Did you know …
- 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. (Source: YouTube)
- 51 million websites were added during 2012. (Source: pingdom.com)
- 64.8 million new WordPress posts are published each month. (Source: WordPress)
- 800 new English-language articles are added each day to Wikipedia. (Source:Wikipedia)
- Five new Facebook profiles are created every second. (Source:Facebook)
Is your message getting lost in this vast and quickly expanding sea of content?
In our previous post on content marketing, we addressed the importance of having a documented plan. In this post, we will address how content marketing can provide a virtual pathway for prospective customers – leading them from “curious” to “customer.” Understanding how the various channels work together to build interest in your business can be helpful for planning — and keep you from getting lost in the crowded online sphere.
Step 1: Micro-Content
How many times have you purchased a product you’ve sampled in the grocery store? There’s a good reason that stores such as Trader Joe’s and your local bakery give out those free samples. The first step in content marketing – micro-content – can be compared to those hand-outs. The prospect gets a taste of what you’re offering through tweets on Twitter, pins on Pinterest, or a 30-second video posted on your Facebook page or blog. Capture their interest, and the prospect may choose to follow you on Twitter or like your page on Facebook.
Success at the micro-content level is earned by providing bite-sized pieces of information that are both interesting and valuable to the prospective customer. Post these on social media on a regular basis, and avoid the temptation to begin the sales pitch here. Acknowledge re-tweets, pins and shares. Reply to comments promptly. Through these exchanges, you are very likely to start developing a community of potential customers.
Step 2: Blog Post
From this developing community, some prospects will engage in the second-level of content. After sampling your micro-content, they will be interested in knowing more about a topic you’ve mentioned or about you as the author. As a result, they’ll visit your blog and read a post or two (or more).
Success at this step depends once again on providing information that is interesting and valuable as well as credible. Is your blog content quick and easy to understand? Video can work well to engage a reader at this point as many visitors prefer to view a short clip than read text. For written posts, use well-written copy (preferably with some bullet points to simplify) and a relevant, engaging visual image.
After visiting an engaging post or two, the prospect may be compelled to click on your “about us” page to read more about you or your company.
Step 3: White Paper
The third step in the engagement process takes place when the prospect seeks out more comprehensive information from you. In this scenario, it pays to offer a no-cost, downloadable white paper on your site – available to those who enter a valid email address in your request form. Make the white paper simple to read, relevant to your industry and valuable to your prospect. All of these qualities are helping establish you as trustworthy and credible — and an expert in your industry. Incorporate a call to action at the end of your white paper — perhaps a response card for requesting a no-cost, brief phone consultation or an invitation to an online community with periodic webcasts. Consider ways to continue engaging the interest and building relationships with these prospects who have now invested quite a bit of time in getting to know you.
Step 4: Sales Opportunity
When your prospects make their way to this point, you have earned their trust and respect and they may be considering a purchase. This is the place to fall back on your sales training. Talk benefits more than features. Provide customer testimonials and a clear, simple call to action. Make the purchasing process as easy as possible.
Success at this step can earn more than a sale. Encourage your new customers to write an online review of your business/product and share positive experiences with their friends (in person and on social media). When they do, you will have an advocate. Consider offering a confidential feedback process for any constructive comments they have for you – this may prevent problems from being shared online and allow you to react quickly to improve the experience for your future customers.
The objective of content marketing is driving profitable customer action. The process is building relationships from “curious” to “customer” through these four steps.
What are your content marketing best practices? Please click on “comments” below to share your success with any of these steps.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net