Content Marketing : Marry Compeling Custom Copy with Profitability

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Content Marketing : Marry Compelling Custom Copy with Profitability

At the end of the day we are all marketers. We all have a story to tell. We all
have a target market waiting to hear from us. And, whether we are lawyers,
nutritionists, retail shop owners, technology solutions providers, CPAs or
musicians, we are all aggressively attempting to edge out our competition.
In recent years, we have witnessed the turning of the tide with marketing.
Companies have abandoned traditional, stale channels—such as print
advertisement, radio segments and direct mail—in favor of the new era
of marketing, characterized by search engine optimization, lead generation
and social media, among other tactics.
But lately, the buzz has been about a different approach: content marketing.
Earlier this year, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) contended that if you
are not leveraging content marketing strategies, you are not marketing. That is
because 91% of B2B marketers are relying on content marketing—from creating
news articles for their corporate website to populating social media accounts to
crafting eNewsletters and blogs—to sell their offerings, establish subject matter
expertise and remain a step ahead of their competition. In fact, more than half
of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets over the
next 12 months.
You’ve Got a Story To Tell…
Did your restaurant recently go green? Did you decide to purchase organic
food products that support the long-term maintenance of ecosystems and
agriculture? Or perhaps your CEO just completed a voyage to Africa and
saw firsthand the literacy challenges facing third-world villages. Chances are
every month—if not every week— your company has a story to tell. Ready to
put the pen to paper?
Thanks to the advent of content marketing, companies every day get to share
their chapters with the world. Simply put, content marketing is a comprehensive
marketing strategy that involves creating and sharing relevant, customized,
insightful copy, with the end goal of helping a company bolster its brand
awareness and profitability.
The type of content you produce should be linked to what you sell. Write what
you know. Establish yourself as a subject matter expert. And, in so doing, forge
a lasting trust with your customer that converts to sales and revenue.
“Content marketing must work to enhance or change a behavior. If it doesn’t,
it’s just content,”explains Joe Pulizzi, founder of CMI.
While the phrase “content marketing” might be fairly new to the marketing
vernacular, the concept actually dates back centuries. Since the dawn of
the consumer age, from the introduction of the first-ever customer magazine
The Furrow by John Deere, to modern day times with the advent of tablets,
social networking sites and IPOs, companies have been telling their stories
and advertising their offerings through content creation.
Content marketing must
work to enhance or change
a behavior. If it doesn’t, it’s
just content.

Therefore, it is not all that surprising that everyone from large enterprises to
small- to medium-sized businesses to nonprofits to state and country agencies
are embracing content marketing. They’re turning the page on their specific tale.
Companies are opening their wallets to content marketing, evidenced by
the fact that 54% of marketers plan to increase their content marketing
spending in 2013. But with 64% of marketers struggling to find time to produce
enough content and 52% grappling with how to create engaging content,
marketers are left with a big question mark as to how to develop a fully-baked
content marketing strategy and perhaps more importantly, one that is
economically sound and creates time for executives to address other
pertinent matters.
The demand for content marketing is undeniable—and businesses need help.
Their content marketing strategies are futile. They are overwhelmed with how
to address the “The Three R’s of Content Marketing”—recent, reliable, relevant.
They are completely lost in the new-age lexicon of “follow,” “pin it,” “share,”
“#tbt,” “digg,” “embed” and “metadata.”
Content marketing is the driving force of thought leadership and brand
awareness, inherently linked to profitability and customer acquisition.
The question is no longer “Will my organization adopt a content
marketing strategy?” It’s “How much longer can I remain competitive
without one?”

Realizing the Benefits of Content Marketing
By originating and distributing custom copy—either in the form of a blog,
newsfeed, infographic, tweet, or status update—you are taking critical steps
to reaching your company’s goals of brand awareness, customer acquisition,
lead generation, thought leadership, website traffic and customer engagement,
among other things. All without ever having to make a formal sales pitch.
Below, we take a deeper look at the main advantages afforded by this
avant-garde marketing channel and how they are intrinsically tied to profitability.

The chief reasons strategists flock to content marketing are:

Brand Awareness: Who are You?
B2B marketers agree: Brand awareness is one of their top content marketing
objectives, as cited by an impressive 79% of respondents in a recent survey.
So what exactly is brand awareness?

Brand awareness is the measurement of a company’s corporate identity and
existence. It looks at how well your consumers understand your core
competencies as they compare to your competition. However, achieving an
unmatched level of awareness for your brand is no small feat. Brand awareness
relies heavily on a world full of content marketing genius that secures your
business’ continuity and profitability.

It’s ready for the taking. The question is: Are you reaching?
Content marketing is the first step towards augmenting awareness of
your brand. When you create the kind of tailored copy your customers
are looking for—that which is specifically attentive to them—you not
only showcase what you have to offer but you also attract and
convert prospects.

