You’ve heard the saying “content is king” and recognize how essential content marketing can be for you start up, so why don’t you use it?
If you are like most startups, you probably have a few hesitations as it relates to the concept of marketing and might even be afraid of marketing as a whole.
For content marketing can be a startups best friend.
What you need to recognize first and foremost is that companies search for things just like consumers. They need an answer or a solution and often the first place they go is Google to find it. Often times, the first instinct for startups looking for early customer acquisition is to start spending their bank on visits to their site using Google Adwords or Facebook ads.
I’ve done experiments with both paid and content driven traffic and have found that when done correctly, content driven traffic consistently performs better.
Content marketing is not something you can ignore as it’s fundamentally becoming a required element of business. At the end of the day, content marketing is one facet of the marketing suite that can drive meaningful and measurable results for your business that cannot be fluffed up and sold.
There is no room for fluff as your content marketing efforts should be directly tied to your sales funnel and target audience path to purchase.
In the enterprise, there are a handful of questions as it relates to content marketing and social media as a whole.
Many startups are unsure how content marketing can play a roll in generating leads through potential clients for their sales team. In reality, the idea of generating revenue from your content marketing efforts should be at the forefront of everything you create from a content perspective.
You need to constantly be thinking about who will want this content and if this content will help them in a way that could lead to a conversion with your product.
An infographic is a visual narration of information, statistics, analysis, details or knowledge. Infographics are often used by brands and businesses looking to explain complex data to a desired customer or audience. In many ways, infographics are simply a more entertaining and unique way to share information and it allows for your thoughts and ideas to stand out amongst a world filled with text.
Contrary to the belief of some marketers, infographics are not dead (tweet this idea). There is simply a higher demand for quality infographics than there was when they were first developed. Over time, there has been an increase in the number of businesses and blogs creating visual content. As the volume increased, the quality decreased and people started tuning out to infographics being shared throughout the web. As a result, it’s important that you cut through the expectation and elevate your brand by ensuring that you’re delivering rich and unique content.
When done properly, infographics can elevate a startups brand through a beautiful and captivating design. Infographics are not only great for brand development things but also provides startups with the ability to achieve: (1) an increase in backlinks for SEO (2) convey a complex idea very simply and (3) spark ongoing and consistent social media shares. They can play a key role in your content strategy.
One mistake that many businesses make when it comes to infographics is over or under branding. I know, it sounds simple but you can go to one or two extremes when it comes to infographic branding. If you forget to properly brand your infographic and it’s being shared frequently; you will generate little benefit outside of a random backlink. On the flipside, if you create an infographic that is overly branded, people are simply not going to be interested in sharing your content as they’ll feel it’s more of an ad than anything. Most people don’t want to share ads with their friends, they want to share cool content.
Enterprise startups like Unbounce and KISSmetrics do a great job at developing and delivering rich infographics. These infographics are tied directly to their brands essense and fully supports their value proposition. For example, KissMetrics created an infographic describing how colour impacts purchasing behaviour and it went viral. As a marketing company, they recognized that this piece of content was something that marketers would be interested in. In doing so, a relevant audience shares this post with their network and drives potential leads directly to their site.
As soon as I talk to a founder (mainly developers) about the opportunities connected to an eBook their first response is something along the lines of “wait a minute!? I’m no author.” And my response is always the same, “You don’t have to be. You’re not writing the next Harry Potter or 50 Shades of Grey.”
You see, when it comes to creating eBooks or White Papers for content marketing you don’t need to be a fiction writer. When creating content that acts as an information piece available for download, we’re talking about a piece of content that does four things.
- Provides Value to your Target Market
- Is Full of Insights and Examples
- Worth Reading More than Once
- Fulfills a Frequent Desire
Take for example this eBook created by the folks at Unbounce called: “The Smart Guide to Email Marketing Conversion.” The following is their landing page, it tells you exactly what you’re going to get from submitting your email and a bit about the book itself:
Unbounce describes itself as a platform that allows businesses to Build, Publish & A/B Test Landing Pages Without IT. For many organizations, this is a great service and one that is specifically targeted towards individuals leading a companies marketing department. Recognizing that their target audience is someone who would be interested in things like Email Marketing; they created a book about it. Further, they talk about the key insights and takeaways one will get from this ebook such as conversion and growing a subscription list. These key attributes are things that marketers are constantly looking for and as a result, Unbounce is able to fulfil a need that will be sought upon more than once.
