Marketing Guide

Content Marketing

Publishing educational, helpful, entertaining content that captures the attention of your target audience is the lifeblood of your business. The content you publish should either start a conversation or continue to move an existing conversation further along. Either way, it’s through your content that you communicate your thoughts, ideas, and values.

Publishing great content is the difference between:

  • getting higher rankings on search
  • being found on social media
  • getting more customers
  • hitting your revenue goals
  • or not!

What is in Your Content Marketing Strategy?

Communication is vital in any relationship. Creating great content is how you communicate with your audience.

A Solid Marketing Strategy for Startups

Want to give your new business the best chance for long term success? Here are the top 3 things to focus on.

Organizing Your Content For Better SEO

You're working hard to drive traffic to your website. But are you sure your SEO tactics align with Google's algorithm?

The Importance of Marketing to Millennials

Your target audience includes a growing portion of millennials. Are you effectively getting their attention?

What's in Your Content Marketing Strategy?

Your business needs a rock solid content marketing strategy for two fundamental reasons. First, to help your target audience know with clarity that your company can help them reach their goals. Second, to help you get higher rankings on Google as a thought leader in your industry. 

Creating the Right Content at the Right Time

Unfortunately, prospects don’t wake up one morning, decide they want your product or service, suddenly call you and offer to send you lots of money. Unless you’re Google, Amazon, Walmart, or the like, a call out of the clear blue sky from a customer with money in hand just doesn’t happen.

No, for the rest of us mere mortals, there’s a lot of work that has to be done before we can earn a potential customer’s business. For starters, we need to produce valuable content about who we are and how we can help solve their problems. To successfully accomplish this, a comprehensive content marketing strategy needs to be put into action.

content_marketing_strategy

Content created digitally has a significant advantage over traditional content (i.e. postcards, door hangers, direct mailers, etc.). A content marketing strategy affords you the ability to publish timely content, having it at the ready when your audience is actively searching the Internet for your services. You’ll never be too early or too late delivering your content.

For example, let’s say you own an IT consulting company. One of the services you provide is cloud migration. Sending out a mailer to your target demographic is one way to announce your services. However, is your timing right? If you’re too early, chances are once they’re ready to start looking for assistance migrating to the cloud, they’ll have long forgotten about you. Or, maybe they’ve already migrated to the cloud by the time they receive your mailer. What a waste of time, energy, and money sending your mailer to them. In either scenario, your timing is woefully off.

3 Buyer’s Journey Stages & Content Marketing

Before selecting a company to work with, buyers go through various buying stages. They want to make sure that when they do make a final decision, it’s the right one. Thus, they do extensive research on their own without initially speaking with you directly.

Knowing this, you’ll want to develop a content marketing strategy that addresses every stage of the Buyer’s Journey.Your job is to provide them with the content they need at each stage. Doing so will ensure when they’re ready to move forward, you get the call. Let’s discuss the Buyer’s Journey and the types of content that aligns perfectly with each stage.

1) Awareness

In this stage, the buyer has become aware they have a problem that needs to be solved. The type of content you publish for this stage needs to articulate your company’s values and should educate them about your services.

Blogs:
Use blogs to tell valuable, effective, and relevant stories to attract the right type of client to your company. The key here is consistently creating new blog articles to communicate with your target audience. 

Ebooks:
For prospects seeking a little deeper explanation on a topic, ebooks fit the bill nicely. An advantage of offering ebooks is they require a commitment from the prospect before they can download it. It’s a ‘Get and Give’ scenario. Get more content by giving us a little information about yourself. Once the prospect gives you their information, you know they’re interested and a lead is born.

Videos:
You don’t have to be an Academy Award winning director to produce great, educational video content. There are lots of tools on the market that can help you create fun, quirky, viral exploding video content that your audience will enjoy. So, don’t over think it. Focus on telling a memorable story and be sure your sound quality is high so your message can be heard easily.

2) Consideration

This is an extremely important stage. Here, the buyer is considering all of their options to resolve their problem. They’ve narrowed down their list of vendors and you’ve made the cut! However, before they move to the Decision stage, they want to dig deeper into your services. Here is some content the buyer will find helpful and will keep things moving along to the next stage in their Journey.content marketing strategy too

White Papers:
Dive deep into the technical aspects of your services. Show the buyer not only how things work, but why things work the way they do. Use white papers to provide an advanced explanation of your methodology. 

