Content is core to any buying process, and it is marketing’s opportunity to create relationships with existing and potential customers.
Content is everywhere, and in this digital age, that might cause some marketers to take good content for granted. Just because there is an abundance of content wherever a buyer looks, that doesn’t mean the majority of it is quality, useful content for their purposes.
At best, content’s value to the overall buyer’s journey is diminished to an afterthought. But smart marketers will take the time to establish a content strategy designed to accompany their customers through their process of educating, considering, and selecting a product or service based on their own research.
According to Forrester, customers consume nearly 12 pieces of content before making a purchase, and Ben Tyson of Google, is credited with saying, “Consumers consult an average of 14.8 pieces of information before making a buying decision.” Combine those stats with research from the Economist that found 71% of buyers/readers say they were turned off by content that seems like a sales pitch, and marketers need to pay close attention to content.
Content as Strategy
Like any business plan, before jumping in marketers must define—and then fine-tune—a solid content strategy.
The two biggest reported benefits of a content marketing strategy are that it aligns the team around common goals (81%) and it makes determining which types of content to develop easier (81%), according to the Content Marketing Institute. There are several components to a content strategy, ranging anywhere from taking inventory of existing assets to establishing KPIs to understanding available resources and appropriately allocating them across projects.
To start, marketing leaders need to create goals around their content and determine how to measure the success of any efforts toward those goals. For instance, if the ultimate goal is engagement, KPIs should be set around metrics collected via social channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. If the goal is to gain information about unknown web site visitors, then conversions (downloads of assets or subscriptions to email newsletters) would be the best measure of that performance.
The next step would be to aggregate content already available to the marketing organization and assess where there might be gaps in the existing assets. Understanding what is already created will help better define how to generate the right content for the audience. Depending on who in an organization is being targeted, the content should speak to their level of intent—from awareness and consideration down to selection, loyalty and advocacy.
Crafting Your Content
With a strategy in hand, marketers can more intelligently assign assets to the various stages of the buyer’s journey and ensure they are not leaving customers searching for the information they need to make an informed decision.
Creating original content is the best way to capture the brand’s thought leadership as well as the desired conversational tone, marketers need to engage customers with is the best type of content. Yet many companies don’t have a well of seasoned writers to create countless pieces of original content, so there are other options such as content curation or content syndication (more on this later).
Likely it will be key to the content strategy to determine the ratio of original to curated content desired and also the potential creators of said content. Frequently, brands can find freelancers familiar with their industry to work on content or even work with partners and industry influencers to add some insight to their content library.
While the potential sources could be many, the end result should lead to one common goal: quality content that speaks to your customers!