The most important part of writing an eBook is ensuring that the content is valuable (tweet this idea). If you can develop an eBook that meets the criteria shared above, it’s going to provide you with meaningful results. Once you’ve met the items on this checklist it’s time to ensure that it’s easy for your target audience to find the content and be converted. Conversion for eBooks is typically when you’re able to capture data about the person downloading the book; email, phone number, name and/or company. This information should then be sent to your sales team who can add them to the CRM to move them down the sales funnel.
How to Write an eBook worth Writing
If you’ve been blogging for quite sometime, you can easily string together some of your best content to deliver an interesting eBook. If you haven’t developed a series of blog posts and articles to pull from, don’t stress – You can bring in a copywriter or start from scratch yourself. While it sounds challenging to write an eBook, it’s not as hard as most people think. CopyBlogger has developed a great 30-day guide to writing an eBook that anyone looking to use this tactic should check out.
Great Blog Posts
Blogs are sexy again. I have friends and family members starting blogs and an inbox filled with people asking whether they should start one. If you care about reaching customers, developing an audience, communicating your vision, building your brand, marketing your product or building relationships with others in the industry a blog is a great way to find success.
A blog provides you with a chance to contribute value to your target audience and drive demand for your product. As you create content on your blog you’re essentially building yourself as an expert in a specific field and elevating your brand with every post. The content you develop needs to be aligned with the needs and wants of your target audience and be filled with quality insights that support your brands value proposition.
For me, I blog about digital marketing and how to live life to the fullest. I do this because as a digital strategist, my target audience is anyone looking for marketing services as it relates to digital marketing and I blog about living the good life because my startup dreamr is all about that. Now would you blog about the same things as I do? Probably not. Instead, you would blog about something specific to your industry and your business. You would write about things that your target audience would be interested in and share your story.
Tinfoil Security, RolePoint, KISSmetrics, LaunchRock, LeadSift, Hubspot and Unbounce are just a few of the many b2b startups that are crushing it when it comes to blogging. Each of these startups have found what their target audience is interested in and are creating content that is valuable to them.
The Winning Strategy to Blog Posts
The biggest challenge when it comes to creating great content is the ability to do it consistently. For that reason, before you even get into the weeds of the blogging world I suggest starting with a content plan. Think about what content you can create over the next six months and brainstorm a few ideas for those blog posts. Throughout that process, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Evaluate The Competition
Studies show that companies that blog receive 55% more web traffic than companies that don’t and more than 70% more leads. For that reason alone, it’s important that you evaluate your competitors to see how their blogs are doing or if they’re actually blogging. If you put a serious effort into blogging you will be able to stand out in the industry as a leader but constantly providing value to your target audience. You want to review your competitions content not only to see how they’re doing but also to gather additional insights.
The competitions blog can provide you and your team with insight around their product developments along with their overall progress. Outside of this form of intel you can also use their blog content as a benchmark to evaluate what you need to be doing. Review how many shares their blog posts are receiving and look for trends as it relates to what works best for them and what does not.
Communicate Your Value
A lot of brands use their blog simply to talk about what they do and what they’re doing. It’s less about providing constant value to their target audience and more about sharing content that is self-serving and PR centric. Taking this approach is a recipe for disaster. Instead of talking about yourself you need to talk about the value your business offers their clients from not only a product basis but also on a high level and vision basis.
An example of a brand that does this extremely well is BufferApp. The BufferApp team is focused on creating an application that increase the productivity of their target audience. It saves their users time and ultimately makes their social media life a little less complex. Recognizing this, their blog focuses on sharing content that their target audience would read to further understand and improve themselves as it relates to productivity.
Create Winning Blog Posts
- Develop Long Yet Informative Lists – One of the most popular types of blog posts for brands and media channels online are written in list form. List posts are filled with titles stating “Top 10” or “5 Easy Ways to” and can be found on a variety of different blogs. One of the most important components of a winning blog posts is that it’s providing the reader with useful information. List blog posts present authors with a great opportunity to deliver this value with a few key points that are easy to digest.
- Don’t Skimp out on Details – A lot of businesses start blogging and believe they can share their thoughts and ideas with 200-300 words and call it a blog post. In reality, simple blog posts are easy to create but are less likely to actually deliver a message that your audience would find useful. Instead, create blog posts that includes graphs, stats, analytics and images to make your readers not only see you as an expert but also as a brand that’s dedicated to providing true value.
