In a recent Hubspot survey, B2B marketers revealed a fundamental contradiction in their marketing strategy—while they report dedicating more than 30% of their total marketing budgets to content marketing, fewer than 32% have a documented content marketing strategy. Most admitted they had no way of measuring success with the content they post, and only 30% could say their content marketing strategy was effective.
As Julia McCoy, host of The Write Podcast and founder of her own content agency, notes in Content Marketing Institute:
“While it’s true that content marketing is massively effective for nearly every company and industry on the globe, many marketers don’t understand why.”
Done Right, Content Marketing Works
That doesn’t mean that some marketers aren’t achieving unparalleled success with content marketing. In fact, leaders in content marketing, those who are doing it right, experience 7.8 times as much site traffic as non-leaders. They generate 3 times as many leads for 62% of the cost compared to outbound marketers, and see conversion rates 6 times higher than their competitors.
The question for marketers who want to achieve similar success is “why?” What is it that successful content marketers are doing that those who fail to achieve these results are not? The answer has to do with the extent to which the content that is created is aligned with key marketing objectives—specifically, to the several stages of the buyer journey.
Enter Conversion Content: Tying Content to the Buying Process
Content creation is about moving customers and prospective customers to take several key actions, like clicking on a content offer call to action, or completing an online form. More important, however, you create content to influence a customer's attitude towards your company and your product--specifically, your goal in creating content is to increase their level of trust and, over time, to build their loyalty.
Both the actions they take and their growing trust move them through the buying process, converting window shoppers into buying customers. Conversion content pulls consumers to your website, turning website visitors into qualified leads, and qualified leads into buyers.
The Conversion Path
The conversion path is the sum of the several actions customers take through the buying process, and the ways that content identifies their pain points and builds their trust in your company and product. For many customers, particularly those considering purchase of a high-end product, the conversion path is not a single pass—many need additional nurturing along the way, such as a series of emails after they become leads.
Think of the conversion path as an unfolding narrative, a consistent story you tell customers about your company and your products. For example, although about 30% of website traffic on average is from organic search, much of it is from content posted on social media sites. Those posts are chapter one of your narrative, with topics that speak to customer needs and pull in site visitors who are already primed to take the first step along the conversion path: the acceptance of a content offer.
Visitors who accept your content offer are taken to a customized landing page which includes a form you ask them to complete in exchange for your content. In completing the form, they get the content they want, and you get the valuable contact information you need to send content-rich emails which move them closer to making a purchase.
Here are 4 critical components of the conversion path, and how to make each work for your business:
1. The Content Offer
Let’s say you’re a B2B marketer selling CRM software to other businesses. On your website, you feature your content offer, perhaps a case study which demonstrates how one of your satisfied clients achieved outstanding ROI by using your CRM product, or a video in which your CEO talks about the ways your products have helped clients grow their businesses. The point is that your content offer must address a customer's problem so effectively (and specifically) that he'll want to read it to solve that problem.
2. The Call to Action
The call to action you embed in your content offer is more than a directional sign. It needs to be action-oriented and immediately grab the attention of site visitors, selling your offer in a way that is irresistible to your target audience. It should include verbs to which consumers tend to respond, like “join,” “find,” or “discover,” and speak directly to your audience. For example, our CRM business might create a call to action such as, Discover How the Right CRM Software Will Increase Your Revenues by 40%.
3. The Landing Page
The landing page has a single goal—to collect site visitors’ contact information (including their email address) through a customised form. The form “gates” your content—in other words, it creates a quid pro quo—in completing the form, site visitors get the content they want, and you get the contact information you need. Your landing page should be customised to a specific market segment, or buyer persona.
4. The Lead-Capture Form
You can take advantage of several online forms tools to help you design your form. The number of fields in your form, and the types of information you ask for, depend on several factors, such as how valuable your content offer is, how sensitive the information you ask for is (given privacy and security concerns), and whether you want more leads or more highly-qualified leads. In general, and especially for initial forms, it’s best to limit the number of fields to 3 or 4, including first name and email address.
Conversion content is a critical element of inbound marketing. You can't have one without the other. The content pulls customers to your business by giving them something valuable and relevant, something they want and need. But to make conversion content work for your business, it must be mapped out along the conversion path, which means that you need to start creating content with the end goal in mind, link it to specific customer actions, each of which moves them closer to a purchase, and each of which increases their trust in your company to solve their problems and meet their needs.