Content marketing always needs to serve a purpose and move buyers toward conversion.
Often, marketers create content simply because content needs to be created. A blog needs articles to look respectable, products need copy to appear reputable, and advertisements need taglines to display professionalism. Unfortunately, simply creating content, even if it’s high-quality and full of valuable information, doesn’t promise customer conversions.
It’s important to have goals, conversion points, and success indicators clearly marked along your content marketing roadmap, and there’s a big difference between creating content and following a content strategy. The most successful web content services and sought-after content marketers realize that strong content is fuelled by the buyer’s journey, also referred to as a conversion funnel.
Audience Segmentation and Targeting
The first stage in any content marketing campaign should be to identify your target audience, market, or ideal consumer. You can’t create a buyer’s journey and a roadmap of your content without realizing who you’re writing content for and what kind of customer you’re marketing to. Fortunately, inbound content marketing strategies don’t need to be one-size-fits-all, and many marketers identify audience segmentation groups and create different content messages to best target each group or specific consumer type.
Ask yourself two broad questions to start audience segmentation:
- What are your ideal customers’ motivations for purchasing?
- What need does your product or service fulfill for the consumer?
This is just a jumping off point, and there are plenty of demographic lines down which you can segment your audience, but it’s important to realize what motivates your target market and what gap in the consumer’s life your product is filling. If your content marketing strategy can address these questions in an appealing way, convincing influencers they need what you’re selling, all you need to do is complete the sale.
The Buyer’s Journey and Conversion Funnel Concepts
The buyer’s journey or the conversion funnel are commonly used concepts to understand how a buyer travels from uninterested consumer to converted customer. It’s a way for marketers to visualize the conversion process and plan accordingly. Rather than lean toward one label or the other, here’s a simple breakdown of how both function:
The Buyer’s Journey
- Awareness: Consumer first becomes aware of your product or service.
- Consideration: Consumer considers pros and cons of purchase.
- Decision: Consumer converts.
The Conversion Funnel
- Top: Bring visitors into the funnel.
- Middle: Nurture leads and provide additional information.
- Bottom: Consumer converts.
Volumes have been written to help marketers understand how the buyer thinks and acts during the conversion process, and countless inbound content marketing strategies are implemented to try and lead the customer through the journey flawlessly. Smart marketers line the journey/funnel with conversion points (like newsletter opt-ins, e-mail list sign-ups, etc.) to convert wherever possible, but it’s important to rely on the who and why established in your audience segmentation if you want to effectively market your content along the way.
Aligning Content Strategy with the Buyer’s Journey
As mentioned, simply creating content for content creation’s sake is bad strategy. Instead, tailor your inbound content marketing to effectively move consumers through different stages of the buyer’s journey. Content ideas for the three levels of the funnel or stages in the journey can include:
- Easily digestible, intriguing content—infographics, blog posts, games, articles, videos. You have to catch consumers’ attention before you can start reeling them in, and this content is meant to bring customers closer to your brand offering.
- Informative and detail-oriented content—white papers, expert interviews, eBooks, guides. The goal of middle-of-the-funnel content is to nurture and build on the customer relationship that’s been established. You don’t want them to leave the funnel before conversion.
- Product or service-confirming content—product demos, customer testimonials, reviews, how-to videos. This is the conversion stage, the finish line, end of the road. This content needs to confirm to potential buyers that they’re making a smart choice, they’ll be satisfied with the purchase, and there’s no reason to turn back now. Seal the deal with strong bottom-of-the-funnel content.
Always Be Closing
Alec Baldwin’s character made the phrase famous, but the ABC idea that marketers (salesmen in the case of Glengarry Glen Ross) should “always be closing” rings true as far as inbound content marketing is concerned. Every piece of content, every conversion opportunity along the road, should have a reason to exist and a goal to fulfill. Remember, content needs to follow a roadmap if you want to call your efforts a content strategy.