Digital Content Marketing Strategy - The Art of Relationship Building
July 27, 2022 |
Okay, you’re convinced that content marketing can improve your business.
The question is…
How exactly do you create an effective content marketing strategy?
I mean, let’s face it, just publishing blog posts or videos is not a strategy. Successful content marketing requires the right content delivered at the right time.
This will allow all your content to work harmoniously together providing a great user experience for your target audience.
So to get you on your feet, I decided to create an in-depth digital content marketing strategy step-by-step guide.
In order to create a solid strategy that generates sales and leads, we need to first understand what content marketing really is.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing strategy designed to gently move your target audience down the sales funnel by presenting them with useful content at each stage of the buyer’s journey. The ultimate goal of content marketing is to get more sales and leads by actively engaging your audience at a stage before they are ready to buy.
You do this by attracting and engaging with your audience by sharing various assets including videos, blog posts, and other media. When done correctly content marketing will help build a relationship with your audience so that when they are ready to make a purchase, your brand will have:
- A relationship with your audience
- Established itself as an authority
- Built trust
- Reached new users increasing brand awareness
Now, if you think a little more deeply into it, your business was created to serve your users. Content marketing allows you to serve your audience long before they make a purchase allowing you to help them out while they are going through the buyer’s journey.
And, if you consistently create valuable content, your relationship with your existing audience will continue to grow, which could result in repeat business.
And who are your best business prospects? One could argue that re-engaging your current audience is your best low-hanging fruit digital content strategy.
Now that you understand content marketing, it’s time to delve into how it helps your business.
How Does Content Marketing Benefit Your Business?
The benefits of content marketing are:
- Increased sales and leads
- Increased customer loyalty
- Greater brand awareness
- Greater brand authority
So, you might be wondering how content marketing can achieve all of this.
It all boils down to one simple idea.
Content marketing allows you to pre-sell your target audience.
Allow me to explain what I mean.
Marketing is all about people. In other words, your business sells to people. Even B2B businesses sell their products to people.
What’s more, when people make a purchase, unless they either know exactly what they want to buy, or they are buying something that has very little value to them (think low-priced items), they are likely to go through a process before making a purchase.
If they have a problem, they might not yet know what solutions exist. Or, they might know what solutions exist but want to do a little research into what is the best brand for them.
For instance, if you were thinking about buying an electric car, you might have several questions:
- What are the 3 main disadvantages of electric cars?
- What's the best electric car brand?
- How long do electric cars last?
- Is it worth buying an electric car in the UK?
I could imagine all of these questions swimming around your mind dying to be answered.
Now, at this stage, your audience might not be ready to make a purchase. But they are researching.
So think about this…
What would happen if you or your business answered all of these questions? What would that mean for your audience?
Well, for one, you’d have established a relationship with them. What’s more, you would have established your business as a helpful expert and someone they could trust.
Now, you can easily find questions that your audience is asking by simply finding questions they regularly ask online. For instance, in the screenshot below, you’ll see the Rank Ranger Keyword Explorer for the keyword ‘electric car’ with the questions filter applied.
Now, simply speaking according to Robert Cialdini, reciprocation is a powerful form of influence. If you give them something for free, they will feel a connection to your business.
But, before I get into the details, you must understand what content actually means.
Multichannel Marketing - Not Just Blogging
What do I mean by content?
Content is published information that is useful to your audience.
Understanding this, you’ll realize that content can be in any medium including digital media and print media.
That means you shouldn’t limit your understanding to just blog posts or video content. Paid ads or social media posts are also content as long as they are useful to your audience.
Think about it this way.
When your audience is ready to make a purchase, serving an ad at that exact moment is by far the most useful piece of content you can serve them.
In other words, content is not medium specific. That means if you are looking to drive your target audience down the funnel towards making a purchase, there are times when you’ll be creating blog posts. There will be times when you are creating email sequences. There might be times when you’ll be serving Facebook or Instagram ads.
It all depends on what your audience needs at the time.
Sales Funnels 101 - How to Plan Your Content
Okay, you understand what content marketing is and how it benefits your business, now let’s understand sales funnels and how they are designed to help your audience through all the stages of the buyer’s journey.
A marketing funnel is a framework that helps you:
- Understand your customer’s user journey
- Plan your marketing materials
In general, sales funnels are broken down into three stages. Each stage is a landmark that your audience will reach when they are on their journey to buying from your business.
As a marketer, you should create marketing assets that address each stage of the funnel with the goal of moving them one step closer to making a purchase.
The stages are:
- Top of the funnel - Awareness
- Middle of the funnel - Consideration
- Bottom of the funnel - Conversion
Top of the Funnel - Awareness
The awareness stage of the funnel is designed to make potential customers aware of your brand. At this stage, your content is designed to educate your audience about their problem and to help them understand that your business exists to solve that problem.
Your top-of-the-funnel audience in general consists of two segments:
- Unaware audience
- Problem aware audience
At the beginning of the journey, your audience has just encountered a problem and they are beginning the process of research.
They might not know how to define their problem or they might not yet know what solutions exist to solve their problem.
They might be asking questions like:
- What is this and how will it affect me?
- How do I solve this problem?
In other words, they are not ready to buy anything. They are just looking to understand their situation and to find a solution. This means if you try to sell to people at this stage you’ll come across as annoying and irrelevant. What’s more, you might burn a hole in your credit card.
