Content marketing isn’t new, nor is it complicated.
That being said, it is important. Why? Because now, 85% of consumers seek out trusted information before making a purchasing decision (The Guardian), and 47% of buyers view 3 to 5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales representative (mailchimp).
The main benefits of good content marketing include:
Increased MQLs and eventual sales
Cost savings over traditional outbound marketing
Increased customer loyalty and retargeting
Better ROI than paid advertising
Need more convincing? Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing, costs 62% less, and 70% of people report they would rather learn about a company through articles rather than an ad (DemandMetric).
So, what is it?
Every business has content, but not every business does it in the right way. This is where content marketing comes in. Content marketing uses multiple forms of connected content across multiple channels, to guide prospects on a trust journey with your company using your expertise for added value.
Importantly, it takes different pieces of content and links them in such a way that they lead consumers on a clear journey through the marketing funnel, from awareness, to consideration, and eventual conversion. It also addresses retargeting, which is often neglected.
It is not ads, nor it is salesy. Content marketing is specifically aimed at being valuable to your target audience, to establish your business credentials as an invaluable thought leader and trusted helper in their lives.
Content marketing can include:
Whitepapers/eBooks (typically gated)
How tos/tricks and tips/advice
EDMs/newsletters (typically opt-in)
Any and all of these types of content can be used, depending on your audience and what you are trying to communicate.
Content and the funnel
Awareness: The aim at the awareness stage of the funnel is to establish your credentials with your target audiences. This includes PR, tricks, tips and advice, and blogs, to help your prospects, and to establish trust.
Consideration: In this stage, your aim is to encourage your prospects to find out more about you, and to sign up to your newsletter, whitepaper or eDM. Do this by providing them with valuable content such as research, podcasts, and videos.
Conversion: At this stage, the prospects who have signed up to your content can be served a third-party endorsement of your service offering, like a case study, testimonials, or even special offers, to convert them into a sale.
Retarget: Don’t forget this stage. There are few businesses which can survive without repeat business, and good word of mouth. At this stage, go back to the consideration stage of the funnel and serve them content on complimentary products and services.
To gate or not to gate?
Gating all your content behind a paywall or a subscription wall will not work. The idea is to add value and benefit to your customers to the point where they willingly sign up to receive your content, at which stage you have captured their details. If you hit them with a wall too early, you will lose them from your funnel entirely.
We at Hotwire follow the 10% rule: About 10% of your content should be behind a sign-up wall. And let’s be clear, this is NOT a paywall. Unless you are media, you can’t make prospects pay for your content.
It’s fair to have most of your content available to anyone, with longer pieces of content such as research, eBooks or whitepapers, behind a sign-in gate.
Once you have those sign in details, you can push out articles via eDMs or newsletter, to nurture the relationship towards conversion.
How do we set up content marketing?
The best way to go about content marketing is to identify the content pillars, or key pain points, that are important to your target audiences. There can be as many as you like, and you might want consider different pillars for your different audience segments.
One your pillars are identified, you can build out content around pillars using any of the above mediums.
Ideally, your content will sit on what we in the biz call a ‘pillar page’ on your website. This is all your key content around a topic, all cross-linked, to keep consumers reading and engaged. Again, you can have as many pillar pages as there are pillars, although try not to go too big, as the sheer amount of content needed will be difficult to manage.
5 key tips for good content marketing:
Consider your content pillars. A good place to start is by addressing the questions your customers ask most often. Be sure to tie the pillars into audience segments and then creating pillar pages for them. Start with three and fill these out before expanding.
When drafting your content, adding value for your customers must be the top priority. This is not an overt sales opportunity. You will not establish audience trust by pushing salesy messages.
Ensure you link to other articles or pieces of content on your website. The idea is to keep your targets engaged with your content. Be sure you link to gated assets, and also ask readers if they’d like to sign up to receive a newsletter/eDM.
Do not put all your content behind a gate. The idea is to use the content to lead prospects down the funnel from awareness to conversion, not the other way around.
Be authentic. Be willing to give good advice and value to your prospects, they will appreciate this a lot more, and engage with more content.
Interesting in learning how content marketing can help make your tech brand irresistible? Find out more.
Every business has content, but not every business does it in the right way. This is where content marketing comes in.