Both the B2C and B2B ecommerce spaces remain increasingly competitive, and more than ever, consumers are empowered to leverage their preferences around price, quality and customization, among other factors, to negotiate their ideal value. If a company doesn’t suit a consumer’s needs, there will always be another service provider who will.
To that end, we’ve seen a significant push from the outbound methodology (reaching out to prospects through traditional efforts), to a more inbound approach (appealing to their needs and pulling them in to your sales funnel).
A vital part of this inbound approach should include a meaningful log of content that not only educates potential prospects around your company and product, but more importantly positions you as the expert in your marketplace.
Here are a few best practices for building an effective content marketing strategy as we move into 2019.
Educate the Market; Don’t Sell to it
Anyone who’s found themselves a target of a marketing campaign (yes, that’s all of us) has seen every item in the marketing mix from countless companies in both the digital and physical spaces. It’s hard for companies to break through the noise and differentiate themselves in a meaningful enough way to thrive – especially when competitors with far more brand awareness have a stranglehold on the market.
Instead of simply promoting your product, develop a cadence of blog posts, white papers, ebooks, infographics and other collateral that address the problems/solutions that your target audience deals with. This is an opportunity to build trust with a prospect and position yourself as not just a seller of a product, but a market thought leader and potential long-term partner.
Measure Your Key Performance Indicators
Just as important as developing quality content is measuring the effectiveness of that content in a meaningful, tangible way. It’s easy to post and deploy a piece of collateral into the market without a quantitative sense of how it’s influencing your prospects to enter and move through your sales funnel.
Putting an analytics criteria in place enables you to glean a baseline performance for your content marketing efforts and ultimately improve upon them month over month based on what you learn.
Depending on your business model and which metric supports lead nurturing, this may mean an increase in overall traffic, unique visitors, time on site, form fills, engagement with your “contact us” page, etc. Tools like Google Analytics are invaluable for this purpose.
The point is, although your content is qualitative, make sure you have a data-based system in place to ensure your efforts are supporting your company’s overall objective.
Repurpose Content in Various Formats
It’s no secret that consumers like to read what they want, when they want and how they want. Whether it’s long-form or short-form content, we consume on our own terms, regardless of where we are in the sales funnel.
When exploring a topic in your marketing strategy, it’s wise to develop content on the same topic across varying formats, creating a central hub in which your readers can learn on their own terms.
Data from a B2B buyers study reveals that 59 percent of millennials prefer videos and infographics before making a purchase, while 78 percent of older consumers prefer longer-form content like white papers.
The idea here is to develop a pyramid of content – where you can tap into a subject over and over again, positioning yourself as an expert on the subject – versus creating a series of disparate pieces that have far less impact on their own.
Personalize and Target Specific Accounts
Whether you’re speaking to a B2C or B2B audience, prospects continue to demand a more consumerized experience dominated by convenience, flexibility and customization. A meaningful way to deliver this experience is through heightened personalization.
A survey conducted by Monetate indicates that 94 percent of participants believe personalization is “critical to current and future success,” and more personalized lead nurturing delivers a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities. This mirrors a Forrester study that finds 92 percent of marketers say personalization has become a more meaningful strategy in their strategy discussions.
The key to personalization is gathering a rich well of data from your prospects. Utilize your marketing automation tool as well as services like Google Analytics to identify web behavior, page visits, asset downloads, etc., to understand the actual needs of your audience.
From there, you can build email campaigns, landing pages, social media outreach and suggest similar content that targets exactly why a prospect is searching for your product, and how your product specifically can fulfill that need.
Develop a Live Video or Podcast Series
Given the sheer volume and immediacy that the internet provides, consumers tend to invest less time and effort in absorbing information. As a marketer, you should consider that your readers (like many of us) have a busy schedule. This tends to lend itself less to engagement with long-form content and more to audio with and video efforts.
A Livestream survey found that 82 percent of consumers prefer hearing a brand’s live video or podcast than reading their social media posts or blog. And Facebook finds that users spend as much as three times more time watching live videos than recorded videos, with 10 times more engagement like comments and other interactions.
Luckily, the time and cost investment in utilizing this format is fairly low, it’s quite versatile and it applies a human personality to your company. Simple, cost-effective streaming services easily enable Q&A sessions with market experts, conversations with key members of your c-suite, product demonstrations as well as live event coverage, to name a few.
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Kyle Shamorian is the content marketer for cleverbridge. Connect with him on LinkedIn.