Inbound & Content Marketing

While content marketing is a buzzword, it’s also a bona fide tactic in attracting website visitors, educating them, and moving them through the sales funnel into a buying customer. It’s more blocking and tackling than it is the hail mary. Doing the basics well will yield dividends and measurable ROI.

The Foundation

Content strategy is the cornerstone of highly effective digital marketing campaigns. Without the right content, later processes, including search engine optimization, search engine marketing, video, or social outreach, can attract users for all the wrong reasons, if at all. The result may be a lot of inbound traffic but few conversions.

Fortunately, there are techniques that you can use to properly hone your message to produce content that clicks with the right person at the right time.

The Audience

The key to understanding what content to write is having a clear picture of who the content should be written for. Knowing your audience and having your agency understand your audience is critical to undertaking a content marketing plan. Audience Personas can help this process by giving a name and a face to your customers.

Persona development should always be backed with research. One of the most efficient ways to discover the undiscovered is simply to pick up the phone and call a few trusted customers. As a part of our content marketing plans, we ask you for a list of recent clients and we have conversations with them with a slate of questions geared toward the discovery of marketing pitches and language that click with them.

With this feedback in hand, we look for trends in how our standard set of questions were answered. These trends form the median case of who you’re targeting. Where the convergence happens is where your persona lies.

When we ask, “who is your audience?” our typical response is, “anyone anywhere who has money to spend on my product or service.” Casting a wide net may seem smart – but that wide net is often riddled with equally wide holes.

As they say, niche marketing is easy marketing. We don’t steer you towards any particular niche – that’s a business decision that you and your team must make – but it is incredibly important to understand your audience through a formal persona development process. What you will find are opportunities left undiscovered

How Many Personas?

Simply put, as many as are needed. This is determined not by causal inference but backed by data. As you receive feedback from interviews, you may notice that there are several convergence points that are from two different audiences. This is likely an indicator that you may need 2 personas. For example, an architecture firm that also has a service area around interior design would possibly need two personas, as each audience is looking for completely different services. However, many times, the number of service or product areas you have is not indicative of the number of personas you need. There may be instances where one persona would be perfectly applicable across multiple service or product areas.

The Journey

Identifying the audience is half the battle. Understanding where they are in the buyer’s journey is the second step. The classical buyer journey follows 3 stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.

In the Awareness phase, the person may be experiencing a problem and is actively educating themselves on the nature of the problem.

In the Consideration phase, the person has clearly defined their problem and commits themselves to understanding the various approaches or methods to solve the problem.

In the Decision phase, the prospect has decided on a particular solution, is compiling a list of vendors to solve the problem, and making a purchasing decision.

Content should be mapped to both the persona and the appropriate journey stage. For example, a call to action to request a free quote for a buyer in the awareness stage would be too hard of a pitch too soon. They’re not ready for quotes or consultations. They want to fully understand the problem first. A person with drafty windows isn’t likely to immediately pick up the phone to request a consult. Instead, they want information to help them determine if it’s time to replace the windows, or tips and tricks on ascertaining if it’s time to fix or time to replace. The consultation call to action would be much more appropriate during the Decision phase.

Each set of content assets should correspond to these personas in each phase. The job of content marketing is to escort the user from awareness through to decision, and ultimately deciding on your product or service.

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