There are a number of ways to leverage content marketing to create brand
awareness, including:
• Blogs: Producing captivating, targeted posts will help land your brand on
Google’s Blog search, which ranks fresh, relevant content from millions of
bloggers all vying to make it to the top.
• Infographics: Creating a visual representation of your brand is engaging,
insightful and gives customers a holistic view of who you are as a company
and how you differ from your competitors.
• eNewsletters: There is no better way to optimize your brand than by showing
customers you have a finger on the pulse of your industry. eNewsletters are
an excellent way to showcase your corporate identity and to highlight your
chief differentiators.
But producing content is only the first step to enhancing brand awareness.
The next step is to develop a comprehensive social media strategy to actually
share those blogs, infographics and eNewsletters with your customer base.
Recent research shows that 49% of strategic social media users integrate social
platforms into their marketing agendas. In today’s interconnected age, Twitter,
Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, among others, are all housed under the
ever-widening brand awareness umbrella. If you’re not utilizing social media to
share your content, you’re part of a group that is already behind in the game.

Take Twitter, for example—100,000 new tweets are sent every minute, which
can translate into thousands of sales. According to a 2012 infographic:
Traditional publicity and advertising efforts are antiquated and incompatible
with today’s evolving customer expectations. After all, only 14% of customers
trust advertisements, which is a stark comparison to the 90% who trust
peer recommendations.

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is
how well we do it,” explains Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics.

Show your true colors and you will achieve the four C’s—content, conversation,
community and connections—and, of course, sales. The only way to do this is
through content marketing. More than two-thirds of CMOs are planning to
increase their content marketing budget in 2013. Are you?

Thought Leadership: Pave the Way
There’s a reason the phrase “follow the leader” is part of our lexicon.
We admire leaders. We trust that wherever they’re going is where we
need to be.

And so it goes in the business world. We admire those who innovate, those
who own successful ideas and those who aren’t afraid to put them out first.
We applaud those who show others how it’s done.

So, how do you become a thought leader? By freely sharing ideas and
knowledge of your industry and the direction you see it going. By being unafraid
to take chances. By admitting you’re wrong when you are. By being human.
How do you fail at thought leadership? By being anonymous. By being afraid.

By being self-serving and failing to explore the bigger picture. By not
differentiating yourself.

Content marketing bridges the gap between being anonymous and being
an influencer. It allows a company to make its voice heard through a variety
of platforms, from social media to blogs to newsfeeds.

Companies that are thought leaders will be followed on Twitter. They’ll be liked
on Facebook. Thought leaders will see that their online outreach continues to
crescendo. Their messages will spread to an even wider audience who will know
that what they contribute and what they say is worthy. We’re cursed with finite
time and resources—and inundated with superfluous content that doesn’t add
to the conversation but rather mars or distorts it—so when we come across quality
content, we have a heightened appreciation for it.

But leaders don’t spring up overnight. In order to lead, you’ve got to set an
example time and time again.

We don’t have a choice
on whether we do social
media, the question is how
well we do it.
Erik Qualman,
author of Socialnomics
“ “

Why Content Marketing Leads to Thought Leadership
So how does a company become—and more importantly remain—a thought
leader? By continually disseminating ideas that spearhead changes in the way
we think.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges many businesses face today is
the simple lack of time to produce engaging content containing such ideas.
So while the ideas might be there, the time to showcase them is not.

According to a recent survey, companies are increasingly developing content
marketing strategies to establish themselves as thought leaders. In fact, 64% of
marketers are actively trying to become thought leaders, which means more
than half of your competition is already a step ahead.

Customers want to follow those who blaze the trails, not those who blindly
traverse those which others have forged. So be a pioneer. Once they’ve
identified you as a thought leader, they’ll realize the value you provide
and become loyal to your brand. They’ll evangelize on your behalf.

In this light, thought leadership should not be considered a revenue stream in
and of itself. Forward-thinking business owners realize that the intangible price
of brand value outweighs money itself.

Writing for Forbes, Russ Alan Prince and Bruce Rogers define a thought leader
as an entity recognized “as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas
of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for
said expertise.”

The second part of that definition? Thought leaders are those who
“significantly [profit] from being recognized as such.”

Website Traffic: Attracting More Eyes
Increasing traffic is one of the most important elements in ensuring the success
of your company’s website. Sixty percent of B2B marketers employ a content
marketing strategy to drive website traffic, which increases the number of visitors,
click throughs and overall impressions. This directly leads to sales and, ultimately,
outperforming your competitors.

