Every good marketer knows the importance of producing and curating solid content marketing that actually means something to their target audience. Most businesses understand the significance of basing their messaging on content that builds relationships instead of outright hawking their products.
It’s not about selling the brand, products or services – it’s about providing valuable information that engages with the customer in a relevant way. Content that resonates with your audience will attract new leads, build the necessary trust and positive brand recognition, and keep customers coming back to grow a business of any size.
A creative, strategic content marketing plan is essential in establishing trust and confidence with your target audience. Here are three approaches to build authority, credibility, reputation, and thought leadership that will change the way consumers perceive and value your brand.
Publish in-depth reports and research
Let’s be honest, consumers have no interest in being sold to or bombarded with promotional material. They want content that reverberates with their in-the-moment needs and thoughts. And when they want to make a decision or solve a problem, they want content that is useful and informative.
Companies can build research-driven posts with data (based on analysis or surveys) that they’ve compiled previously and turn it into an evergreen article that can be referenced or linked to by any post on that topic. These posts have the following characteristics:
- The research comprehensively covers an idea or subtopic.
- All stats and insights are sourced from in-depth studies on the topic.
- The post is well structured, has a flow to it, and has clear and simple navigation options.
- There is liberal use of images, graphs, and other data visualization elements.
Marketing such first party content costs 62% less than traditional marketing campaigns and will generate 3 times as many leads for you.
The affordability of content marketing makes it a necessary component for SMBs to maximize their budget. But let me clarify: there is a difference between content, content marketing and quality content marketing.
It lies in the strategy, approach and delivery. Provide value, not fluff. Whether it is educational or entertaining, research-backed content is a great way to showcase brand expertise while providing information that benefits the target market AND gets you ROI.
Blog posts, ebooks, videos, or case studies – every format offers varying degrees of value based on who the customer is, where they are in the buying cycle, and the platform or channel on which you’re interacting with them. White papers may not be the most glamorous form of content marketing, but their high-quality, research-based content can offer the greatest number of leads by using gating techniques.
Ebooks are essentially the academic version of business content and provide serious, in-depth, research that demonstrates expertise and clear thought leadership. The DemandGen Content Preferences Survey revealed that 76% of buyers are willing to share personal information in exchange for access to this type of valuable content. Needless to say, when a customer chooses to opt in, it makes them a more valuable lead. And B2B buyers themselves recommend vendors to use more data and research to support their content.
However, if the information you are providing isn’t visually stimulating or easy to follow, then all that effort and time is worthless. Luckily there are services like Crello or Sketchdeck that can help organize your research into a professional, well-designed final product.
Organize (and publicize) events and conferences
Diversify your research-heavy content by adding a little personality to your collection. Hosting live events and conferences are multifaceted in terms of the benefits they can provide a business. Especially when paired with other marketing techniques, they offer a human factor to world so deeply entrenched in the digital experience.
According to Bizzabo’s Event Marketing 2019: Benchmarks and Trends report the majority (84%) of company leaders believe in-person events are critical to their company’s success.
Events and conferences give brands the opportunity to connect with their audience, showcase an experience their customer actually wants, gather killer user generated content (UGC), and create free (read, earned) PR-worthy buzz.
Take Aerie (a subsidiary of American Eagle Outfitters) a women’s clothing brand whose revolutionary body-positive campaign #AerieREAL has evolved into an all-encompassing brand lens that influences everything they do – in and out of stores.
AerieREAL Talk is one of their live event platforms used to cultivate community, conversation, and confidence by advocating for body positivity and empowerment of all women. Whether they are touring college campuses or using their #AerieREAL Role Models to host inspirational events around the nation, Aerie invests in providing their audience with content that is personable, valuable, and relatable.
Perhaps their biggest event is Solstice in Times Square: Mind Over Madness Yoga, an annual event that brings thousands of people together for a day of free yoga and wellness. The event provides Aerie the opportunity to connect with their audience in real time and earn new leads. Additionally, it is an amazing opportunity to gather UGC, which they broadcast live on Times Square Billboards throughout the day, bringing big-time PR buzz to the brand on their social platforms and mainstream online media.
Live events bring business back to a human level. Your peers, target audience and potential new clients get to see the faces and the personalities behind the brand and what they stand for. It is an opportunity to provide transparent content that becomes even more relatable to the consumer, while proving your worth in the industry.
Monetize your expertise online
Whether you are a business employing thousands or a solo entrepreneur just getting started, we’ve reached a point where any valuable skill or niche knowledge has the potential to be marketed, sold, and monetized.
From hosting live or prerecorded webinars to offering subscription based online courses, people are eager and willing to pay for skills and services that benefit them personally and professionally. But the key to selling your skills is not just about having them, but also the ability to market yourself as a credible, reliable source of valuable information.
This means your business or product should be presented as a cohesive, professionally-designed package on the front-end, while optimizing the results of your content marketing or engagement on the back-end. Of course, there are platforms designed to do this – Kajabi is one – that make the sharing and consumption of content seamless. You can build a sales and thought leadership workflow by creating industry-specific courses, running interactive marketing campaigns, and managing audience touchpoints, with consistent branding across various content formats.
Identifying a platform that integrates your content strategy and popular marketing channels ensures the customer is receiving a cohesive product and support throughout the duration of its usage.
As blogs and niche publications continue to be more accessible and successful, every market player is ready to add ecommerce to their existing business. Unfortunately, not all content management systems were designed and equipped with the flexibility and resources to handle fully customizable commerce. The last thing you want is to migrate all your themed and branded content to an entirely different platform, putting all the effort you put into designing the layouts and templates in disarray.
If you use WordPress as your content management system (data shows more than a third of all websites and nearly two-thirds of all websites that use a CMS do), then, there are a plethora of ecommerce plugins that help you add ecommerce and shopping functionality with a few clicks.
Even if you don’t, emerging technology such as headless commerce lets you integrate selling, payments, and order management into your content nicely together. It “decouples” the presentation layer – the digital customer-facing experience you have in place (or more simply, what your visitors see on your website) – from the ecommerce functionality behind the scenes without disrupting your content flow.
The ability to meet consumers’ expectations in all aspects of their journey are vital to getting them to consider buying anything from you. Or, for that matter, the success of any business.
Wrapping it up
Quality content marketing will earn its keep for many reasons, but it is also the secret to understanding the customer. You can follow the customer’s journey by tracking their interactions with your content – when they engage with you on social media, subscribe to your newsletter, register to attend a webinar or download a whitepaper, attend a conference you organize, or subscribe to one of your online courses, you gain a deeper understanding of what information they’re really seeking, and create more content accordingly.
As you continue to strengthen the quality of your content marketing, you can personalize and refine it with a more holistic view of your target market. Good luck!