What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the use of informational and entertaining content to drive awareness of your business and traffic to your site. It is a form of inbound marketing that operates off the premise that today’s potential customers are increasingly cynical and less likely to respond to intrusive calls or emails from companies they are unfamiliar with that disrupt their work flow.
The idea around content marketing is that in order to build your brand, you should create useful, informative and entertaining content that your audience searches out and allows you to engage with them through the content. Instead of calling someone out of the blue to try and sell them on something that they may or may not be interested in from a company they have probably never heard of, you create information in the form of multimedia content, put it out on the internet, optimize it for search engines, promote via ads, social media and the like and then wait for the prospects to come to you.
It sounds easy, spoiler alert: it’s not. There are armies of content writers out there churning out blogs at a frenetic pace and experts in search engine optimization that constantly work with companies to drive their content further up the search engine results page.
As an example, these same search engine optimization experts are more than willing to share their trade secrets on their blogs to show you how you can get your page to the top of the rankings. These experts provide useful info that you can definitely use to promote your content, and at the same time are giving you and example of how it works by trapping you with their high quality content. They then monetize this traffic by signing clients, selling ad space, data or some combination thereof.Their blogs are great tools to enhance your efforts and see how the practice is done with a real life example.
What are the benefits of content marketing?
Like all forms of marketing, content marketing theoretically is there to build awareness and interest in your brand, product and service.. It will bring the interested prospects in, but it is going to be up to the sales team/process to actually close the deals.. What content marketing does offer is a passive self-selecting and socially amplifying asset that will help to provide you with the best, most interested prospects. When it is done properly, you can create content that goes viral, shoots up the search engine results page and provides evergreen material that constantly raises awareness of your product or service while costing very little money in the long run.
Content marketing does require effort up front though. You need to research not only your market, but the subject matter they are interested in, the keywords related to the subject matter as well as those specific keywords that filter down to show buying intent, and then you need to create some high quality content that people want to read.
Then the real work begins; now you need to go out and promote your content. You will need to do ad buys, reach out to popular bloggers in your industry to see if they would be willing to allow you to guest blog, work towards getting backlinks, find forums to engage in discussions and in general build a following that will hopefully amplify your message. The old adage of content is king is absolutely true, but if you don’t promote great content, it will be king of a pile of garbage.
How do you use content marketing to drive revenue?
We’ve established that you need to create quality content and promote it properly. So let’s say you have succeeded up to this point and now are growing you traffic to your site, how do you actually monetize this? Well, that obviously depends on your revenue model. But, we can definitively say that you will want to capture some info on the people who visit and work to keep them coming back.The first thing you need to do is get someone to sign up for your newsletter, which you are obviously doing since you are a content marketer and it would be insane to not have a newsletter, got it?
Great, along the same token, you should definitely integrate some social media sharing and following buttons on your content so people can easily see more and spread it to their networks. One universal truth about people is that they tend to follow the path of least resistance. Try to make the path you want them to follow the one that has the last resistance at every turn, work towards integrations with social media platforms, minimize the fields on forms to the absolute minimum needed, setup an RSS feed to let them know when new content is out there and bring them back to engage with it.
How can a B2B company use content marketing to drive sales?
Most of what we have discussed is transferable to nearly any industry as long as you have something engaging to write about. It is probably most applicable to B2B companies as there is a lot of content to write about and a lot of research that will go in on the other end. So the benefit is you have things to discuss and people willing to engage in the discussion. What’s more, if you keep track of what prospects are reading and engaging with, you have an informed direct sales process that can be built around what motivates the prospect instead of a generic process that offers little value and tons of wasted opportunity.
Bottomline, start writing, get it out on the internet, do everything possible to get eyeballs on it, track the people who do read and engage with it and then prioritize your efforts in nurturing someone along from passive reader to active client with the info that matches their needs and interests. It’s not that hard, but you do have to do the work and have the tools in place to succeed.