The 3 Things Your Content Marketing Strategy Needs Next
If you're like most companies, you already have some kind of content marketing strategy, a blog, some whitepapers, social media presence, videos (and more) - all in the name of trying to engage the buyer along their journey.
So what should you be doing next? We all know the marketplace has changed. It's not a buyer's world, so what do you need to add to the mix to improve the effectiveness of your content strategy? Here are three things leading edge marketing teams are doing that can help take content marketing to the next level.
1. People... where your buyers are
The old tactics like just putting up a website, or placing ads in specific venues no longer work as well and have caused Marketing to change their methods because the buyer has changed their habits (and are continuing to do so). Today's buyer is short-listing by asking their peers "what do you think?" so you need to be there.
What to do about it: You need to hire evangelists (and often cases, it needs to be a technical evangelist) that spend time on forums, message boards and the like participating in online communities openly as a member of your team.
How does content marketing fit in: The content they post needs to be more than "we do that" responses to questions about solving problems. They need to be creating (or at least sharing) content that engages the audience for brand awareness, demand generation and credibility on the sites they frequent.
2. A Conversation Mentality... to create a per-buyer experience
Today's marketing has matured from "wanna buy?" to at least building nurturing programs, using lead scoring, and building templates for sales to use. All of this is in an effort to create a sort of virtual conversation with the buyer - they "say" something by viewing a webpage, clicking on an asset, or watching a video... and you, in turn, respond with a responsive website, or via marketing automation.
What to do about it: Create a personal experience so detailed that it meets the needs of the individual, rather than todays best-effort automated marketing funnel with a few paths to go down. Keep in mind this is going to lengthen the old lead cycle, as your goal is to create true Marketing Qualified Leads, instead of just "people that said they want to download our product" (and never do).
How does content marketing fit in: You're going to need tons more content to educate the buyer along their personal journey. That means thinking about the journey and what kinds of assets in various mediums are needed. They downloaded a whitepaper? Send them additional information on the same subject in a short video clip, a snippet of a webinar, a blog post, and more. Feed them what they are asking for and push them along their journey.
3. Trials... as a Content Asset
Now, I'm not talking about offering an eval - everyone already does that. (In the tech industry, Marketing normally drives potential buyers to an evaluation/trial/demo of the company's solution, which puts in the minds of the marketer that an eval is the goal.) I'm talking about educating the engaged buyer with examples within your product. Let's say someone has downloaded the HIPAA compliance whitepaper of yours. Once you've identified them as someone with interest in your product, you can offer them an opportunity to see how your product helps with HIPAA. Most companies today are simply showing videos, but if you have a free trial of your software, which do you want me doing: watching a video about your software or actually playing within it?
What to do about it: If you have a SaaS solution or an online TestDrive, this is an easy one - build a sandbox with pre-populated data and provide scenario-based walkthroughs that demonstrate to the buyer not just what your product does, but how you solve the problem.
How does content marketing fit it: stop thinking of an eval as the end, but as an asset along the way. Stop promoting "Free Trial" and, instead first listen to the problems the buyer is trying to solve and then show them within your product. If you are committed to doing this, then you'll be needing a ton of content to identify the buyer pains (via marketing automation) and then matching scenarios (along with that pre-populated environment) to educate and engage the buyer.
Content marketing can't be left to just assets that are now common staples in marketing; it needs to take on a life of its own that engages the buyer and allows them to not just take the "Learn / Try / Buy" path, but to actually facilitate a path that allows the buyer to Learn and Try in their own time, at their own pace, and in their own way.