Customers today are resourceful; they have almost limitless information available right in the palms of their hands. Content marketing is a great way to establish a digital presence and attract the eyes of customers who want to know more.
“Content marketing” describes the process of generating and distributing digital assets to attract, educate, support, and persuade your audience. Because there are so many moving pieces, marketers typically use a content management system to organize and deploy these digital assets.
Digital marketing content formats vary—and creating them can require alignment from stakeholders across your business—but some of the most widely used are blog articles, customer stories, ebooks, videos, infographics, and solution briefs. The hallmark of good content marketing is that it provides information customers are actively interested in, rather than focusing entirely on pitching a product.
There are lots of different ways to succeed with content marketing, but every program should start with a deliberate purpose and specific goals. Let’s dive into the customer journey and examine how marketing content can help you connect at all stages of the funnel.
A great way to attract new audiences is by creating website content that aligns to topics that are top-of-mind for them. If you don’t know what queries your audience is asking about, search engine optimization (SEO) research can help discover what content will be of interest to your audience. Keyword-optimized marketing content, such as blog articles and public web pages, is critical for SEO success and can help you increase traffic to your website and build awareness with new audiences.
Moreover, by doing SEO research, you can be confident that your content matches the information potential customers need. One timely trend in SEO is to audit competitors’ content to identify gaps, then create robust new assets on topics they haven’t addressed. This helps ensure you can generate unique new content that meets customer needs that aren’t met elsewhere.
Demonstrating expertise and thought leadership on topics your audience cares about helps to align your brand with their interests and priorities. This means you can start to provide value long before a prospect starts thinking about a purchase—or sometimes before they’ve even identified a need. And if a prospect’s first experience with your brand helps them understand or navigate a relevant issue, they’ll come to trust you as a source of useful information and will be more likely to seek out your solutions when the need arises.
Today, even prospects who are actively looking to buy want to learn independently, without having to talk to anyone. In fact, 60% of buyers consume between three and seven pieces of marketing content before reaching out to sales. That’s why it’s important to make information readily available in the channels prospects use most.
Marketing content highlighting your value propositions ensures that salespeople aren’t the sole source of information prospects need to consider a purchase. Publicly available content lets you support buyers who want to stay in control of their purchase process, while gated content can help you drive leads from high-intent buyers looking for solutions like yours.
Customer stories are a marketing content format that works well during the consideration stage. A buyer contemplating purchasing from you will want to know that your solution addresses their needs—and, perhaps more importantly, how. Customer stories or videos provide examples of your solution at-work in the real world, so buyers can easily understand the types of problems you can help them solve. And as an added bonus, satisfied customer testimonials validate claims you make, further building trust.
As a prospect nears the end of their buying journey, they’re looking for any information that will help them make a confident decision—67% of buyers in 2021 reported that they rely on marketing content to inform purchase decisions more than they did in 2020. Product-specific content that will help them explain the value of the purchase to other stakeholders is incredibly helpful and can support sales conversations or give sellers a reason to follow up and move the sale along—particularly important in B2B where multiple people may be involved in purchase decisions.
Analyst reports and third-party reviews are useful at this stage. Once prospective buyers trust you and understand what your solution does, help them choose you over the competition by providing trusted third-party content showing how you stack up.
Beyond this, content that answers the simple “What? Why? How?” questions related to your offerings can elevate the role of sales contacts within the process. When salespeople aren’t solely responsible for explaining features, functions, and cost, they can instead act as trusted advisors guiding prospective buyers on how to get the most value from their purchases.
Content marketing is powerful—but more content isn’t always better. One asset that fully addresses a customer’s need is better than 10 assets that help meet a content output quota but don’t bring unique value. More website content will draw more traffic, but extraneous content will keep readers from seeing the information that’s valuable to them. Content marketing strategy is about balancing quality and quantity.
Ready to get moving? Prioritize your content creation with these five key ingredients in content marketing strategy, or check out some of our tips and tricks for content marketing below.
Waynette Tubbs is responsible for content strategy and development for Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience and is Editor of the Modern Marketing Blog. She has developed a comprehensive portfolio of strategic business and marketing communications during her career spanning more than 20 years of magazine, corporate communications, and agency work.