Your audience, no matter the size, wants valuable content from your and your business.
Just because you’re creating content, doesn’t mean that you’re doing content marketing. So where does content marketing fit into the marketing mix?
I’m so glad you asked. Let’s get into it.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
Defining what a marketing strategy is can be a little tricky. It’s an all-encompassing term that isn’t exactly straightforward. Marketing is nestled firmly in every area of a business, from beginning to end.
A marketing strategy as defined by HubSpot is “a detailed, structured plan of a company’s promotional efforts across a wide range of platforms and channels. A marketing strategy typically includes objectives, target audience profiles, content creation steps, key performance indicators, and other components”.
What a mouthful.
In a nutshell, marketing is the vehicle that turns your ideal customer into loyal customers by exposure to your brand, offer, and/or service. It can be accomplished through inbound or outbound marketing efforts, or a combination of both.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing, then, is a long-term inbound marketing strategy that drives profitable customer action. Its purpose is to get people to know you, trust you, and ultimately take action.
“Action” can be a variety of things including, but certainly not limited to: downloading an ebook, joining your email list, or reaching out to a salesperson.
Effective content marketing meets the prospective customer where they are and addresses their questions and concerns, oftentimes before they even know they have a question. It requires that:
You produce relevant high-quality content.
You curate it toward the appropriate stage of the buyers’ journey.
You release it regularly and in the appropriate spaces.
You maintain that content to ensure its relevance, make updates as needed, and historically optimize it.
You engage with your audience to answer questions, provide feedback, and build trust.
Sounds time-consuming, right?
It can be.
But hear me out–content marketing is only becoming increasingly important for businesses.
That means if you want to see success, you need to get on board. It’s not a standalone tactic either. Getting hyper-clear on your overall business goals and how content marketing can be an integral piece of the marketing strategy that drives it is critical.
Content Marketing and Your Marketing Funnel
Let's think about the buyer's journey for a minute.
People don’t typically buy from you the first time they find your product or service. It’s the cumulative touches that build the buyer’s trust in your product and brand that ultimately lead to them taking profitable action.
There are three distinct phases of your marketing funnel which you can build a strategic content framework around:
Discovery / Awareness Phase (aka Top of the Funnel)
You’ve got to do the footwork before a customer trusts you enough to buy from you. The action you take here and the content you design needs to be geared toward getting attention and bringing people closer.
Now for the million-dollar question: How do you make people pay attention?
Before you go standing in the middle of Times Square shouting about your product or service, you’ll need to identify who your target audience is. A message to everyone is a message to no one. You can do this through buyer persona and market research.
After you’ve done that, you can begin to zero in on what makes them tick, how to solve their questions, and how to bring them in.
Consideration / Interest Phase (aka Middle of the Funnel)
Middle-of-the-funnel individuals are at a critical juncture of the cycle. They are actively engaging with your content to determine if your products or services are a right fit for them and their needs. Fail to address their concerns, and you’ll lose customers before they think twice.
Now that they are becoming more familiar with who you are and what you do, you need to nurture them. Content that serves the middle-of-the-funnel individuals could include:
A nurturing email sequence
A downloadable guide
A ebook with a high-level overview of your product or service
An SEO blog series to answer the most common questions
The key at this stage is to provide valuable information that wows them without giving away the farm.
Purchase / Conversion (aka Bottom of the Funnel)
At the bottom of the content marketing funnel is where your leads or prospective customers finally take the plunge by submitting a form, clicking BUY, or joining your email list for example.
The content delivered to people at this stage is hyper-focused on encouraging them to take the final action. Your ideal customer is looking to buy from you but they may need a little extra guidance. Use ebooks, one-pagers, or blog posts to drive home the value your offer or service provides to seal the deal.
Additionally, use a clear and direct CTA that is strategically placed to make it e-a-s-y for people to click–don’t overlook it. It can be as simple as “Download the guide now”, “Call us now”, or “I’ve got FOMO, sign me up for the webinar”.
(That last one got me good.)
Be a Human
For quite some time, content on the internet has been optimized for search engines. (SEO is an entire strategy on its own after all). It’s what Google wanted us to do, right? Play the game and win a seat on page one.
And while that’s great (and still important to an extent) we need to remember that we are creating content for humans. So. Be. A. Human.
No matter what stage of the content marketing funnel you’re creating content for, approaching it from a servant's heart is what will take your content from good to great. Deeply and intimately understanding the way your ideal customer thinks, feels, wants, and needs will take your content to the next level and ultimately build trust.
How Can Content Marketing Help You?
Content marketing has its roots tangled in every department of your business. It requires the collective hive-mind of your business and should work collaboratively with each department to produce the highest-quality content.
Effective content marketing demands that you create content with the intent that it will guide people to you the inbound way, instead of the outbound way.
If you do this successfully, content marketing can help you:
Close more sales and generate leads.
Build trust and brand loyalty.
Build brand recognition.
Converts buyers into brand advocates.
Reach larger business goals.
Content marketing is truly an unsung hero when it comes to your overall marketing and business strategies. It creates a cohesive message across your brand, draws people toward you in an authentic and organic way, it boosts revenue, and provides a delightfully human experience in a digital landscape.
Not sure where to start? Contact us–we’re here to help you level up your content marketing game.
(See what I did here? The palm tree isn't… standing… alone…)