The Case For Content Marketing
9 out of 10 B2B marketers use content marketing to reach their target customers. This strategic marketing approach is focused on creating valuable and relevant content on a consistent basis. Distribution is aimed at a clearly defined audience with a goal of increasing awareness, building brand and expertise, and moving customers to action.
In a survey by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 86% of marketers said that content marketing is one of their key strategies for success. Yet, only 20% would rate their organizations overall content marketing approach as very successful..
Before we can talk specific strategies, it is important to understand the most popular forms of content that are being used, which distribution channels are most effective, and which are rated as most effective.
What Types Of Content Marketing Are Successful Marketers Using?
The survey from CMI points to nearly universal use of social media as a platform for distribution of content. Here’s the rest of the top 10 forms of content marketers are using.
Content Marketing’s Top 10 List
- 94% Social Media Posts
- 73% Case Studies
- 72% Pre-Produced Videos
- 71% E-Books and White Papers
- 65% Infographics
- 56% Photos, Images, and Illustrations
- 37% Research Reports
- 33% Interactive Tools, including Quizzes, Calculators, and Assessment Tools
- 17% Podcasts
- 17% Video Streaming
Other types of content marketing cited include mobile apps, short films, documentaries, and VR/AR (Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality) experiences.
Most Effective Forms Of Content Marketing
E-books and White Papers received the highest marks (62%) followed by Case Studies (47%) and Social Media posts (43%).
What Types Of Content Marketing Are Successful Marketers Using For Distribution?
When it comes to distribution channels, email, social media, and blogs are the most common tactics.
Content Marketing Distribution Channels Top 10 List
- 93% Email and Newsletters
- 92% Social Media Platforms
- 79% Blogs
- 56% In-Person Events
- 55% Webinars and Webcasts
- 27% Micro-Sites
- 24% Print Magazines
- 23% Print (Other than Magazines)
- 21% Digital Magazines
- 21% Online Presentations
Most Effective Content Marketing Distribution Channels
Email and Newsletters received the highest marks for success (79%), followed by Blogs (60%), and Social Media Platforms (41%). As you might suspect, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were the most commonly used social media platforms with LinkedIn rated as most effective by marketers (78%), followed by Twitter (48%), and Facebook (42%).
Creating Content That Converts
Great content marketing will set you and your organization apart. It can provide helpful tips for strategies, industry trends, demonstrate thought-leadership, or show how your company approaches challenges differently. It can drive people into and through the sales funnel.
Define Your Target Audience
In developing your content marketing strategy, always starts with defining your target audience. Take the time to understand the people that make up this audience and what they will be interested in learning. By identifying the key topics and keywords they seek, you can create content that is more likely to hit home.
Align Your Goals
This target audience needs to be aligned with your goals. You may have long-term goals, such as branding your company or becoming known as a thought-leader. You may make more short-term or sales-driven goals, such as driving people into the latter stages of the sales funnel. While there will be some overlap, each strategy may dictate a different approach.
Establish How You Will Determine Success
It’s said that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. The next step is to develop metrics for how you will define success. For sales, you want to track conversions. For thought-leadership, you may want to track click-through-rate and time spent. Once you launch content, you need to be able to determine what’s meeting your goals. This can serve as a roadmap for future content creation.
Map Your Customer Journey
As customers flow through the sales funnel, the move through the various stages of the AIDI journey.
A = Awareness
I = Interest
D = Desire
A = Action
In the Awareness stage, your company hits your potential customer’s radar. Your potential customer is aware that your category, brand, product, or service, exists. It’s important in the Awareness phase to begin to build trust and credibility.
This may be the first exposure your target audience has to your company. It’s important that you catch their attention quickly and engage them. The title and the first paragraph need to draw them in and give them a clear reason to explore your content.
Social media posts, infographics, webinars, and videos can be effective with increasing awareness.
When consumers move to the Interest phase, they begin to learn about the features of your products or services. In this phase, it’s important to explain how these features translate to benefits for the customer.
You want to identify problems or opportunities in your category and demonstrate tangible ways your products or services solve these problems or take advantage of these opportunities. Blogs, Case studies, E-books, Research Reports, and White Papers can be effective to generate interest.
After Interest, a key step in getting potential customers to start to want your product or service, comes the next phase: Desire. The more you can continue to demonstrate the benefits of your product and allow your target customers to see themselves as purchasers, the greater the chance that they will develop a favorable disposition towards you and move into the Desire phase.
In this phase, the same strategies that developed Awareness and Interest will start to have a cumulative effect. Any time they see your content and recognize it as quality, you are reinforcing the brand and increasing desire. An effective strategy at this stage is to engage in structured Email Campaigns, Targeted Blog Posts, Webinars, and Demos.
In the Action phase, customers are making purchase decisions. In this phase, it’s important to understand that efforts to this point may only get customers to start the process to shop around or engage in trials.
By now, you’ve set the stage and it’s time to motivate potential customers to take the final steps. At this point, discussions about ROI, competitive pricing, and distinct advantages can be effective.
Creating Great Content Marketing
To recap: nearly everyone uses content marketing. An overwhelming majority think it’s a key strategy. Yet only one-fifth think their organization is doing well! There’s clearly room for improvement and a significant opportunity for those that figure out effective ways to do content marketing.
Different content can impact each phase, so it’s important to establish which phase you are targeting. In many cases, you’re targeting all of them as different customers are moving into and through the funnel at different stages at the same time.
The good news is that each piece of content can magnify other pieces. The cumulative effect can create a whole bigger than the sum of the parts.