Comparison Data:
Show the buyer how your products work compared to the competition. Understanding what buyers need will help you use data points to highlight the benefits of your product, emphasizing how well your products align with their specific needs.

Analytical Reports:
Provide reports demonstrating how your products and services outperform your competitors. Show the buyer how you can save them money, help them operate more efficiently, decrease customer service calls, improve processes, etc.

3) Decision

Great news! The buyer has chosen a solution to their problem and your company made the short list of vendors they’re interested in working with. Congratulations! But don’t celebrate just yet. There’s still a bit more content to deliver, but you’re almost across the finish line.

Case Studies:
A great way to show how well your services have worked for others is to provide case studies. As with all forms of content creation, tell a compelling story. Mention their problem, show how you worked with the client to resolve the problem, and list all of the ways the client benefited by working with your company.

Testimonials:
You can brag about yourself, touting your abilities and all the wonderful things you’re able to do. However, if a client says nice things about you, well now that’s something! Your customers should be your biggest fans. Reading success stories from your current customers about how you’ve helped them accomplish their goals will go along way toward establishing trust in your company.

Free Trails:
Everyone likes to take a test drive before buying a car. Are you able to offer a free trial? Doing so allows your potential customers the opportunity to ‘test drive’ your products or services before committing to a purchase. It also gives them a chance to see what a joy it will be to work with you.

A Solid Marketing Strategy for Startups

Congratulations! You’ve decided to pull the trigger and start that new company you’ve always dreamed of owning. You’ve done the research and you know there’s a growing market for your niche. Now what? How are you going to go about getting some customers? Here’s a hint: You need a solid digital marketing strategy.

Generally speaking, when entrepreneurs decide to start a new business it’s their craft that they’re an expert in, not digital marketing. They understand precisely what they’re selling, what problems they’re solving, and for whom. However, finding the most effective ways to get the word out online about their new business and attracting lots of potential customers is another thing entirely.

We could go on for days talking about all of the various aspects of a solid digital marketing strategy. There are many techniques, depending on the type of business you’re running. However, if you want to build a strong online presence, everything can be boiled down to three main components. These three components fit virtually any business in any industry. Let’s discuss each component so you can get your business started on the right foot. 

3 Steps to Building a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy

Step 1: Building an Eye-Catching, High Converting Website  

You want to build a website that accomplishes two very important things: First, it must get the attention of the search engines, namely Google. Second, it needs to answer the questions searchers are asking. Long before a potential customer ever contacts you regarding your products and services, they’re going to check out your website. That said, your website is everything to your business. Your website will be a visitor’s ‘first impression’ of your company. What type of first impression do you want to make? 

User Experience:
Once visitors land on your website, how easy will it be for them to find what they’re looking for? Organize your content so that potential clients can navigate your website with ease. If they have a great experience browsing your site they’ll return, begin to trust you, engage, and eventually become customers. If they don’t, they won’t.

Speak ‘Google’:
Your website needs to communicate well with Google. Tell Google what your web pages are all about. Show Google you are an authoritative source of information for your industry. Over time, the search engine giant will come to trust you and will advertise your website in search, bringing lots of prospects your way.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL)
Make your website is secure. If you don’t have an SSL certificate for your website, Google Chrome browser will flag that your website is not secure. You don’t want to have secured content on an unsecured website. (Side note: Google Adwords requires that your site is secure also.)

Step 2: Content, Content, Content

digital_marketingStatistically, 94-96 percent of all B2B online traffic comes from Google. Every single minute, Google processes 4 million search queries worldwide. Google’s primary concern is presenting the searcher with websites that contain content most relevant to their search criteria. When a searcher is looking for a product or service you offer, your goal is to have Google direct them to your website! For that to happen, you’re going to need lots and lots of relevant and remarkable content.

When writing content, focus on the art of storytelling. Always be genuine. Write compelling content that resonates well with your target audience. Stand out among your competitors. Help people make the decision to work with you.

Visitors need to feel confident that your company’s products or services are precisely what they’ve been searching for. They need to feel like there’s no need to scour the Internet any further; that their search ends with you! Your web pages, images, and blogs all need to instill full faith and confidence in your company’s ability to fix whatever problems they have.

