Content may be king, but it's not magic. You need a good strategy, time and a dedicated budget for content marketing to help you reach and convert qualified buyers. Done well, content will play a key role in your bigger marketing and company-wide goals. Here's how to do it well:
1. Create a basic content marketing strategy
"Content" is essentially a blog post, infographic, video or podcast you create to educate and influence buyers. Gather questions people ask before working with you, and create at least one piece of content for each. Questions fall into two buckets: informational intent and buying intent.
Informational questions will feed your top-of-funnel content (e.g., "Why is my HVAC not cooling?"). Buying questions will feed your bottom-of-funnel content (e.g., "How much does it cost to replace an HVAC unit?").
Focus on buying questions first, then move your way up the funnel. We'll talk about distributing that content to the right audience in a bit.
2. Prioritize quality over quantity
An obscene amount of new content is created every minute. Your content has to be better than the rest in order to stand out, so aim for quality over quantity.
"Better" is usually a combination of higher quality information, higher quality production, good storytelling, answering key questions your specific buyer is asking and making sure the piece of content can be easily found (e.g., on your website, through search engines and social media or another distribution channel).
People and search engines alike are looking for helpful, relevant and authoritative information that's well-produced. Create that, and you'll begin naturally attracting people to your content. Then you can put organic and paid distribution behind it to start creating pipeline (sales) opportunities.
3. Focus on time spent viewing rather than conversions
Most people are not ready to buy when they come across your content. Conversion metrics are important, but they take time to show up, and too many good content marketing strategies get cut short because they're wrongly focused on conversions only.
Viewers will use your content to make decisions. They will discuss it with their families and colleagues. They will recommend it to others. But it doesn't happen instantly. Instead of focusing on direct conversions, focus on how engaging and helpful your content is. Time on page, minutes watched and minutes listened give you a better picture of this.
You can make your content more engaging by telling a story, inviting a guest your audience knows and likes, being entertaining in addition to educational and by adding multimedia content (videos, podcasts, and graphics) to written content (blogs, emails, and social media posts).
4. Make your content easy to skim
People do not want to read, watch or listen to everything from start to finish. They breeze through content until they find a section or nugget that catches their attention. Your job when creating content is to make it easy for people to find that section or nugget.
For blogs, include descriptive headers, charts and graphs, bullets and pull quotes. For videos, include chapter markers or slides introducing each new point. For podcasts, add an outline for what's talked about at which minute mark wherever you embed the recording.
B2B buyers, in particular, are basing their business decisions on your content. They're willing to give you their time and attention, but you have to make it easy for them to find what they're looking for.
5. Obsess over distribution
You should generally spend 4x as much time and money distributing content as you did creating it. While it's a best practice to make your content easily discoverable, it's even more important to push it out in front of your audience — repeatedly. They're busy doing other things, and you can't wait for them to think of you.
Share it organically through social media. Optimize the content for search engines (SEO). Create an email for subscribers and customers covering the topic, and include a link to the full piece for those who want more details. Text them a graphic or link to view. Personally reach out to friends and company partners who may appreciate it. Share it in online community groups and forums.
Pay to promote your content to targeted buyers across social media and search engines (wherever your audience spends their time). Consider paying for sponsored placement or emails within key associations. After you've done all that, keep it going. Don't think of distribution as a one-time push, but as an ongoing marketing campaign instead.
It's tough to attribute qualified leads and sales to a single piece of content. It's also tough to know who's paying attention when most people don't "like," share, follow or click your call-to-action. But your content is still leaving an impression. What impression do you want it to leave?
Focus on influencing how viewers think and buy. Engagement and conversion metrics are good reference points, but they don't show you everything. The best content marketers understand this. They use a lot of trust and a lot of knowledge of their target customers' non-linear buying journey.
If you do the same, along with the steps covered above, you'll create a content marketing strategy that has an increasingly large impact on your audience and your revenue.