For All the Entrepreneurs Confused about How Content Marketing Actually Works
You have probably been doing content marketing all wrong. The good news is that you are here to learn more about doing it right. If you do not have a well-oiled marketing team doing all the work for you, chances are that you have struggled with getting results from content creation.
Churning out content has almost reached cult status in terms of popularity. Everyone is sharing blog posts and emailing newsletters nowadays. You may almost feel obliged to jump on the bandwagon in order to stay within the pack and give your business a competitive edge. This is the right thing to do, of course. There’s just more method to the madness than you realize.
Instead of wasting hours typing out thousand word posts which may just fall into the dark abyss of the internet. Take more time in mastering the conversion of content into sales in a real and measurable way. Now, take everything you think you know about content marketing, wrap it up and put it in a little bow. You are not going to need that for the next few minutes. Open your mind to this particular approach to it.
Don’t rely on traffic
For a really long time – when we were all starting out in the digital marketing field – a lot of the hype was about traffic. When you hear about websites receiving twenty million unique visitors a day, your excitement shoots through the roof. You start to wonder what your chances would be like with only ten percent of that number. Dollar signs appear in your bugged out eyes and you start working furiously for that number.
Unfortunately, those numbers do not mean much. A lot of the numbers are just people that go to a website, stick around for a second and click off. As a matter of fact, any numbers associated with traffic are called “vanity metrics”. The pageviews and unique visitors usually mean squat for your bottom line. They, however, look very pretty on a powerpoint presentation.
For the traffic to matter, there needs to be something more to make it count. For that passer-by who only clicked on your site to see an image they liked, there has to be more for them to click again or stay a while. Your content needs to draw them in.
For each need, there is one metric that matters more than the rest
The same applies to each unique business. There is always one metric that matters more to one than the other. The metric might be monthly recurring revenue, total time spent on the site, number of opt-ins etc. You have to focus on each number relentlessly. Learn to attribute different types of achievements to different metrics and improve on each one as appropriate.
It’s all about the money when it comes to content revenue. You might then infer that your revenue metric would be the most important one to improve. You might be tempted to only publish content that will earn you revenue immediately. The thing about that is you will never be able to tell how much a post has earned you for years to come. The revenue metric is what is called a trailing indicator: by the time you can measure the money, it’s a bit too late to do anything about it.
Now you’re probably racking your brain thinking what metric would easily solve this problem. Don’t think of a metric, think of the processes that lead up to it. Humans are behind the numbers, and that’s who we’re selling to.
It’s about the sales process
Learn to leverage your content to each stage of the sales process. Imagine a customer having an active need and your content meeting it. The metrics for each stage of that process are what will give you daily measurable numbers you can improve on.
Let’s say for example that you run a successful events company in London. As you are going about your business you receive a phone call from your intern. She googled you and you ranked number one when she typed in “London cool events”. This will send you over the moon, and will definitely send a lot of prospective clients your way.
The worst thing you could ever do with such an opportunity is to let it fall flat. Thousands of people visit your site and:
- They look around in utter dismay at the content on your website. They come to the conclusion that you are either stupid, bad at what you do or some kind of con.
- Not getting their contacts. You either don’t ask or don’t provide a valid reason for them to leave theirs.
- You manage to snag a few names and emails from your contact page but you don’t follow up with them. The contacts lie in your email storage gathering dust while the prospects happily move to another events vendor and forget about you.
- You don’t really sell your strong points. No one can figure out why you are the best in the field and why they should work with you instead of your competitors. They start to wonder how you ranked number one.
- You manage to do everything right, down to getting them to actually work with you. You don’t, however, manage to get them to shell out their money and act.
Use your content to solve each of these sales problems! Let’s get your events company selling.
- Build trust by creating content that is transparent about your business and your goals. Give lots of examples of past work that you have done successfully. Quality images are also a great help. Building trust with visitors makes them more likely to reach out for your services.
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- Provide incentive for every visitor to hand over their contact information. Examples of incentives can be discount codes or “premium” access to information.
