Over the last decade, the world of (online) marketing has changed. There used to be a time when you could just advertise at random places, and you could expect a steady stream of click through to your website.
The very first banner ever even had a Click Through Rate (CTR) of 44%, nowadays companies are jumping through the roof when they 0.44%, with an average CTR at the moment of 0.17% according to benchmarks by DoubleClick.
Today’s consumers have changed. They are either “banner blind” and blocking out the advertisements on website mentally or have ad-blockers installed. They look beyond logos, overlook your promotions and won’t sign up for your newsletter. Today’s consumers only need the information when they want it, delivered to them in a format they want it.
If you’re broadcasting your products or services to your target audience, good luck trying to sell to them. Consumers want to start a dialogue with you, and they don’t like being told what to choose and what to buy. So how do you make your potential customers notice you?
You do this by being helpful, hence the birth of Content Marketing.
But with everybody diving into Content marketing nowadays, it becomes more and more difficult to cut through the noise and get your content delivered to your potential customers. And what happens next? While different Content Marketing Strategies might have a different purpose (lead generation, brand awareness, website traffic, etc.) the end goal should always be the same – to increase revenue and drive more business.
In the old days it was the sales team that used to shoulder the sales funnel or buyer’s journey, but nowadays the buyer’s journey has transformed into more touch points across different channels. Quality content provides more than just a great way for marketers to connect with new audiences; it also helps your sales department better. With the right content, your sales staff can:
- Be better prepared for their sales conversations;
- Get better-qualified leads
- Gain access to selling tools to engage more effectively
- Learn more about their audience through analytics
The Five Stages Of Every Buyers’ Journey
Before any customer every comes to the point of wanting to buy from you, they need to know that you exist. If your potential customers don’t know that your company or your products exist, they will never buy from you. This seems pretty logical, but there are lots of companies out there, or startups that think that the moment they launch, hundreds or thousands of customers will come running towards them ready to buy.
If you did not do any marketing before, how can they know you’re open for business? Companies must market themselves and create awareness before they can even hope for any sales.
The next step in the journey is the consideration. Your potential customers are aware of your existence, and because of your brilliant product offering, they might even consider buying from you. Based on the fact that your product or service is solving a real problem for them if the price is fair and if the pain is big enough that it needs to be resolved right now they will decide to buy whether or not.
Marketing plays a significant role in this part of the journey too, and can often be the tipping point that makes someone want to buy from you. Look at a scenario of two restaurants for example. Every day on your way home you pass both of them. You’re clearly passed the first stage of the journey, and you are aware of them. Now, imagine that one of them places a sign outside showcasing their delicious food and talking about a promotion happening that week. Which restaurant are you more likely to walk into?
The same thing holds true for online, you might tinker with the thought of buying something, you’ve read reviews, you’ve read content from that company, and at the moment you’re almost ready to buy, you’re retargeted to help you hop on to the next step of the journey.
An excellent example of this is this story from Justin Veenema, who will for sure be buying a BoostedBoard right now!
Yeah, high five! You’ve made the sale! After building awareness and helping them solve their problems using your content, they finally decided they need the real deal, and they call in support of the professionals! Now it is up to you to not only deliver a great product or service, but you have to provide an amazing experience.
Delivering that amazing experience is all part of the marketing and the branding of your company, this will not only affect your brand, but it will also affect whether or not somebody will end up becoming an advocate for you and your brand.
The moment someone puts their wallet away again after purchase, that is the time when they will first make a decision about how they feel what they just bought. Lots of businesses try to deliver products that will leave a great feeling behind with the people that just bought into their product or service offering, and so should you.
No business wants to be the reason that people feel “buyers’ remorse” because that will lead down the negative spiral of cancellation of your service or return of your product (if you’re lucky, it might be even worse and result in negative reviews on public places). (Content) Marketing can be difficult during this phase, but if done correctly and innovatively it can help turn your customers into a loyal following. Think of things like “explainer” video’s what is happening now you ordered, Coolblue a Dutch company does a great job with this, or offering secret overnight shipping like they do at Zappos to provide that extra bit of delight.
If your newly found customers have a great experience starting straight after the moment of purchase with your product they will quickly move on to the next phase of the buyers’ journey and become any company’s dream customer.
Having brand advocates is the goal of any business’s marketing program. Making your client so happy, so delighted with your product or service that they not only purchase (and re-purchase) from you but that they also start referring you to everyone they know who might have the same need.
Moving someone all the way through your buyer’s journey is no guarantee however that someone will become a brand advocate or even wants to stay one when they are already one. You need to pay close attention to your marketing and make sure you’re able to make sure that all your customers are satisfied and that their needs are being met.
For some companies, this needs to be done by always innovating and coming up with new products like Apple and Google, for others it means consistently wowing their customers with a fantastic customer service like Zappos. Some others offer loyalty programs, whatever you do you should never take your (most loyal) customers for granted because as soon as you lose a client, all the effort and money spent in making them a customer in the first place has gone to waste.
