Content marketing is an essential part of doing business in today’s world. Blogs, videos, podcast, graphics – they’re all non-negotiable when it comes to building awareness, building credibility, and making sales.
We’re living in an attention economy and the only way you can get a piece of that attention if you’re producing content that doesn’t suck.
Yet, 49% of marketers and businesses say they don’t have a documented content strategy, which makes zero sense. The business owners I speak with are blindly blasting out crappy 400 word articles because someone told them it was beneficial for SEO, it’s not. If you don’t define your strategy and track your performance then you won’t know what’s working. And if you can’t forecast your sales or highlight results, it won’t be long before you begin to ignore it.
A sales-focused content marketing strategy isn’t a bunch of random blogs and videos. It’s planned out topics that connect to your potential buyer and what they’re thinking of at different points in the sales cycle. Not every visitor converts immediately and the rule of seven says that in order to penetrate the buyer’s consciousness and make significant penetration in a given market, you have to connect with the prospect a minimum of seven times within an 18-month period.
When you keep showing up you begin to penetrate your potential client’s mind. When that same potential turns to a buyer and is ready to hand over a credit card, you’re able to receive it with a smile.
This type of strategy performs best when it’s integrated with your other marketing efforts, like SEO & PPC. It’s not an “instead of” marketing approach – it’s an integrated marketing approach.
Your content needs to make sales, or it’s a waste of your (already limited) time. Plain and simple. When you execute it well, we’ve seen some pieces of content be worth more than $100,000 in revenue annually for our clients, you can have this too.
By establishing these five critical elements, you’ll be able to define the exact type of content that resonates with your customer.
1. Know Who Your Customers Are
Too many people get caught in the trap of trying to be everything to everyone instead of being ultra-specific with their message. Don’t be one of the suckers. You won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but you can be somebody’s favorite (and go-to).
It’s easier to sell a blue widget to people who already know they want a blue widget, versus people who don’t think they want a widget at all. To put it another way, if you’re a health coach who targets men over 40, then it’s not difficult to create the type of content they want and need.
If you haven’t already, then you’ll want to create a “buyer’s profile.” This is a fancy term for describing your customer and understanding what they’re thinking about, so you know how to target your message.
Include demographic information about age, education, lifestyle, and income brackets, to help you create an image of your ideal buyer. That’s your starting point. Don’t forget about their mindset and psychology, either. What are their interests? What values are important to them? Don’t get overwhelmed by the process, just focus on who your best clients are right now and see if you can map out some similarities.
For example, maybe you’re targeting six-figure health coaches who want to grow their businesses to $500,000 or a million dollars a year. Great – that’s your starting point. Now you need to find out and define the following:
- What are their big pain points right now?
- What do they need to know?
- What do they WANT to know? (Not always the same thing)
- Do they work mostly out of health clubs, or are they strictly online?
- Do they teach nutrition, or workouts, or both?
- Who is THEIR target market?
The better you can answer these questions, the better you can you can craft the type of content that answers their questions. The better you can answer their questions, the more they will trust you and look to you for answers. Most business owners are outsourcing their content to someone who doesn’t understand the industry as well as they do, it ends up being fluffy and generic content that doesn’t resonate with your visitors.
In other words, the better your content and the more it leads them down the path to what you’re selling, the more you’ll sell.
You can find out more about your target market by researching Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, Quora, Reddit, and even Amazon (read the reviews of best-selling items in your niche)
Explore the places where your future clients spend time. This way, you can discover the things they complain about, and how you can position your business as a solution for them. You’ll want to read the blogs they read, know the conferences they attend, and the social media platforms they use so you know their priorities. That way, you’ll know where to focus your attention.
2. Conduct a Content Audit
Now that you have a good idea of who your target audience is, review your content. Assess it as to where it falls in the sales cycle. Is it heavy on introductory-level blogs? Could you use some good case studies, for those who are in comparison mode?
Then get busy on those case studies!
