Businesses today are scrambling for content – unique relevant ones that go above and beyond SEO-centric content. In fact, 88% of B2B marketing professionals rely on custom content; 75% of which plan to continue with their content strategy in the future. And, according to the Information Technology Services Marketing Association, companies have upped their spending on content by as much as 16% of their total budget. That’s huge!
But there is a gap. According to the American Marketing Association, 90% of marketing content goes unused. This is clearly symptomatic of a flawed grasp of how content marketing actually figures into your bottom line.
Content marketing is a strategy that applies to all stages of your sales funnel. When done right, it can translate to an increase in revenue and sales. You can move more people along the funnel, from the first to last stages, and convert them into customers.
It is a matter of forgetting the misconception that content marketing is only a top-of-funnel strategy. It does so much more than create awareness of your product.
Top of the Funnel: Awareness/ Discovery
It is understandable why some people think that content marketing belonged to this stage only. After all, this is when you tell people about your product, when you let them know there is a need for what you offer. You try to generate interest, and hope they take the next step. What better way to do it than content?
Ultimately, the goal is brand awareness. This is done through educational and (ideally) viral content, which can be in the form of blog posts, online videos, infographics, email newsletters and big content (games, long form content and the like).
Of these, infographics stand out as having the biggest jump in usage, from 2014’s 51% to 62% in the next year. This is because it gets more social media engagement than any other content form. It is “data visualization” that makes tons of information easier to digest.
Webinars also fall in this category, although these cater to a more focused group. According to Mike Agron, author of WebinarReady: “Webinars, as a form of content marketing, are a great vehicle to educate and inform potential buyers, and the real goal should be to make sure they are engaged in the webinar so they are inspired to want to have a conversation with you after the event. That’s the time to start the sales process. Part of the post webinar follow-up is to use the intelligence and analytics collected before, during and after the webinar to start segmenting the leads into one of three buckets: sales ready, those that need nurturing, and those who aren’t qualified or a good fit.”
Middle of the Funnel: Consideration and Evaluation
This stage is crucial. It is when your lead digs deeper and tries to see if you’re the right fit.
Help them out with more relevant and comprehensive content. Forget about infographics, at this point. They need in-depth long-form content that tells them all they need to know about what your product. This includes whitepapers, e-books, FAQs, how-to blogs, demo videos and more webinars.
At this stage, you already know they are interested. Your focus shifts to giving them relevant content that helps them make an informed decision.
Bottom of The Funnel: Conversion
Think the role of content marketing is done? Not yet – your content needs to close the deal!
At this point, your lead is ready to be converted into a customer. He/ she just needs a final push. Content that makes a world of difference at this stage includes testimonials and reviews. Remember the findings of BrightLocal, an SEO company, wherein 88% of consumers contacted say they trust online reviews. Make sure to highlight reviews and testimonials on your website.
A streamlined and comprehensible sales process also matters. Use clear content to guide your prospect through the buying process.
The Extended Funnel: Retention
Congrats! You closed the deal! Remember though that this is only the beginning. You now have an existing relationship with your customer. Your content marketing goal now is to retain this customer.
Perhaps the first thing to come to mind here is customer support. As far as content goes, comprehensive support pages are your best options. Any problem a customer has can be addressed without intervention, which is less stressful.
Of course, your content marketing should do more than provide help. In this business landscape, it is important to keep your customers engaged. Your goal is to get them “on board” and delight them so much that they become your brand ambassadors.
Social media and blog posts, contests and giveaways, as well as follow-up emails, work best here. Reach out and let them know they are now part of your business – that their satisfaction is your ultimate goal.
About the author: Roda Novenario is a writer, diver and conservation advocate. She spends most of her time talking sales, marketing and CTI for Tenfold, a global CRM Phone Integration company.
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