How can you keep potential customers “on the hook” when they’re not ready to buy yet? When you pair authentic marketing with content that delivers immediate value, they’ll likely maintain a connection with your brand until they are ready to buy.
For that reason, content marketing has emerged as a powerful force in the last few years, along with the rise of millennials and Gen Z as lucrative market segments, as Search Engine Journal’s Kristopher Jones points out. Content marketing gives major brands a long-term strategy that provides actionable content that builds brand trust, which is hard to come by these days.
Authentic marketing is honest marketing, Jones says. Instead of flashy ads built upon hype, content marketing provides that honesty through valuable information.
That goes double if Gen Zers or millennials number among your top prospects. As a 2017 IBM study found, Gen Zers want brands they support to “be transparent and authentic,” demanding that those brands demonstrate trustworthiness and relevance before they become customers.
Similarly, a Social Media Today survey revealed that 90% of millennials demand brand authenticity, preferring honesty over perfection. In fact, that same study revealed that 86% of all people, even stretching as far back as the Baby Boomer generation, want authenticity in their preferred brands’ communications.
Image via Social Media Today
So, let’s look at how your brand can harness the power of authenticity with content that delivers value to your target audience.
First, Align Your Content with Your Target Customers’ Needs
Your target customers face challenges. If you can solve at least some of the problems that give rise to those challenges, they’ll learn to trust you as an authority in your field. Customer-centric content can do just that.
The first thing to do, then, is to identify those “pain points” — those problems that keep them up at night. Additionally, knowing about their lifestyle, demographics, and preferences can give you an idea about how, when, and where to communicate with them.
Create buyer personas
Creating buyer personas for each of your target segments helps you collect all that data and give it a human face. With today’s social media and content analytics’ deep data collection abilities, you can find out what makes your prospective customers tick.
Discover your target customers’ problems, hopes, and dreams, and where they hang out online. Then, engage in content collaboration with your sales teams to uncover some of the objections and feedback they hear from prospects. With that information in hand, you can meet with your teams and plan content that will satisfy each segment’s needs.
Plan content that meets your prospects’ needs across their buyer’s journey
Your prospects will engage with your brand at various stages along their customer journey. The first time they learn about your company will be when they’re just surfing the internet for information about a problem they need to solve.
On the other hand, some of them might not discover your brand until they’re nearly ready to buy. Or, they’ve interacted with you for quite some time, and they realize they need what you’re selling.
Either way, you need content for each market segment that meets their needs at every touchpoint along their customer journeys.
Publish your content on your prospects’ preferred channels
Your buyer persona research likely turned up some information about which social media and other communications channels your prospects prefer to receive information on. For instance, your B2B customers likely read LinkedIn posts regularly, as well as ebooks, white papers, emails, and blog posts that teach them how to overcome the challenges they face in doing business.
However, your B2C customers might prefer YouTube videos, Facebook posts that link to informative posts, or Instagram images. But you don’t have to do all this work manually. With content automation, you can trigger each blog post, image, or video to post automatically to its target audience’s favored channels.
Include user-generated content in your marketing campaigns
As a Nosto study indicates, 79% of the consumers they surveyed revealed that user-generated content influences their purchasing decisions, up 19% from the company’s 2017 survey. Why? Consumers say that it’s more authentic.
And although influencer content might be trendy, the numbers say otherwise. Content that actual customers create is 9.8 times more influential in driving conversions than influencer-generated content, the same study shows.
Find a Voice That Echoes Your Brand’s Values
Every brand has its distinct “personality.” Imagine if your brand were a person. How would it talk? Think? Act?
Now, ask yourself if your brand voice aligns with your customers’ interests. If not, rebranding may be in order. Remember, no matter how large your company is, you need to laser-focus on your customers’ needs.
But once you’ve found a brand voice that reflects your corporate values and aligns with those of your customers, keep that brand voice throughout all your communications. Doing so will give your brand greater longevity, building a cadre of loyal customers throughout the years.
Whether it’s humorous and quirky like Progressive Insurance’s Flo and cohorts, super-techie like Tesla, or buttoned-up traditional like Northwestern Mutual, your brand voice is how you speak as a corporation.
From your logos to your imagery to everything in between, keeping a consistent brand voice — as opposed to being all things to all people — gives your brand authenticity.
Be sure to include your brand voice and some examples in your company’s style guidelines. Ideally, your style guidelines should live on your content marketing platform and project briefs so that everyone involved in content creation, from your marketing teams to employees in other departments, speaks with one voice.
Use Brand Storytelling to Engage with Your Audience
Once you have found a brand voice that works for both your company and your audience, let it play a major role in your brand storytelling. Storytelling is relatable and entertaining — and it lets your brand show its human side.
Think of your brand as the Yoda in your stories — the wise advisor who helps the hero (the customer, of course!) conquer the mountains of problems that face them. Your products? Cast them in the role of the “lightsaber” that helps them slay the dragons that stand in the way of success.
Measure Your Content’s Audience Impact
The only way you can assess whether a piece of content connects with your audience is through content measurement. Tweaking your poorest performers to align better with your brand voice and customers’ needs is essential to keep your content fully authentic and provide maximum value.
Don’t stop at your current and planned content, especially if you’ve rebranded. Regular content audits can show you where you can refresh older content to fit better with your company’s authentic self.
Power Up Your Authentic Brand Self Across the Enterprise
With a content calendar that enables content planning across the enterprise, the capacity for large, multi-channel initiatives, and customizable brief templates, keeping your brand voice consistent throughout your communications gets a whole lot simpler. DivvyHQ’s content platform offers all that and much more.
Even better, you and your teams can try it free for 14 days with no obligation. Begin your free trial today!