Content marketing is centered on building market trust and reputation by creating high-quality content that helps potential customers solve problems or grow their businesses. In contrast to relentless outbound campaigns that can come across as intrusive, content marketing positions an organization as a helpful resource that shows up in search, social, and other channels where potential customers gather information.
Every organization needs to tell its story and educate its target audience about the value of its products and services. That’s the essence of marketing. Content marketing starts where that story overlaps with the content needs of the target audience.
The content provided needs not only to be search-optimized but also relevant and helpful for customers who have questions or are in information-gathering mode. A thinly disguised pitch will not achieve the required outcomes. Content marketing is about building trust and visibility through valuable content.
Content serves different purposes at various points in the journey. For some industries, particularly in B2B, potential customers need to do substantial research before moving ahead with a purchase.
At the outset, top-of-funnel content may be geared towards general education and understanding of a problem. It’s met with expertise and a point of view on achieving good outcomes. Mid-funnel prospects will be looking to deepen understanding and support decision-making.
Bottom-of-funnel prospects will be looking for detailed and technical information that helps them narrow down the consideration set. This content should be high value enough that prospects are willing to trade contact information to download or review it.
Content marketing is useful not only for acquiring new customers, but almost more importantly, keeping existing customers engaged, happy, and continuing to show value. These customers, in turn, will become your best advocates and salespeople.
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First, it’s critical to define your core content pillars, i.e., the primary content areas that anchor your organization and its solutions. For O8, one of those pillars is content management systems and making informed platform decisions (e.g., Drupal vs. WordPress).
Another pillar is digital marketing, particularly the synergy between disciplines such as SEO, CRO, and UX. From these core pillars, we develop content based on market interest. This is determined by multiple sources, including keyword research and our knowledge of what is top-of-mind for our current customers.
The next step is to create a content calendar that addresses content topics, format, platforms, timing, and audience. This calendar should anticipate key industry dates and seasonality. Content formats should vary, not only to keep attention but also to cater to varying levels of attention span.
For some use cases, a quick-hit stat or 30-second social video will be all that’s needed. For those deeper in the funnel, a survey, study, eBook, or white paper may be vital to capturing their interest. Content marketers often use the metaphor of a snack vs. a meal vs. a feast to describe content needs.
Finally, prioritize! Establish KPIs that measure actual value early on and take a good look—both internally and externally— to assess which of your audiences is most important or valuable. That’s probably the audience you’ll want to start with.
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For content creation, it’s important to have a good handle on where expertise lies and who can answer critical questions that customers or prospects may have. Technical topics should be addressed by technical experts. Marketing writers can then assist by organizing and editing content. Other resources, such as graphic designers or videographers can make that content come to life with appealing visuals.
Experts are often time-challenged, so one effective tactic is to email an expert with questions as prompts. Their responses can then be repurposed into blog posts or used as source material for further content or research topics.
Leverage internal expertise; this helps establish credibility and boosts morale internally. A few employee features—with the help of the marketing team—can go a long way to getting the ball rolling.
Metrics will vary by content function. For content intended to boost brand exposure and reputation, it may be measured in impressions, social reach, engagement, or page or video views. Ultimately, as site visitors convert via bottom-of-funnel and are further nurtured, some will become customers, potentially over the long-term. This lifetime value is key to measuring ROI and understanding how content played a role.
Establishing KPIs that measure value to the org across the entire lifetime of the customer is crucial. If that’s not achievable right away, start somewhere that is—top-of-funnel metrics are easily and quickly established.