Your customers want what you offer, and you need to help them find it.
You’ve bought things online, so you already know how this works.
When you have a need—whether it be for a new coffeemaker, a new car, or a new security solution for your business—you do what all curious people do.
You type it into Google.
While searching, you learn more about our problem and uncover ways to make it go away. We find companies that claim to solve our issue, you consider their ability to deliver, you read customer reviews, you review the prices, you get sticker shock, you determine what you actually need, you find the prices for that, and you compare results.
You buy whatever lets you do what you want in the most sustainable, economical, and enjoyable way. And your customers act just like you.
Content helps people who need you, find you.
When you search, Google builds a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) based on whatever you type into the search box. And they prioritize it using proprietary ranking parameters. Google does not publish its algorithms, but in general, rank depends upon:
- The length of your article
- How recently your article was published
- Who else links to your content (aka. backlinks)
- How reliable your host is (uptime, speed, security)
- How often does the search term (and associated phrases) appear (aka. keyword density)
Backlinko produces an excellent, comprehensive list of ranking factors if you want to dig in.
It’s not by accident that larger name brands and more successful organizations make it onto the first Google page result. The first couple of results feel more authoritative because they are.
They have more authority because they’re considered trustworthy and help you answer your question faster.
People want results at the speed of search
Modern buyers want results fast. (Try typing “How fast is Google?” into your Google search bar, and you get 3,790,000,000 in .59 seconds).
In the time it takes to blink, you have seemingly endless answers awaiting you—and yet, links past the first five search results get visited less than 2% of the time. In fact, by far the most of traffic goes to the first position.
People search, grab a top link, and move on.
Business buyers search for business needs too
The same process applies to larger business purchases too. Like high-end enterprise hardware, critical data center security, and transformative cloud tools—the difference exists only in the degree. But if potential clients are searching on Google for solutions that you offer, they are going to be comparing your offerings, price points, brand history, and customer reviews to your competition as well.
And, if you don’t rank highly for the words that they use while searching, they might need you, but they won’t be able to find you.
From Your Prospect’s (Millennial) Perspective
Imagine that your prospect has just discovered a problem or need. Perhaps it came up during a meeting with employees, or worse, a customer’s quarterly review.
They, too, like most of us, jump to a browser to learn more about the problem, compare products and services, gather feedback from their friends in the industry about what they uncover, and then buy the best-fit solution.
The majority of business buyers are Millennials who do, on average, 12 searches prior to engaging with a specific brand’s sites. And many view a lot of content. Searchers view 8 pieces of vendor content and 5 pieces of third-party content before they initiate contact.
To reach your intended audiences (and get the results your business needs to thrive), you have to customize your brand content in a way that addresses your clients’ specific needs. The convincing doesn’t all happen at the Sales Team—on average, over 70% of your prospects' decision-making happens before they ever reach out to a Salesperson. It starts with that first click on a search page or social post.
But here’s the deal: Your customers might be different than the average. You need to build your customer engagement strategy as holistically as possible.
What is Content Marketing?
Awareness → Awareness
Interest → Interest
Desire → Consideration
Action → Purchase
Content Marketing is the creation of long-term, strategic initiatives that consistently develop and distribute valuable, relevant content that attracts and retains a clearly defined audience.
In essence, you are casting a broad—yet compelling—net, with some prospects that you’ll keep and others that waste your time. For those that are “keepers,” this net will create awareness in your prospective clients and will generate leads for them to follow to your sales reps.
In order to broadcast this net effectively, however, you have to personalize your content for effectiveness, leveraging carefully researched buyer personas. This will provide educational paths for each potential client’s journey.
I find it useful in business to think of the buyer’s journey in terms of loops instead of funnels.
AIDA corresponds well, but let’s add a 5th item to the list: Delight. Delight is a measure of your customer’s relationship with your product/service and is influenced by a combination of:
- how well your product or service solves their need.
- how well your company reacts to requests for help.
Delight directly corresponds to customer retention.
How Does “Content” Work?
You can write “content” and still not sell anything.
Indifferent, unresearched, and poorly-written content does little, if any, marketing work for you; it wastes your time and money. Worse, it wastes your prospects’ time and undermines your budding relationship with them.
Instead, invest in content that helps your clients.
Content marketing strategy is simply this—Prioritize the needs of the people you want to connect with.
Great content comes from relentless customer focus:
- Use the words that your users use (this is “SEO-optimized” content)
- Inform and engage them on a need you can solve
- Feel what they feel—their challenges, their requirements, their hopes
- Reflect these feelings back to them to build trust in your ability to deliver (communicate that you “get” how they feel)
Without this combination of elements, your prospects may never even know that your company exists, much less that you have a tailor-made solution ready and waiting for them.
The key to generating quality, purpose-driven copy—whether it be social media posts, YouTube videos, technical blogs, ebooks, or otherwise—begins with the research of your target audience, their industry changes, and their individual pain points—not just the topic you want to write about. Your research lets you:
- Address specific problems
- Show that you understand the problem area
- Discusses why these problems exist
- Clearly state the solution
- Demonstrate why you are the right choice to solve the problem
- Provide a clear path to the next step
With the proper promotion, this intentional content will attract a like-minded audience that needs what you have. You'll gain the credibility and trust of these prospective clients because you helped them recognize the severity of their need and showed them how to solve it.
Morph Your Funnel into a Flywheel
If you can understand what it feels like to face the problem your prospects face, AND you can guide them to the solution—you establish trust. Over time, this trust builds loyalty and forms a relationship between you and your audience. So that when it’s time to solve a new problem, they come back to see you if you have yet another solution.
What started as a single journey to finding a solution becomes a continuous process of innovation and improvement between you and your customer.