Marketers and business owners have come to accept that it takes 8 to 12 “touches” or interactions with a company before a prospect converts into a buyer. More and more, content is the vehicle that’s providing those touches in today’s online world. A combination of lead magnets, social media posts, email content and blogs posts (text or video) synergize to win that conversion. All of these aspects are content.
The more pleasing the content, the more each touch empowers the next one to move the prospect down the buying funnel. But how does an 1,000-word blog post on changing a toilet flapper or fair fighting get sales for a plumber or couples’ counselor?
First, it proves the authority and authenticity of the creator. The plumber not only knows exactly how to change a flapper, he or she is kind enough to share all the steps with a stranger. The counselor uses a few anecdotes in his or her blog post to demonstrate he or she has solved these problems once or a thousand times before. These reasons appeal to the reader/viewers rational mind, but in providing useful content, the professional has begun to build an emotional bond by giving away something for free. Finally, when using a friendly, approachable tone, these professionals have revealed themselves as approachable. The prospect may even feel they’re getting to know the professional.
Creating meaningful, powerful content takes four key steps.
Step 1: Know Your Ideal Prospect’s Primary Needs and Pain Points
A couples’ counselor shouldn’t write about partners’ different ideas of the ideal vacation when the bigger problem is getting the husband to counseling in the first place. Companies must have a firm grasp of their ideal customers’ most pressing needs and hesitations about buying to deliver the content that:
- solves their key problems,
- makes them feel richer, better, happier, more attractive or intelligent, and /or
- makes their better, as far as your product or service is concerned.
Surprise your prospects with your knowledge of their everyday challenges and opportunities. Answering common questions before they know to ask them to engender loyalty and goodwill.
Understand Ideal Customers Via Inexpensive and Free Research
Where once, understanding a customer required research firms, focus groups and expensive surveys, today’s smallest businesses can uncover customer needs, pain points and goals on that great cocktail party in the sky: the internet. Free searchable question and answer sites like www.quora.com and www.answers.search.yahoo.com, allow you to enter your topic (“broken toilet” / “constant fighting”) and see the questions the community has surrounding them. The big daddy of all consumer question research, however is Answer the Public. After entering your topic there, you not only get questions consumers ask broken down with prepositions how, when, which, etc., you get the most common long-tail phrases that use your topic as a seed keyword, all alphabetically presented. Answer the public is free, but it doesn’t include search volumes. For that, you need to use Google’s Keyword Planner, other tools or your marketing agency.
Complaint sites, too, like www.pissedconsumer.com and www.ripoffreports.com reveal the most common problems and concerns consumers have with products and even companies. There, you can research your competitors’ names and see what enrages their consumers. Watch for patterns and look for the comments other users make in response to the brand or product or service.
Google and Facebook’s analytics help get inside the minds of your prospects by providing data on your most popular posts, as well as basic audience demographics. Twitter and LinkedIn analytics are not as sophisticated, but if your audiences prefer those channels, prioritizing them makes sense.
Once you gather this data, it’s time to create a handful of buyer personas and try to determine the unique needs, pain points and opportunities of each. Hubspot discusses the steps for creating entire buyer personas here.
Step 2: Aim for an Emotion in Each Piece
Consumers, like all of us, seek pleasure and avoid pain. As much as we think we make rational buying decisions, most marketers agree 80% of a buying decision comes from an emotional motivation. Use your content to promise to reduce fear, anger, stress and increase happiness, pride, relief and more.
The stay-at-home dad who organizes and sells used clothing at resale and vintage shops one wins respect and appreciation. Aim for pride in the post: “How to Get the Most from Your Local Resale Shops.”
The harried executive or multi-tasking mom should know the best time of the year salons are providing discounts on entire day-spa packages. They can rationalize the expenditure because of the discount. Aim for stress relief in the post: “Day-Spa Packages at a Discount. This Break Saves You Money!”
The retired couple looking to buy a Class C RV has the time to comb through a 15-point buying checklist. They’ll feel good knowing their fixed income is spent wisely. Tell them how smart they are to explore their options thoroughly. Aim for pride in “15 Key Questions the Smart Retiree Asks When Buying a Class C RV.”
Notice how each of these targets the emotions (and even self-conception) of the reader. Sure, it’s great to shoehorn in a long-tail keyword into your blog title, but those 60 characters still have room for a little emotion. With your working title written in front of you, consider which emotion you aim to eliminate (fear, frustration, sadness, anger, confusion) or which you want to amplify (curiosity, joy, intrigue, greed, pride, relief, shock/awe).
Step 3: Surprise Consumers with Unique Media
While much content discussion focuses on written content, know that video is fast becoming the most preferred by both consumers and social channels. In fact, Facebook is moving to emphasize video content over other forms. Content also comes in video, infographic, webinars, checklists, ebooks, podcasts and many other styles.
While there will always be a place for written content, some audiences assimilate information better and more quickly through video and image. Consider the skyrocketing popularity of podcasts as well. We all want to maximize our commutes, and those with significant time in their vehicles can learn Spanish, get the most recent industry news and listen to expert interviews while driving. Appeal to all audiences when you vary your content.
Those just struggling to begin blogging with written text may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of creating video and podcast content. No need!
Checking out some of the current online tools will light a fire under you and show you how simple it can be to create your own unique form of content.
The online video service Animoto charges very little to take your text and photos and turn them into a short video. They even add music to the background, making your outreach an entertaining diversion. Other fun content platforms include Genial.ly, Playola, Magisto and Cofeshow.
Two other newcomers are Lumen5 and Loom. With Lumen5, you simply paste your written content into their tool, select some relevant (free!) photos and the software automates the key ideas and images, resulting in a quick video. Loom is the simplest screen capture program we’ve seen. Not only does it capture your journey through documents, websites and powerpoints, it puts you in the lower left corner to add your friendly face (familiarization!). All of these tools have free versions that deliver robust products. Particularly considering most still use written blog posts, using these fun, palatable tools differentiate your business.
Step 4: Broadcast Content on Your Customers’ Preferred Channels
Facebook, Instagram and other social channels just seem to get all of the marketing press.
And yet, year after year, consumers report that they prefer to communicate with companies via email. This survey of 2,021 from research giant Marketing Sherpa put email in the first three spots.
Email beats social media three times over! Surveys from HubSpot and Econsultancy say the same thing: boring old email is the most favored AND gets the highest return on investment.
Email has come a long way since its beginning as a busy one-pager with side-bars and links galore. Now, each email has one point, and most email service providers can send video and audio within their platform. ESP progress also means businesses can create autoresponders and quickly send ebooks, white papers and more.
Don’t forget that old stand-by customer channel: the salesperson!
Make sure your sales team has links to all content so they can present it to a prospect with a few clicks. Sales always appreciates having “leave-behinds” that further the sales messages. These materials help convince consumers that the company is dedicated to service. More, when faced with a customer’s concern, collateral can speak to the issue sometimes better than the salesperson can.
While we put email as the primary consumer touch point above, we do believe social media has an important place in marketing. Today, all consumers optimize their “micro moments,” the times when waiting in line, for a friend or when watching television. If social marketing costs can be kept low, it only makes sense to make your presence known through social media.
Always understand, however, that consumers patronize each platform for a different purpose. They go to Facebook for social connection and news. YouTube users want how-to videos and entertainment, either music or video. LinkedIn users want career-enhancing content. Message content so that it fits into each channel.
Whether you’re prioritizing email, social, PPC or SEO, we work hard to determine your best marketing for your budget.
Call us at 760.652.9755 or leave us a quick message here and we’ll contact you!