It used to be that the most successful way to sell a product or service was to knock on doors, telling people about the miracle results you could provide for a small price.
In today’s world of online business and social media, however, the day of the door-to-door salesman seems to have passed.
Markets have soared to international levels instead of neighborhood boutiques, and so has competition.
In some ways, it feels more and more impossible to reach your target demographic every day. It feels like all of the leads for sales have dried up.
In this kind of environment, then, how can a business grow? One successful tactic is content marketing.
By generating quality, relevant content, your business can attract new traffic to your site, generating new sales leads and showing potential clients exactly what benefits your product or service can offer them.
With 93 percent of B2B marketers now investing in content marketing, it’s safe to say that it has become a common practice.
That said, only 42 percent of those B2B marketers believe that they are effective at content marketing.
So how can content marketing be effectively used? How can businesses use it to its full advantage to grow their markets and drive sales?
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Drawing Website Traffic
One of the earliest lessons in Corporate Sales Training 101 is that in order to make a sale, you first have to make contact.
However, rather than going out to find customers, more and more companies are relying on inbound marketing, with three out of four marketers across the globe prioritizing an inbound approach to marketing.
It’s also showing to be more successful: according to the most recent State of Inbound Report from HubSpot, companies are three times more likely to see a higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound campaigns.
Engaging, relevant content is a simple way to draw traffic to your website. An informative blog post or a well-crafted infographic will catch people’s attention and can go viral, bringing more and more visitors to your site.
Once there, there is a good chance that people will continue to explore, learning more about your company and its offerings.
These pieces also do a good deal of work in establishing your company’s authority in its market, meaning potential clients will grow to trust you and will come to you in the future.
For example, ride-sharing service Uber regularly produces content specifically aimed at their target demographic.
With separate blogs targeted at individual cities, regular product updates, and instructional posts on topics such as how to easily sync the Uber app with Uber’s partner Concur (a different app that helps workers to track business travel and expenses), Uber has created a landscape that attracts new users and entices them to return regularly.
Email marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing out there. In fact, according to the 2015 DMA National Client Email Report, email marketing has an average return on investment of $38 for every $1 spent.
The key, then, is actually getting those email addresses. Content marketing can be an effective tool in gathering this contact information.
Lead capture is essentially presenting website visitors with an incentive to join your email marketing list. In essence, they are giving your company permission to contact them with more information about your product or service.
Of course, people have grown rather protective of their contact info, and so you need to present them with a strong reason to give out that information.
Generally, it requires the promise of a specific type of content. Remember, the higher the relevance and quality of the content, the more likely the potential client will be to share their contact information in exchange.
Showing the Value of Your Product or Service
While a product description on the Store section of your website can give at least a passing explanation of what your product or service entails, often it takes a little bit more to actually engage a potential client or customer.
In situations like this, creating a more interactive or visually engaging piece of content can present it in a more concise or easily digestible way.
Almost two-thirds of marketers rate videos as an effective marketing tool, pulling in new users and ensuring that already established clients will keep coming back.
Using more in-depth content such as videos and ebooks to showcase specific products and services can be instrumental in helping visitors to understand the value you can provide.
Blue Coat, a digital security provider, shares a variety of videos on their YouTube channel. Several of these videos take a deeper look at various products they offer, going into detail on exactly what those products can do for their customers.
Other videos are tutorials on how best to use their products, lowering the knowledge barrier for potential clients who are unfamiliar with the company’s offerings.
As the customer becomes more familiar with a product or service your business provides they move further down the sales funnel, gradually increasing the likelihood that they will convert.
So What Now?
While content marketing has proven that it is an effective marketing tool, just creating content and throwing it out into the wild will likely do nothing to improve your business.
Different types of content work better for different markets and demographics. One of the most important things to do is to create a solid, well-documented, deliberately charted plan for your content marketing.
While only 11 percent of those marketers who did not have a documented content strategy considered themselves to be effective when it came to content marketing, 66 percent of those who did have a documented content strategy felt the same way.
You will want the people in charge of your content marketing to sit down together and plot out exactly how your content marketing will work.
Who is your target demographic? What types of content will you produce? How will your content be distributed? How often will new content be produced?
How will you turn that content into something usable for your business? As you plot out exactly where you intend to go with your content strategy, you will be that much more effective in using content marketing to build and grow your business.