Many companies struggle in how to use content marketing to drive their sales or business upwards. No big surprise as today’s buyer is more educated and savvy than ever. Smart marketing leaders know that traditional marketing methods are becoming less and less effective by the day, so turning to social media and content marketing as a means to drive traffic and leads makes sense . In fact social media/online advertising will overtake traditional advertising this year, posing opportunities and challenges for many companies.
But social media and content marketing is not the same thing. Yes they do operate hand in glove with each other however one is focused on “consumption” while the other is based on “participation”. The goal of content is audience consumption, while social media is all about audience participation.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus advertisements.
So think of content as a beautifully prepared meal that people want to consume, social media as the room where they sit talking about the lovely meal they just have eaten and social networking is how you make people aware of your food in the first place. They key to using content marketing is to create different meals aka content themes (chicken dinners become boring after a while) to keep people coming back for more. The same way we create different meals for different times of the day or weather, we also need to vary our content according to the different stages our prospective buyers are at.
I call this
ACD Content Marketing
I believe your content tactics should mirror both your company stage of development and your sales pipeline. ACD content marketing focuses the type of content created to match the three stages in customer acquisition. These are Awareness, Consideration and Decision.
Awareness content is heavily SEO focused, a new business or one targeting a set of keywords for Google traffic will create allot of this type of content. It is aimed at potential buyers whom have no previous awareness or interaction with your business. The goal here is using keyworded content to get searched and seen by as many people as possible. Themes for awareness content include such titles as – how to, tips on, a guide to etc.
Awareness Content is served up on:
- Social Media Sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube etc.
- Posted on Blogs – Medium, WordPress, LinkedIn Pulse and Blogger.
- Published to your own Website and Landing Pages
- As presentations on Slideshare or Learnist.
- Visuals (including Infographics) on Visual.ly or Imgur.
- SEO link building to places like Scoop.it, Quora, Pearltrees.
This type of content is usually on-going as a business targets new keywords or sets of customers. It is important to capture their interest via newsletter or update sign-ups. Then you can now move to creating “consideration content” or content that is focused on getting customers to select you as a vendor.
As you build traffic, repeat visitors, newsletter subscriptions and social network connections a business should start to blend in consideration type content into their content strategy. This is where you use content to nurture (lead nurturing) prospective customers.
The goal is to create content that will “nurturing the customer” meaning informing them on why/how your product or solutions will solve their problems. At the beginning consideration and awareness content can often be have similar traits as in keyword focused, but try to leave the SEO to aside as you progress, switching the focus on going deeper with informative and insightful content. The content is still served up on all the channels lists in the previous section plus emailed to your subscriber base.
Consideration Content should include:
- Research articles
- Success Stories
- Case Studies
- Valid and Verifiable Customer Testimonials
- Interviews (text and video)
- Sharing other forms of proof (reviews/awards/wins)
Decision content is offered to your qualified leads (sales and marketing working together) from lead nurturing them during the consideration phase. This content should be personalised, specific and introduced at the right time in the sales process. I suggest business splits decision content into “pre-close” and “post-close”. Pre-close content can be vital to closing a sale so should be planned out carefully.
Types of Pre-close Content may include:
- Onsite or Virtual Product Demonstrations
- Existing customer reference with detailed implementation
- Personalised Proposal
- Pricing Documents
- ROI Presentations using existing customer cases
Lastly, there is the “post-close content”, this can include surveys, up-selling and cross selling content and referral requests.
Ensure you create content to welcome new customers and solicit feedback as part of your content arsenal. Also make sure to produce content templates that thank them for their purchase. Also post-close content should include sharing information on your newest products and upgrades.
Wrapping it All
The ACD marketing method has other benefits, used correctly it can be a superb way to gather valuable insights. Content marketing is the marketing of the here and now plus the future. It will only develop in its sophistication and personalisation as the social media networks become central to sales and customer interactions. Content is the always on, 24/7 plug-in to the internet world, always there guiding your potential customers even when you are asleep. The key to to create attractive and appealing content that will be consumed by the reader that matches where they are in your sales pipeline.
The Bitter Business can help create or work with your social media marketing or content marketing strategy, helping you to understand what type of content works and which aspect of your content creation needs to be improved to deliver more traffic, more leads and more customers.