What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is more than just writing a nifty blog post and posting it on your website. Content marketing is a strategic endeavour for any business utilising the online space.
Forbes defines content marketing as a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – to drive profitable customer action.
It is a full-funnel approach that should deliver content that is valuable at every stage of the customer journey. Let’s start with a thorough understanding of what we mean when we say content.
You see, most businesses miss many opportunities because their vision for content marketing is too small. As a result, they churn out content but do not get great results. Here is why: content in and of itself isn’t what drives traffic and sales. Your content needs to be “perfect.”
What Is Perfect Content?
Perfect content is about delivering the right information to your prospects at the right point in the customer journey. This is the right principle we mention in a number of our articles, including Digital Marketing for businesses: The Beginners’ Guide.
The funnel approach here refers to content designed to accommodate the different needs of the people that interact with your business. In practice, there is top, middle and bottom of the funnel content.
What the funnels reveal is that you will have a reducing number of people as you near the bottom of the funnel. And that is alright! If you have been in business for a while, you know this is nothing new.
Each customer travels through three content funnel stages:
The condensed buyer Stages
There are three stages that all prospects go through on their journey to becoming a customer and if we do our job just right, a client. Yes! there is a difference between a customer and a client. These three stages are:
- Awareness – The prospect must first become aware that there is a problem and that YOU or your organisation have a solution for it. (This is where your blog excels.)
- Evaluation – Those who move through the Awareness Stage must now evaluate the various choices available to them, including your competitor’s solutions and the possibility of taking no action at all to solve the problem.
- Conversion – Those that move through the Evaluation Stage are now at the moment of truth—purchase. At MwanaBiashara, our goal at this stage is to convert leads to frequent and high-ticket buyers.
Content Marketing Funnel Levels
To move a prospect through a marketing funnel, you need to give them content specifically designed to satisfy their needs at each of the three stages.
In other words:
- Top of the funnel content (TOFU) creates awareness.
- Middle of the funnel content (MOFU) helps in evaluation.
- Bottom of the funnel content (BOFU) drives conversion.
These three levels all have different information needs.
1. Top Of The Funnel (TOFU) Content – Creates Awareness
This content lets people know that your business exists and solves a particular problem that they may have.
You can also direct it towards the general target market identified by your business.
The prospects entering the top of your funnel are completely unaware of your solution and, often, completely unaware of their problem.
As a result, you need content with a low barrier to entry—because, at this stage, they have little to no motivation to put skin in the game (such as giving your contact information or money).
You need freely available content at the top of the funnel (TOFU) that does one of three things:
- Educates or,
Moreover, you need to make it readily available using content types like:
- Blog posts
- Social Media Updates
- Digital Magazines/Books
- Audio/Video Podcasts
- Print Magazines/Newsletters (You might need a bigger budget here.)
- Primary Research
Do you need all of these content types at the top of the funnel?
Most businesses will post content to a blog and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Once you’ve mastered these two content types, you’ll want to add more top-of-funnel content to the mix, like a podcast or a print newsletter.
Remember, the big goal at the top of the funnel is to make prospects “problem aware” and “solution aware.”Mwendwa Kilundo
Unfortunately, the top of the funnel is where most MSME’s begin and end their content marketing efforts. Additionally, for many of them, poor execution characterises this stage of the funnel.
Nonetheless, smart content marketers know that, with a bit more effort, they can move prospects from awareness to evaluation in the middle of the funnel.
Here’s how to get it done…
2. Middle Of The Funnel (MOFU) Content – Helps In Evaluation
At this point, you focus on providing information to people from the top of the funnel that are “problem-aware.” Additionally, prospects at this stage are considering your offer as a solution to their problem.
We refer to the prospects at this stage as leads.
The big goal in the middle of the funnel is to convert “problem aware” and “solution aware” prospects into leads.
Here, we use free content to incentivise prospects to submit their contact information and opt-in to receive future marketing.
We call this type of content a Lead Magnet.
Lead Magnets can be…
- Educational Resources (Case Study, White Paper, e-books, reports etc.)
- Useful Resources (Swipe File, Checklist, templates etc.)
- Software Downloads (trial-based, freemium etc.)
- Discount/Coupon Clubs (offer occasional discounts/coupons to the members to increase spending)
- Quizzes/Surveys (that are engaging or innovative)
3. Bottom Of The Funnel (BOFU) Content – Drives Conversion
The prospects here reduce significantly. That reduction, however, is beneficial for two things:
- Quality of prospects increases
- Budget efficiency – here, your marketing costs and efforts target specific prospects with the highest likelihood to buy your product.
At the BOFU, content created should provide leads with adequate information that nudges them to commit to the business’s offering.
Your lead may be reading your blog and downloading lead magnets (and it will help convert him/her), but you’ll need content that helps him/her decide between you and your competitor to move him/her through to purchase.
This is because they now have adequate knowledge to make an informed buying decision.
Is creating top of funnel (TOFU) content on a blog important? Absolutely. But failing to build a full-funnel content plan will leave you disappointed in your content marketing results.
Creating Content For Business Marketing
To create a content machine that works, you need to lay the foundation for success. That means determining ownership, creating your personas, and choosing your content themes for the year.
Ownership And Staffing
You need to assign ownership for each step of your content creation so that you can ensure project management and uphold quality standards. Your content team will be responsible for the following:
- Content project management
- Content quality control
- Writing/copy editing
- Design coordination and approval
- Promotion coordination with other marketing teams
Buyer Persona And Buyer Journey Development
You want to know who your customers are and what their buyer journeys look like. Once you have that information, you can map content specifically to each customer’s place in your sales cycle.
A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer. You need to create personas to determine who you are marketing to and the best way to speak to them.
You can develop personas based on customer demographics and behaviour, along with your own understanding of their motivations and challenges.
To get all of the details you need; interview customers, prospects, and members of your sales and customer service teams. Additionally, send out surveys and do your own research.
Buyer personas help you:
- Determine what kind of content you need.
- Set the tone, style, and delivery strategies for your content.
- Target the topics you should be writing about.
- Understand where buyers get their information and how they want to consume it.
Now that you’ve defined your personas, you need to create a buying journey that will convert these personas into customers. A buying journey maps a buyer’s decision-making process during a purchase.
Mapping this allows you to:
- Understand what process your buyers go through when considering your product or service
- Develop a content strategy that speaks directly to buyers, regardless of the buying stage
Your editorial calendar should outline what content you will produce, when and who will produce it. Moreover, it outlines the distribution channels for the same.
Your content should be the fuel for all of your marketing programs. Whether the program is an email sent out to your list, a Pay-Per-Click ad, or a social campaign, your content can be the associated offer that drives conversions.
Email Marketing Content Promotion Objectives:
- Move leads in your database through your sales funnel faster
- Further, engage and maintain relationships with database leads
- Generate brand awareness and build thought leadership reputation
- Increase content downloads
- Generate more leads through paid email channels
Key Content Marketing Metrics
Now it’s time to measure our results. You can measure the following in content marketing:
- Content asset downloads
- Content asset shares via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+
- Reputation building
- Conversions based on form fills
- First and last touch attribution
- Multi-touch attribution
- Performance of email programs containing content asset
- Performance of paid programs containing content asset
- PPC ad performance
- Paid email program performance
- Content syndication program performance
- Improved SEO performance
Closing Content Marketing Wisdom:
- Train your sales teams on why and how to use your content assets to close deals
- Create content that maps to your SEO goals
- Meet monthly or quarterly with internal stakeholders to go over content initiatives
- Keep iterating based on engagement and metrics
- Never be afraid to try out new content types.