Content marketing generated 3 times more leads than paid search advertising in 2017, and more and more marketers are taking notice, delegating larger chunks of their budgets to their content strategies. According to a 2018 HubSpot report, marketers understand that content is more than just a trendy marketing tactic—it can be a dominant source of traffic, leads, and sales.
In fact, customers expect companies to provide them with informative content so they can make more educated decisions. A 2016 Demand Gen report revealed that 96% of buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders, and that 47% of buyers view 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
Since 90% of users searching online to make a purchase aren’t committed to a particular brand, engaging them with valuable content can be the difference between them choosing you over competitors. To create excellent, money-making content, check out the 3 tips below:
1) Find Your Voice
Not every single article should end with a Buy Now button. Content marketing can definitely make you money, but that shouldn’t be its only purpose. If every piece of content on your site is salesy, you’re at risk of losing your credibility—buyers will smell your ulterior motives from a mile away. To build a strong brand image, you must deliver valuable content without expecting anything in return.
The agenda of any content strategy should be determined by what the audience finds interesting. It should be all about answering your buyers’ pressing questions and providing a unique perspective on industry trends. To do this effectively, consult the top branding and marketing professionals in your organization to develop a clear tone of voice, and use diverse research tools to understand what your target audience cares about most.
For example, Top 10 Personal Loans, a site run by Natural Intelligence, that helps individuals select the right loan for their needs. On the site’s Learn section, you can find many articles like The Ultimate Guide to Personal Loans, which aim to teach readers about the ins and outs of personal loans and everything they need to know before taking one. This article is one of the top performing pieces on the site based on metrics such as click-through-rate, time on page, and bounce rate. This indicates that people would rather learn more about a topic from a third party before being subject to an onslaught of promotional messages.
Taking a loan and finding the right one for you is a daunting process. As a personal loans comparison site, investing in this type of educational content that users can benefit from before scanning through the different options available to them, opens the gate for a deeper relationship with the buyer—apart from their money, they’ll give you their attention and trust.
2) Know Your Audience
Not knowing who your audience is, means you don’t know what to say to them or where to reach them. Therefore, understanding your customer persona inside and out is central to any content strategy. While there are many ways to deepen your familiarity with your target audience, trusting your gut feeling isn’t one of them. Here’s an interesting story that proves why:
When the editor of Top 10 Best Antivirus Software added the line “Protect your personal data” to the top of the site’s main page, it boosted conversions by 7.20%. Relying on common sense, the editor of the French version of the site, did the same thing (“Protégez vos données personnelles”) and was surprised when conversion dropped by 21%! When the editor switched “personal data” with “computer” (“Protégez votre ordinateur”) conversion rate increased by almost 15%.
Clearly, “personal data” is a combination of words that has a very specific connotation to Americans—one that is very different from its connotation to French people. Americans perceive antivirus software as a means of protecting their personal information, whereas the French are more compelled by the message that antivirus will help them protect their computers.
This is a perfect example of how intuition can often be misleading when it comes to understanding your audience and what it wants. While testing copy through a trial and error process is one way of getting to know your target audience, surveys, focus groups, research and social-listening can help you pinpoint your messaging and make the right choice of words.
3) Form Your Funnel
Throughout the customer journey, individuals pass through multiple stops. From initial awareness to a problem, to research and consideration of possible solutions, and finally, decision making. Aside from these behavioral transitions, consumers experience an array of emotions. From hopeful and interested, to overwhelmed or hesitant. As a marketer, the goal of your content should be to streamline decision making for the customer by adequately responding to their emotions, barriers and hopes.
When an individual becomes aware of a problem, they would resonate with an article that solidifies that problem by clearly defining challenges and pain points. 5 Reasons You Need Payroll Software for Your Business for instance, helps “name” the problem by explaining to the reader that a payroll software will save them time and ensure that they are always tax-compliant. The user will finish this reading with a better understanding of their needs.
Throughout the research and comparison stage, consumers tend to feel overwhelmed and overloaded with information. During this step of the funnel, buyers seek out product reviews to read about key features and unique offerings. A better user experience is one factor that can help users overcome their emotional barriers. For example, large amounts of important information are more easily digestible when displayed as tables and infographics.
Another way to ease the research and comparison stage for potential buyers is the use of pointed statements—for example, “this payroll software is best for small businesses,” or “this project management software is best for managing large-scale projects”. Social proof and testimonials are also helpful at this stage.
In the selection and purchase stage, information such as free trials and special introductory deals can be helpful for tipping the scale towards decision making. If you want to stress urgency and scarcity, mention timely offers that are soon to expire. For example, How to Use Zoosk Without Paying a Cent, creatively details all of the free capabilities of this online dating site. The article is one of the top performing pieces on the site, proving that customers at this stage find that experiencing a product without risking anything is a good way to overcome their emotional barrier.
The Right Content, to the Right User, at the Right Time
Turning content into a lucrative marketing channel for your brand depends on an authoritative tone of voice, deep familiarity with your target audience, and remaining contextually-relevant across all stages of your buyer journey.