With content marketing, there are a number of overall business goals you could have:
Brand awareness or reinforcement
This is almost always the first thing that is thought of when you look at content marketing. The goal may be that you are just trying to find a more effective way than advertising to create awareness for your product or service. This is the long-tail strategy. Content marketing is a great vehicle for that, as it’s organic, authentic, and a great way for you to start driving engagement with your brand. Content marketing and inbound marketing overlap in this area.
Lead conversion and nurturing
The most basic part of inbound marketing is the conversion metric. How you define a lead will vary — but from a content marketing perspective, this is where you have (through the exchange of engaging content) encouraged someone to give up enough information about themselves that you now have permission to “market” to them. This can include signing up for a “demo”, registering for an event, subscribing to your e-newsletter, or gaining access to your Resource Center. Once you have the prospect’s permission, you can use content to help move them through the buying cycle.
In many cases, you already have a ton of content in this area. This is where, as marketers, we have traditionally focused — the “proof points” to the sale. Examples include case studies you send to your prospects that illustrate how you’ve solved the problem before — or the “testimonials” section on your client page. Ultimately, this is the content you’ve created as a marketer to illustrate to the hot prospect why your solution is better or will uniquely meet his or her needs.
This is where content marketing can really earn its “subscribe” stripes. How well are you using content to create value or reinforce the customer’s decision AFTER the sale? This goes well beyond the user manual, the documented process for success, and the FAQ on your website. These are the best practices for how to use your product or service. How can customers get the MOST out of your product or service? What are the successful, innovative ways that you’ve seen your product or service get extended into other solutions?
Just like you have a planned lead nurturing process to turn prospects into customers, you also need a planned customer retention strategy. If your ultimate goal is to turn customers into passionate subscribers who share your stories, this area needs major attention. Options may be a customer e-newsletter or printed newsletter, a print or tablet magazine, or possibly a user event or webinar series.
Marketing doesn’t stop at the “checkout” button any longer. If you’re particularly good at using content to service the customer in a subscribe model, you also have the opportunity to be effective at creating ongoing engagement for the other products and services you offer. Why stop communicating with prospects once they become customers? Instead, communicate with them more frequently (certainly not in a creepy way) and engage them with additional value. Customer upsell and customer retention goals can work hand-in-hand.
If you can successfully move customers to this stage, you have really accomplished something. Content — and especially content generated by satisfied customers — can be one of the most powerful ways for us to reach any business goal. This is when content marketing starts to work for you exponentially. Apple Computer is the quintessential example of this. Ask yourself what their content marketing strategy is. They have no social media presence. They have no blog. But they have successfully built their passionate subscriber base — and these people create fan sites, write, share, and evangelize the Apple brand. Your ultimate goal should be to create a community of evangelists who are prepared to fight for your brand.
So which of these goals makes sense for your content marketing? Maybe it’s only an inbound marketing initiative and you’re just trying to help drive more leads into the sales and marketing process. Maybe you’re trying to create a program that increases awareness, drives down the cost of organic traffic to your website, and increases your position with search engines. Maybe you are working to improve your customer retention rate. Take a moment now to get your mental juices flowing.
What do you want to accomplish with content marketing?