How to create engaging content15th Jan '16
Many people have heard about content marketing but some may be unclear on what it is.
The Content Marketing Institute defines it as “a marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
It’s certainly not a new concept – as far back as 1950, David Ogilvy was creating classic content with the Guinness Guide to Oysters.
But there is a growing interest in this area, with 55% of small businesses saying they will be investing more in content marketing.
We look at some of the benefits and the key steps to creating content that engages customers.
Why use content marketing?
There are a number of reasons why businesses are investing in content marketing.
Businesses are constantly looking for new ways to minimise the cost of bringing in new customers and content marketing can help.
Research by Hightable shows that the average cost to generate a lead through inbound marketing, such as content, is about half the cost of for outbound marketing, like advertising, brochures and cold calling.
It will bring in more leads – and sales
Talking to customers and building true engagement makes a big difference to your bottom line. According to research by Social Media B2B, B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who don’t.
Why? Well research shows that interesting content is one of the top three reasons people connect with brands on social media, and 61% of consumers say they like and are more likely to buy from a company that delivers custom content, according to research by the Custom Content Council.
It helps build your brand
It’s not just your bottom line that will improve if you use content marketing – your brand will too. Figures show that 78% of consumers think that organisations that provide content are interested in building good relationships and 60% feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site.
What types of content to use
There are many different types of content available. Which one you choose will depend on your customers, your message and the type of actions you want people to take.
- Social media: 84%
- Articles on own website: 84%
- eNewsletters: 78%
- Videos: 70%
- Blogs: 69%
- Articles on other websites: 61%
- Mobile content: 43%
- Print magazines: 42%
- Microsites: 41%
- Branded content tools: 40%
- Case studies: 38%
- Print newsletters: 37%
- Infographics: 33%
- Research reports: 33%
- Licensed or syndicated content: 33%
- Books: 32%
- Webinars: 32%
- Digital magazines: 29%
- eBooks: 28%
- White papers: 28%
- Podcasts: 26%
- Virtual conferences: 21%
- Games: 17%
(Source: Content Marketing Institute / MarketingProfs)
According to the Content Marketing Institute, marketers use an average of 12 of these content marketing tactics.
How to produce the content
There are several steps to take to ensure your content marketing is effective.
Understand your audience
The key thing you’ll need to know is who you’re producing your content for. Think about your typical customer and try to find out all you can about them: what their interests are, what motivates them, what they like and dislike.
Some companies will produce personas – mini biographies for each of their typical customers, showing this important information. But it doesn’t have to be that formal, as long as you know who you’re reaching out to.
Know what questions need to be answered
Each of your customers is likely to have questions they need answered. These will change as they come closer to making a purchase. An example of how this might work is below:
Can I save time?
Can I save money?
Can I make my life easier / better?
What options are available?
How will this help me?
Why is this one right for me?
Which offers best value?
What do other buyers think?
What does it cost?
How long will it take to get the item?
How to I get the most from my purchase?
What else is available?
How can I keep in touch?
The questions that customers ask will vary, depending on the product or service. But, if you know your customers, you should be able to map these out.
Many businesses focus on the end of the customer journey, but people often need extra help at the beginning. Don’t neglect thus area – if you can build a relationship with them at this stage, it’s easier to secure a sale later.
Decide on the right content and format
Once you know what questions people need answering, you can decide on what content to produce and what format would work best. For example, blog posts might work well for people identifying their problem as, with the right keywords, they will perform well in search. For the evaluation stage, you may decide that a video demo would work best.
Work out how to produce and distribute it
You’ll then need to decide how to create the content. According to Mashable, 62% of companies outsource their content marketing. This can be a great approach, as specialist companies understand the best way to create the right content for your business.
But you may decide you have the right expertise in-house to create everything you need. Just be sure that the information is right for your customers and your brand.
Of course, you’ll also need to get your content out there. This can be done on your website, via emails, through social media or via partnerships with other sites. Think about where your customers are and try to put the information there, rather than making them come to you.
Once your content is out there, make sure you track how well it’s performing. You can do this through analytics software like Google Analytics and by monitoring leads and sales through CRM and accounting software.
Evaluate what’s working, set targets for improvement and hone your content until it works for your business. By refining what you produce, you’ll be able to generate more leads and keep your sales and your business healthy.