- Remind your prospects that you exist. Share with them all the latest events and main attractions. This is so that they will always have top of mind awareness of your business.They will likely go to you first for any of their event needs.
- Have a distinct tone of voice for all your content. This will enable your visitors instinctively differentiate you from your competitors. It also doesn’t hurt to state exactly what makes you a cheetah and the rest spotted cats.
- Building respect and longstanding trust will make you more credible. Visitors will spend money on someone with consistently high-quality content and expertise in their field.
Identifying effective content
As outlined above, each step in the sales process corresponds with content that the visitor will come across. It is sequential because after a visitor takes the first step, they are moved to take the next and the next in a very specific order.
In the example above, the visitor is already on your website for the first time. They might have made this first step by clicking on a post you shared on Facebook or Twitter.
The next steps to take are capturing their contact information, building a rapport and eventually converting them into a client. This process includes sending them newsletters, videos or posts via email in order to build that trust in your product.
You can put this process in a table to see the content, its indicator of success and the metric used to measure it.
|Content||Indicator of success||Metric|
|Blog post headline||Prospect Clicks Link||Traffic|
|The Blog Post on Your website||Visitor Reads It||Time spent on page|
|Free E-book or giveaway Offer||Visitor subscribes via email||Opt-In Rate|
|First Email Subject Line||Subscriber opens email||Email open rate|
|First Email Body Copy||Subscriber clicks link||Email click-through rate|
This would continue on for more steps until the final sale is made. The key point to take away here is that your content should be good enough to influence each and every visitor into taking action.
The influence-action machine
We have learned how to measure each metric according to the sales process, and how to craft your content with this in mind. The most vital thing to understand about content marketing is the need for your content to be able to influence and inspire. After you market your content, prospects should feel the need to take action in order for you to make a sale.
The metrics on the right-hand side of the table are only a way to physically measure whether the visitors are going through the process as they are supposed to. This means that the metrics themselves are not the most important thing, the actions taken by the visitors are.
If you spend hours at your desk creating content that gets you a lot of traffic but does not get your visitors to listen to you, your content has no value. Conversely, you may decide to put out targeted content that not many people will read. You may do this with the sole aim that each of these people will happily move through your sales funnel. That each post you create has a distinct purpose to move them along the process. If this succeeds, then your content is pure gold.
There is no point of building a huge brand with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media if they will not do what you ask them to do. All the visits to your page mean nothing when you can’t follow through and harness their purchasing power. It is slightly worse when you keep asking people to do things but don’t have the influence or respect to have them act.
Create content that is good, can summon and inspiring influence. You should also ensure that you guide your prospects to take the next step. Make it abundantly clear what the next step they should take is. Nudge them in the right direction and it will be as natural a progression as a flower blooming.
It is easy to summarise the influence-action machine into five points:
- You need to lay out the process that prospective clients will follow before making the decision to spend their money on your product.
- Develop content for every stage of the process. This must be quality content that grows their trust in you. Be it a blog post or a punchy email.
- Market the content. Use all channels available to you to sell the content. Always include a call to action asking them to take the next step.
- Use metrics to measure the success or failure by your ability to inspire action at each stage of the process.
- If the process seems to stall at a certain point. Make improvements on the content and marketing in that stage.
Work on your influence through content and use marketing to affect the actions that your potential customers will take. Content marketing is all around us. Powerhouse brands such as Beyonce’s use this tool quite successfully. She started out with little to no influence, and slowly churned out hit after quality hit in order to build trust. Now with millions of fans around the world, her brand is able to monetize on her influence alone. She also is able to invite external brands as sponsors. She prompts her fans to take action through various marketing efforts. The actions taken run the gamut from raising funds for a charity to wearing a specific kind of shoe or buying an album.
This means that content marketing can be very lucrative. It does not involve you pleading in a blog post or forcing anything down your visitor’s throat. It involves patience, good content, trust, rockstar marketing and rapport – all the while making sure to communicate frequently.