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“Content is king.” We’ve all heard it before – way too often honestly. To put it simply, content marketing is a way to provide value to your readers, with hopes of ultimately turning them into prospects. It’s a way you can inform them about your deep expertise and knowledge base. If done correctly, visitors will turn to you for education, opinions and advice, etc., because you’ve proven your company to be a thought leader in your industry or niche.

But how will it help your company? Well, do consider this:

For every dollar spent, content marketing generates approximately 3x as many leads as traditional marketing. That would probably help most businesses you think? This makes sense because content marketing can encompass blogs; white papers; webinars; videos; social posts; graphs/statistics, and the list goes on. If it’s relevant to your audience, it’s content that can generate considerable ROI for your business, regardless of industry or vertical.

Content marketing does a really great job of educating potential buyers and driving brand awareness.. A lack of content strategy results in companies being sales-focused rather than customer-centric.

Only 35% of companies have a documented content marketing strategy, this 35% is more effective in all aspects of content marketing than the remainder (ain’t that sometihng?).

But your company needs to be smarter than the other 65%.

Companies that are smart about their content marketing make each visitor’s experience across their marketing channels relevant, and speed up purchase decision processes by recommending the next best action for each visitor to take.

But creating content is not the easiest thing in the world.

This is why many companies skimp on it. A solid content marketing strategy requires research  beyond what most companies are doing.

The initial step in developing a content strategy framework is understanding your company. Not just in a general sense either, but you’d really have to know the company in order to create content that speak for it.Your core offerings and value propositions

In other words, how does the company bring in customers? Is it based on products and services, or does the company make customer connections through other channels? Knowing this will can determine the right balance of sales – vs. information-focused content for your site.

  • Reaching (and steadily growing) your target audiences

This goes beyond understanding the company’s existing customers. Of course, you want to continue nurturing existing relationships. But one of the key benefits of a solid content plan is expanding the reach of your messaging past its existing barriers. Your content might resonate with a good percentage of your audience, but revisiting your content strategy will allow you to impact them on a deeper level, possibly leading to a greater per-sale total, more frequent purchases, or simply getting customers “on the fence” about bigger buys to commit to. We would never encourage you to compromise your core value propositions to gain new market share, but we also know your message can reach new audiences, simply by expressing all the facets of your brand identity through content. If you feel like your brand is losing ground across your marketing channels, you’re probably right; I mean you would know best.

Sometimes you will have to ask yourself: what are your competitors doing? And HOW. This valuable information can help you reach those potential audiences, but also grow beyond them.

(Bonus: if you’re knowledgable about using related keywords, targeted landing pages, and the like, your traffic will only improve.)

  • Embracing the human factor

Content marketing, above all else, is about creating and sharing content with a specific goal in mind. Although the purpose may depend on your industry, the goal will always be about the same: acquire new customers and retain the ones you already have through relevant material- seems simple enough right? What could possibly go wrong?

It’s simple when said, but it takes a lot of research, planning, and time to develop the right strategy for your business.

Thankfully, technology is enabling customers to connect with brands faster and easier than ever, and they want to engage with brands that relate with those same ideals (we already are aware that customers are individuals with unique tastes, values, personalities, desires, and needs, so we know you’re mindful to that).

In fact, almost 83% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content. Through works like effective blog posts, brands can easily convey value proposition and core ideals. These efforts immediately let prospects and customers know your company is aligned with their values … and perhaps stands for something more important than the market or industry.

For instace, if your company is about green manufacturing practices, or discusses how it contributes regularly to local charities, your content isn’t just driving SEO, it’s aligning you with something bigger—which is usually something people strongly believe in. These emotional connections have proven to have significant effects on long-term relationships. When a consumer has an emotional connection, they are more likely to be passionate about sharing it with others (wink wink: word of  mouth/reposts/shares). They will also often develop a sense of loyalty to the brand. This builds lasting business relationships with consumers that end up buying products because of devotion to brand values. For retailers selling consumable items that must be purchased repeatedly, this loyalty is especially beneficial (emphasis on the especially).

Today, brands aren’t embracing content marketing because it’s a buzzword; they’re doing it because it’s what their customers want and expect.

But, how will all this benefit sales?

Content is extremely important to your sales funnel because it represents many opportunities to introduce potential customers to your knowledge base, and demonstrate your expertise in your industry—all depending on what, when, and how your customers will access or desire that information.

What we’re tryin to say is, people will be more likely to trust you because your content has established your brand as a credible one. And, with an ongoing commitment to thoughtful, innovative content and thought leadership, those initial buyers become brand loyalists.

Another major benefit for sales is the sheer scalability. Your sales teams can quickly and easily find out which content resonates best with certain audiences, allowing them to craft campaigns around those key messages. In turn, content that doesn’t seem to impact your audience still offers sales teams information they need to adjust and adapt before spending money and resources on irrelevant campaigns (ie trial and error, yep – it’s still a real thing).

Even better is how content marketing seamlessly integrates with other strategies. A blogs, for example, can quickly be mined for quotes to drive social conversations, excerpts to structure email campaigns, and more.

As we said earlier, effective content creation starts with research—we can’t overstate how important this is. Identifying these key elements not only shows you where to start, it also helps to drive sales and marketing strategies across your entire business by giving you understanding of:

* Demographics

* Market trends

* Competitors

* Customer journey

Remember quality rules above all.

Make sure that you understand that attention spans are short and consumers are looking specifically for digestible content that provides real value. Doing your due diligence during the research phase will help you figure out what kinds of content will resonate with your target audience, and when in the customer journey, those pieces will be the most effective and deliver the most value.

In the end, your ideal content mix will be dependent on your industry, business size, region, and customer needs.

  • And what exactly should my “content” be?

While there are no specific rules about what you should be doing most companies find success with a combination of the following:

  • Blog posts: Articles that talk about issues related to your core message and secondary messages. Anywhere from 100 words to 2,000 words, depending on the format you choose and what your readers prefer. Articles that are more in-depth tend to rank better on search engines than articles that aren’t thorough. 

  • Social media posts: Potential customers aren’t asking whether or not you’re on social media, they’re asking, “what’s your Twitter username?” and, “what’s your IG?” (if relevant, of course). It’s necessary to maintain the real-time connection required by today’s customers. Depending on your audience, a viable Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter presence is pretty helpful. In turn, if your business is largely visual, you can add Pinterest, and Tumblr. Your ideal social media mix can vary, depending on what your business is currently doing, but there’s value in a wide range of platforms, both new and established.

  • Video: Your channel on YouTube provides another access point to your business. Some content marketers upload videos to YouTube, then repost to their blog. Others create a vlog (video blog) that lives solely on YouTube.

  • Podcasts: Everyone has a podcast today, I’m sure you know someone who has. Podcasting is listening to content; popular among people who don’t have time to read because their attention needs their eyes, but ears are wide open!
  • Webinars: You can present information to a live audience during webinars and then use the recording and slides as content on your website, in newsletters, and in email campaigns. Simple.

Conclusion -huh, we’re here already?!

The biggest problem with content marketing is that most companies think they’re doing it well. In reality, a proper content marketing strategy requires in-depth, ongoing research, and a dedicated commitment to maintaining regular, consistently awesome material.