Content marketing is the process of attracting prospects to your business through the use of engaging and informative information, which is presented in a wide variety of formats, from simple graphics to full-blown white papers. Widely used, content marketing starts at the most basic level with core assets such as a website, product literature, a corporate brochure etc. At a more progressive level content becomes more intrinsic to the customer engagement process whereby content assets are used to convey more specific insight or product based information that supports the customers buying process.
So, in a normal marketing context, content marketing is the provision and sharing of information assets, in both digital and print formats, that helps the customer identify, research, select and purchase a product or service.
The Traditional Approach to Content Marketing
For many years, businesses and brands have widely used content marketing as it is recognised as the best method to support inbound customer engagement and nurture through the purchase process.
The content mindset is traditional: produce lots of content and get it online, if you have enough of it out there someone will bump into it.
With Internet as the primary source for information gathering it is true that someone will come across it. The problem arises when a prospect requires a series of communications as they move along the buyer journey, learning about a product or service. A singular piece of content may give the prospect some insight, but they are unlikely to be ready to buy. A modern approach to content marketing requires a way to attract and nurture the prospect through the buying lifecycle, providing useful information as they mature. As such, it’s more important then ever to ensure your content is relevant, specific and delivered in a timely manner to ensure cut-through.
Content Marketing for the Modern Marketer
Today’s B2B customers are undertaking more than 60% of their buyer journey online before engaging with your sales team. This means you need to ensure your content answers their specific needs on the first half of their buyer journey. So churning out content that simply relays product specs, prices and a bit of blurb isn’t going to cut it.
Consider how your customers purchase. They start their journey with an objective and quickly drill down to more specific requirements as they progress. Therefore, creating a selection of content that simply repeats product information, ‘speeds and feeds’ with sales messages isn’t likely to engage or nurture. The same can be said for producing content in isolation of a joined-up customer journey. It’s vital therefore that you really understand the drivers behind their purchase decision-making, the personal ‘want’ they are seeking, who else is involved in their decision process and what their buying process is.
Content that is relevant will take into account a buyer’s needs. Foremost, it must answer the challenge they are trying to overcome. It needs to take into account other drivers such as their experience, business objectives and the concerns or fears they may have. To get this information you need to really understand your customers. This insight can be gleaned from data as well as taking time to understand the psychology of how they buy.
To be truly relevant the content also needs to be delivered at the right time and on the right channel. Every customer has a different set of buyer needs so a one-size-fits-all approach to content marketing doesn’t work. Your content needs to be available at a time and place determined by the customer. This, therefore, raises the need to be able to share and provide your content more intelligently. (I will explain how technology can help with this later.)
Lastly, content needs to be specific. On a typical B2B buyer journey a prospect will consume multiple pieces of content. At each stage they expect to learn something further, gain more value and seek reassurance. With this in mind it’s important that each piece of content maintains a core focus, selecting and addressing certain pain-points, giving a specific set of insights and building trust.
The Modern Approach to Content Marketing
Content marketing is being driven by your prospects. It’s meeting their needs and supporting their buying requirements that will shape how content marketing evolves. With this in mind businesses are adopting an ‘always on’ inbound marketing strategy which ensures highly relevant and specific content is available at all times and across every channel.
Furthermore, in an online, data centric age, our customers expect a seamless and personalized buying experience. One that delivers the right information quickly and efficiently and in a format that is easy to consume and share. To facilitate this, organisations must harness the plethora of data in their business to extract buyer intelligence and incorporate this into their content and marketing communications.
Cloud-based marketing technologies such as marketing automation and CRM, coupled with the ability to create content that truly resonates, is at the heart of nurture marketing. Creating a wider inbound marketing strategy to facilitate this nurture is built on a solid foundation of data insight, buyer behaviour understanding, relevant content and responsive technology to provide a platform for success.
If you are interested to learn more about inbound marketing, and understand the facts and figures behind why it is the best method for attracting new business leads, then read our report “The Future of Inbound Marketing and Why Your Business Should Care”.
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