This content marketing framework makes content creation (blogging) easier and highly effective in generating leads and converting customers.
You might have noticed that at Innovabiz we're pretty good at producing and promoting content.
You've probably also heard that “Content is King”, but many businesses find it difficult to produce content on a regular basis, in a consistent manner, and in a way that they will reach and engage their target audience. Yet, regularly publishing content online, is vitally important to having your website become a highly performing marketing tool.
But you’re different!
No, I assure you, we are not! There was a time when we didn’t regularly publish content at Innovabiz. That wasn’t for lack of wanting to or because I didn’t believe in the importance of providing good content for our audience. No, it was because firstly, I thought that what we knew, would not be of value to others (classic imposter syndrome!) and secondly, because I found it quite difficult to get thoughts in my head on to paper, in a way that I thought would interest my audience. Of course, part of that was also the limiting belief that whatever I wrote or published would “look bad”! In addition, I didn’t have a good process or framework for writing content.
So I set about working on the mindset of not having things of value to share - we all have experiences, knowledge, ideas and processes that are unique and can contribute to others, if we share them! Once you believe that to be fact, then the mindset of “I have something of value to share!” takes over.
After I addressed my mindset, I needed a structure for the content. I started with the InnovaBuzz Podcast, two years ago, with an interview framework, that is highly structured. I needed that structure, alone to respect the time of my guests on the podcast, but of course, it made it much easier to put together the episodes and content. I then took that process to the writing of blogs and other content and built the content marketing framework that I want to share with you here, to make your content creation easier and quicker.
Key takeaways from this post:
- what makes great content and how do we know?
- a content marketing framework that gets leads and converts customers
- content marketing made easy and efficient
- 5 options for content that aren't blog posts
As a marketer and an engineer, I always want to ensure my opinions, strategic insights and tactical activities are well supported by data. With this in mind, I’d like to share with you the content marketing related research and data points that we at Curata look to on a regular basis including our own annual content marketing staffing and tactics study with 1,000+ marketers.
We’ll keep this post updated regularly, so do send me a note if you come across some great research that should be in here. Feel free to share these stats with your Twitter followers. (updated July 11, 2016)
So what's the big deal?
The biggest problem with any content creation for many businesses, is that the process seems cumbersome, time consuming and difficult. Even when you have published content, how do you know if the content is doing what you intended, or indeed delivering you new leads?
The way that your audience become leads and then customers, the way that they buy from you, has changed significantly over the last years. Sales people are not the gatekeepers of information any longer. By using the Internet, people searching for your products or services, can find out everything they need to know about your industry, your products, your services before they make the decision, where they spend their money.
So as a result, customers are reaching out to you later in their buying cycle and closer to the final decision. They don't need to come to you for advice, you need to share and give away more than ever in order to build trust and demonstrate competence and credibility.
Not only that, you now face a greater level of competition, both within your own industry and online.
So how can you produce content and information that stands out?
By following our content marketing framework, you’ll find producing content easy and efficient, as well as effective in generating new leads and converting those leads into customers.
What's wrong with what I'm doing now?
Boring Dull Content
Most businesses struggle with content creation because they find it difficult, and what they create is often as dull as a politician's speech.
The typical cycle would be to produce a few blog posts for a website, share them out via social media, and then achieve some traffic to that post.
If the title of the post and the social posts are not compelling, or unclear, you won't attract a lot of traffic. Perhaps even more concerning, is you may attract traffic, but not your target audience.
Those people that arrived on your website and see the blog post, don't read on because the information is presented in such a boring manner. If they don't read on they won't take the action that you require, in other words you won't generate or capture leads.
And of course those leads that you do capture are sent the same boring content, so they are unlikely to engage with you or to convert to customers.
Of course it's vitally important that every line and every word of your blog posts is so compelling that it moves the visitor to read on to the next sentence and paragraph.
No Clear Link between your Content and the Next Steps
Let's imagine that you started to get more traffic because you've improved your titles and social posts. People are reading your content, spending longer on your website, and engaging with you in the form of comments and sharing your content on social media.
How do you now convert those website visitors into leads and ultimately customers? Because no matter how good your content is, it's unlikely that they will call you up straight away to purchase your service or product.
You need to build a relationship with them, and in order to begin to do that you need their email address and permission to communicate with them via email. To get their email, you need first to offer them something of value which they can download by providing their email address. This is known in marketing jargon as a “lead magnet”. It's important that this lead magnet is relevant to your audiences’ particular interest, their wants and needs, their fears and frustrations. Otherwise your website visitor will not be interested!
For example, if you provide online training in digital photography, you might have a great written post about popular digital SLR cameras. Those people who read this post are definitely interested in digital SLR cameras. So your offer could be a 10 step guide to selecting the best digital camera for your needs. This is specific and relevant to the topic of the post, and likely of interest to the same target audience.
It is quite easy to measure the results of your content marketing, and if you do, you'll find that the results are often not what you are expecting.
