Content Marketing What and Why Businesses Need It
I used to think the same thing….
… why do I need to put so much effort into content marketing for my business?
I mean, as a business owner my primary concern really boils down to 2 things: revenue and costs.
Well, yes, but content marketing actually helps to lower your costs of customer acquisition while increasing brand awareness, which in turn leads towards more sales and revenues for your company.
So ultimately, we need to be thinking about how to connect what we are doing with content to revenue and costs.
Content marketing is the intersection of advertising and publishing.
We are going to create content in one form or another. That content is going to create an audience. Around that content with the audience, we start to see advertising opportunities develop.
We have the ability to use that content to soft sell our products and services. Once we have enough people reading our content, we then have the ability to monetize the content in one form or another.
This is where we become BOTH publisher and advertiser.
We own and produce the content AND we own and produce the advertising.
Most business owners don’t realize that they are actually just as powerful as The Wall Street Journal because we can install a blog, build an audience, and sell our products and services around the outside of that content.
…… which is exactly what the Wall Street Journal does.
Content Marketing Funnel Formula:
Great content= Audience
Poor content= No audience
No audience= no advertising
The foundation of everything we do as content marketers is that we are able to produce content that will generate an audience, so we can advertise our products and services around the outside of it.
Not one of us is in business NOT to make money, right?
Whether you realize it or not, regardless what industry you currently are in….. everyone is a MEDIA COMPANY…. Including you.
Media is anything that aggregates the attention of a definable market segment into a specific location at a predictable time.
So whether you are creating content, or running paid ads on Facebook…. You are producing media to a definable market segment, in a specific location (Facebook or your blog), at a predictable time (when you launch the media).
And now that we have that out of the way, we can move on to where so many businesses and marketers get it all wrong…..
The Customer Avatar
Ya, I know…
You’ve heard it all before…
You know the market you are advertising to…
But do you really?
I know, we are all taught the importance of knowing who we are talking to and to talk to them as if we are sitting down having an actual conversation with a friend.
We are taught that we need to know what they want and then ensure you are creating content that they are interested in.
We are taught to collect all the demographic information.
The challenges and pain points so we can get into their heads and create content and offers.
We need to know their potential objections and the role they play in the purchase process as well.
Like, what are the reasons they are not buying from you? You need to understand and overcome the objections in order to sell to them.
We need to know whether they are the decision influencers or do they actually make the decision to buy?
But, most marketers miss the single most important step of using this information to create the Before and After Grid….
You know, that document that helps you get to the DEEPER wants and needs of your customer…
The one that helps you take a customer from a less desirable before state (before using your product or service) to a more desirable after state (what life is like once they have your product or service).
We are forgetting to close the gap for them, which leads to more effort, increased costs, and much less sales and conversions than we should be seeing.
We’ll get to the Before and After Grid shortly….
The Marketing Funnel
There are 3 stages to create a new customer that you must follow….
- Awareness: Your potential and existing customers may or may not be aware of the problem, so you need to make them ‘problem aware’. Or they may or may not be aware of the solution. So then you need to make them solution aware.
Then you encounter the problem of, they may become aware of your brand, and the fact that they have a problem and you have the solution they need, but they never move into the Evaluation stage.
- Evaluation: At this stage they are starting to look at the different solutions to their problem. This also includes the solution of “I’m not going to do anything about this.”
At this stage, your content strategy has to change.
- Conversion: This is where the magic happens. This is where you get a new customer and they are happy and you are happy. It’s a win-win for everyone.
While it’s an ideal venture from awareness to conversion, it usually doesn’t happen without a great deal of effort on your part.
It requires you, as a content marketer, to create valuable content that your market wants and needs, even if they don’t know they need it.
But again…. Most marketers get it wrong.
They just throw out content without a plan, and without understanding the 3 types of content to help move someone through the customer journey, or even when to deploy the content….
Enter TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU….
I know it sounds like something from a Chinese takeout menu….
I can assure you it’s not.
In fact, they are about to become your best friends….
And, once you understand these 3 content types, you are going to find yourself randomly spitting them out and find people staring at you like you just started speaking a foreign language 😊
At the top of the content marketing funnel we are dealing with the Awareness phase. We are talking to a very cold prospect. They may not be aware that they have a problem. They may not be aware of your brand. And they certainly aren’t aware of the solution that you have available to them.
This is how you widen the net at the top of the funnel, bring in a cold prospect, and then warm them up through content marketing, and bring them down into the middle of the funnel, to the bottom.
