You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again – content is king. Over the last few years, content marketing has taken the marketing world by storm, becoming one of the most commonly used strategies by 86% & 89% of B2C and B2B marketers respectively (source) – and for good reason!
Consider these statistics:
- 68% of people spend time reading about brands that interest them (source).
- 80% of people appreciate learning about a company through content (source).
- 78% of buyers believe organizations that provide custom content are interested in building good relationships (source).
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads (source).
Why Content Marketing
Today’s buyers are more informed during the buying process than ever before. They have unlimited access to information about your brand—product reviews, tutorials, and industry research. For this reason, content marketing is essential to control your reputation, influence prospects, and reach new customers.
However, not all content is created equally. If you think that slapping a few words into a blog template is enough to convince and convert your prospects, you’d better think again. In order to drive results, content marketing requires a strategic plan. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be so hard.
In today’s post, we share the recipe for quality content. Continue reading for a step-by-step guide to creating content that matters.
1. Determine your goals.
Before you develop your content, it’s important to establish clear goals. This will help you prioritize work, evaluate effectiveness, and guide content creation.
When it comes to creating goals consider the overall goals of your organization. Is the focus on brand awareness, lead generation, or sales/revenue?
No matter what you decide, the overall goal of any content strategy is to provide value to your audience.
2. Define your audience.
To create quality content, you must first understand who your audience is. The best way to do this is to create buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a detailed profile about a specific section of prospects and customers. These profiles are created using demographic and firmographic data such as job title, job function, management level, industry, and company size.
Buyer personas allow your marketing team to develop an informed understanding about your target audience, which can inform many aspects of your content creation strategy, including the type, channel and timing that suit your prospects best.
The best part? You already have the information you need within your CRM to create detailed buyer personas. Learn how to create your buyer personas here: Steps to Creating Buyer Persona Profiles [Infographic]
3. Choose your subject matter.
Once you’ve established your buyer personas, it’s time to choose your subject matter. Here are a few questions to keep in mind:
What stage of the buyer’s journey will your content speak to?
Analyze what attracts your customers, how they interact with your organization, and what leads them to a purchase decision.Once you understand the customer’s journey, determine common questions, considerations, and objections they have throughout each stage of the process. Then, develop content that speaks to each of these issues separately and serve them to prospects as they move through different stages of the sales funnel.
Which buyer persona will your content speak to?
Who you’re speaking to will dictate nearly every aspect of your marketing content—from the language you use to the format you choose. Your content may vary drastically from persona to persona. Consider characteristics like industry, age group, or technical expertise.
How will this influence my prospects and customers?
The key to a successful content marketing strategy lies within your ability to add value to your reader’s day, career, or even life. Choose topics that will resonate with them—take a new stance, cover a subject that isn’t often talked about, provide detailed instructions or guides. The point is, do something new and worthwhile. Create content that your audience will share, revisit, and use as a reference for years to come.
If you’re stuck for ideas, consider trending topics, common complaints, or frequently asked questions. As you begin to produce content and measure results you’ll be able to test different subjects and find the topics that help you best reach your goals.
4. Select your format.
The next step in your content creation journey is to select the method in which you will deliver your content to your audience. Marketing content can take shape in many different forms, from data sheets and whitepapers, to blog posts and webinars; the options are endless. But what format should you choose ?
Here are a few indicators you can use to ensure you select the best format option for your content:
Copy length and style:
One way to select content format is to simply consider the length and style of your copy; for instance, if you know the copy will be fairly lengthy, an eBook would probably be your best bet. Relaying a list of statistics? An infographic should do the trick.
Not all formats will perform well on every marketing channel; for instance, while a video may produce results on social media, it may flat line in an email campaign. Identify the best channels for reaching your target audience, and then alter your content to a format that performs best there.
Listen to your audience:
If you’re not paying attention, you could miss important signals from your audience. Check out what your prospects are ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ on social media, ask your sales team what your customers respond best too, or even send out a survey asking for feedback.
As with subject matter selection, choosing your format will require constant testing and evaluation.
5. Build Your Content.
Now comes the fun part: Creating your content! Arguably, this is the most important step of content creation – it’s the meat and potatoes of your entire strategy.
Use these tips to build content that matters:
In 2017, the key to successful content marketing is personalization – or the process of tailoring your content specifically to your target audience; in fact, according to one recent study of 650 multi-channel marketing campaigns, personalized campaigns consistently and overwhelmingly beat out static campaigns in generating a high response rate from recipients (source).
You’re human after all, so don’t be afraid to put some personality behind your content; including conversational language or relevant humor to make a dull piece of content more fun for your prospects. Be sure to avoid annoying buzzwords and stick to language your ideal audience understands.
Make it actionable:
Your content should never be a dead end. Include actionable steps and clear call-to-actions. This will keep prospects engaged with your brand even if they’re not ready to buy.
6. Craft a Catchy Headline
You may create the best content around, but unless your prospects click on it, you’ll produce less than impressive results. So, what’s the solution? A killer headline of course.
Your headline is what draws your prospects to engage with your content, so make it impossible to pass-up. Stuck for ideas? Use the 4 ‘U’s:
Useful: Useful headlines are headlines that offer value to your prospects; they provide solutions to a problem, or answers to their most pressing questions. Example – “Easy Solutions to Improve Your Content Strategy”
Urgent: Urgent headlines compel prospects to click with a deadline or timeframe. Example – “Instantly Improve Your Content Strategy”
Ultra-Specific: Ultra-Specific headlines tell prospects exactly what they’ll get from clicking, and typically include a number. Example – “4 Easy Ways to Improve Content Strategy”
Unique: Unique headlines take an unconventional or controversial stance. A unique headline often contains something unexpected or out of the box. Example – “Improving Content Strategy: Tips for Crafting Content That Doesn’t Put Your Prospects to Sleep”
When it comes to creating content that matters, there are no short cuts or quick fixes. Content marketing is a constant cycle of producing, testing, and reevaluating. Always keep your customer in mind and focus on contributing something of value.
For more information about content marketing, check out the following article: 3 Ways to Drive Sales with Content Marketing.
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