In today’s world, content is the centerpiece of business marketing.
No longer just a way to set yourself apart from the competition, content is a crucial part of every successful digital marketing campaign. As traditional marketing has become less effective, content marketing has stepped in to fill its shoes and take it in directions that could not have been imagined even a decade ago.
Content marketing allows you to give your target audience relevant, useful information. It encompasses a full range of delivery methods, from blogs, case studies and white papers to social media, infographics, and podcasts.
However, with so much content being produced, it’s not enough just to put your message out there—you have to find a way to make sure that your message is being heard. And you have to make sure that it’s reaching the right audience.
Great marketing messages mean nothing if nobody hears them, and in today’s ever-more-crowded space, it can be harder and harder to stand out. Let’s look at three keys to creating a successful content marketing campaign.
1: Learn Your Way Around the Funnel
The content marketing funnel is pivotal in the success of your content marketing campaign, so it’s important you spend some time learning what the funnel is all about. It used to be that the term “funnel” was only heard when used as a sales term, but as content marketing has become more integrated into the sales cycle, it also is now referred to as a content marketing funnel.
The funnel is all about the buyer’s journey, which is a series of steps customers take along the way to making a decision. Knowing those steps will allow you to create dynamic, appealing content that is suitable for each step and leads the customer to the next one. The steps of the buyer’s journey are:
- Awareness – This is when the customer realizes that he or she has a problem and needs to find a solution.
- Consideration – Now that the customer knows there’s a problem, he or she is actively looking for ways to solve it.
- Decision – After careful consideration, the customer makes a decision to purchase a product or service.
The content you create for your marketing campaign should be specifically geared to one of these stages of the buyer’s journey. At the top of the sales funnel, your focus is going to be on building brand awareness and lead generation.
During the consideration stage, the buyer has become more familiar with their choices, and now is researching and comparing their options. And, in the final stage, they’ll choose the solution that’s best for them.
As part of your successful content marketing campaign, you’ll want to develop content geared specifically to each stage of that journey. Outline what questions the buyer would have at each stage and then use your content to answer those questions—and guide them to the next step.
2: Know Your Customer
Knowing your customer means going deep. Sure, you know what you’re offering, but do you know who your customer is and what they’re looking for? In order to know your customer, you need to know more than the basic demographic information of age, gender and where they live. To do that, invest time in creating buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a fundamental part of a successful content marketing strategy, because it allows you to speak directly to your customer base. Creating a buyer persona begins with taking the information you have available on existing customers, then doing your research to learn more.
This can include sending surveys to customers and prospective customers, interviewing members of your staff who interact with customers so you can learn more about your target market, and spending time on social networks and channels frequented by your customers.
The more time you spend learning your customers’ interests, dislikes and needs, the more targeted a buyer persona you can create.
Once you’ve compiled all your research, you can create the buyer persona. Make it personal by giving them a name that also gives you an idea of who they are and what they do. (Examples would be something like “Retiree Ron” or “Sales Manager Sam.”)
Now that you have their name and know what they do, add to that persona by adding the following information:
- Their role. What does each persona do in a day? What position do they hold?
- Their goals. What do they want to accomplish? Knowing this can help you create content that speaks directly to them.
- Individual demographics. How old are they, how much do they earn, where do they live and what’s their level of education?
- Their personal story. Based on the information you’ve collected, create a backstory that helps explain the challenges they face on a daily basis, what motivates them and what solutions they’re looking for. Include how they search for information, what their most common objections are and what they’re looking for in a buying experience.
By creating a buyer persona, you are getting to know your customer more personally. You’ll create as many buyer personas as you need to fit your audience, and can add to them as your business reach expands.
Remember, once you’ve created the buyer personas, you can begin speaking directly to them through your content marketing campaigns.
3: Keep It Fresh
There’s a fine line between hitting your groove and getting in a rut, and that’s especially true in content marketing campaigns. When you find something that works, you might want to replicate it—but make sure you aren’t repeating yourself. Look for new and interesting ways to give customers the information they’re looking for to keep them moving forward on the buyer’s journey.
By packaging your message in dynamic and changing ways, you can retain the interest of your customers. Blog posts can be compiled to create an e-book, or an e-book can be broken down to create blog posts.
Infographics and videos are effective ways to create shareable content that conveys your message in ways that customers find engaging and easy to digest. Social media posts can help drive customers to specific blog posts or downloadable content offerings.
Using your creativity can help keep your content fresh and make it more exciting to customers. If you don’t feel you have anything new to add to the conversation, your customers are going to feel the same way. Constantly thinking of new ways to present your message in a way that appeals to each of your buyer personas is a crucial part of good content marketing campaigns.
Successful content marketing campaigns don’t just happen on their own, but they can (and do!) happen. When you know your content marketing funnel, know your customer and know how to keep your message fresh and engaging, you can set the stage for a successful content marketing campaign that delivers the kind of results you need.