Marketers creating original content to help their companies sell is not exactly a new idea, but the concept has decidedly shifted to the forefront of Internet marketing.
The growth of the Internet as the ultimate information source is the most obvious reason. But, look further and you can see how the predominance of search as the primary method of online navigation, the growing importance of social media as a referral and trust agent, and the fragmentation and declining reach of traditional media have created the perfect storm to leave content creation and promotion standing as the most valuable customer engagement tool available to anyone marketing online.
One of the most basic reasons content creation is so integral to effective search engine marketing is that high-quality, relevant content is essential to attract visitors on the Web. It’s also the key to persuading those very same visitors to take action – e.g. Make a purchase, sign up for a membership, request more information, etc.
The fuel for online lead generation
In fact, according to a recently published white paper by Frost & Sullivan, well-formulated content is the fuel needed to drive online lead generation engines for business-to-business marketers. The most effective way to keep the content engine pumping out leads, the paper says, is for the marketer to match their content to their customers’ varied personas and to the appropriate phase of the sales process. This creates the right environment to identify and communicate with “ideal” prospects by addressing their very real “pain points, motivators and validators”.
I couldn’t agree more with this view. However, no matter how good the content, it has to be visible to be effective. There are abundant opportunities to create and promote content, particularly online, but it can be a very resource-intensive process. That’s why it’s critical to embark on your content marketing journey with a thoroughly considered strategy to guide you along your path.
Mapping the content
This map must clearly identify the business opportunities that can be addressed through a content approach and what types of content should be created to address those opportunities with specific client types. Following this logic – and borrowing some of the terminology from Frost & Sullivan and other sources – I’ve sketched out a simple content development matrix that shows how you can map specific types of content to the information needs of four very common business client personas and their stage in the buying cycle.
Another important aspect of your content strategy is determining who will do what to bring the content and its delivery to fruition. Like any effective strategy, a content plan is best executed when it involves a team of motivated players ready to perform their role to reach an agreed-upon goal.
With a content-driven lead generation program – It’s all about growing the business, after all – the team would be made up of marketing professionals leading the opportunity analysis, planning and promoting the content, subject matter experts providing the knowledge base, and a combination of technology and analytics professionals to track and measure the success of the combined effort. With everyone following the same game plan, a content marketing strategy can produce outstanding lead generation results and lay the foundation for a robust, ROI-driven conversion program.
In a future post, I’ll talk about what I believe are the integral pieces of a content marketing program, including marketing automation tools and specific measurement metrics and techniques. In other words, the stuff that works.Follow us!