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How to Be Successful with Content Marketing


I became a fan, and practitioner, of content marketing after I went through HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing University about seven years ago. Marcus Sheridan’s Ted Talk four years ago just reinforced my commitment to combining this form of marketing with the traditional outbound marketing I had practiced during the first half of my career.
Having marketed mortgages for a large retail bank, I inherently understood that customers buy when they’re ready to buy and likely don’t care about your ads until they’re ready to buy. Nonetheless, all consumers, B2B or B2C, are interested in learning and staying abreast of a product or service that will make their lives simpler and easier.
Therefore, it’s critical to provide information of value that answers consumers’ questions, even those questions they haven’t asked yet. And it so easy to do. Start providing information of value that answers the most frequently asked questions you and your employees get from customers and prospects every day.
By writing blog posts, or producing video, that answer the questions people are typing into Google, you’re improving your SEO, sharing your knowledge, earning trust, and establishing yourself as a thought leader.
As such, you need to create a “culture of content”within your company. Sales may not be good at writing blog posts, but they’re great at writing emails that address prospect objections. You CSRs know what your customers are and not so happy about. Your product managers know where the market is trending and your product engineers know how the product is evolving. All of this is invaluable content.
To be successful, you need to have a plan, a methodology, and a process.

Start with a content audit. 

 
Know what content you have, where it resides, and where the gaps are relative to the customer journey. Start filling the gaps. Think in terms of blog posts for the top of the funnel, white papers, case studies and eBooks for the middle, and proofs of concepts, ROI calculators, and demos for the bottom.

 
Next up is your content marketing strategy. 

 
Think like a publisher: plan ahead, think strategically, create editorial calendars, meet deadlines, create great content, find fresh angles and sources from your customer facing employees, and learn what resonates with your audience.

Identify what you’re writing about. 

 
Buyers are searching for information that will help them make an informed decision. Tell stories about how your product or service has helped someone solve a problem. Do not promote the features and benefits of your product. Content needs to be about your customers, not about you. Look at Google and identify what questions people are asking about your product or service that aren’t being answered and begin answering them in a truthful, non-promotional, straightforward way. Don’t be afraid to talk about price, problems, and strengths and weaknesses versus other products. To be a leader in your industry, you need to lead the content discussion.

Optimize your content. 

 
Avoid duplicate content by curating or articulating your unique point of view on something that’s already been published. Ensure your content leads quickly, Google will penalize you if you don’t, as will prospective customers. 
 

Include meta descriptions between 140 and 180 characters. Include images and optimize them.

 
 If you’re doing video, make sure you provide a transcript as well. Ensure your content is mobile friendly, and ideally in Accelerated Mobile Pages – this will win you points with Google.

Promote your content. 

 
While the primary home of your content is your website, you need to promote it organically with webinars, press releases, partners, and relevant social media channels. Publish all your presentations on Slide Share and establish a channel on YouTube – the second largest search engine behind Google that’s also owned by Google. If you have the budget and want to accelerate the process, you can use paid promotion with pay-per-click ads. If you do this make sure your search query, ad copy, and landing pages are all in alignment and be prepared to test different versions to optimize your spend.

I have worked with more than a dozen clients and have never used paid ads because posting SEO information of value that answers questions twice a week has consistently resulted in double the traffic and double the leads in less than three months. I used to guarantee six, but it’s never been close.

Have a lead nurturing program. 

 
Most of the leads you get from content marketing are top of funnel just doing research and wanting to get information about the topic at hand. As such, you need to leverage your content over time to convert a marketing qualified lead (MQL) who’s just begun their journey to a sales qualified lead (SQL) who is ready to talk to you or a member of your sales team. Please do not have sales follow-up with every lead – it wastes the sales person’s time and disrespects the prospect’s journey. 
 

Provide information of value, maintain top of mind awareness as a trusted resource, and deepen relationships. Doing so will create loyalty and trust, as well as resulting in 47% larger purchases according to HubSpot.

Measure and test. 

 
Know what’s working and what isn’t know who people are responding to content on your website by analyzing Google Analytics. Test which titles perform best and know that SEO keywords evolve as the market evolves. Also know you can only test one variable at a time so don’t “boil the ocean.”

Play for the long-term. 

Content marketing is not a quick lead generation program to help meet this quarter’s sales goals. It’s an 18 to 36-month investment over which time you will generate so much valuable content, you will have a number of pages ranking number one in Google and you will have established you and your company as the trusted, objective source in your industry that is in every prospect’s considered set.

93% of consumers search before making a purchase. 

 
Make the commitment in time and content creation to be the trusted source they click on when they’re looking for objective information that answers their question.

[Authored by Tom Smith, Principal Consultant, Insights From Analytics]

Ishan Mathur

Ishan is a published author, blogger, content and growth marketer. He's the guy behind SnapWryt and Copy Chronicles communities.

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