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Building a content pipeline that delivers

The marketing community have never been more aware and engaged with content marketing and the impact it can have on a business’ financial success. According to a recent survey, 71% of B2B customers reported that they consumed at least one piece of blog content before they made a purchase(1). We’re all aware that content marketing is a fundamental part of how we reach customers, but how then, do businesses generate content that stands apart from the crowd and offers genuine improvements to sales, brand awareness and customer loyalty?


Understand your customer’s buying journey

The most immediate thing you can do before you engage in any content strategy is ensure you’re completely aware of how customers currently turn from browsers to purchasers. A robust strategy encompasses all the channels that you have available and interacts with all the contacts you have with your customers along their path to purchase.

Take some time to plot out your customer’s path to purchase – either with spreadsheets, journey management programmes like CleverTap or even with pen and paper. Documenting this journey will help you understand where and when to talk to your customers, and even highlight channels and approaches that you’re not currently using that content marketing could help you to develop. For example, it may be that you have social media posts that are seeing some good engagement, but it’s not clear to those that are interacting with your posts what their next action could be. You would then be able to revamp your social media approach to offer clear calls to action to your website, email signup, landing page or other acquisition activity.


Clearly establish goals

Establishing your goals, both at a strategic level and on a per-piece of content basis is your fundamental next step. By clearly establishing not only what you want your content marketing to achieve, but also how you’ll measure that achievement and what success looks like, you keep your content plan focussed delivering efficient, effective returns on investment. Whether you’re looking for content to deliver leads for your sales team, directly encouraging trials or sales of your products or services, or simply just raising awareness of your brand and offerings, keeping focussed on your preferred outcome will ensure that every piece of content will be on track to meet your goals.

On an individual level, each piece of content will have its own preferred outcome too, that is a smaller step in the process of delivering your goals. By ensuring this goal is foregrounded in your content, you’ll be able to guide your readers towards the action you want, without the customer feeling too pressured. For example, if you want customers to sign up for a webinar, you might create an infographic with a top-level overview of the subject of your webinar, with a call to action that outlines the deeper insight available if they sign up. This helps to sharpen your readers’ curiosity and ensures that signing up feels like the natural next step.


Define your customer concerns

So, you’ve established your goals, channel selection and customer journey; how do you know what to actually discuss in your content?

One useful way to generate content topics, and one of the most effective, is to understand the reasons why your customers choose your products or services, or even those of your competitors. Typically, customers choose products because they either offer capabilities that the buyer didn’t have before or alleviate some pain or inconvenience that they’re suffering. For example, someone might buy a car because it lets them travel further, faster and on their own schedule when compared to public transport. Or, a customer might choose to look for accountancy software because they’re finding keeping their finances in order through spreadsheets insecure and time-consuming.

These areas of concern can be gathered from conversations on social media and forums, surveys or anecdotally from sales or customer service teams and can be a fantastic resource for generating content topics. To avoid being considered too ‘salesy’, however, it’s best not to discuss why your solution specifically can meet their needs. Instead, talk generally about your category and how it can address their concerns, with perhaps a call to action at the end of the piece that encourages either signing up for another source of content for more information or a conversation with you to discuss their needs further. This keeps your customers engaged and happy!


Offer useful information in exchange for customer data

One overwhelmingly common content strategy is to use blogs, social posts, video content and other content to catch reader’s attention, with a call to action that encourages readers to visit a landing page and give their contact information (and associated contact permissions) in exchange for a useful, usually longer-form, piece of content. It’s also clear that this strategy works, with HubSpot reporting that increasing the number of landing pages a business uses from 10-15 sees a corresponding increase in leads generated of 55% or more!

This effectiveness has resulted in an explosion of landing pages across every business sector and aimed at every type of audience, creating an extremely crowded and competitive content landscape. However, there are ways to stand out against the crowd, and one important way of doing that is making sure that the ‘gated’ content you offer on your page is aligned to what your customers, and future customers, want and need. What that looks like is different for every business, but there are a few guidelines you can follow to make sure your content is on the right path:

Purposeful: Make sure your content exists for a reason, either answering a need, or offering solutions to a challenge your customers face.

Implementable: Whether it’s a solution or a need you’re discussing, make sure what you’re discussing is easy and straightforward to implement straight away. Offering value to your potential customers that’s quick to return results is a great way to prime sales activity!

Pointed: One trap that a lot of businesses fall into is that they try to offer everything at once to their customers and can be off-putting. Aim for simple, succinct content that focuses on one part of problem at a time – you can always release further content later!

Engaging: your content should be informative and effective, but that’s no reason to make it dry! Adopting an eye-pleasing design and a warm, accessible tone makes your work easy to consume and will result in better understanding.


Test and learn

Finally, make sure you’re constantly testing your content approach, and more importantly, adapting your strategy to take those test results into consideration. Tactics like A/B or split testing, where one section of your audience are offered one piece of content, and another section of your audience a different one, can be invaluable in the hunt for optimization – and they can seriously improve the return on investment – Barack Obama’s presidential campaign reportedly secured an additional $60 million USD through careful use of A/B and split testing. So, even though you have a thoroughly planned strategy, don’t be afraid to adapt your approach in the face of data. You might not earn additional millions in revenue, but you’ll ensure that your content campaigns are performing at their best.

The subject of content marketing is complex, with many factors that affect success, but hopefully these tips will help you make sure you start your content marketing journey in the best way possible.

(1) Demand Gen Report 2018 Content Preferences Survey Report


If you’d like to talk to us about how The Fold can help you build a truly effective content marketing strategy, why not get in touch today?