How Effective Content Marketing Drives Sales and Revenues [Video]
Online marketing has undergone both massive growth and radical change in recent years. The explosion of eCommerce, along with the infrastructure to support ubiquitous high-speed internet connections, has changed the face of business worldwide. As a result, many marketing departments and agencies are scrambling to get ahead of the next shakeup, expanding offerings and modifying existing practices to not only stay relevant to current customers but to continue attracting new ones.
One of the techniques we're excited to see catching on like wildfire among marketers is content marketing. As a critical component of the broader inbound marketing, it is exciting because it signals a shift toward a customer-first attitude among companies and marketers alike that is changing the overall relationship from pushy sales attempts to creating pull for your products and services.
We look at how this growth in Content Marketing is helping companies drive sales in both B2C and B2B scenarios, with B2B content marketing growing as rapidly as B2C content marketing, if not faster.
What is Content Marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute offers the following definition:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
We added the emphasis on that last bit because that's really what we're here to discuss: how effective Content Marketing can drive profitable customer actions, aka sales. And just how does that happen? There are several primary ways content marketing can give a powerful assist to your sales efforts:
- By driving demand for your services via generating brand buzz among your existing customer base.
- Content Marketing encourages trust in your audience, so when they're ready to take the next step, they'll reach out to you.
- And it shows your customers, existing as well as potential, that you're willing to give away your best stuff for free.
We'll look at each of these in more depth shortly. We're going to take a look at how this works in both for both a B2B marketing strategy as well as B2C scenarios, followed by a brief rundown of some general CM best practices, no matter your situation.
Content Marketing for B2B
The B2B marketing world is due for a refresh, and content marketing is here to provide it. By providing informative and educational blog posts, ebooks, and whitepapers to your audience, they will view you and your company as a leader in your sector. This content is currency for B2B marketing, and many people will gladly exchange their contact information.
Then, when they've read their fill of your knowledgeable insight into their pain points, they'll be ready to convert to paying customers and get in touch. It's the trust you build by giving away that insight, or in exchange for that contact information rather than money, that will convince your audience that you are the right company to help solve their more significant problems. When that time comes, who do you think they'll turn to?
Content marketing is really like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won't be a second one.
- David Beebe
B2C is Still Ripe for Content Marketing Innovation
When we said "content marketing," admit it, you thought of direct sales or other B2C uses, didn't you? We don't blame you; most companies with social media presence or blogs are directing their content at their target buyers. Social media is perhaps the most significant segment of this market, with the content used to draw eyes to corporate eCommerce pages where additional content drives those visitors to convert to customers.
And this is an excellent use for CM, as long as that's the goal for your content marketing strategy. Especially for direct-to-consumer sales, a solid social media presence is pretty much required these days.
Content Marketing Best Practices for Driving B2B Sales
Our main subject today is driving sales via a solid content marketing strategy. Here are some best practices with proven track records, especially in marketing B2B products and services.
Set goals. Specifically, use the SMART rubric to establish and document a sound strategy, so your whole team is on the same page with concrete goals to work towards. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Using this outline, you can ensure all goals are clear, concise, and actionable. Not to mention in line with your company's sales goals overall.
Create a Content Marketing strategy. CMI research shows that while 91% of marketers use CM, only ~37% have a documented strategy. While we feel that content marketing is better than none to impact your B2B sales, it pays to have a robust strategy.
Deliver content that delights your audience. You know your audience better than we do, so use that to your advantage when laying out that strategy. If you provide a service to businesses in one sector, use your content to demonstrate your mastery of that sector. Show your readers how you understand their pain points, then demonstrate how your services can help them overcome those problems.
Remember that content marketing is a long game. You likely won't see results from your content efforts in the first few months. It may take six months to see your first conversion, but once that happens, the organic conversions will just keep coming in.
Five specific tips for B2B Content Marketing
Find keywords with search traffic and business potential: Conduct keyword research to identify topics that potential customers are searching for. If you're a software company, you might target keywords like "project management software" or "CRM software."
Example: Slack, which targets keywords like "team collaboration" and "remote work tools."
Produce informative and insightful content: Create content that educates and informs potential customers about your products or services. A financial services company might create content that explains complex financial concepts in simple terms.
Example: HubSpot, which provides a wealth of educational content on topics like inbound marketing and sales.
Use storytelling to engage your audience: Incorporate storytelling into your content to make it more engaging and memorable. A technology company might tell how one of its clients successfully implemented its software.
Example: Salesforce, which uses customer success stories to showcase the benefits of its CRM software.
Utilize different content formats: Experiment with different types of content to see what resonates with your audience. A marketing agency might create blog posts, infographics, and videos to reach different segments of its audience.
Example: LinkedIn, which offers a variety of content formats like articles, videos, and podcasts.
Focus on quality over quantity: Don't produce content just for the sake of producing content. Instead, focus on creating high-quality content that provides value to your audience. A software company might create in-depth whitepapers or case studies that showcase the benefits of their product.Example: CB Insights, which produces a weekly newsletter that's both entertaining and informative.
And for every happy customer, you grow this way, they'll tell all their friends in the same industry how awesome you are to work with and how your services worked magic on their pain points. Word-of-mouth marketing is priceless in B2B, and there is simply no better way to grow sales than to build a solid base of happy customers. There's no better way to grow that base than through content marketing because organic growth is more sustainable and doesn't require pushy sales calls.
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