Instead, focus on giving them the information they need to understand their problem. By doing this you will have moved them to the next stage of awareness.
You can do this by creating useful blog posts, videos, social media posts, or any other content that your audience will find useful.
Okay, you’ve successfully educated your audience and they understand their problem and what can solve it but they are still not ready to make a purchase.
Although top-of-the-funnel content is important to building your business, in order to create a business strategy that generates leads or sales you must create middle-of-the-funnel content.
Middle of the Funnel - Evaluation
Once your audience has moved through the awareness stage and they are actively looking for a solution. Before they whip out their credit card more often than not, they do their research.
In other words, although they might know what kind of business will help them, they are still looking for a business or solution that they feel they can trust to get the job done at a price point that works for them.
This means they might be looking for reviews or they might be comparing your business with that of your competitors.
This can simply be solved with a social media advertising campaign or some well-designed SEO content.
Your blog has thousands of monthly readers who are looking to understand their problem. You’ve not only done a stellar job of that, but your content has also helped them to understand what types of solutions are available to them.
Perhaps at this stage, they are already clicking through to your about us page and discovering how your business is a great solution for them.
What about the ones who don’t do that?
Perhaps you can send them a remarketing ad introducing your brand as the best solution for them. Just to be clear, a remarketing ad targets an audience that's already interacted with your site.
Another option is to get them onto an email list. The options are endless.
For instance, if you know that an audience segment is looking for the right solution, getting video testimonials or product demos in front of them is the most helpful piece of content you can deliver.
But don’t forget, if you deliver this type of content to the wrong audience segment, you’ll be perceived as too salesy. The key is finding the right audience segment and that's exactly why email sequences or remarketing ads are so effective. These media are designed to speak to an audience segment that already has gone through top-of-the-funnel content.
If you’ve done a great job of this, your audience will move to the next stage.
Bottom of the Funnel - Conversion
After evaluation, your audience is ready to make a purchase. This means you are able to ask them to buy without being perceived as pushy or irrellevant. What’s more, if you get this right and you’ve moved them through the previous stages of the funnel your goal is to turn them into super fans.
A well-placed ad might be all they need to make a buying decision.
How to Create a Digital Content Marketing Strategy - Start at the Top
By now you’ve understood what content marketing is and how it fits into the customer journey.
Now, let’s jump into the steps you need to take in order to create a successful digital content marketing strategy.
As I’ve mentioned above, your content should be designed to solve problems for your audience. What’s more, I’ve just identified three stages of the marketing funnel.
With that little nugget in mind, I imagine you want to get started and crank out the content.
In order to save yourself spinning your wheels on the hamster wheel of content creation, let’s first get into some strategic thinking.
What stage of the buyer’s journey should you target?
Well, as a savvy marketer, every action you do should be designed to give you or your clients the biggest ROI in the shortest time possible.
Looking at the buyer’s journey, your most profitable audience is your bottom-of-the-funnel product-aware audience. Do they already know about your business? Do they just need a little nudge to get them to do business with you?
This means you should target this audience first with some well-placed PPC ads.
Okay, you’ve done that, what should you focus on next?
You should move one step up the funnel. In other words, target your middle-of-the-funnel solution-aware and products aware audiences and try to turn them into prospects.
In other words, what I’m proposing is to start at the top of the funnel and work backward. What I see so often is a business will start at the bottom and work its way up.
Part of the reason for this is they are trying to rank organically rather than trying to make sales. This often leads to a small-minded approach that ignores other channels like remarketing ads and email marketing.
Don’t get me wrong, ranking organically can be part of a funnel designed to make sales. Let's jump into how SEO can be a part of your content marketing efforts.
SEO and Content Marketing
So you might be wondering how SEO and content marketing
can work together. When you are starting out in SEO and your site has little authority, you will have to target low search volume long tail keywords. The reason is these keywords are generally not too competitive and you’ll have a shot at ranking at the top of Google.
That means if you are just getting started, you can get your first site visitors without doing insane amounts of link building.
This does have a downside.
Long tail keywords are almost always top-of-the-funnel informational keywords. In other words, the people who are making these searches are not (yet) looking to buy anything. They just want to understand something.
This means you are attracting people with the lowest chance of becoming buyers. And, if they do become buyers, they will still need to go through a few stages of the buyer’s journey before they make a purchase.
There are two simple solutions to this problem:
- Run remarketing ads
- Get them on an email list and send them highly relevant content until they are ready to make a purchase
Now, what do you do if your site is getting little to no SEO traffic?
You must think of your content marketing as multi-channel. That means social media is the first place you should focus to get traffic to your content.
Social Media Content Marketing
So you’ve published some blog posts and you are waiting for the traffic to flow.
If your business is relatively new you might wait a long time to see traffic. This means incorporating social media marketing
into your digital content strategy is crucial. By creating some well-implemented social media content, you could see big traffic spikes that could result in some quick wins for your business.
Content Marketing - Build Relationships Before Asking for a Sale
As I’ve mentioned above, your business exists to serve your customers. Your products or services are designed to solve pain points and enhance their lives.
That said, the process your audience goes through from problem to solution often starts long before your audience is ready to make a purchase. It starts at the research stage.
By creating useful content, your business is serving your audience in a much greater way than by just selling products or services. You are taking them by the hand and leading them through the process from problem to solution.
By doing this you are building a relationship of trust which could result in happy customers who eventually could turn into super fans and loyal brand ambassadors.