- Rewrite Your Headlines – It’s very rare that you will find the best headline possible for your blog post on the first try. Similar to the idea that the perfect headline needs to be written for your submission to float to the top of Hackernews or Reddit; you need to write a captivating headline for your blog posts to be shared. Each blog post title only has a few seconds to capture the readers attention and make them click a link to read more. Thus, you want to ensure that the content hooks the reader and draws them in.
- Wrap it Up with Dialogue – One of the most awkward moments in a conversation at an event is when you try to figure out how to go separate ways. The same way people have trouble finishing a conversation in person, people have a challenge with ending a blog post. Remember how it used to make sense to summarize your thoughts at the end of an essay? Don’t do that with a blog post. Instead, try to end with a little bit of dialogue that encourages the readers to talk with your about your content or add additional insight or feedback. Dialogue of this nature also increases the chance of comments!
An explainer video is the video you see when you land on a businesses website that explains the value proposition by also highlighting the target audiences problem. These videos aren’t that expensive if you shop around a bit and can dramatically increase your conversion rate if you develop a compelling video.
Many businesses view videos as being a very costly expense when in reality, it’s an expense that can drive revenue and profits. A captivating and engaging explainer video can save your team time and money by providing a quick pitch on the value proposition surrounding your business. Communicating that value proposition is the most important aspect of your explainer video.
As your team develops the video in which your business is explained you need to ensure that the script is easy to understand and flows clearly. While you’ll need to hire a video production company to manufacture this video you need to be heavily involved in writing this script. Your sales team should also be involved in the development of your explainer video. Your own team will recognize the biggest pain points of your customers and will ensure that the appropriate problem and solution is addressed. In doing so, you will have an increase probability of conversion.
When businesses ask me what type of content they should create to kickstart their marketing efforts, I always reference the development of a case study. To achieve success through content marketing you need to inspire your customers to share your story. In the enterprise, it’s challenging to consistently have your customers talking about your product so I strongly recommend that you capture their story and share it often.
A case study is a client success story. It tells how a you and your product solved a problem for your client along with the results. While almost any company can generate success from the development of case studies, several studies have shown that it’s one of the more under utilized aspects of content marketing while one of the most effective.
The Content Marketing Institute and the Direct Marketing Association recently implemented a study that confirmed that marketers find case studies (68%) to be the most effective form of content marketing. An effective case study makes the reader want to learn more about your product and reap the benefits that your other clients had. It’s a soft-sell proposition designed to convince leads that you’re the right solution for their problem.
While Case Studies may not be the sexiest tool in your marketing toolbox, they are certainly one of the most effective. Here are some of the key benefits that come along with case studies in the enterprise:
They Help Your Sales Team Close Deals
It’s a well-known fact that leads are more likely to be converted when they see or hear that a solution works from a third party. It’s the reason why infomercials always show people who achieved amazing results from various products. So just as TV reviews can help to sell their products or services, so too can case studies for enterprise startups.
Case studies help your sales team use handpicked success stories that are customized based on key target industries how your product solves their problems. The development of case studies targeting specific needs that various customers have makes it easier for your sales team to communicate value.
You’re Able to Amplify Your Relationship with Key Clients
When you start building your case studies, you need to think about clients you’ve done great work with and reach out to them. First and foremost, the client should be an existing brand evangelist who loves what you have delivered and is happy with the results. Once you’ve identified this client, reach out to them and let them know that you would like to use them as a case study. Furthermore, if you want to add icing to the cake, after they agree, give them something special like a month free.
You Spread Content across Different Channels
After you’ve developed a series of Case Studies, think about the multiple platforms to which you can share this content. You can use Vimeo and YouTube for videos, SlideShare.com for presentations and PDF files, and your website to promote them.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Write in the vernacular and do your best to avoid jargon and cliches
- Remove all bias to ensure that your content is objective and from the consumer perspective
- Don’t let your content appear to resemble an advertisement or promotion piece
- Use quotes from your clients to bring the story to life
- Use before and after numbers to demonstrate qualifiable results and successes
- Use industry specific keywords and key phrases to help with search engines
Have you noticed any other interesting trends in content marketing for the enterprise?