Creating a Content Strategy – How To Drive Content Conversions
Content Strategy For More Customers
This blog post is part of a 2-part series, The Buyer’s Journey. Click here to check out part 1, The Sales Funnel – Understanding the Buyer’s Journey.
After mapping out the buyer’s journey, the next step in the content marketing process is to create a content strategy for each stage in the journey.
There are two things you need to know about this:
- What keywords best represent different stages in the journey?
- What content-type works best for each stage?
We’ll answer both these questions below.
Mapping the Buyer’s Journey by Keywords
Since your customers are looking for solutions on search engines, it’s crucial to understand what keywords they use in different stages of the buyer’s journey. Knowing this will help you map out the journey better and create highly targeted content.
The right way to do this is to get a list of keywords for your niche, then segregate them into different buyer’s journey stages. As a quick refresh, the three stages of the buyers journey include:
- Awareness: In this stage, the buyer first becomes aware of the a problem and starts the process of understanding it.
- Consideration: In the consideration stage, the buyer starts evaluating different solutions and gains an in-depth understanding of the problem.
- Decision: In the final decision stage, the buyer decides what to buy from a shortlist of solutions.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s discuss ways to incorporate the right keywords into each stage:
Awareness stage keywords
Buyers in the awareness stage want to understand their problem and its solutions better. Thus, they use broad, problem-related keywords to ask questions. These keywords usually seek to expand on a problem or explain its basics.
For example, if you were running a laptop store, your awareness stage keywords would help customers understand laptops better. “netbook vs. notebook”, “what laptop to buy”, “laptop brands”, “right screen size for laptop”, “how to upgrade laptop” etc. would be some of your target keywords.
Most awareness stage keywords would have words like solve, optimize, how-to, resolve, troubleshoot, upgrade, improve, etc.
Consideration stage keywords
In the consideration stage, buyers have more knowledge of the problem and start evaluating solutions. Their target keywords show greater awareness of their own needs and a broader understanding of available products.
In our example, the laptop store would use consideration stage keywords that ask specific questions about laptops. Some example keywords would be “what processor to buy?”, “dell laptop review”, “best laptop brands”, “best laptop software”, “13” laptop buying guide” etc.
Most consideration stage keywords would have words like review, solution, service, supplier, tool etc.
Decision stage keywords
In the decision stage, customers are primarily concerned with picking the best solution from a list of options. Their searches, thus, revolve around finding discounts, in-depth comparison reports, coupon codes, etc.
For the laptop store in our example, target decision stage keywords would revolve around helping buyers choose between two or more laptops, or finding discounts and coupon codes. Some sample keywords would be “dell vs. acer laptops”, “intel i3 speed comparison”, “buy dell laptops online”, “acer laptop coupon codes”.
For decision stage keywords, use words like versus, comparison, discount, buy, coupon code, choose, decide, etc.
Mapping Content-Type with Buyer’s Journey Stage
Once you have a list of keywords segregated by stage, it is time to start creating a content strategy tailored for those keywords. However, not every content-type performs equally well in every stage. Buyers have different requirements depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey.
Based on this, look to create the following content-types for different stages in the journey:
Awareness stage content
Buyers in the awareness stage mostly want to learn more about the problem. Hence, content for this stage must be impartial, educational and easy to access (i.e. it shouldn’t be hidden behind a sign-up form). Blog posts, how-to articles, eBooks and buying guides work really well here.
Consideration stage content
In the consideration stage, buyers want more in-depth content that helps them choose between different solutions. Since buyers are further along the purchase process, they need to be engaged at a high-level and offered direct, succinct advice on what to buy. It is okay to be promotional here as long as you don’t overdo it. You should also have CTAs in this content to capture leads and push prospects further down the journey.
Webinars, videos, white papers, podcasts, etc. work really well in the consideration stage.
Decision stage content
Once buyers hit the decision stage, they already have a good idea of what they want to buy. Now they need a final push to select a solution and buy it at the cheapest possible price.
Given these requirements, content that compares two competing products, case studies, compilation of coupon codes, etc. works well in the decision stage. Look to create benchmark whitepapers, in-depth case studies, reviews and user testimonials to help buyers make a decision.
Capturing Leads through Email Marketing
As outlined above, step #3 in a successful content strategy is to capture leads. For most businesses today, this means capturing email addresses at different stages in the buyer’s journey.
There are two reasons why this is important:
- Once you’ve captured a prospect’s email address, you can get in touch with them on-demand. This essentially disrupts the buyer’s journey and gives you direct access to them, regardless of where they are in the journey.
- Both ROI and conversion rates for email marketing are substantially higher than other forms of marketing.
Whatever stage your buyers are in, it is crucial that you capture their email addresses so you can nurture them further. For example, a buyer who reads an awareness stage guide can be emailed a video that further explains the problem and offers a handful of solutions (consideration stage content). By reaching out this way, you will not only push the buyer along the buying process, but also grow your brand authority.
There are countless tactics to capture emails for email marketing, but for content marketers, some of the most effective ones are:
- Use content upgrades: Offer additional information at the end of a blog post that expands on the blog’s topic in exchange for an email address.
