What is content marketing?

Introduction to content marketing

It’s using articles, whitepapers, videos, checklists and other types of content to nurture prospects and clients along each step of the buyer’s journey.

 

Content marketing needs to be a core discipline of your marketing strategy. It compels us to take a close look at our client's needs to provide partner branded information hyper-targeted to those that need it.  Helpful to this cause is the journey that a prospect takes to becoming a client and their journey as a client.   Explore, Evaluate, and Purchase, are before the sale, and Expand Renew, and Advocacy are after the sale.  To help a client or prospect through their journey content appropriate to each stage should be available.  Appropriate content you may already own or need to develop could be whitepapers, articles, social postings, blogs, benchmark reports, landing pages, downloadable tools, worksheets, infographics or videos.  Almost anything that’s client facing either in whole or in part could be and asset that you can use to provide valuable information to a client or prospect.

 

Remember in the cloud era people purchase very differently, they research extensively before they even attempt to make contact with a partner.  Understand where your persona gathers information, for example what social groups they frequent, blogs they follow, and topics of interest you can tweet about.  Don’t only count on yourself for these sources, utilize your entire team and company employees to get your message out.  Most importantly, make all your content available on your Website search engine optimized, on pages that can help you identify what stage in the buyer’s journey the prospect or client finds themselves.  Connect your content to a landing page and either Google Analytics or even better a marketing automation solution and you’ll be able to measure the uptake of your assets.

 

According to MarketingProfs’ the most successful companies are producing 78% more content then they did last year.


Since Content is used to engage and nurture prospects through each stage of their journey, you need content for each stage of the journey.

Generally thought leadership content is best.   Things that engage them by teaching and informing them.  Things that demonstrate your understanding of their industry, businesses, and needs.  Things like White papers, articles, case studies and client success stories.   This is important in that you want to attract people you don’t know but who are looking for solutions.  This type of content helps prospects remember you, particularly when they are ready to buy or to engage with sales to help validate and affirm their thinking.

This chart helps indicate some of the marketing tactics and types of content you might use for each stage of the journey.  You can see that the items in the Explore stage are items that will help people find your company and your website in internet searches.   Offers on your website for a free trial or demonstrations are very useful.

You can leverage the various types of content and tactics to nurture them along their journey.  Doing so will help keep reminding them that you have solutions that meet their needs and gain “mindshare”.   

These are just suggested tactics to consider using.   You need to test and see what works best for your targeted personas in your market.   What have you tried and what has worked or not worked?

Content can take many different forms and types.  Articles, whitepapers, case studies, testimonials, product demo videos, blogs, and more some of the more popular formats. 

Early in the journey, evaluation and comparison guides are useful.   A little later, case studies and video testimonials are powerful.   Financial Return on Investment (ROI) information is excellent during the Purchase stage.   But it shouldn’t stop then.  “How-to” articles, tip sheets, checklists, and “did you know you could…..” information helps on-board and expand usage and consumption.  

Reports and information about usage is helpful when approaching a renewal.   

The nirvana of content marketing comes with Advocacy, the stage at which your client is the hero of your story!

A key goal of marketing is to generate high quality sales leads, so each item should have strong calls to action. Things like demos, free trials, links to other articles.

Marketing automation tools are very helpful in executing these kinds of programs.