In content marketing, there’s a lot of attention paid to awareness, engagement, traffic, etc.. But what it really comes down to is generating leads and converting them to customers. All of the brand awareness and blog visits and social media engagement is fantastic and important, of course - but they’re in service of an overall goal of growing your business and getting more customers on board.
Really good content marketing will even go beyond getting you customers and turn them into advocates on your company’s behalf. This has a cyclical effect, where the customers you’ve brought on board then contribute to building brand awareness and fueling engagement that will bring future customers through the gates. Sound complicated? It’s really not — as long as you invest the time and effort needed to fully realize your content marketing goals.
Let’s break it down into the 3 main stages of this cycle so you can start turning your content into customers ASAP — and scroll down for the recording of a webinar with did with HubSpot and Influitive on this very topic.
Optimizing Your Content
Not all content is created equal, especially now that more and more companies are hopping aboard the content marketing train. There’s a ton of content out there competing for peoples’ attention — you’ve got to strategize to stand out from the clutter. This essentially comes down to
a) Figuring out your true audience,
b) Giving them what they want/need and,
c) Giving it to them how they want it.
(You might be thinking “Duh” but hear me out — a lot of content doesn’t meet these marks).
Determining your audience begins with creating buyer personas that represent your typical range of customers and their needs. As in, turn them into fake people with made-up jobs and hypothetical needs and refer to them for every piece of content you create. Does the eBook you’re making help solve a problem that Sally, Jessy or Raphael is facing in their job/life? Would they share it? Knowing who your prospective customers are helps to make sure you’re creating content that’s actually valuable to them.
Besides creating content that caters to your true audience, you’ll need to consider the experience you’re providing with that content. This is true for both design (if your content isn’t optimized for mobile then say goodbye to a hefty chunk of potential customers) and context. Include CTAs that are relevant to who that piece of content is targeted to and in a way that makes sense to how and when they’re consuming it, providing more value to them and furthering them down the sales funnel.
Pro Tip: Learn how a simple CTA change boosted our blog subscribers by 9x in one month.
I don’t have to tell you that leads are a precious thing. In an over-spammed world, we can’t trivialize the fact that someone has gifted us with their contact information (or any information about them, really). Which is why properly nurturing the leads that come through is essential to the effectiveness of your content marketing, and your bottom line.
Depending on how qualified a lead is or whether they’re top of the funnel vs. bottom of the funnel, you’ll interact with them in different ways. For instance, in our case, if someone fills out a CTA to watch our webinar on writing headlines, or we see that they’ve been checking out a lot of “content marketing 101” type articles, we can assume that they’re interested in learning more about content marketing in general and broader educational pieces will be welcomed by them. On the other hand, a lead who peruses and fills out a CTA from our Everything HubSpot stream is likely a HubSpot user or enthusiast (and therefore already well-versed in the basics of content marketing).
Nurturing your relationship with a lead by emailing them targeted content they’ll actually find valuable instead of hitting them up with a sales pitch before they’re ready or sending generic blog posts that don’t speak to them will make the difference between a lost lead and a conversion.
Creating Advocates Out Of Customers
Huzzah! So you’ve brought in a qualified lead through your awesome content, nurtured the sh*t out of them, and they are now your customer. How do you turn them into a die-hard customer who not just uses your company, but advocates for it?
You’re starting off in a good place by having nurtured your relationship with the customer through the content you’ve provided, but it’s important to remember it’s just that - a start. A lot of companies focus all of their energy on obtaining customers and put less resources toward keeping them. By going above and beyond for your current customers and actively showing that you value their business, you’ll both reduce churn and create an army of customers that love you right back.
Create content that helps your customers make the most of your product and learn more about the industry. Talk to your support team and find out what common questions and pain points are, so you can create resources that help customers solve problems on their own and allow your support team to work proactively as well as reactively. Engage with customers on social media. Promote how they’re using your company in a way that celebrates their own success along with plugging your product or service. Offer rewards and incentives, or build out a VIP/advocate system that brings exclusivity or even gamification into their brand experience.
By showing customers you care about them on an ongoing basis, you’ll reap the benefits of word-of-mouth-marketing (is there anything better than a referral?) along with your content marketing.