There are 4 goals to creating TOFU (top of funnel) content:
- Increase offer awareness
- Grow retargeting lists
- Increase engagement
- Grow website traffic
Not necessarily in that order. But they are the only goals for your top of funnel content. Period.
TOFU Content Types
- Social media updates
- Digital magazine/ books
- Audio podcasts
- Video/video podcasts
- Print magazines/ newsletters
- Primary research
In the very beginning building awareness for your brand and/or products and services, these are the only content types you are going to use.
For your content strategy, your home base is your blog. The outposts are things that you don’t own but you do publish content there… like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
The outposts are where the audience is gathering. You don’t own them or control the outposts. Your job then is to create content on these outposts and drive people back to your home base.
You need both the home base and the outposts.
The only media you truly own is your own blog and website, so you want to be bringing people back to your home base where you own the media and control the conversation.
TOFU Content Plan
You have a plan, right?
OK, so before launching any content strategy, you need to know what goals you are trying to achieve.
Do you want to increase offer awareness? Brand awareness? Grow your website traffic? Increase engagement? Or Grow retargeting lists? Or a combination of these things?
Once you know your goals, then you move into deciding what content types you are going to use to achieve those goals….
Think about your strengths. What do you have the ability to do? If you don’t have proper audio recording equipment right now, then you may not be able to produce podcasts or audio.
Lead with your strengths and what you have the ability to do right now.
So, if your goal is increasing website traffic, what are you going to commit to using as a content type?
And then, what types of technology will you need for this content type?
- CMS (content management system like WordPress)
- Email service provider (Klavyo or Aweber maybe)
- Video camera
- Webinar software
- Image editing software
- Screen casting software
- Screen capture software
Once you have this part of the content marketing plan figured out, then you need to know which metrics you are going to measure. Which ones are important to you based on your goals and content type?
- Offer awareness
- Retargeting list growth
- Site engagement rate
- Number of inbound links
- Traffic by channel
This is important because you have no way of knowing whether your content strategy is working unless you are tracking the metrics.
If your goal is offer awareness, then one of the ways to measure that is where you will see more and more people going to Google and typing in the exact name of your company, products, or services. These are branded searches.
If you’re doing your content marketing strategy correctly, you will see the number of people searching for your brand increasing.
You can find that information in Google Webmaster tools, in the search queries report. It will show you the search queries people are using to find you. There will be an increase in the impressions and clicks on the name of your company or products.
As a result, your direct traffic should also increase. Since they are directly searching for your name or products, they are clicking through and going directly to your website.
If your goal is to grow your retargeting lists, then you need to understand that are the top of the funnel we use retargeting in a very specific way.
To build specific lists of people we know are interested in one thing or another that we offer.
If you are using your marketing and advertising efforts to send people to content on your blog about yoga, and people click through and go to the website, then it’s telling you these people are into yoga or at least thinking about getting into yoga.
So by growing this specific retargeting list of people interested in yoga, we are able to follow them around the web with the proper relevant advertisements based on what we know about them, based on the content they visited on our site.
Your content should be set up on your blog to allow you to segment people into groups or categories like yoga, meditation, strength training, etc. You can then create custom audiences in order to send them the right targeted offer.
If your metric is to track your site engagement rate, then you want to be measuring these metrics on your site:
- Bounce rate
- Avg session rate
- Pages/ visits
- Number of comments, likes, and shares
These are vanity metrics that should increase over time.
If you’re tracking the number of inbound links, then you will be running your content strategy over a 3 month period, and you should see an increase in the number of people linking back to your content from other sites.
If you’re tracking the traffic by channel, then you should see things like direct search, organic search, and referrals increasing. These things should be monitored weekly to see if they’re growing.
Now once you have figured out your content goals, content type, the metrics you’re measuring, it’s time to start thinking about how you are going to distribute the content. Will you be using organic methods or paid methods?
Content Distribution: Organic Methods
- Youtube, Vimeo
Content Distribution: Paid Methods
- Social advertising
- Native advertising
- Content discovery platforms
- Banner ads
- Search engine marketing
Yes, it’s a lot to consider. But if you want to use content marketing as a way to increase awareness to your business and offers, then it makes sense to have a solid plan for each piece of content you produce so you can maximize your efforts.
I could have easily put this information into a course because it really IS THAT important. But my mission is to help businesses by leading them in the right direction.
With so much misinformation floating on the web, it’s comforting to have a place where you can call ‘home’ to assist with your business growth, don’t you agree 😉
Once you have all of this in place, head on over to our article on MOFU Content to understand your goals at the Middle of the Funnel.