Do you have ebooks, white papers, case studies, FAQs, statistics, videos, etc.? Create content, then publish it everywhere for maximum exposure for your business. Which leads us to the next step…

Step 3: Social Media Engagement

The final step in developing a solid digital marketing strategy is your social media engagement. Here’s what’s happening on the most popular social media platforms worldwide every day:

Facebook: 2.5 million pieces of content are published.
Youtube: 72 hours of new video content is uploaded.
Twitter: 300,000 new tweets are posted.
Instagram: 220,000 new photos are posted.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of activity on social media. And those numbers are only going to increase with no end in sight. It’s critical you get in the social media game right away. But which social platforms should you focus on? Hint: Which platforms are your competitors on and how well are they doing? If they’re doing well on those platforms, chances are you will too.

What types of things should you post? If you create content as described above in Step 2, you’ll have endless amounts of valuable information for your social media posts. Interesting, engaging, and educational content posted consistently on social media will build awareness of your Brand and will get you noticed. So have fun! Let your personality shine through on your posts.

Social Tip: Running ads on social media is a great way to get the attention of people who need your services. Provide them with an opportunity to ‘learn more’ about how your company can benefit them. You’ll increase traffic to your website and generate sales qualified leads reasonably quickly. 

Organizing Your Content For Better SEO

It’s no longer good enough to simply write and publish great content. If you want higher rankings on Google, you need a solid strategy for organizing your content for better SEO on your website. Doing so will make both your prospects and Google giddy with excitement!

Effectively Organizing Your Content

Customers are no longer forced to deal with aggressive, quota carrying, hard closing salespeople when they’re in the early stages of the Buyer’s Journey. They are interested in buying things that benefit them, but only when they’re ready to make the purchase. Therefore, buyers take their time doing their research. They proceed along their Journey at their own pace. They’ll contact a salesperson within your company once they’ve adequately educated themselves. 

Understanding this, the onus is on you to provide content that will help them make the decision to choose you over your competitors. Use content to show that your company is a trusted thought leader in your industry. Your content should dive deep, covering a topic thoroughly, answering all of their questions. Providing content that offers enormous value to your audience will be compelling enough to give you a real shot at earning their business.

At this point, this is where organizing your content becomes critical. For example, organize the blogs on your website so that they’re easy for visitors (and search engines) to find. Not only is this helpful for your prospects, but your site will rank higher on search engines. Your blogs should be grouped together into topic clusters, aka Pillar Pages. But what are Pillar Pages?

Build Pillar Pages for Better SEO

Hubspot quotes a definition of a pillar page as, “the basis on which a topic cluster is built. A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page. Pillar pages broadly cover a particular topic, and cluster content should address a specific keyword related to that topic in-depth.”

Look at it this way: Picture a large, beautiful, fully mature tree with branches extending from its trunk out in every possible direction. The tree is a metaphor for pillar pages published on your website. Each pillar page represents a single topic cluster. The tree’s trunk is the pillar while the branches are blog articles connecting to it. The blogs are articles written about everything associated with that particular topic.

Sample Pillar Page

Let’s supposed you’re a custom home builder. You’re known for building beautiful, high-end custom homes. However, you’ve recognized there is a growing opportunity to expand your business by adding home remodeling services to your portfolio. How can you get the word out about this new aspect of your company? The best way is to publish content to your website regarding this topic. You could write blogs and post them randomly on your website for Google to find. Or, you could build a home remodeling pillar page. Then, start writing blogs on the topic and connect them to the pillar.

Look at the titles of the blogs in the image below. Each one is related to the topic of home remodeling. Notice how each blog connects back to the Home Remodeling pillar. (Image courtesy of Neil Patel)

Better_SEO

 

SEO techniques continue to evolve as Google constantly works to improve the searcher’s experience. Google’s AI is no longer primarily concerned with exactly what the searcher typed in. The search engine giant is now also considering the intent behind what a searcher is looking for. Google wants to bring the searcher as many websites as are relevant to their request as possible. Therefore, pillar pages make it easy for Google to crawl all of the related content you’ve published on the topic. The more relevant content you’ve published, the higher your rankings.

Now, imagine multiple pillar pages published on your website. Also, imagine a separate pillar page, along with blogs linking back to it, for each of the services you provide. That’s a lot of indexed web pages on Google’s radar! That architecture might look like something similar to this: (Image courtesy of Hubspot)

Much_Better_SEO

 

The benefits of building pillar pages extend to visitors browsing your site too. Visitors can easily immerse themselves in everything you’ve written on a topic. They’ll stay on your website longer, browsing article after article, page after page. They won’t be sidetracked by reading other pieces of content that aren’t related to the topic they’re interested in. As long as they find your articles helpful, they’ll keep browsing and reading. The result will be a significant bounce rate reduction. Plus, the longer a visitor stays on your website, the longer you’ll keep them off your competitor’s.

