Content marketing is in fact, not as new as a term you might think.
People have been using content marketing for ages, just watch the video below. The only difference are the channels that are being used today. Previously, brands would have to create editorials, books, guides, physical products with content to be given to their target market to convert them into customers. I think selling stuff on TV is also content marketing, those shopping networks explaining why you need this particular blender and showing you how to use it, helps convince you to buy it and dial that number.
Now we have online channels like social media, blogs and videos, which open up a whole new playing ground. Whether you are a one man show or a large brand, content marketing works.
What Is Content Marketing?
Basically, content marketing is creating content in the form of words, video or images explaining your product or service, and then sharing this information on as many channels as possible. This also includes inviting key influencers that represent your target market to review your product or service, and getting possible coverage in online or offline media outlets.
Content marketing is the process of creating high-quality and valuable content to attract, inform, and engage an audience, while also promoting the brand itself. – Marketo
The more information you can put out there, the better potential customers can understand what you are providing and persuade them to buy into your brand or service.
Here are some of the things companies have been doing as part of online and offline content marketing. You may be a small or medium business, or even just a freelancer, so doing all of these may not be possible, therefore focus on doing what you can.
- Social media
- Article posting
- Email newsletters
- Case studies
- Print magazine
- Promoting content in traditional media
- Print newsletters
- Research reports
- Data-driven content marketing
- Digital magazines
- Virtual Conferences
- In-person events
- Slide decks
- Cheat sheets
Understanding Your Buyer Journey
According to Lori Wizdo, Forrester Research Analyst, today’s buyer is anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor.
Simply put, this means by the time the customer reaches you, they have pretty much made the decision to buy your product or use your services. This also means, whatever they can read or learn about your brand needs to be available online and offline, as they are already making that decision between you, and your competitors.
This is common now, to research on something extensively online before making a decision to purchase. As an example, I was looking for some exercise tights, and saw this gorgeous woman wearing a cool one with a smoke pattern on Instagram. I immediately hunted down the label, and it was a local Australian one. How do I know whether it’s of good quality, since this is an unknown label to me, compared with the likes of Nike, Adidas or Puma? I googled some reviews of people wearing the same pants, trawled through some Instagram accounts via the hashtag. It looked good on people, and through their images I could see how it looked on them, instead of just the product image of the brand, which could have been altered. Someone said it was comfortable, someone said it was thick enough your undies wouldn’t show through. I looked around to see if other websites stocked it for a price comparison, I also googled if there were similar patterns from other labels, other choices. In 48 hours, I had purchased the tights.
So I would say, based on my buyer journey, it worked out to be something like this:
I have an acronym for this A.I.D.A. – Attract, Interest (spark), Desire (fuel), Action
- Interest sparked towards product/service
- Doing the research online
- Product/service comparison
- Decision making process
For every step in this buyer journey, you actually have the power to influence their decision from step ONE. It all depends on how much effort and money you’re willing to put in! Here’s how…
1. Sparking Interest In Service/Product
Having people already using your product and showing it off and talking about it. The more buzz and hype you create, and the more people talk, blog or vlog about it, the better your chance to spark interest in potential customers.
For example, in the graphic design world, most would know Jessica Hische’s amazing typography, or Jasmine Dowling’s famous handwritten work, for it is hashtag-ed and shared around everywhere online.
A new restaurant engages local and relevant bloggers to try their food for free in exchange for a review, spreading some exposure and allowing potential patrons to find out about them when they read these reviews and articles about how amazing the food is.
What you can do:
Find out who your target customers are, their behaviour, where they hang out, what they like? Are they the young generation who are glued to mobile devices, or are they slightly older and might be using Facebook, but not Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter?
Identify your own buyers journey, as it will differ from brand to brand. How do customers find you, how do they buy your products or services?
Find out who are influencers in this sphere. For example, a restaurant might approach a famous local blogger, or food review website. A local and organic cosmetics brand might want to reach out to like-minded make-up artists or beauty bloggers.
Decide what you can offer these people in exchange for a review/article/images/content of your product or service. You also want to be clear on conditions and know what you’re getting.
Get in touch and get to know them, to make sure they are the right people to endorse your brand. As they would be experts in their field, they would also be able to offer you good and sound advice to improve as well! Find out how to best collaborate with them.
2. The Search Begins
This is the most crucial step. The potential customer has learnt of your brand, and now would like to know more about you. They google your brand, or scan hashtags on social media and search Youtube. What would they find?
What you should have online:
Reviews – Reviews given by genuine customers or influencers on your Facebook, Google, or portals like TripAdvisor. Could also be reviews on blogs, general comments made.
Information – Have sufficient information on your website or other channels that explain your product or service in detail. If you’re selling jewellery, what kind of metal is it made of, what is the warranty like, actual size, images from all sides, the story of how the design was inspired, delivery or shipping details…the more information you have, the easier the sale would be.
News – any news coverage about your brand or label that is worth noting. It may not be easy to get big stories in your national newspapers, but for every city, there is normally a community website or newspaper that you could tap into.
Beautiful visuals – A variety of images of the same product should be available. For instance, if you’re a shoe designer, then you may have product images on your website on white background, a few views including top, side, and back. You will also have campaign images, a stylised beautiful image of a model in your shoes. Then, customer images, to lend an authentic look. This could be customer images with them wearing the shoes, or even Instagrammers just doing a flatlay with your shoes in a colour theme or mood. All these show your product in various angles, at different times, and portray an authentic vision of your product.
4. Product/Service Comparison
Are you selling the same products on different websites, and are they different prices? You bet the wise customer would find out in their search. They now look deeper into the exact product to see if there’s additional information they need. At this point, they may get in touch to make further inquiries.
They are starting to narrow down their choices, and deliberate.
You can have these in place to make the choice easier:
Additional articles – Additional content that will explain in more detail why someone needs your product, or how your product will help solve specific problems, or improve one’s lifestyle.
Retargeting Ads – Having ads via Google or Facebook, so even if they took a break from their research or buying process, they may see the same product again on an ad while browsing for something else that makes them remember it, and possibly go back to buy it.
Newsletter -Most of the time, someone signs up for your newsletter without buying into your product yet. By offering a little discount or incentive, you’re getting their details to send them further information right into their inbox. This is useful as if they don’t buy now, they may buy in the future. Be sure to have this in place on your website!
5. Decision Made
The moment someone decides to buy your product, you need to ‘seal the deal’ by making the checkout process as easy and short as possible.
Here’s what you need to have in place:
A seamless and pleasurable experience
If it’s an online product, make it easy, buttons should be obvious, delivery and shipping conditions or fees should be clear. If it’s a service or food, then make sure your customer has the best experience by delivering great customer service and value.