Today, when people are looking to make a purchase they increasingly turn to the internet, even if they don’t buy online they research the subject through Google or similar search engines or perhaps via social media platforms, before visiting a bricks and mortar store.
Therefore, in order to grow your business it’s important to raise your online profile to ensure you get found by the search engines and don’t miss out on any opportunities. But it’s no good getting found if you don’t get chosen, you need to ensure that searchers select your solution rather than your competitors and there are some steps you can take to help them decide on your offer.
At Rame Marketing I advocate taking a content marketing approach to promote business growth. Content marketing, supported by social media marketing and search marketing, is a better and more affordable way to promote your products and services. But to succeed you need to have a plan based on the goals and objectives you want to achieve, that’s why I recommend the following 7-stage content marketing process to help grow your business online (and offline).
Stage 1: Devising the content strategy
Without a content strategy there is no focus.
Your content strategy will be directly related to your business objectives and your customers’ needs. It will provide strategic direction on how your marketing content and content marketing processes will help you to achieve specific objectives, such as:
- Be perceived as an industry thought leader
- Differentiate your offering from your competition
- Increase brand awareness
- Improve lead quantity and quality
- Increase conversions rates
Spending time and resources upfront on developing your content strategy increases its chances of success. A good content marketing strategy framework will enable you to develop your market positioning and understand where your expertise and your customer needs intersect.
Factors considered within the content strategy include:
- Analysing and understanding buyer behaviour
- Profiling your typical customers to understand their needs and build buyer personas
- Mapping your buyers’ concerns to your organisation’s expertise
- Identifying what kind of content your audience would like to receive
- Understanding how you will create and distribute this content and the resources required
- Deciding how you will follow up leads and nurture them into sales
- Establishing key metrics to determine what success will look like
Your content strategy doesn’t need to be a huge, detailed document. It can even be a single page.
Stage 2: The content audit
The content audit identifies the gaps in your offering.
A content marketing audit is an inventory of all of your existing marketing collateral, such as current web pages, printed material, slide decks, blog posts, advertising, brochures and any old material hidden away in filing cabinets or folders that might be put to good use.
The content marketing audit forms the benchmark for all your content marketing activities moving forward. It’s a thorough analysis of what you already have, how effective it’s deemed to be and the consistency of message and tone of voice. With this knowledge you can determine the gap between where you are and where you want to be, based on your overall business objectives.
A thorough content marketing audit will provide guidance on:
- The type of content you need to be producing
- The target audience the content should aim to address
- The stages of the buying cycle not currently being targeted
- The best marketing channels for your target audience e.g.
- SMS etc
The content marketing audit will also consider the structure of your web pages and several simple SEO checks to ensure your web pages are having a positive impact in search engine rankings.
Brainstorming sessions can determine and support the content you need to provide and the picture you end up with will determine your action plan.
Stage 3: Generating the content marketing plan
Every business has its own unique story to tell. The content marketing plan sets out how you are going to tell that story to the world (or at least, to your potential customers).
In the content marketing plan, you determine your target audience and build buyer personas or profiles for each sector you intend to target. You can then build an editorial calendar to plan the content you are going to deliver to each audience, including such information as:
- The tone of voice you need to use
- Customer pain points to be addressed by each piece of content produced
- Keywords and phrases to optimise your content for search engines
- The different stages in the buying decision process that you are going to target
- The call to action (what you want your audience to do after reading/viewing your content)
- How and where the content will be re-purposed
The content marketing plan helps you understand the market opportunity and how to address it. It enables you to map your content-related activities to your overall marketing goals by determining:
- How and where to publish each piece of content
- The resources required
- Roles and responsibilities
Stage 4: Creating & distributing content
The content you create will depend on the high-level objectives outlined in your content marketing strategy. For example, you may want your content to help you be perceived as an industry thought leader, or you may want it to show how your product differs from a competitor’s.
Your distribution plan will be guided by where the target audience for each piece of content typically congregates. For example, if you know a lot of your prospective customers are on Twitter, you will factor Twitter into your distribution plan.