The most advanced and captivating website doesn’t matter if it’s not visited.
There are many ways to get eyeballs on your website, namely through
the creation of custom, provoking content. The most popular techniques cited
by B2B marketers include:

As opposed to more traditional methods—which are slowly becoming obsolete—
capturing and analyzing your website traffic flow is vital to ensuring the health
and overall continuity of your business. Being able to identify who visits your site
allows you to more accurately capture who is interested in your company.
Doing so gives you an accurate snapshot of the audience who preaches on
your behalf, allowing you to tailor your content marketing approaches to them.

How Content Marketing Boosts Website Traffic
Traditional public advertising has quickly become the Achilles’ heel of online
marketing. It just doesn’t work anymore. Companies know that getting online
is the most successful way to promote their brand and get customers to know,
like and trust them. But these companies may not know that customers are
scouring the Internet every day for unique content. And countless companies
are drowning in the sea of static, outdated websites.

Customers want valuable information when making purchasing decisions.
But before you can see the benefits of high website traffic, you must first find a
way to effectively share that information. Content marketing creates urgency.
A successful strategy will have your customer base routinely visiting your website
to read your latest blog posts, check out your new product landing page and
view your latest videos. Once you have compelling content, the search engine
spiders will find you and rank you higher on the search results, increasing the
likelihood that your next prospective customer will stumble across you.

Getting your customers to your site once is no small feat; getting them to
continually come back is the real challenge.

Lead Generation: How to Get Customers
on Board

How does a company compete against an army of competitors to establish
the first contact with a customer? After all, that’s the moment that creates a
spark that can be nurtured into a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.

You need a hook. And you need to be able to cast well.
Responding to a survey, 82% of B2B marketers leveraged content marketing
strategies to engage customers and prospects; 55% of those responders
employed those tactics to drive sales. With this in mind, it’s evident businesses
are beginning to see that setting the table is becoming more important than
the dinner itself. Sure, you better still deliver a fine feast, you have to get
customers to accept the invitation first.

Successful content marketing helps potential customers feel as though they are
part of something. It engages them, it entertains them and it piques their curiosity.
Once that curiosity is piqued, it empowers them to follow through. And they
open their wallets.

Many people shopping for blenders probably don’t care about brands. They just
want a machine that will do the trick. So how does a blender vendor differentiate
itself from its competition?

Take a look at Blendtec, a purveyor of the kitchen appliance. They’re different.
Why? The company leveraged a key content marketing strategy, creating a
video series called “Will It Blend?” in which Founder Tim Dickson throws objects
such as pool cues and iPads into their blender and successfully mashes them up.
Blendtec’s video of an iPad being turned to mush has been viewed on YouTube
more than 15.7 million times since April 2010. That’s 15.7 million leads, many of
which turned into sales.

According to Forbes, businesses do not follow through on 71% of all leads that
originate on the Internet. Who do you think is ready to swoop in and feast upon
those non-pursued leads? Your competitors.
This 71% tragic figure can be attributed to a simple lack of time. Marketing and
sales teams are pulled in tremendously different directions each day, and with their
energies scattered across an array of responsibilities, it’s impossible for every task to
be masterly completed.

In fact, companies on average take 46 hours and 53 minutes to respond to a lead.
That’s eons of time in the realm of on-boarding a customer. That’s eons of time for
your competitors to reach a potential customer. By taking tasks off your team’s
collective plate, that unacceptable duration will be significantly reduced, and
your team will be able to follow up on potential leads in real time.

Customer Retention: Your Work is Never Done
You’ve made the sale—so what’s next?
In our ever-connected world, your loyal customers’ simple curiosity could quickly
result in their decision to support another company. Your competitors’ products—
and all their unique differentiators—are always just a click away. With social
media’s ability to have the sentiments of consumers spread like wildfire, you
can’t afford to lose a single customer. A theoretical tweet from a recently-lost
customer could inflict serious damage to your brand by driving business elsewhere.
So how do you retain your customers after they’ve given you money?
By introducing even more value into the mix. By proving your commitment to
them doesn’t stop once money has been exchanged.

Content created with the expressed purpose of selling a product does nothing
for the person who’s already part of your customer base. You’ve already made
the sale.

In order to retain them—and ensure they choose you for their related business
needs—you need a steady stream of content catered to them which will
supplement the sale that’s already taken place. This proves your company is
worthy of your clients’ business. This takes your relationship to the next level.

Take, for example. The company provides replacement light bulbs
for digital light processing televisions. According to Arnie Kuenn, president of the
Internet marketing firm Vertical Measures, the company had about $100,000 of
revenue during its first year in existence. Six years later, it raked in $24 million.

“They did it all by producing hundreds of how-to videos and PDF manuals that
show consumers how to install the bulbs they sell in specific TV sets,” Kuenn says.
“That was their whole marketing effort, and it worked because they produced
helpful content that consumers needed, then sold them the product that would
solve their problem.”