- Create a newsletter: If you regularly update your content, create a weekly newsletter recapping the best content from your blog and across the web.
- Offer content incentives: Give away a free eBook or guide that explains a common problem in exchange for an email address.
- Offer discounts: Giveaway a discount or a coupon code in exchange for an email address to capture leads.
- Use referrals: Offer discounts or prizes in exchange for referrals from existing users. Every referred user will have to sign-up for your business with their email address to avail the discount.
Promoting Content After Publishing
Creating content and setting up a strong lead capture process is only one half of the content strategy battle. The other half is content distribution and promotion.
Promotion tactics can be broadly divided into two categories:
- Active: Tactics that require active participation to yield results. Example: social media, outreach, paid advertising, etc.
- Passive: Tactics that yield results passively. Example: SEO.
For good results, your promotion plan should include a healthy mix of both active and passive tactics. Often, investing in active tactics can result in better results from passive tactics. For example, a good outreach strategy can get you strong backlinks, which, in turn, will improve your SEO.
While a detailed overview of all these promotion tactics is beyond the scope of this eBook, at the very least, you should follow the guidelines given below:
- Identify core social channels that yield maximum returns for businesses in your niche. B2B businesses, for instance, will benefit more from LinkedIn than Instagram. Fashion retailers, on the other hand, should focus more on Instagram than Twitter.
- Follow the 80/20 rule: spend 80% of your social media marketing time on core social channels. Spend remaining 20% time on other social channels. For example, a B2B business should spend 80% of its time promoting on LinkedIn, and 20% on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest combined.
- Setup automated sharing of all new content across all social profiles.
- Follow a sharing schedule where you distribute both yours and others’ content (i.e. content curation). Make sure to recycle older content to expand its reach.
Influencer Outreach & Guest Posting
- Reach out to any influencers you’ve mentioned in your content. Ask them to share it.
- Reach out to curators who share content similar to yours and ask them to share your posts.
- Guest post on blogs in your niche, adding a link back to your content. For better results, create a dedicated landing page for each blog along with a targeted content offer to capture leads.
- Use HARO to identify opportunities to get a mention in news stories.
- Repurpose existing content and reshare it on additional platforms. For example, you can turn a blog post into a Slideshare presentation.
- Test targeted Facebook ads to increase the reach of your content.
- Use Promoted Tweets to grow your audience through Twitter.
- Test StumbleUpon paid discovery if you publish a lot of content with ‘viral’ potential.
- Try Outbrain and Taboola paid discovery for showcasing your content on top industry blogs.
- Identify a popular article with a large number of backlinks. Improve the article and publish it on your own site, then reach out to all webmasters who’ve linked to the article. Point them to your article and ask for a backlink (i.e. the “Skyscraper” technique).
- Optimize on-page SEO by using the right headings, title, ALT tags.
- Optimize website for mobile readers.
- Target long-tail keywords that offer more targeted traffic.
- Create content with a mix of images, text and videos.
You’ll find that if you follow most guidelines listed above, promoting your content will be easy. With a strong lead capture system in place, you’ll be able to drive conversions content marketing.
Content Marketing Metrics: Measuring Marketing Success
The final piece in the content marketing process is measuring the success of your marketing efforts. This involves understanding what metrics actually matter to your business and setting up a robust system to measure them.
What Metrics Matter?
Content marketing metrics can be broadly divided into three categories:
- Share metrics: The number of shares each piece of content receives broken down by social media channel.
- Consumption metrics: How many people read the content (page views), where do they read it (audience demographics) and how long (bounce rate)?
- Lead and sales metrics: How many readers turn into leads (as qualified by marketing)? How many of those leads turn into sales?
How to Measure Content Marketing Metrics?
Measuring the metrics outlined above will give you an in-depth understanding of your content’s performance. However, you’ll find that some of these are easier to measure than others. For example, while you can readily check the number of shares each piece of content receives, it isn’t quite as easy to understand what content leads to a sale.
Follow the guidelines below to better measure your content’s performance:
- Use Google Analytics or similar tools to measure consumption metrics such as page views, average time on site, bounce rate, etc.
- Use Bit.ly to track click-throughs on links.
- Use SharedCount or a social media marketing tool like HootSuite to measure share metrics.
- For measuring email open rates and CTRs, use Marketo, MailChimp, or InfusionSoft.
- Marketo, Eloqua, etc. can help you measure leads generated through your content.
- Use Salesforce or similar CRMs to measure sales metrics and understand how readers turn into customers.
While it’s important to measure page views, unique visitors, etc., understand that these are largely vanity metrics that don’t actually show how content marketing helps you land more customers. You’ll get much better insight by focusing on lead and vanity metrics, particularly your conversion rates at different stages in the funnel – from reader to lead, from lead to opportunity, and from opportunity to customer.
Content marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tactics for modern businesses. Combined with the buyer’s journey, it can yield valuable insight into your customers and how they buy your product. By tailoring your content to answer customer queries at each stage in the buyer’s journey, you can not only grow your sales but also improve brand recognition and influence.