What is a container without content? An empty box. A cat would love it, a toddler too. But adults would have little interest.
Picture your website as a box. To get potential buyers to engage with you, you need them to A. Discover it. B. Find what’s in it interesting or useful.
If your website has nothing but product information and sales offers, to most potential buyers it will be no more interesting than an empty box. The only ones who’d be likely to engage with you are those who have already decided to at least consider making a purchase, but given Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, they are less and less likely to find you.
To get found online and to engage and influence more potential buyers, you need to create quality content for your website, for that’s what Google and potential buyers both value. The more quality content you put before them, the higher you will rank in search results and in interest among potential buyers.
As a result, creating quality content is the way to influence HR, to make buyers associate your brand with quality. That way, when they are ready, they will want to have a sales discussion with you, instead of with one of your competitors.
It’s not so simple as just creating quality content. There is a vital content marketing process, which we’ll briefly outline below, and you can see in more detail in the graphic above and in our article (no registration required) “Content Marketing: The Best Way to Reach Today’s HR Buyer.”
1. Define, Plan, Budget. Define and differentiate your brand, fine-tune your messaging, create a marketing plan with clear goals and determine a realistic budget to meet those goals.
2. Website. For your content marketing process to meet its potential, you need a solid foundation from which to build on. Think of your website as this foundation. Your website needs to be set up to take advantage of content marketing. This includes, among other things, having a search-optimized site, clear calls-to-action, landing pages, CRM integration, lead tracking and analytics — all of which are necessary prerequisites for lead capturing and nurturing campaigns.
3. Content. There are two categories of content you need to create: premium and supporting. Premium content requires registration, with common types including white papers, e-books, research reports and webinars. It generates your sales leads. Supporting content does not require registration, with common types including articles, case studies, infographics and blog posts. It nurtures your leads.
4. Tactics. You have a plan, strong messaging, a search-optimized website designed for lead collection and lead nurturing, and systems in place to produce lots of great content. Now what? Time to get the word out and put that content in places where your buyers will find it. Distribute your content through a variety of methods including direct email marketing, blogging, search-optimized news releases and social media.
5. Measure, Adjust, Refresh and Repeat. See how your content performed by measuring your online visibility, website traffic, sales leads and social engagement. Determine any adjustments that need to be made, then return to step 3.
Let’s briefly focus on sales. For ultimately, while it’s great to get a lot of page views and to be a recognized as a thought leader, we all need sales. Turning page views into dollars is critical. It’s also inexpensive, relatively speaking, as leads generated through inbound marketing ($143) cost well less than half the average for outbound marketing ($373), and also close at a higher rate. But how exactly does effective content marketing turn into sales?
Take a look back at the first two steps above. They are vital for setting up a sales-driving content marketing infrastructure. Then leads pour into the sales funnel through premium content, and appropriate supporting content is delivered to nurture them toward the point of sale. For leads that appear on the verge of a purchase, consider offering something of value (e.g. a product trial) to encourage them to buy. See the graphic at the top of the page for a visual representation.
It’s important to recognize that this takes time, but an effective content marketing process (generally four major premium content pieces per year, plus supporting content) can transform a website that interests most potential buyers no more than an empty box into one that churns out leads, nurtures them and helps maximize sales.