desired that content marketing creates a conversation. Customers will share materials they like, and they might also provide valuable insight that you can use to improve future materials. Make sure you interact in an appropriate way, and be guided by common sense in such matters. On a final note, it clearly helps to have a large and willing audience to distribute your content through social media channels on your behalf – you will therefore need to create a strategy to ensure you have a good quantity (and quality) of followers on your communication channels, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
We would also recommend content distribution through both email marketing campaigns to purchased data lists to feed the sales funnel with suspects, and also via marketing automation software if you have a customer relationship management (CRM) database to optimise the sales pipeline and increase customer lifetime value.
In terms of content creation, most organisations would benefit from external support from a professional copywriter. Writing is a skill, and although we can all write, we cannot all write well. We find it works best when our clients are proactively involved in supplying first draft content, which our copywriting team edit and refine until the end product delivers the desired thought leadership credentials.
Content marketing strategy
We hope that this article has provided you with some useful suggestions when it comes to developing a content marketing strategy for your business, and that you now have a better idea of the steps you need to take. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Stephen Brown, our head of strategy and planning, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 020 7795 8175. We would of course be happy to discuss your requirements in more detail on the phone or by email, or meet up for a free two-hour consultation at a venue of your choice.