Today, 41% of B2B marketers focus on content tied to the buying journey of a customer, yet many businesses fail to produce personalized content dedicated to each stage of the buying cycle. Personalized messaging doesn’t just mean targeting by demographic or filmographic criteria, it means proactively producing content that is suitable for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Eighty-five percent of consumers trust solutions that take the time to walk them through various paths toward decisions rather than just attempting to make that choice for them. This type of content shows consumers that you acknowledge and value their ability to evaluate and make decisions for themselves.
When businesses pursue content marketing, the main focus should be the needs of the prospect or customer. Once a business has identified the customer's need, information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, email newsletters, case studies, podcasts, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, blogs, etc. Most of these formats belong to the digital channel.
Content marketing also provides additional benefits in that it supports other digital marketing channels. It provides additional content for social media marketing and contributes to SEO efforts by generating natural inbound links and building up good content on your website that gets found in search engines. In fact, for many companies the bulk of their SEO efforts should be focused on content marketing.
What do you want readers to do with the content you create? If your only answer is, “Well, read it, I guess,” you need to go back to the drawing board. Before you even start writing, you need to know what your call to action will be, and you need to make it compelling enough that readers can’t help but click. That’s how you connect content writing to marketing goals and prove ROI.
Low pay. Most content writing positions do not pay well, especially entry level writing positions. Small newspapers or publications are often good places to start in terms of gaining experience and contacts. But often, the compensation will be $10-$12 an hour. The average salary for content writers in the United States is $40,000 a year. Higher paying positions in the content writing field include project managers, online researchers, and proposal writers. However, you will need higher levels of experience to qualify for these positions.
Competitor research is important, but you also have to be extremely familiar with your own product or service. Rolls Royce was one of the first major accounts Ogilvy won when his agency was in its early years. In his book, he talks about spending a full three weeks reading about the car to come up with one simple headline: “At sixty miles an hour, the loudest noise comes from the electric clock.” This might not seem like the type of detail that would take you three weeks to find, but sometimes you need to give your brain time to let the information soak in.
The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. So was VW’s 2014 “Game Day” commercial, which has been viewed on YouTube almost 18 million times as of the writing of this post, an ad, or content marketing? The answer is it’s both, depending on how it’s received by each individual who is exposed to it. The same will apply to any piece of content marketing you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course the goal is to provide as much value from your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you’re probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering a few examples.
Part of transitioning to a media publishing mindset requires a change in structure and process to create content at the speed of culture. The old model you see on shows like Mad Men is too slow and cumbersome. By the time an idea becomes an ad, it is out of date. Marketers are increasingly co-locating insights, creative, production, legal approval, and placement to increase interaction and speed in producing and distributing content. Marketing content production is transforming from an advertising agency model to a newsroom model.
Books. Like movies, people often think of books as selling themselves, but savvy marketers don’t sell books just to sell books, they sell books as marketing tools. Michael Port’s sales manual Book Yourself Solid is a great read for entrepreneurs, salespeople, and marketers, and while I’m sure Port enjoys selling his book, the book is a tool for driving customers to his coaching and speaking services. Although with self-publishing it’s easier than ever to publish a book, there is still the perception that it’s difficult and that only reputable professionals can publish a business book. Publish your own, and even if people don’t read it you can still use it as a form of content marketing every time you’re introduced as “Author of…”
You'll need some analytics for your website and blog so you can measure your content marketing performance against your goals. Some content marketing teams rely on Google Analytics, others rely on more robust closed-loop solutions that make it easy to tie content marketing activities at the top of the funnel to revenue. I recommend the latter if you want to use metrics to prove the success of your content marketing program so you can secure more budget and grow the team. If you're looking for an easy way to share numbers across your organization, look into DataHero. This tool integrates with the HubSpot software and allows you to track, visualize, and share your analytics through customized dashboards and charts.
Businesses focused on increasing sales through content marketing should look at traditional e-commerce metrics including click-through-rate from a product-page to check-out and completion rates at the check-out. Altogether, these form a conversion funnel. Moreover, to better understand customers' buying habits, they should look at other engagement metrics like time spent per page, number of product-page visits per user, and re-engagement.
Ideally, you’ll have somebody to edit your writing. If you’re responsible for writing and editing your web content, don’t do both in the same day. When the writing is still fresh, your mind will automatically make up the gaps in your copy and your editing will be subpar. Instead, put it away and come back to it another day — or at least several hours later.
Let's say you're using PPC as your primary means of generating leads for your business. You need more leads, and decide to bid on the term "infographic generator" for $2 a click. At the end of your month-long campaign, you generated 1,000 leads and spent $10,000. Not bad. But what about next month? You have to spend $10,000 again. And again. And again. That is, if you want the leads to keep coming. In other words, when you turn the faucet of money off, leads stop coming out. The same concept applies with list purchasing, tradeshow marketing -- anything where you don't own the property from which leads are generated. Now let's contrast that experience against, say, blogging.