To elevate content marketing, do this
By Nick Stein, senior vice president of marketing, Vision Critical
Content marketing has gone mainstream. In 2014, the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs revealed that 86 percent of B2B companies and 77 percent of B2C companies now produce some form of content marketing.
The most successful content marketing programs attract a large audience by offering valuable and relevant information. They build brand authority — and generate leads — by creating content that provides solutions to the specific problems facing their audience.
But with so much content flooding social media and the web, the challenge now facing marketers is how to stand out from the content crowd: how to differentiate their content from the endless stream of blog posts, infographics, ebooks and videos.
With so much content flooding social media and the web, the challenge now facing marketers is how to stand out from the content crowd.
One solution, often overlooked, is to turn to your customers. Because current customers already chose to buy your products or services, they can provide valuable feedback on whether your content is effectively tailored and targeted to their specific needs and challenges. More importantly, they themselves can become content creators on your behalf.
Here are some simple ways customer engagement can help elevate your content marketing efforts.
BUILD CUSTOMER KNOWLEDGE
The first step in this process is to develop a deeper understanding of your customers. Who are they and what motivates them? The most successful content marketing programs put the needs of their audience first and their company’s second. They provide value to their target audience by offering meaningful insight into a key business problem facing the companies they are trying to reach.
The first step to killer content marketing is to develop a deeper understanding of your customers.
Before diving in and creating a comprehensive content marketing program, it’s critical to step back and think about the challenges that your customers face. Don’t assume you know the issues plaguing your prospects. Talk to your current customers and ask them to help define the challenges that are prominent in their industries. Engaging customers directly will remove the guesswork in your content strategy.
OPTIMIZE CONTENT MARKETING DISTRIBUTION
The success of your content hinges not just on your ability to create compelling content but in how well you distribute it.
Is it really worth your time maintaining a presence on Twitter? Is your target audience more likely to be on Facebook or on LinkedIn? Should your company be on Vine? Answering questions like these will help optimize your distribution plan and maximize your reach. To succeed in content marketing, you need to know the type of media your customers consume and where they naturally find content. Getting that information requires a two-way conversation with your customers.
ELEVATE CONTENT QUALITY
The 2014 Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs study revealed that 54 percent of B2B marketers and 50 percent of B2C marketers identify “producing engaging content” as a top challenge. Creating content that resonates with a target audience is a real challenge for many marketing organizations.
Your customers can help. Talk to your customers and regularly ask for feedback on your content. Then tweak and improve based on their insight.
Even better, utilize your customers as a source of content themselves. Providing the opportunity for your customers to generate content for your campaigns — or co-create content with you — lets you put your customer community to work for your business. Collaboration with customers helps ensure that your content really resonates once it’s released to the wider world.
OFFER ORIGINAL DATA AND INSIGHT
Finding ways to make your content stand out can be tough. From our experience at Vision Critical, sharing original customer data for content marketing is an effective way of getting the attention of your target audience. Some of our most well-received reports and webinars offered data not found anywhere else. By sharing hard data on the collaborative economy and on social media analytics, we’ve learned that data-driven content marketing gets the attention of prospects and of the general public.
The key to using data for content marketing isn’t to be seen simply as a data company. You can attract the right people in your target audience by offering provocative insight and outlining the unique benefits of your solution.
By increasing brand awareness, attracting prospects and engaging customers, effective content marketing can help your business acquire new customers and retain existing ones. It can help align marketing and sales towards the same goals.
More importantly, content can humanize your company, helping you build authentic relationship with potential customers by offering something valuable in return.
By collaborating closely with their community of customers, marketers can ensure the effort and investment they place in content marketing yields tangible business results.
To learn more about this topic, watch The Secret to Killer Content Marketing, a webinar I’m co-presenting with Michael Brenner, head of strategy at NewsCred.