How much of your content is evergreen vs. topical? Evergreen content doesn’t change much. For example, if you’re a business coach blogging about business plans, that information will still be valid a year or two from now. But, if you’re blogging about Facebook’s latest algorithm update – well, that will change.
You may also consider updating existing posts (like topical ones), turning some posts into videos, or even recycling and combining past work into an ebook. There are so many things you can do with existing content, rather than starting all over from scratch, so review your past articles and information at least once or twice a year.
Even on our blog, we’ve refreshed blog posts a number of times due to many reasons. Maybe we have more experience, maybe we are better writers or maybe something has changed, if you’re getting good traffic but no conversions then review more closely and see how you can update it to get a better result.
3. Mind-map Your Content
There’s mind-mapping software nowadays, but you can also go old-school, with a pen and a piece of paper. Here’s how it works.
Write your topic in the middle of the page, and draw a circle around it. For example, if you’re a health coach, write “health.”
Next, write down all the topics that people associate with health – nutrition, exercise, good sleep, reduced stress, and so on. Write everything you can think of.
Next, star or mark the topics most relevant to you, paying particular attention to what is current and trending.
Currently, the keto diet is all the rage, so it makes sense to create content about it. But what kind of content? Sure, you could discuss what it is and how it helps you lose weight, but maybe you think it’s a bad idea. If so, then you could create content about why keto is a bad idea for people. (Being controversial will always attract an audience.) Of course, don’t be controversial just for the sake of it – no one likes disingenuous people or businesses.
There are also tools like Slickplan which allow you to build sitemaps and content plans for your website. Visualising the content you need is often the hardest part, but with Slickplan you can easily map your content and then assign and delegate to have it written. When you’re finished you can also easily import your sitemap into WordPress, it doesn’t get much easier than that.
Don’t forget to prioritize your content. What will help people find you (brand awareness) and what will compel them to sign up to receive something from you via email (information or product sharing)? (Email is an important part of a sales focused content marketing strategy. More on that in a minute…)
4. Define Your Goal
Now that you’ve worked through what you have and brainstormed ideas about new content needs, create goals for each piece. Is that case study meant to drive sign ups? Is that Ultimate Guide meant to drive shares?
Each piece of content should have its own purpose and goal, as neither your clients nor you have time to waste on fluff. You want your site components to mesh together like a jigsaw puzzle, building toward a larger goal – sales.
When your blog content encourages email sign-ups, for example, you can gauge what content your readers want, as well as how to develop CTAs that will encourage them to sign up for more.
(Hint: exclusive content, like templates or cheat sheets, are usually high performers when it comes to encouraging email sign-ups. Which brings us to our final step for sales-focused content..)
Lastly, you want to track your content using Google Analytics. I personally change blog links to include /blog/ in the URL which makes it incredibly simple for me to setup goals (phone calls, signups, enquiries) so that we can track how many visitors land and convert from our blog content.
5. Build Your Email List
Email lets you can build a relationship with clients via personal inboxes, paving the way for more direct access, which affords you the ability to nurture potential buyers until they become paying customers.
Email is the backbone of any online business because it has the best ROI.
Consider these statistics.
- “Consumers who purchase products through email spend 138% more than those that don’t receive email offers.”
- “Email makes money. For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $38.”
Email is also a tool that you own, rather than a social media platform. If you’ve built a following on Facebook, for example, and suddenly Facebook goes down, or your account is closed (it happens!), you’re S.O.L. But if you have a strong email list, you can still keep in touch with your prospects.
Ultimately, you’ll want to promote your blog/website through industry publications, influencers, podcasts, et cetera, with the goal of driving subscribers, which drives traffic, which drives sales. What I find this helps with is feeling like you’re speaking to someone directly. Think about your email like you’re having a conversation directly with a prospect, it will help guide your content marketing strategy to only send your subscribers something that is heavily relevant to them.
It may seem boring to actually put these five critical steps into practice, but if you want to top your competition, your sales-focused content marketing strategy needs to pack a solid punch. Do the work of really investing in and refining these areas, and you’re sure to improve your results.
Where do you most need help?