Content marketing — including blogs, web copy and social media posts — has transformed the way businesses reach out to customers. But like many online advances, the role of content marketing has changed. It’s no longer an optional extra, something that you do when you find a spare moment in your busy day. Today, content marketing is actually driving sales. Let me explain…
Right now, potential customers — and good ones at that — are browsing your website and deciding if they want to do business with you. They may well have been on your website before and they may come back again — but then again, they may not.
Do your prospects actually know just how good you really are by looking at the content on your website?
When does the sales process start?
The way that we shop for goods and services has changed beyond all recognition. The internet just makes research so easy.
If we want to read customer testimonials, online ratings and reviews are instantly available on everything from dog food to care homes.
If we want to know what a lawyer or an accountant might be like to deal with we can find pictures, blogs, tweets, testimonials and background information.
If we are disappointed with what we find, we move on. It’s as simple as that.
Online content allows customers to form opinions and make decisions long before the business is aware of their existence. Today’s sales process starts without you. Your content is your virtual star salesperson — until a customer picks up the phone.
What makes browsers become buyers?
The phrase content marketing is something of a cliché but in many ways it’s also a misnomer. It’s not just about marketing — or brand building or networking or SEO — good quality online content is a crucial part of your sales effort too. And selling is all about the human side of a business, about helping and forging relationships. So your content has to do that too.
If you do it well, some of your customers will have already decided they want to do business with you based solely on visiting your website and following you on social media. So when they call you up, it’s up to you not to blow it.
The content marketing checklist
If you want to make sure your content marketing is working hard enough, ensure that your online content is achieving these seven crucial objectives:
Delivering relevance: Prospective customers need full information on your products and services. Don’t expect them to do all the legwork by making them ask — give them a complete guide to what you offer on your website. Publish FAQs to answer every question you’ve ever been asked and any others you can think of.
Building trust: Prospects want proof that you can deliver what you promise. Testimonials from satisfied customers and case studies that show you in action are powerful persuaders. “Don’t just take our word for it, here’s what our customers say.”
Demonstrating expertise: Don’t be afraid to share expertise for free and give guidance before they become a customer — it will win them over. Do this on your website and on social media.
Being helpful and friendly: Be yourself and talk to your website visitors as if you were having a one-to-one conversation. Address their needs, show empathy and talk to them directly using “you”. Prospects may also want to know what you are like — especially if you are in professional services — so include images and a few personal details. Be human.
Showing that you are highly regarded: Prospects want to know if you are the real deal. Are you a leading light in your field, a wannabe or are you a charlatan? Demonstrate your credibility by highlighting affiliations, awards and events you are involved in and by posting company news on your website. Build a quality following on social media and connect with the best in the business.
Being proactive: Alarm bells tend to ring when website visitors see that a business has taken a break from posting content. You do need to take a systematic approach but without letting it dehumanise your content. If you are stuck for ideas, talk to your customers. If a customer has a question, post some content about it online. The chances are, there will be other people that want to know the same thing.
Being creative: Every business is different and a one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work. Be open-minded about the kind of content that will best showcase your expertise and meet the needs of your customers. This could include: infographics, images on Pinterest, videos on YouTube, in-depth white papers, checklists, amusing blogs — the kind of content you produce is entirely up to you. But whatever you create, make sure you share it widely.
And when new customers call you up, make sure you meet their expectations. After all, they already like you, they really do.
- We can help you handle your social media, write content or help you with your website. Call us to find out how we can help you reach your customers. Speak to Emma or Jack on 0117 904 2224 or email Emma.Jones@atomcontentmarketing.co.uk.
- Visit our Donut sites to see examples of the practical, high quality content we produce.