I’m sure that, depending on who you ask this question, you’ll get a range of different answers. Throughout my decade+ of experience leading marketing departments at both small and large companies, I’ve to come to realize that creating and consistently delivering on the the right content marketing strategies is they key to unlocking marketing.
5 Steps to Purchase: The Consumer Decision-Making Process
Thanks to the digital world we live in, consumers are now more empowered then ever to inform themselves before making any purchasing decisions. Marketing theory has distilled this decision making process into five steps.
As a result, your customers, especially in the B2B space, are more than 70% of the way through the decision-making process before ever engaging a sales representative. Moreover, they expect consistent and personalized experiences throughout their journey to purchase. Thus, your principle aim in marketing has become to find, build, and engage your community.
The best way to do this? Content!
What does “community” actually mean?
Well, to break it down simply:
Building community is about forging relationships.
Relationships begin with a simple connection.
Relationships last because you are engaging – through content and involving your audience in your brand story.
3 Simple Guidelines to Building Effective Content Marketing
Next, we’ll break down three simple guidelines to consider while building and implementing your content marketing strategies.
1. The content journey is the customer journey.
Consider this statistic:
People engage with 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. Some stats even point to 20 pieces of content. (Source: NewsCred)
Content marketing is a long game. It has a compounding effect, but it will take months before you see the true ROI.
Content marketing results require a substantial upfront investment in planning and production (but not necessarily money). You need to spend time creating high-quality content (e.g. long-form articles, explainer videos). Over time, your content will be indexed and start showing up in search results. The alternative, paid search traffic, is expensive and is only as sustainable as dollars put in.
Content marketing is about connecting with and building relationships with your tribe. If your content is compelling, users will stick around and engage with more of your content – and you’ll start building relationships with them.
Content publication and engagement strategies are critical to increasing reach. Leverage and repurpose your content in the places your tribe visits and engages. This could include social media, SlideShare, community forums, and influencer feeds.
2. Practice intentional marketing
Without an intentional strategy, and consistent follow-through, marketing is just fluff. There’s enough fluff out there. Here are some quick tips to get started.
Set specific goals, and start small. Choose one or two business cases.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes - talk about them, instead of you. Build messages that resonate by using purposeful words and actions, and speak to their needs and wants.
Start small with your implementation. Focus on specific channels and strategies.
Set up systems to track and measure. You’ll need to know what’s working and what isn’t!
Then, be diligent about testing and metrics. Create a plan around what data you will track and when, and stick to it.
Be consistent. Set up the right content planning tools and processes to deliver success by maintaining momentum and integrating marketing into your bigger picture of priorities.
3. Make it visual
Visual marketing is a highly effective method of customer-brand connection. Consider the following statistics:
In 2016, 37% of marketers said visual marketing was the most important form of their brand’s content production scheme, second behind blogging at 38%.
58% of B2B marketers use infographics
Sites that use infographics increase site traffic by 12%
42% of B2B marketers use online presentations in their content marketing. 400,000 presentations are uploaded to SlideShare each month, bringing in 70 million users.
Tweets with images get 150% more retweets.
Visuals makes impressions faster. Visual messages are more likely to be shared. And, abiding to visual hierarchy best practices will force you to tell a simple story and clearly structure your messages.