When I help clients plan their marketing strategy, I always tell them to think about how each marketing function they embark upon is tied to their bottom line and to make decisions accordingly.
Note: Your organization’s bottom line is tied to customer conversions in the form of a purchase, a donation, behavior change, or a vote, depending on who you are. As such, your customer may be a customer, constituent, or donor. For purposes of this post, I will use the terms “customer” and “conversion” as global terms.
Strong content marketing is the crux of a good marketing mix that bolsters your bottom line. With an average attention span of 8.25 seconds (yes, the internet has reduced our chance to catch people’s attention from a 30-second elevator pitch to a mere sentence or hashtag) your content should be targeted, consistent, and geared toward establishing a relationship with prospective customers. After all, good relationships are what lead to customer conversions (most people date a while before they marry).
Since we live behind our mobile phones and computers as much (if not more) than we do in front of our actual customers, it’s easy to forget that we are really talking to the people behind these devices, but it’s imperative that we remember. After all, thanks to the online domain, ten-thousand dollars spent on content marketing can generate the same amount of sales that about $75,000 of television advertising would according to this Hubspot article.
At Erreco Strategies, we always start by making sure our clients’ content is dynamic, shareable, and engaging to ensure that it will catch the attention of current and prospective customers. We disseminate this content in numerous ways, tracking analytics carefully. Finally, we use this information to hone our messaging, dissemination, and strategy to get even more conversions with time.
We’ve noticed that when people start a marketing campaign, they expect dissemination, analytics, metrics, and optimization to hold the answers to obtaining and converting leads. This often results in rushing through the content to get to the answers. Unfortunately, this weakens what should be the strongest part of their marketing campaign. After all, when your content is great, your analytics have a good foundation to stand on.
How many times do you think to yourself, “What should I DO to reach new customers?” versus “What should I SAY to reach new customers?” In real life, we never start a conversation with a customer before we know what we intend to say. Online, it’s easy to muddle this order because the environment is artificial, fast-moving, and highly technical.
So, take comfort in knowing that by spending a some extra time to craft incredible content, you will always be making a good move. Here are some tips:
1. Be empathetic. Get into the heads and hearts of your customers and speak to their passion, goals, and pain points.
How do you know if they donate to a particular cause based on personal experience if you don’t ask them? And how would you possibly know that they know 10-15 prospective customers to refer to you who have had the same experience?
How do you know that they leave work at approximately 5:17 p.m. each day, thus driving by the same electronic billboard on the freeway at 5:28 p.m., missing the message you thought they were getting before it switched to a different company at 5:26 p.m.?
Figure these things out by having focus groups with, and sending surveys to your customers. Brainstorm with your staff and ask them to put themselves in your customers’ shoes. Or, if you are short on time, pick up the phone and call an existing customer or two.
Some of the best content marketing not only captures a customer’s worldview, but also enhances it. We don’t always know exactly how we feel or what we need until someone talks it through with us…but we can’t talk it through if we don’t know how our customer feels.
2. Make it about them. Customers like to know that you are thinking about them. Use social media to ask a question. Then, don’t forget to respond when they answer. We find that there is some nervousness around this concept because organizations want to avoid negative comments, so start safe. The question can be as generic as “We at __________ hope you have a happy Friday. How are you spending your weekend?” Once you feel more comfortable (most customers are nice), make your posts more on-topic to your company and its products or mission.
Also, tag specific customers in photos or posts that you know are particularly meaningful so they engage with you versus pass you by (just make sure you have all the needed photo permissions). We all like it when we know that others are thinking about us. To this point, profiling customers is also very powerful.
3. Speak to them. If you were standing face-to-face with a customer, you would talk in the first person. Do that on social media, too. People almost always automatically switch to the third person when talking about their businesses. See how distant the previous sentence felt? (Try again: We almost always automatically switch to the third person when talking about our businesses.)
4. Give them expert information for free. A great way to get return traffic from customers or potential customers is by publishing a blog regularly which can educate your audience about what you are expert in, share your company’s values, or reveal your talents as a trendsetter. Make it shareable by speaking to your customers’ pain points, passions, goals, and hearts (using empathy) so that they feel compelled to share your great solutions with their friends. Bonus: Require an email for customers to unlock longer content. This can build your email list and further expand the value of your marketing efforts.
5. Optimize your website the old-fashioned way. Once your visitors click on your website, your content should take them on a logical journey as they learn about your business and discover what you or your product(s)/service(s) will do for them. This journey will build their trust for your business, which is the first component to any healthy relationship. Your expertly crafted and entertaining website will have visitors returning again and again, which will drive up your SEO (search engine optimization) ranking. Note: Websites that have high traffic and cross links have a higher chance of attracting new visitors through online searches. Approximately 80% of customers use a search engine to find out more about a brand.
Too often, people focus on keywords to optimize their SEO, making their content sound manufactured and empty. This destroys all of the aforementioned value that good content marketing creates. The sad thing is, traffic and cross links began to outweigh keywords in SEO when mobile searches became more and more prevalent. Unfortunately, this means that the resources companies put into keywords in the first place have lost their value. In short, good content never goes out of style, but optimization tricks do.
6. Test it out. If you’ve engaged with your customers through focus groups, surveys, and/or phone calls and are still unsure which version of your great content will resonate most, it’s okay to disseminate a few different messages and then hone. This is one of the many instances where analytics come in to play.
Let’s part with this message…
Marketing, marketing tools, and analytics are indeed getting more complicated by the minute, but writing good content involves excellent research, revision, and some extra time. These tactics are timeless and do not change with new technology. If you are curious about the rest, here is a handy article that we think is a good introduction to analytics… but don’t read it until your content shines!