Many marketers seem to underestimate content’s ability to generate sales. Considering how much the buying cycle has transitioned online, you don’t want to make the same mistake.
Yes, content marketing is often used to spread brand awareness and establish niche credibility. It also represents a tried and tested method for driving long-term traffic. Those who manage to convert this traffic have a chance to boost sales streams and bridge the gap between marketing and revenue.
One practical problem to note is that all content isn’t created equal. You need a clear roadmap for crafting quality content assets that yield desired results. When we say results we mean converting leads into paying customers.
The journey to get there can be long and challenging, but we’ve got you covered. Here is your guide on how to reach and engage your customers with content to improve sales.
The Big Picture: A Conversion Funnel
Most brands fall short of their sales objectives because they lack a comprehensive game plan that takes the entire customer journey into account.
Thus, the first order of business is to embrace a strategic approach to content planning, production and distribution. A conversion funnel is the cornerstone of this early phase. It has three main levels that closely correspond to different stages of the buyer journey:
- Top of the funnel— Awareness Stage
- Middle of the funnel— Evaluation Stage
- Bottom of the funnel— Purchase Stage
Visually, the funnel looks like an inverted pyramid.
The top layer is the widest and comes into play when people first become aware of your business and offerings. They are usually doing online research and looking for information when this happens.
This awareness stage contains a handful of effective content tactics. Some of the most common techniques are social media posts, explainer videos, blog posts, email newsletters, and educational webinars.
Moving on, the evaluation stage kicks in the aftermath of initial impressions and interactions. This is when prospects start assessing your products/services. They seek to satisfy their unique wants and needs and you are one of the options they weigh.
To make a strong account of yourself, you can rely on a variety of formats of content to improve sales, including: customer testimonials, demo videos, FAQ pages, free samples, and e-books.
Finally, the purchase stage is the narrowest part, the bottom of the funnel. Here, the prospects and leads convert into customers or fail to do so.
The outcome depends on how well you’re able to demonstrate the value of your products and services and explain how you differ from the competition. You can do it via tactics like free trials, product pages (descriptions), coupons, quotes, free trials, etc.
Venturing Further Down the Customer Axis
To really supercharge your content marketing, you should grasp the concept of a customer journey.
It considers areas that a typical conversion funnel doesn’t cover. The main difference is related to processes that occur after purchase. In other words, the customer journey reinforces your customer retention, just like other customer retention management practices do.
You have a chance to capture way more sales than with the truncated, acquisition-only strategy.
Along similar lines, you should ponder customer (buyer) personas. These semi-fictional profiles of your ideal customers, which help you flesh out customized and personalized content. They lead to more precise targeting and improve marketing return on investment (ROI).
So, the lesson is clear: learn about people’s habits, behavior, and interests. Most data points are tied to user demographic factors:
- Income level
- Age group
- Geographic Location
Use these parameters to populate customer personas and segment your target audience. The more data you obtain, the better chances you have to delight the audience.
The Art of Behavioral Targeting
Furthermore, try to find out where your leads are coming from.
We would recommend using tools like Google Analytics to track online behavior. You’re probably going to discover most people utilize Google when looking for products and brand-related information. B2B buyers are leaning toward social networks when estimating technologies, services, and tools.
In all likelihood, you’ll also notice that across industries, people increasingly use smartphones to scour the web for what they need. Traffic originating from these devices has eclipsed the long-reigning king desktop.
Such vital findings all have a profound impact on your content strategy.
The primacy of Google emphasizes the importance of optimizing your content for search engines (SEO). B2B brands’ affinity for social media marketing leads them to prioritize establishing a strong presence on networks like LinkedIn. Marketers who want to engage mobile audiences have to ensure content provides seamless mobile user experience (UX).
These are just a few illustrations of how data guides content efforts across the board.
Bear in mind you can use both internal and external data sources to inform your marketing. When it comes to the former, they originate from places like your sales calls and email outboxes. Combing through a sales person’s sent email often provides a treasure trove of messages that could be converted to content to improve sales. The list of possibilities goes on.
A Matter of Content Quality and Relevance
Content pieces that convert sales share some similar traits. First of all, quality needs to be the foremost concern of all content creators. It beats sheer quantity any day of the week.
But, the million-dollar question is what quality entails exactly. Well, content that oozes quality is content with great production value. This can mean different things for different kinds of content.
In the case of an image, quality translates into high resolution, optimal color scheme, and artistic composition. An article, on the other hand, should feature attention-arresting headlines and intros. Infographics have to pop out visually and educate users at the same time.
The second key aspect of content effectiveness is relevancy. Namely, your pieces should add something to people’s lives and address the preferences, interests, and needs. Provided you’ve performed in-depth research, you should have no trouble doing this.
And whatever you do, you can’t sell too aggressively. Posts that manage to sell are far more than glorified sales pitches. They entertain and educate while offering incentives to try out or buy your product.
As you can see, it’s a fine balancing act you have to perform.
Entering the Execution Stage
Once you’ve laid the strategy foundations and familiarized yourself with the fundamental principles, you can kick off content production.
Get your marketing and sales teams to collaborate closely. Assemble a content calendar and see how often you can post. Try to do it frequently in order to stay on top of people’s minds and avoid getting snowed under other content publishers.
Keep in mind the stages of your conversion funnel and pick your content type and format accordingly. Blogging, for instance, is effective at spreading top-of-funnel awareness, but it’s not as effective at converting sales as other tactics like email marketing or webinars.
One other mistake to avoid is doing the same thing over and over again.
You have to mix things up to steer clear of repetitiveness. In practical terms, this involves alternating between various different forms of content. We mentioned most of them already in the section covering three funnel stages.
One thing we want to emphasize though is the importance of having a varied marketing mix, consisting of textual and visual content. This is almost a universal rule irrespective of which platform you use or which audience you target.
Finally, make sure to stay abreast of the latest trends in and around the industry. Cover hot topics and be the first to offer a take on the important news. Be aware of what your direct competition is doing. Connect with influencers in your niche to amplify your messages.
Never stop optimizing and personalizing your campaigns. If you mean business, complacency isn’t an option.
Kick Your Content Game into Overdrive Mode
Amazing content isn’t just a bundle of joy and entertainment for your audience.
It can be a powerful vehicle for nurturing prospects, closing business and improving your bottom line. So, do yourself a favor and put together a winsome content strategy.
Carry out market research and learn more about the people you’re targeting. The content has to resonate with them before anything else. To make it happen, align your content marketing efforts with the sales funnel and customer journeys.
Refrain from coming across and too “salesy” because you’re only going to put the audience off. Experiment with different content formats and measure the success of your efforts. Aim to take both UX and your conversion rates to the next level in one stroke.
Following these steps, you’ll keep your customers hooked and constantly coming back for more.
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