Content Marketing: A Five-Step Strategy to Generate Leads and Grow Your Brand
Content marketing has earned a critical place in the marketing arsenal, but, like any weapon, it is only beneficial if the warrior knows how to use it. We know now that creating a deliberate content marketing strategy is an essential part of generating leads and growing your brand. In fact, our firm recently conducted a study showing that content marketing can grow a business four times faster than a business that is not employing this strategy. Take a look at the numbers behind content marketing and our 5-step strategy, and soon you'll be wielding content marketing like a Jedi knight.
Why Do Content Marketing? Show Me the Numbers
Our recent online marketing study of 500 firms demonstrated that, when used correctly, content marketing can grow a business four times faster than firms not using these strategies.
Content marketing by the numbers:
- Firms using content marketing for lead generation grow more than 4 times faster than firms not doing content marketing.
- High-growth firms generate at least 63% of their leads online, while average firms generate only 12% of their leads online.
- Online lead generation is profitable. Firms that generate 80-100% of leads online are the most profitable, while firms that generate 20% or fewer of their leads online are the least profitable.
Content Marketing Tools
When it comes to content marketing, our study found that not all tools are created equal.
- survey respondents said that white papers, e-books and articles, blogging, and SEO were the most useful content marketing tools.
- Pay-per-click advertising, YouTube, and banner ads were found to be the least effective forms of content.
How do you use these tools to create quality content? When you are building your content marketing strategy, remember that are two kinds of content: stock content and flow content. A good content marketing campaign will have a plan for generating both types over the long-term.
Stock Content or Flow Content? You Need Both
Stock content is the "meat and potatoes" of your content marketing, the heavier content that will stay relevant over time. Examples of stock content include research papers, white papers, e-books, guides, and website content. Stock content reflects a business's mission and should be geared around its fundamental core. Since consumers who read stock content are usually further up the ladder of engagement, access is often restricted to those consumers who are willing to register with email addresses or other information.
Flow content is the garnish. If stock content is the meat and potatoes, then flow content is the alluring sauce that goes on top. Flow content is produced daily or weekly; it is flexible, responsive, and changing. One of flow content's biggest roles is to pull consumers to your website, where they can then discover your stock content. Examples of flow content include blog posts (both guest and internal), tweets, emails, newsletters, and status updates. Flow content reminds your consumers that you exist and that you are relevant, day-to-day.
Content Marketing and Lead Generation
Lead generation and brand growth are two hefty reasons to invest in a content marketing strategy. In our online marketing study, we learned that when a firm generates at least 40% of its leads online, it can grow four times faster than firms that do less online lead generation. Content marketing is a key part of both online lead generation and brand growth, and we have developed a 5-step strategy to enable both.
- Get the Strategy Right
remember the tailor's mantra: "measure twice, cut once." It's easier and cheaper to get it right from the beginning than to redo a poorly planned strategy. Before you begin your content marketing strategy, take the time to do a thorough assessment of your resources and goals. Then follow up with a detailed content strategy, content calendar, and keyword research, assigning tasks to key staff members.
Creating your content is the first step to lead generation, and this step needs to be ongoing. Research your clients and provide information that they need or will find compelling. Before creating any new content, ask: what value am I providing to the consumer? What am I hoping to achieve? Use your website analytics to help you discover which content consumers find most appealing. Reuse and repackage content—blog posts can get bundled into e-books, while webinars, case studies, and research papers can be chopped down into blog posts.
Having good content is meaningless if no one is viewing it. There are a number of ways to promote your content without appearing pushy or "spammy." To avoid accidentally inundating your consumers, create a deliberate promotion schedule using a variety of channels, including social media, webinars, e-newsletters, emails, SEO techniques (for blog posts), and your current marketing partners.
- Nurture & Convert
Converting content consumers into clients should be a natural 3rd step if you have been following steps one and two. The key to conversion is to make it easy for consumers to become increasingly more engaged. When you do this, the lead generation process becomes self-selective, as only consumers who are genuinely interested will continue to sign up for more. For example, share your blog posts with no strings attached, but for more substantial free content, such as an e-book, require that consumers register with an email address. Then seed your free blog posts with (non-pushy) references to the e-book. When consumers register for the e-book, you can then re-engage them with targeted e-newsletters and occasional offers. The newsletters reward engaged consumers by offering free assessments or trials as a way to "sample your wares." Suddenly, the blog-post reader has become a client, and you've allowed them to feel in control of the process.
- Analyze & Adjust
Make sure you build time into your content marketing calendar to look at the metrics and adjust your goals and strategy. If you find that a certain blog-post topic is attracting more traffic, for example, you might want to start focusing more of your efforts on that theme, or you might consider publishing a longer e-book on the topic.
Content Marketing: A No-brainer for Brand Growth
Embracing content marketing is a no-brainer for businesses interested in growing their brand. The question is no longer: should I do content marketing? Instead it is: how can I most effectively use content marketing to achieve specific goals? Businesses that successfully answer that question will find themselves surging ahead of the competition.