How can Content Marketing help and boost your sales?
Instead of just trying to push your potential customers to buy your product, the sales department of your organisation needs to work closely together with your marketing department. They need to assist in the creation of attention-grabbing pieces of content to help them better connect with their leads.
There are, however, lots of different ways to help create that value for your prospects throughout the first three steps of the journey. The parts of the funnel leading up to the sales, and even afterwards. How can you convert your audience using content and later keep them on board and even turn them into brand advocates? Let’s have a look at some examples.
Let a lead self-identify their needs
When you urge a lead to buy a product, you’re slowly pushing him away from that product. People don’t like to be told what to do or not to do. Instead try to create a funnel, a pathway, to make your leads believe that they need your product and can’t live without it. Try to sell him or her your idea, your product using content, and let them realise what they are missing.
To be able to do this successful, you need to go to the core of content marketing:
Content marketing is just solving the same problems that your product solves through media you create and promote.
You need to create content around the customer’s needs and concerns. With this content, you need to entice them to go to your website. Using drip email campaigns for this process to send ebooks, whitepapers, or training courses to your leads. Using landing pages or in-page forms to convert people to leave their email address in exchange for this material.
Making real connections
According to research done by the SalesBenchmark Index, you are 4.2 times more likely to get an appointment with a lead or a lead opting in for a product trial when you have a personal connection with your leads.
What was the last time you made a real personal connection based on some sales call? We’re sure this was never.
Sending more sales pitch emails, or stalking them on the phone trying to get that sale is not going to cut it. Using the power of storytelling, you can try to forge a connection a connection by sharing something personal, let your leads relate to you. Sharing relevant content with your leads after you’ve had them on the phone, using, for example, customer testimonials telling them how their business changed for the better after using your product.
Trying to make it personal, by making those real connections can do wonders for your business.
Adding value to the sale
Having that real connection with your prospects brings a lot of value to the sales process. Traditionally companies did not care about the buyer’s needs. They just wanted to get the sales done and move on to a different prospect. Using “content selling” you’re able to focus on your buyers’ needs and requirements.
Using highly targeted advertising, using, for example, Facebook Dark Post, you’re able to send your leads highly targeted content that addresses their needs and concerns. Using a technique like this will give you a headstart when you or your sales team picks up the phone and make the sales call – you’ve already captured their attention with a compelling read.
Using (unique) content to stay on top of mind
In today’s world, there is so much happening at the same time, so many different brands trying to get the attention of the same type of people you are trying to target. It is only natural that people might quickly forget about you again after they first heard of you. This results in only a limited opportunity window to follow-up and connects with your potential customers, your leads.
Doing this without coming over as annoying can be tricky and tough.
Trying to stay on their radar using (unique) content is key here. By now you should already know a bit more about the interests and likes of your prospects. By sharing tips and tricks and knowledge-based content with your leads you can help them shape your opinion about you. An opinion of you being a trustworthy company, someone who knows what they are talking about.
Using more formal materials about your product can help gain a better understanding of your product or service offering to your leads to build trust.
The final step before the sales in which content can assist is providing credibility. When people are ready to buy, it is the credibility of the company that will help people move over their last sets of fear and doubts and buy your product. To show the credibility of your product or service you can use articles written, or maybe even video’s recorded by your customers talking about how they use your product and how it impacted their business and sent them to your leads.
Even specific content like infographics, white papers, and ebooks that have been published on another website on the internet can help you increase your product credibility in the eyes of your leads. As long as it is content produced by other, this can be an adamant trigger. Your internal team, of course, can help and assist in the creation of this content, as long as it stays authentic.
Create content that puts your customers in the spotlight
While the above examples are targeted to converting new leads towards customers. What can you do at the moment after the sales to keep them as a client, to turn them into loyal customers and even brand advocates?
If you got customers, who are giving their time and energy interacting with you, suggesting new product ideas, etc. These are the types of people who are already engaged with your brand.
It is very easy to turn them into brand advocates by thanking them publicly and appreciating them in fun ways. How can you say thank you in a unique way? Maybe it could be something as simple as putting their face and story on your website.
Many companies are investing in customer/client sections on their website. Parts of the site where they tell the customer story and say thank you for drawing attention to their cause and story. It is an excellent execution of the reciprocal loyalty philosophy.
As you can see, content marketing can aid and assist in the sales process. Relevant content can be used to gain the attention of leads and help to gain trust in your company. Instead of contemplating how you can use your limited resources to connect with your leads, look at it from a different angle. Let your sales and marketing team work together to create content for all the steps in the buyer’s journey to help get a lead on your side.
Great content alone, however, doesn’t lead to sales. Providing relevant information just when your sales team need it can help them engage with their leads more efficiently. This in return will create more sales, and isn’t that what marketing is all about?
How are your marketing and sales team delivering value to your prospects? Share them in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!