Remember, if Google can’t find you no one else can. The good news is that you don’t need to be a large corporate or have a fat wallet to be on the first page of the search results.
Key factors to consider in the creation and distribution plan include:
- Determining the content goals
- Understanding the audience
- Selecting buyer personas
- Understanding the “tone of voice” of the content for the target audience
- Working on the messaging, keywords and the call to action
- Evaluating the best content format and platform options
- Considering whether paid advertising (PPC) should be an option
- Creating an editorial calendar to plan and manage the content marketing creation process
- Planning how to repurpose that content across multiple platforms
- Ensuring the content is mobile friendly
Stage 5: Using content to generate demand
Content is vital to demand generation because it drives search, lead generation and social media. Without the hook of great content, it’s difficult to engage with an audience. Great content acts like a magnet and pulls people towards you.
With content, it’s all about putting the focus on your customer, rather than your own products or services. You need to create and publish content that shows your audience you understand their problems and issues – and more importantly, that you can help them.
Your content should tell a story that inspires potential customers to keep engaging with your business until they are ready to buy from you so you need to consider content for each stage of the buying cycle from visitors who are in research mode, looking to be educated to those actively engaged with you and seeking validation through case studies or testimonials.
As more people use social media for discussion and research, your content should be optimised for search and sharing across social media platforms. That means re-purposing it in different ways to ensure you get the best ROI from each piece of content you create.
Every business needs to bring in new opportunities to account for customer churn and to drive growth that means the use of good clear Calls To Action on each landing page along with lead capture forms. Capturing contact details within a permission based campaign allows you to use relevant and targeted email marketing to convert that contact into an opportunity through a lead nurturing and lead scoring process.
Examples of content that can help create demand include:
- Web pages
- Blog posts
- Case studies
Stage 6: Nurturing and converting your leads
To get the most value from your demand generation activities, you need to build trust with your prospects in a way that is both consistent and relevant.
Some of the leads you generate won’t be ready to buy immediately. If you call these people up or try to push them into making a purchase before they are ready, you risk losing them entirely.
Lead nurturing is the art of keeping in contact with leads, often through a series of emails, until they are ready to commit. Providing a regular supply of interesting and relevant content can significantly increase the proportion of leads that will eventually buy from you.
Nurturing is also a great way to learn more about your leads. By presenting different questions or types of content and identifying who responds to what, you can qualify your lead and “warm” them up for the sales conversation.
A lead scoring process enables you to rank each lead for quality and prioritise them accordingly. The sales-ready leads get handed over to the sales team, and the others are inducted into a lead-nurturing programme until they’re ready to buy.
Sales conversion rates go up, sales staff are happy, and less money and resource is spent on chasing up leads that won’t ever convert.
Stage 7: Monitoring & measuring the impact
In your content strategy you will have set key performance indicators (KPIs) for your content marketing programme, so you need to be able to measure its performance to see if meets your success criteria.
With the right metrics in place, you can continuously review your activities to determine what’s working and what isn’t. By knowing which campaigns and pieces of content have the most impact, you can increase activity where it makes sense and cut out wasted effort elsewhere.
Metrics that can be used to track progress include:
- Web analytics
- Blog traffic
- Email click-through rates, downloads, and unsubscribe rates
- Numbers and quality of new leads generated
- Conversion rates
Most of this information can be found in Google Analytics and most social media platforms also offer analytics data. But not everyone is comfortable using these tools, however the information provided can be invaluable in supporting decision-making and it will definitely pay to get more involved in these measurement packages.
Content marketing isn’t easy, it’s a hard slog and entails so much more than just publishing the odd blog post. But when implemented properly it can raise awareness of your brand, generate quality leads and help you get found online. Hopefully, this 7 stage content marketing process has struck a chord and will help you achieve your business goals.
If your current marketing activities are not delivering and you’d like to find out more about alternative marketing methods to help your business grow, get in touch. Contact us today on 01803 413481 or email firstname.lastname@example.org