It’s easy to see how content explaining how a product can be used adds value.
But supplemental content created to retain customers isn’t confined to the
“how-to”—it spans across a broad spectrum. Introduce executives to your
customers with profile pieces. Let your customers get to know you as a brand—
what you stand for—and not just as a logo. Build relationships with your customers.
Interact with them.

According to Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc., customer
retention is realized by introducing new ideas, which oftentimes can result in
additional sales via product enhancements or further solutions. There are a
variety of content marketing approaches any company can use to assure
customers that they’re making the right choice to remain loyal.

Here’s a look at three of them:
• Blogging: Show your customers who you really are while at the same time
learning who they really are. Get to know those who are supporting your
endeavors, what they like and what makes them tick. Find out which posts
resonate, and craft content you know your customers desire. A majority of
your competitors who have blogs—65% of them—only update them once
a month because they don’t have time. You’re better than that.
• Social media: Eighty-seven percent of businesses that market their content
online do so through social media. If you’re in the 13 percent minority, your
competition is actively trying to steal your customers each and every day—
while you sit idly. But all hope is not lost. Of the questions fans pose on Facebook
to companies, 70% of them are ignored. On top of that, 25% of global
companies close their walls so fans can’t even ask questions. Your customers
are trying to reach out to you, so you’ve got to reach back. Don’t stop
at a sale. Engage your customers and show them that you’re there.
• Email marketing campaigns: Your customers love you enough to give you
one of their most prized possessions: their coveted personal email addresses.
Show them how thankful you are and how much you care about your
relationship by offering special discounts and exclusive deals available to
only those on your email marketing lists. Your customers will feel special,
and you’ll retain them.

SEO: The Rebirth of Ranking
Last year, Adam Torkildson, one of the United States’ top search engine
optimization (SEO) consultants, told Forbes in a highly contradictory article,
“Google is in the process of making the SEO industry obsolete; SEO will be
dead in two years.”
SEO was once placed on a pedestal when it came to identifying trusted sources
and exposing certain brands. As we know it, SEO refers to the process of search
engines ranking websites that they think are most reputable and relevant by
analyzing a list of criteria, including page content, word choice and website traffic.
For more than a decade, gaming the algorithm and securing high SEO rankings
were top of mind for marketers looking to lock in sales. Today, though, employing
traditional SEO tactics is a way for companies to stick their head in the sand and,
by doing so, miss out on more proven methods of customer acquisition and sales.
Regardless of what happens to SEO practices, one thing remains true: Search
engines are constantly on the lookout first and foremost for real content on the
Internet that people want to—and do—read and share. We’ve all heard the
age-old saying: “Content marketing is king.” But how does one manage to wear
the crown? Think of it this way: Great content is king, and communities of avid
followers appoint their king.

Old SEO practices of keyword stuffing, paid advertising and content farming are
now being phased out. Content marketing is a fresh way to enjoy SEO as search
engines reward you for organic, dynamic and original content. If SEO is dead,
content marketing is its reincarnation.

So how do you start using content marketing to rank your website?
• Avoid keyword stuffing: Choose a select few keywords and naturally weave
them throughout your content. Search engines are smart. They recognize
when you are trying too hard.
• Get a blog—ASAP: Research shows that INC 500 companies consistently
outnumber Fortune 500 companies with corporate blogs. A blog is an ideal
marketing platform for differentiating yourself and producing the kind of
thought-provoking content that gets highly ranked.
• Quality over quantity: It may seem that the more content you produce,
the higher your SEO will be. But search engines are looking to rank quality
content that is authoritative, innovative and, above all, not repurposed.
• Embrace social media: Social media helps content get indexed faster
(tweeting cuts indexation time in half). Keep in mind, “shares” and “likes”
can trigger a refresh of your keywords in search engine algorithms, which
yields higher rankings.

McDonald’s applied the above to its Canadian-based content marketing program
called “Our Food, Your Questions,” which allowed its customers to ask questions
about the company’s products on a variety of social channels. In doing so, the
fast-food brand gained large volumes of unique, valuable, high-quality content
on its website, which in turn, demonstrated proven SEO benefits. It even got
McDonald’s Canada to be named “Marketer of the Year 2012.”
Content marketing is vital to SEO. You need to keep things fresh with custom copy
in order to stay on top. The easier you make it for customers to find you, the better
position you will find yourself.

The Dawn of a New Era
There is no disputing the fact that the sun has risen on the content marketing
landscape. Marketers are sharpening their pencils and fitting content marketing
strategies into their budgets; content creators are brainstorming their blog topics,
eager to let the words flow; and social media managers are a click away from
taking the great leap towards thought leadership and brand awareness.
Now is the time to tell your story. The time to put out a compelling message that
will unequivocally result in your consumers evangelizing on behalf of your brand.
The time to convert leads and drive sales. Your pages are bare and are ready for
ink. Now you just have to figure out where to start.



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