When you visit a website, you're looking for information. Sure, you might be there to purchase a product, but you'll likely need to know more about it before you're ready to buy. Fulfilling that need is what content marketing is used for. You might have heard of content marketing, but you may not fully understand how it works or what counts as content marketing.
Let's break down how content marketing works and how it benefits companies who put in the time and effort to leverage it properly.
How Content Marketing Works
At a basic level, content marketing gives website visitors options for learning more about your brand, products, and services. The purpose is to engage current customers, attract new ones, and move all of them down the conversion funnel. Content marketing spans a whole range of informational options like:
- Social media posts
- Informational graphics
Unlike in decades past, content marketing doesn't simply consist of a catchy jingle, images of heartwarming families, and a comforting male voice anymore. Gone are the days when companies would rely entirely on radio or television ads.
With the invention of the internet, social media, and the rise of streaming services where customers pay to opt out of hearing commercials, businesses have had to turn elsewhere for their content marketing.
Even placing ads on popular websites can be tricky, considering so many people use ad-blockers. This gets to the core of how content marketing has changed over the years: consumers don't want to be passively told about a company and what that company does; they want to be actively informed and involved in making decisions about what to buy.
Content marketing isn't limited to B2C businesses either. Plenty of B2B companies use content to reach their audience and speak to them on a more technical level about their products. Content intended for casual customers will obviously look quite different from content marketed towards businesses, but the strategies for putting out the content are similar.
Content Marketing Strategies
While it is possible to create this type of content helter-skelter, most businesses prefer to create a strategy for creating and releasing content at a steady pace. With formalized processes, it becomes easier for content teams to regularly update blogs, channels, or social media platforms and scale as your company's audience increases.
Content marketing nowadays must contain useful knowledge for customers so that they can see why it would benefit them to buy a product or service. Ultimately, they want to have more control over their purchasing power and not feel that businesses are talking down to them.
One of the most effective marketing strategies is to present customers with clear and accurate answers to their questions, regardless of how they ask them. This means having an internal search engine that is reliable and pulls up relevant results. Typically, when customers have a question about your brand or product, they'll do one of three things:
- Look for your FAQ page
- Type their question in your website's search bar
- Type their question into a wider search engine, possibly pulling up other websites talking about your company
To ensure they're getting the correct information quickly, you'll need to ensure that your site search will recognize their question's intent and return the information they're looking for. Your site search should also ensure that if they look elsewhere on the internet, they still receive accurate answers.
Natural Language Processing
When customers search their question in your site search, they don't want to waste time worrying about identifying the right combination of keywords that will lead them to an answer. They just want the answer. With natural language processing, your site search will be smart enough to interpret their question, regardless of how they ask.
Natural language processing works in tandem with tolerance for misspelled words to ensure that customers still get the information they want, even if they don't know how to spell a product name or don't know the name at all. When you give your customers direct calls-to-action and rich content answering their questions, you'll drive conversions and reduce support costs by letting customers discover answers for themselves.
It's not easy to check on every website that mentions your company or products and even harder to stop misinformation from bombarding and scaring off potential customers. There's nothing to be done about poor reviews since everyone has a right to their opinion, but your customers should at least be getting the truth about how you do business and what you offer.
A knowledge graph holds the answers to questions people may search about your brand or products. This type of structured data helps you save on overhead costs without sacrificing efficiency. Your employees at all levels will have access to information through the knowledge graph to better assist your customers.
Millennials have become more attached to celebrities than previous generations, especially with the advent of social media. When celebrities share pictures of themselves sans makeup, in the comfort of their own homes, talking about being everyday people, fans can feel like they share a special connection with them or that they know them in a way.
As such, companies have discovered that influencer marketing is a powerful strategy. Millennials have demonstrated that they don't trust traditional marketing, and they wield some serious purchasing power. Forbes notes that most millennials are fine with their favorite celebrities doing sponsored promotions at the start of their YouTube videos because they want to support the digital personalities and streamers.
A big reason why companies prefer to use one team or individual for their content marketing is to ensure their brand has a distinctive voice. When your social media posts sound completely different from your blog posts and weekly newsletters, there will likely be some confusion among your customers, and you may come across as inauthentic.
Establishing a brand voice and style guide is one of the first things any company should do when beginning its content marketing. This ensures that all of your content sounds like it could reasonably come from one or two people. It's important to establish a voice for your brand so that customers can relate to it and humanize your company.
Customers are much more likely to be loyal to a brand that they think of as another person than a large corporation full of strangers. With a friendly, distinctive voice, customers will instantly recognize your content and be more open to calls-to-action as if they were hearing them from a trusted friend.
Knowing the Audience
One of the best ways to improve your content and drive conversions is to understand who your audience is. Dividing audiences into B2B and B2C simply isn't enough. The more you know about your target audiences, the more you'll be able to customize your content to appeal to their tastes and needs specifically.
There are plenty of tools available for gaining more insight into your customer base. Analytics tools can gather information about your customers, including age range, family size, locale, primary household language, and other important demographics. Leveraging this information to hone in on what those customers want or need is an excellent way to improve their brand experience and increase conversions.
Content marketers use their experience to figure out where improvements can be made and how to address them best. However, the insights don't stop there. Analytics technologies can monitor the progress of campaigns, A/B tests, and traffic for your website. As you continue, it's important not to become too comfortable with your marketing strategy. There will always be innovative ways to improve it as you track the data.
Benefits of Content Marketing
There are numerous benefits of content marketing, depending on the type of content your company puts out. Blog posts and landing pages full of rich information help drive organic search traffic for your website to help more potential customers discover your brand and engage with your website.
Content like weekly emails about brand updates, sales, or live events also helps customers stay engaged with your product over time. Additionally, the right posts can help you establish yourself among other companies for possible affiliations or being recognized within your industry.
You'll need to be prepared to put out a lot of creative, informational content from the get-go. Most companies employ artists of all kinds to help them put out innovative ideas and new ways to connect with customers, new and existing.
Understanding how content marketing works is essential to growing your customer base and keeping your current customers engaged with your brand. Nearly every company employs content marketing already, but diving deep into the strategies and using the right tools is key to driving conversions.
Contact us to learn more about how to provide your customers with useful information about your products and services.