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Published: December 06, 2016

Creating a Winning Content Marketing Strategy in 2017

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Online vendors take note: Content is key to conversions!

Content marketing is the process of developing and distributing valuable content that establishes a strong brand identity,which ultimately leads to shopping cart conversions. Capturing leads and nurturing them are critical to creating a winning content marketing strategy in 2017.

What is content?

Content can take the form of articles, blogs, infographics, press releases, games, videos, whitepapers, and any other formats of communication that are meant to inform, entertain, or promote your business.

“You want to view the content on your website as a living, breathing entity; the more you feed it the more it will grow,” says Jenna Mollard, Director of Business Development at Rand Marketing. She has managed over 30 employees when handling website design, development, and digital marketing amplification.

Your articles, blogs, and videos will need to stand out over larger, more entrenched competitors. Here’s how to start strong, right from the beginning.

Sparking a conversation in a noisy room

Take an honest look in the mirror. Ask yourself if you have the type of product, service, or knowledge that can spark a digital conversation. Are web users likely to engage with, comment on, or share your content among their peers? If you do not have the type of product or service that draws a large search volume look to your team and see if you have the resources necessary to change the conversation around what you want to talk about.

History is filled with companies that have made the mundane into the extraordinary. Create exclusivity like Gray Poupon did with their Facebook fans. Create games in order to let users access content, such as Scrabble did with WiFi stops in Europe. Have a sensitive product? Take example from Squatty Potty who managed to sell $3 million just three weeks after airing.

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“If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” -Don Draper

Share now!

When your article solves a real world problem that an individual is seeking relief from, that individual is likely to share their victory on social media, or send the article along to another friend going through the same issue. Keep in mind that every individual wants to be of value to their intimate social circle. Give them this power through content marketing and you will find that higher conversions are only a “Share” button away.

Soft sell > Hard sell

“Most visitors that go to your site are not ready to convert,” says Mollard. In fact, a 2016 DemandGen survey found that 47 percent of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content prior to engaging with a salesperson.

The soft sell will have to be used like a boxer uses the jab; it won’t do a lot of damage, but it is a reliable and consistent way to keep the fight going, while staying out of harm’s reach.

The number one mistake sales and marketing teams were making in 2016 was trying to close MQLs (marketing qualified leads) before they were ready. If it takes most buyers three to five visits to your website before they are ready to talk, the worst mistake is to go for the hard sell too soon. This alienates them from your brand, and instead of coming across as a potential partner, the message that you’ll send is that you’re heavy handed and just in it for yourself.

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“You can’t have sales staff immediately go for the jugular,” observes Mollard. You will have to wine and dine your readers through high-value content. By providing value first, then asking for the sale–almost as an afterthought–you are creating exclusivity by providing the reader with enough space. Give them room to roam, browse, and come back for seconds–only then do you go in for the sale.

You will find that slow and steady will win the content marketing race in 2017. Keep your eyes on your analytics, and try to obtain emails and point-of-contact information through a resource center.

Capture leads through a resource center

A resource center will provide your organization with the single most important key to success. A resource center keeps your most valuable content in a crystal vault: the only way inside is by the user providing his contact information. You can build this resource center as a separate webpage on a site, or smaller landing pages that link to exclusive, high-value content. The price of admission will be a name and an e-mail. If you’re feeling confident that your content merits more than this, feel free to ask for other metrics, including a user’s job title, company name, years in the business, and pain-points. Keep in mind that the more information you ask from a user, the higher the bounce rate on the page will be.

How do you create content for a resource center? Simple. Just do what you’re doing with your content creation but better.

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For example, rather than create another bland blog post, consider beefing it up with greater statistics, quotes from thought leaders, current statistics and calling it a white paper.

The difference between a blog post and a white paper is exclusivity. Readers will give out personal information in order to access the latter. This makes the difference between a captured lead and one that leaves your site for good. You want to be intelligent about how you distribute your materials; not all content should be given away for free.

Pro SEO Tip: This resource center should contain keywords your organization is hoping to rank for. Google and Bing’s search algorithms will crawl these sites, giving you prized SEO juice that will aid your other marketing campaigns.

Final thoughts

“Content really is key to conversions,” says Mollard, who is now leading efforts to create a Resource Center on her new clients’ pages. “You want to track your visitors and give them what they are looking for, but you never want to give all away for free. Always keep conversions in mind.”

As you build out your content strategy for 2017, keep in mind this final piece of advice, straight from the lips of Claude C. Hopkins, the Father of Scientific Advertising:

“[Advertising] is not for general effect. It is not to keep your name before the people. It is not primarily to aid your other salesmen. Treat it as a salesman. Force it to justify itself. Compare it with other salesmen. Figure its cost and result. Accept no excuses which good salesmen do not make. Then you will not go far wrong” (Source).

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