When businesses begin thinking about becoming more active and aggressive with their digital marketing, one of the most important tasks is to understand where the best place to begin is?
At the core of any digital marketing whether you take an owned or a paid approach, will be content. You must have content that is deemed valuable by your audience. But this is not the starting place!
The starting place is your audience. Who are your targets? What are their problems? What sorts of solutions are they looking for? How is your solution going to help them? And how is your solution better than your competitors?
We call this developing your target customer personas.
But before you can look at your target customers and their needs, you first need to have a thorough understanding of your own business and in particular where the value is in the product or service you are offering. It is vital that you can match your offering (or perceived offering) to your customers problem.
Do you know why your customers are buying from you? Where they are finding you? What keywords they are searching for?
In our experience, this development of personas has to be really thorough. You should carry out interviews firstly with your own staff to better understand your own business and then move to your existing customers and ask them to express their main challenges and goals and what sort of solutions they are searching for to solve their problems. How do they see their businesses growing in the next 3-5 years? etc.
Once you have this intelligence, you are in a great position to start creating solutions, which are aligned with your customers actual needs.
Another critical task that needs to be carried out is how you optimise your channels and your content. What are the terms your target audiences are using? When they are looking for solutions to their problems? We recommend working with a professional to develop a list of keywords that will rank highly on the search engines.
Your goal will be to get your solutions on page 1 of the search results. You want to find keywords that have a high search volume but a low keyword difficulty score. The right SEO expertise will ensure that your website content contains a healthy amount of these keywords throughout the different pages of your site. Your keyword and SEO strategy is critical to your success.
The third piece in your content marketing strategy should be gaining an understanding of your customers journey. How do they progress through from identifying they have a problem to finding a solution? When you have this understanding you are creating your own sales funnel and bringing your customer through it in stages.
The 6 stages are:
In simple terms you need to be able to provide content for your targets at each point along this journey.
The first two stages of building awareness should have very little to do with your solutions. You should talk to your targets in language that they will identify with. You should be highlighting their business challenges and pain points. During this phase you are either highlighting issues they may not be aware of yet (educating them) or you are acknowledging the existence of the same problem they have already identified. This is your connection point with them. It’s not a hard sell here.
The next two stages highlight that there are different solutions available to them. There is a natural continuity from the awareness stage, where you now highlight that there are solutions available to their problem and that your company is such a solution provider.
The last two stages are the convincing and converting stages. Your content must look to answer any question they might have and really present your solution in a better light than your competitors. In this advanced stage, if you have succeeded in delivering valuable content along each stage, you will be in a very strong position to convert this lead into a customer.
There will of course be any number of engagements require to move the target through the different stages and this will be driven by where they are on their buying journey and the nature of your sales cycle. You will need to be able to deliver content through multiple channels during this journey - social media, email, Ebooks, webinars, video etc This is where having an automated workflow comes into its own, as you can stay on top of all your leads and push the right content to them as they move through the consideration funnel.
This task is often over-looked because it seems so obvious. But with all the digital channels available it is vital that you create a content calendar so that you stay on top of your content. This should break down into the following
~ Your own
~ You Tube
~ Google +
You should have identified the channels your targets audiences frequent and adapt your content for optimum impact within those channels. You will also need to adapt and create content reflecting their position in the sales funnel as described above.
Todays buyers journey is getting longer than ever before. It also happens on-line and with very direct interaction with a suppliers sales team. Buyers are contacting solutions provider much later in the sales cycle than before. And when they do, they come armed with detailed research and understanding of the solution they are looking for.
You want to create demand for your services. Your content will be the key element in bringing your targets through the sales funnel and converting them into customers. But content alone will not generate enough traffic. Your owned media (blog, social media etc) will need to be partnered with a detailed paid media strategy. Here you should be planning to develop a intergrated campaign featuring search engine marketing (SEM) – keywords, search shopping if that is appropriate, display ads, re-marketing etc.
You should plan on having a professional partner who can not only plan this type of integrated approach but one who can also help execute at all of your touch points.
This is the new challenge for businesses to establish a digital presence and develop a winning strategy to fined valuable leads and convert them into paying customers.