Let me let you in on a little secret about content marketing: you need more than content to get the results your business needs. Of course, a smart content marketing strategy includes:
- A great website with content that delivers what customers and prospective customers want
- An active blog with posts that deliver valuable information that people want to read
- Social media campaigns with a good ratio of other people’s content vs. your content
And, of course, content that isn’t solely focused on your products, and is actually being read or viewed by the target audience.
But that isn’t enough to translate content marketing into sales. You also need a way to translate people’s enjoyment of your content into a desire for them to buy. What you need is to put the tried-and-true ACT Methodology into practice to turn your content marketing into a sales magnet. In her best-selling book, The Zen of Social Media Marketing, Shama Kabani explains it this way:
- A is for Attract. To attract means to get attention or stand out. In a practical sense, this means attracting traffic to your website—your main online marketing tool.
- C is for Convert. Conversion happens when you turn a stranger into a consumer or customer. And there is a difference between the two! A consumer may take in your information or even sample your product, but he or she may not always buy. That’s okay! Over time, that consumer may eventually become a customer. The more expensive a purchase is, the longer it may take. This means that you constantly have to work to convert people into consumers and customers.
- T is for Transform. You transform when you turn past and present successes into magnetic forces of attraction.
One of the problems that many companies have when trying to measure how well content marketing is working to drive sales, is that they mistake quantity for quality when it comes to assessing leads. For instance, if someone downloaded several resources on their site, or visited the blog often, they were considered a “high value” sales prospect.
But it isn’t quantity that matters – it’s what information the person is accessing, and how well that person matches the other demographic criteria that you use to evaluate a prospect.
So at least part of your content marketing program needs to make it easy for prospective customers to put your products and your company in context by showing how they can use your information to build a business case for making a purchase. It’s imperative to create content that helps them visualize how solving a problem can do for them – and how your company’s expertise or products can help them do that.
Mapping content to the different stages in the buying process, so that as a prospect finishes one piece of content they can be referred to the next step piece of relevant information, needs to be a part of your content marketing strategy. So does communicating information in different formats, and reaching prospects through different communications channels (email, pay-per-click, web, social media, PR, mobile), because no single channel will do that job.
The big bonus of mapping content to buying stages is that salespeople not only get quality leads, they have quality content to use in conversations and follow-up emails. This is a significant advantage for busy salespeople – and we all want busy salespeople, don’t we?