Imagine you walk into a car shop. An eager sales guy runs up to you, points at the nearest car and asks if you want to buy it. This behaviour sounds so ridiculous that you do not think anyone would do that. But this is actually how a lot of content marketing is designed today.
Every month we kindly dismiss content from advertisers who got too trigger happy and confused storytelling with retail ads. Just because the “50% discount” message has been extended with a couple of sentences explaining how unique the offering is and that it closes in 4 days, it does not count as content. We do not dismiss such “content” because we are snotty or mean, we do it because all our data says that such campaigns not only underperform but they also damage the advertiser’s brand. And that can take a long time to repair.
Instead, we like to work together with our customers to deliver highly effective content marketing, amplifying both brand and sales. Here is how we think:
The first thing to consider is if content marketing is relevant for your type of product or service. Products that do not call for much involvement – such as candy or toothpaste – may not benefit from ambitious content marketing. People simply do not care enough to engage in long stories about chewing gum. Read more about high vs low involvement buying decisions here.
If storytelling makes sense for your business, the second thing you should do is to connect your content strategy to your Marketing Funnel. Below is an augmented version of the traditional Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) model, which better suits today’s digital user behavior.
The Marketing Funnel
As a marketer you must encourage users to progress down the funnel, by serving them with relevant content for the different stages. At every stage, the same rules apply with regards to perspective (think like the user) and quality (think high), but the format, length, and level of complexity may change. Because as people become more interested in you, their questions will become more qualified.
Here is a guideline for suitable content at different stages throughout the marketing funnel:
TOP OF FUNNEL
This is the starting point of your funnel. Think of it as a display window, where people see you for the first time. In this situation, your content should be focused on grabbing people’s attention and making them curious for more. In many industries, it makes sense to provide content that is entertaining and emotional at this stage. Enticing headlines are important, as are creative visuals. If you can make people believe you share their interests, they will soon want to get to know you better.
The only kind of conversion you should strive for is to make visitors give you their email address (be signing up for a newsletter or similar). It is like getting a business card in the good old days: you have an identity of your lead and you can carefully start providing them with more interesting stuff.
Content: Instagram videos, native ads blog posts.
Distribution: paid traffic from native advertising, content discovery and social media.
At this point, people are obviously aware of your presence and have shown some interest. It is time to educate them and provide answers to the questions they may have. This is where you build trust.
If you have a marketing automation platform, such as Hubspot, you can create drip campaigns that step-by-step serve leads with increasingly qualified content.
Example content: product videos, tutorials, native ads blog posts.
Distribution: SEO, e-mail, content discovery and remarketing in social media.
BOTTOM OF FUNNEL
OK, you have done a good job so far, nudging people forward with more and more engaging content. Now you can allow yourself to become a bit more self-centered and describe how your products or services fit into the picture.
Still, it is more important to talk about solutions rather than features, not least because it is easier to produce engaging content that way. If you are in B2B, do not forget to show how your products help your customers serve their customers better.
Example content: customer cases, white papers, blog posts about specific challenges your customers have.
Distribution: SEO, e-mail and remarketing in social media.
Strossle has helped thousands of marketers distribute their content to engaged audiences. See some of our cases to learn more about content marketing, or contact your local Strossle representative for a meeting.