Marketers responding to a Smart Insights survey identified content as the channel they expected to bring the greatest growth in 2017. These marketers placed content ahead of other popular trends such as marketing automation, big data, and even social media and mobile marketing channels.
Although marketers clearly see the importance of content for their brand, most are not confident that their brand's content strategy is effective or even that their content pieces are the quality they need.
- 30% say their organizations are succeeding in content marketing
- 32% admit to having a documented content marketing strategy
That means there's a huge amount of content being produced, with limited if any confidence that it is going to turn readers into customers.
From Content to Conversions
Naturally, if you're going to invest time and money into crafting content, you want more assurance that you'll see a return on your money and efforts — an ROI of content marketing. The key to making your brand's content work for you — bringing you those valuable conversions — is having the right content strategy. As most marketers admit that they don't even have an official strategy, building this into your marketing systems can put you significantly ahead of the competition. Content marketing can also bring three times as many leads as outbound marketing, at just a fraction of the cost.
Your content strategy may not look like any other content strategy, even of rival brands — and it shouldn't. Like your overall marketing strategy, your content strategy should be as unique as your organization and the customers that you serve. However, there are several principles that you must follow in crafting your plan to make it a content strategy that results in conversions, including:
- Identifying the right content ideas
- Being helpful
- Using emotion
- Optimizing the content
- Leveraging relevant calls-to-action (or CTAs)
Find the Right Content Ideas
The first basic aspect of your content strategy is likely the most difficult of all: finding the right content ideas. The first key to a content strategy that encourages conversions is likely the most difficult: finding the right content ideas. Your ideal content rests at the center of your brand's expertise and your audience's biggest questions or needs. The right pieces of content are the key to a content strategy that not only draws
An in-depth understanding of your core customer groups must be the foundation for your content strategy. This includes knowing their pain points, their interests, and their goals — as well as their favorite channels to get the answers they need. Remember that content marketing has as much to do with your company blog as it does with successful social media tactics.
Audience research tactics can include surveys of current and potential customers, reviews on offerings of free trials, Google's Keyword Planner and even topic/post idea generators like HubSpot's Blog Topic Generator. All of this information can help you refine your content strategy with the topics that will be most effective.
Be Genuinely Helpful
Another key to developing a content strategy that creates conversions is to focus on meeting your customers' needs. From your research to identify the best content ideas, you should already have a clear picture of the kinds of questions your audience members have about your industry, such as what to look for in products like yours, how to use particular products or processes in their businesses, or why certain methods or tools are important for their brand.
The more you are able to provide your ideal customers with information that helps them more successfully do their job, the more successful your content marketing strategy will be. By becoming their go-to source of reliable, instructive information, you can build trust with potential buyers and put yourself top of mind when they are ready to consider a purchase. A perfect example is REI's long-form content pieces like "How to Eat Healthy While Backpacking," which made the brand's "Expert Advice" section — and its website — a highly-trafficked resource.
Being genuinely helpful means putting the audience needs first when it comes to your content, rather than your company or products. That doesn't mean there's no influence from your brand in the way the content is written. According to Mark Schaeffer, the most effective approach includes your organization's unique point of view, demonstrating a "need to focus on insights instead of just answers."
Providing valuable information and insights to current and potential customers leads to the next concept behind a content strategy that leads to conversions: using emotion. Whether it's through stories, media, or digital marketing jokes, emotion is critical to being authentic and real to your audience. As you genuinely seek to meet a need, you can use an emotional appeal to make sales without it being a somewhat questionable and unfairly manipulative tactic.
One way to take advantage of that emotional side is through the Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) formula. It's the same formula that Copy Hackers paired with customer testimonials to boost paid conversions by 46%.
PAS starts with identifying the problem — the issue your lead faces that makes one or more aspects of their job more difficult. After describing the problem, you then go deeper with your content, reminding the reader or clarifying for them all of the issues that this core problem creates, such as costing them additional time or money — agitating the issue so they are more motivated to find a solution. Finally, you offer the solution, which the Problem-Agitate-Solve formula has prepared them to embrace.
Optimize Your Content
Just writing the perfect content that is helpful and has emotional appeal is not enough for success. Investing in SEO services can amplify what you create. And working hand-in-hand with search engine optimization, conversion rate optimization (CRO) will bring the greatest return on your content investment. Using CRO processes make it 16-20% more likely you will see higher conversion rates.
A solid CRO strategy starts with targeting the right keywords, particularly using commercial keywords that signal a purchase intent from a potential customer. You also need to consider the user experience on your website to optimize for conversions — content that is too hard to read or pages that load too slowly will have your leads looking elsewhere for information — and a solution. This includes ensuring that your content pages are optimized for mobile devices.
Take Advantage of CTAs
One of the most direct factors that influence your content's conversion rate is the call to action (CTA) that you include with each piece. There are a few key principles you can apply to ensure that your CTAs are optimized — the best, personalized CTAs mean 42% more leads for your business. Search Engine Journal describes effective CTAs as "clear, direct, and eye-catching."
You want each call to action to be obvious, both in what the CTA is on the content page and the exact action the reader should take. Using a contrasting color and a button format can make your call to action more noticeable. The Search Engine Journal also suggests using your CTA to create a sense of urgency for the viewers, adding another level of persuasion.
Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
Just publishing content and hoping that it draws in your ideal customer isn't a sustainable and success-building strategy. To craft content that drives conversion, your content needs to have audience appeal, it must inform, and it must elicit an emotional response. Your content also needs to be optimized for converting customers and use the right CTAs. Without these features, your content will never be the customer-creating asset that it could be.
90odd helps companies create content that converts — by tying their core messaging to their audience's pain points. Want to create content that compels your audience? Find out how 90odd can help with SEO for your next campaign.