Content marketing, SEO and social media marketing really go hand-in-hand (in-hand). The content you create fuels your social media activity, which spurns social signals that help that content do better organically, hopefully driving more traffic to your site over time. In my opinion, content really is the foundation of any successful SEO program and is what will propel your online brand forward. But the key to content marketing is making sure your content is appealing to the right audience at the right time. After all, the point of inbound marketing is to be where your audience is when they need you. So is your content marketing setting you up to be in the right place at the right time or are you missing the mark?
In an interview I did with B2B marketing expert Michael Brenner, he said;
…not every buyer is ready to marry you the first time they “meet” you. Buyers, have to go through a process of learning, absorbing, sharing and deciding. This is compounded by the fact that there are many people playing a part in the decision process. So effective content marketing will map to the number of people and their questions in the early, middle and late-stages of the buying process.
The next time you sit down to plan out your content marketing campaign here are three questions you need to ask yourself:
Who are the influencers and decision makers you are trying to reach?
If you sell an enterprise software product who are you really trying to reach? The CIO might be the top of the IT food chain but would an IT director be the one actually doing all the research? Maybe your “in” into the company is the IT team itself. After all, those programmers and developers are going to be the ones actually using your software. They might not have the authority to buy, but they can be you internal champions and influence the decision making process. Depending on what your enterprise software actually does (does it impact marketing efforts, customer service and experience management or enterprise sales teams?) you might need to appeal to other departments as well. You’re going to need to convince everyone in the department that your software product is the best solution for them, which means you need to create content that speaks to the needs and goals of each influencer and decision maker. For instance, the IT department wants a product that will make their daily lives easier while the CIO needs to balance the budget AND make IT a competitive advantage for the enterprise. Your content marketing efforts need to address the unique needs of everyone involved in the buying process if you want to ultimately close the sale.
What information does your audience need right now?
As Michael also pointed out in his interview, “There are many more people looking to understand “Big Data” for example, than are looking to buy it tomorrow. So your content production should map to the volume and types of questions your customers are asking.”Someone might not be ready to buy today but that doesn’t mean you can ignore everyone that is in the information gathering phase of their buying cycle. What will the CIO want to know about your enterprise software product? Do they want to hear the nitty-gritty details or are they looking for the “big picture?” How does that differ from what a programmer would want to know about your product? Your content marketing efforts need to answer the questions, both broad and specific, posed by your target audience if you want to establish yourself as an expert and industry leader.
If you aren’t quite sure what kind of information your audience is looking for ask your customer service and sales teams! These front-facing employees manage your prospects and customers day in and day out and have their finger on the pulse of your audience’s information needs. You can also use your website’s analytics to keep track of how people are searching for and finding your website, as well as what content seems to get the most social and organic activity. If you track the data long enough certain content themes are bound to appear.
How can you push prospective customers further along in their buying cycle?
Once you’ve captured your audience’s attention with a piece of content the next challenge is keeping their attention. Chances are you aren’t the only game in town so what can you offer your audience that will keep them interested and engaged and drive them deeper into their buying cycle? This is going to vary from business to business (customer to customer really) but you can’t hope that one touch point is enough to keep a potential customer interested and involved with your brand. Can you connect with them on social media? Get them to sign-up for a newsletter? Download a trial version? Register for a webinar? These “micro conversions” might not amount to a monetary sale just yet, but with every micro conversion that prospect gets one step closer to becoming an actual paying customer.
It might seem like quite a content mountain to climb, but that’s why it’s so important to know everything there is to know about your target audience. The better you can define them.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / leungchopan