This is not because content marketing does not work. It's because you may not be producing the right content for the right audience yet.
At Innovabiz, we have a very clear content marketing strategy. Our philosophy is to share as much information about the things that we are good at, in order to reach as many people as possible with our message. Visitors to particular blog posts are encouraged to take the next step via an email lead capture, so that we can begin to build a relationship with them, by providing even more useful and valuable information.
Similarly, all businesses need a clear step-by-step process for producing, promoting and measuring the outcomes of their content marketing. And I'm going to share with you how we do that below.
So What's Your Content Marketing Framework Already?
Ok, patience grasshopper! Let's look at how we produce a smart content marketing strategy for our business and how you might do the same for yours.
The Three Step Content Marketing Framework
Our simple 3 step process for content marketing has increased conversions measurably.
Step 1 of the content marketing framework is to begin with the end in mind. What is it I want to achieve for my audience? Ultimately how is it that I will help them address their most fundamental needs associated with this topic?
Let's continue with the example of digital photography, and imagine that the product I have for sale is a digital photography course for DSLR cameras. I will the produce open and free content or information and publish blog posts about this topic. The objective is to reach the target audience of people who would be interested in a course on digital photography with DSLR cameras, and begin building a relationship with them.
At the end of each blog post I will ask "if you're really interested in finding out more, then you need to watch this...".
Step 2 of the three step content marketing framework is a call to action related to an offer.
The offer would be something that those interested in a digital photography course would find of immense value. For example it might be a short 3 minute video about the best settings for your digital SLR camera; a mini training course if you like.
I offer something specific and relevant to my audience, so they understand what the next step is, and also see that I'll provide ongoing value. I protect that information or offer with an email signup or lead form, so that I capture their email address before they obtain the video. That enables me to continue communicating with them and building on our relationship.
Finally step 3 of the content marketing framework, is to offer a low cost "entry" product which they might now like to buy. So in my digital photography example, that might be an e-book instruction guide on the best settings for your digital SLR camera in a variety of situations. Let's say for example that I offered that for the price of $10, and presented the benefits and the results that they should expect from reading this e-book, in a very compelling way, then many of my audience would make that purchase. Once my lead becomes a customer, even if it is only with a very small financial outlay, our relationship escalates to a higher level. For those people that choose not to take up this purchase offer, I still continue to send them information of value related to digital photography.
Email marketing is vital to improve the conversion rate of your leads to customers. Done well, it builds trust and can run entirely on automation.
A typical flow that we use for our email marketing is as follows:
- deliver the content our audience signed up for
- send a welcome email with our details
- send an email with a similar topic content to add value
- send an email with a different topic content (related) to add more value
- send a sales email, in this case offering our digital photography course
- send another email with a similar topic content to add value
- send another sales email
In this way we can share more content with our subscribers and leads, and show them that we want to help and serve their needs. At some point we send a few sales emails to move them into the next stage, keeping in mind what would be the logical product or service for this audience to purchase.
The focus of the process is to educate our audience about the topic of their interest, about what we have and how we can help them and also, about what it IS NOT. Educate, don’t sell!
Vary the Content and Delivery Methods
You've probably heard that variety is the spice of life, and so it is too, with the content marketing framework. In addition to blog posts, you can also produce other types of content for specific purposes.
Your audience is less interested in the delivery method itself, but you need to vary your approach so that you appeal to a diverse audience. People have different preferences for consuming content, some prefer to read, some to watch videos, some listen to audio and so on.
I also encourage you to re-purpose content by turning blog posts into different types of content as per the examples below :
- Video. Video is an incredibly powerful content marketing platform. You can get on camera yourself or you can do screen shares with a voice over.
- PDF files. You can combine blog posts into a longer document to share
- Slides. Using Powerpoint to Keynote slides can be used in a webinar, weather recording, or simply shared as is providing another valuable resource for your audience.
- Presentations. Take the opportunity to get out in front of an audience that cares! Record the presentation and use that as content in your overall marketing.
- Infographics. Infographics quickly capture attention and are easy to share. Everyone loves infographics!
I love this content marketing framework, it saves us time and makes producing content easy and effective. I believe it can do the same for you.
All you need to focus on, is how you can help and serve your audience. Produce content that educates your audience and at the same time then, proves you're useful to your potential customers.
One of the concerns I often hear is "if I give away too much, my audience will just do the stuff themselves and not use our service!"
That may well apply to a small percentage of people, who will never buy from you anyway. But think of it as saving yourself the time, of talking to people who just want to “pick your brain” over a cup of coffee. Many of them will never buy from you either, and you can send those people to your blog posts, rather than spend your valuable time having coffee with them. They’ll consider you the most helpful person around, because you've shared all this awesome content on your blog post, and perhaps even send others your way, even if they, themselves don’t buy from you.
Content marketing is a little bit like a restaurant. Of course you can see the menu there; some will even share their recipes; but the really interested patron wants it done for them.