Content marketing is a proven way to drive traffic, create brand awareness, earn customer loyalty, and gain a competitive edge. Most eCommerce businesses now understand the importance of content for bringing in more customers and sales – simply having an online store on its own won’t deliver the desired results. To maximize ROI, eCommerce businesses need to have a unique web presence, and this is where the effectiveness of content comes into picture.
An effective content marketing strategy will help you to attract your target audience, engage more visitors and improve awareness and reach. It’ll generate also help quality leads, increase your conversion rates and better position your business as an authority. Here are 5 effective tips to make a successful Content marketing strategy.
- Understand the Content Marketing (Sales) Funnel
The sales funnel is essentially a broad-based term that describes the buyer’s decision-making journey, with the three key phases being awareness, evaluation, and purchase. Anyone involved in sales and marketing needs to pay close attention to this process in order to gain a better understanding of what makes buyers move through the funnel. With content marketing, there is a fourth stage of the sales funnel that comes after the conversion “delight,” which essentially translates to establishing brand loyalty. Thus, content strategists should always be thinking about four critical stages of the funnel:
- Outreach: attracting new customers
- Conversion: convincing customers to buy
- Closing: making the sale
- Retention: establishing brand loyalty and returning customers
The “top” of the funnel is where brand awareness and lead generation happens. It’s where you have the opportunity to cast a net over the broadest possible customer base and not only build your audience, but also engage with them to understand more about your entire strategy. But a great content strategist or manager will understand how to engage customers through every part of the funnel and ideally keep them cycling through the funnel.
- View Your Content as Data
A content strategy is about quality, but all of these things are not exactly what strategy is about – they are components, but they aren’t really what will guide your strategic approach. A great content marketing strategy can engage audiences at every turn, and in order to do this, a good strategist needs to know how their content is working. When you know exactly how to spin your content so that it’s effective in one phase, they then you can use that information as you move into the next phase in the funnel.
Your strategy will be guided by analytics, monitor, track, watch and report on the numbers in order to continuously refine and adjust towards better conversions. You will need to track where your customers are “coming from,” and where they are “going.” In other words, you need to be continually assessing traffic patterns.
Continually testing what you’re doing is how you’ll get a solid idea about your audience’s preferences, interests, and purchasing behavior. You need to know how well material is performing in order to make it to the next step of the process.
- Make a Plan
Creating a calendar is vital to a successful strategy. Just like an editorial calendar for a traditional publication, a content calendar can help to guide your strategy throughout a given timeframe. Of course, you’ll want to add special dates in here, like major holidays and events that are relevant to your industry. You’ll probably also want to leave some “blank” spots to incorporate, for instance, unpredictable but relevant events or trending topics that you need to create content for last-minute.
You can also use this calendar not only to plan what you’re posting, but where. Having a multimedia strategy and even including outreach like guest posting and PR is crucial these days. Consider where different distribution channels will fit well into your sales strategy along the timeline of the following months.
As you consider distribution, you’ll want to bear in mind the different purposes that different types of content have and how this can affect your marketing and how you can use various combinations of content to save time and resources. You may want to consider, for example, establishing authority via guest blogging, composing blogs in tandem with email series, and using social media to build tribes and groups.
It’s completely reasonable and efficient to develop a strategy based on chunks of content that can easily be repurposed through different channels and for different purposes. So, as you develop all of your content (think multimedia), consider the ways that it can be easily converted into the future.
- Establish Specific Direction for Your Content
Many businesses already have a bunch of content and a team of writers on hand to create it; these are essentials, as are a set of tools for analytics. But it’s important that strategists understand which piece of the marketing framework different types of content falls into.
The list below is not a concrete example; it will definitely vary with context. But it’s a good idea to break down content types into different phases of the funnel just so that everyone on the team is clear about the purpose of each.
- Outreach: Facebook ads, landing page, explainer videos, infographics
- Conversion: Social media, informational blog posts, case studies, quizzes
- Closing: Email series, reviews, questionnaires
- Retention: Exclusive offers, whitepapers, e-mails, contests, surveys
It’s essential that you have this content prepared and ready to go well ahead of the timeline. In addition, you’ll need to know which type of content performs well in different contexts, that is, with different audiences and also across platforms. Coming into 2018, trends that you can bank on in most instances are video (especially ephemeral content), infographics, and AI-based applications such as voice search.