You can see how building pillar pages (trees) with content linking back to them, can eventually turn into a forest of content. That content will be immensely helpful to buyers. Properly organizing your content using pillar pages leads to better SEO on search engines.

The Importance of Marketing to Millennials

It’s always intriguing to see how and where businesses decide to spend their marketing budget. In order for your marketing strategy to be effective, the first question to ask is, ‘Who is your target audience?’ Next, ‘How are you most likely to reach them?’ Understanding the needs and wants of your target audience is important. But also knowing where they are is critical if you want to publish content they’ll see and respond favorably to.

Not Marketing to Millennials?

Are you old enough to remember when a cell phone was primarily used for making calls? When looking over the features of new cell phones as they hit the market, its as if there’s an asterisk in their description that reads, “Oh and by the way, you can also call people with it, if you’re into that type of thing.”

No demographic has embraced cell phone technology to the extent as Millennials. Seeing a Millennial without a cell phone is like seeing Big Foot or the Lockness Monster; it’s a rare occurrence that should be documented for future behavioral study. If Millennials are not your target audience, feel free to keep advertising your company’s services using direct mailers, door hangers, commercials, radio, print ads in magazines, and other non-internet based avenues.

Learning From Industry Giants

In most industries, business evolves. Things rarely remain the same, year after year, decade after decade. Being able to recognize upcoming trends, make the appropriate technological adjustments, followed by a focused digital marketing strategy is crucial for survival.

Marketing to MillennialsBlockbuster realized too late that streaming video would be the new norm, making it much more convenient for people to order the latest movies from the comfort of their living room. As it turns out, Millennials stream the most movies and TV shows.

More recently, Harley Davidson finds itself in a challenging revenue growth situation. Their annual revenue numbers (PDF FORM 10-k) have been declining since 2014. Although being an industry leader in high-end motorcycles, Millennials at least here in the U.S., don’t seem to be adopting the “Born to ride” lifestyle as much as previous generations. Could it be that Harley Davidson’s digital marketing strategy needs to be more Millennial-centric?

Conversely, Lyft and Uber understand who their target audience is (PEW, 2018). Both companies clearly understand the importance of marketing to Millennials and are doing a great job of successfully getting their attention. Their efforts are paying off as there has been a 23% increase in usage between 2015 and 2018 among this particular group.

Lyft and Uber understand the wants, needs, and problems of Millennials when it comes to transportation. Both have crafted a solution that perfectly addresses the needs of their primary customer base. These companies know that Millennials are more apt to use a transportation service over buying their own car and being bogged down with all of the expenses associated with owning it, as long as the service is convenient for them. Lyft and Uber are getting it right for their businesses. As such, the future looks bright for both companies.

Word to the Wise

As of this post (Jan. 2019), Millennials have become the largest living demographic. Millennials are quickly becoming the target audience for businesses in many industries. Eventually, they will become the only audience for all industries. Finding new and innovative ways to attract their attention through content marketing is mission critical for all businesses.

Effectively marketing to Millennials requires focusing your efforts on showing up where they are most likely to see you – on their cell phone. You need to show up when they search the internet looking for the products and services you offer. 

How Can You Start Marketing to Millennials Effectively?

If you see the writing on the wall and your goal is to grow this particular segment of your customer base, its imperative that you first understand them as a Buyer Persona. Understand how they want to live; what types of things they’re interested in; what they need and want to better their lives. Also, understand what types of things do not concern them at all.

Is your company a good fit for Millennials? If not, what can you do about it? Can you adjust your company’s offerings to fit their lifestyle so they can become your customers? This will take some time and additional R&D but what’s the alternative? (Remember Blockbuster?)

You need to create remarkable content regularly that captures their attention. That content should come primarily in three (4) forms:

Blogs – Articles they can read on your website.
Social Media – Ads and posts that pique their interests in learning more about you.
Voice – Podcasts they can listen to while walking, jogging, or in Lyft and Uber ride shares.
Video – Clips they can watch to see your product or services in action.

This is the type of marketing evolution that’s critical to start engaging Millennials now, thereby attracting them to you. Developing this type of marketing strategy will help stabilize your business for long term success.