“If online content is king today, knowing how to communicate and manage it is the final step in an effective marketing strategy. In this series of articles, we explain what its characteristics are, and we show you some examples”.
In an era of advertising saturation with intrusive popups, fickle loyalty and online price comparators, getting the user’s attention, attracting him, arousing his interest, converting the latter into a purchase decision and subsequently creating a long-term relationship, is a real feat. But that’s the kind of results content marketing delivers. Because its potential is not limited only to conversion, it is the most effective tool when it comes to creating a brand image and positioning ourselves as the embodiment of a series of values.
Content marketing is also a journey in which we attend to the needs of the user at every step, and in which the messages are modulated accordingly. From the general to the particular; from the Top of the Funnel (TOFU) to the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU). According to the latest surveys, 91% of B2B marketing managers have already integrated this modality into their general strategy, a figure that reaches 86% in the case of B2C.
But what exactly are those contents that feed our marketing strategy? Actually, it is something very simple: information of interest and with its own value. It may be directly related to what we do. For example, a recipe blog if we sell vegetables. Or it may be related in terms of lifestyle and field of interests. For example, a technological innovation blog if we are dedicated to providing telephone or Internet services. But, beyond these approaches, if we want to offer content that adds value, it is essential that we know exactly who we are targeting, which leads us to…
Attracting a lot of traffic is the fundamental objective of any means of communication. However, in content marketing, while it is desirable to attract as many users as possible, it is even more important that their profile matches our services.
It is useless to generate millions of leads if there is no conversion. In other words, if we offer fitness accessories, it won’t help us if kids interested in e-sports or role-playing games visit us. As in any human relationship, the only way to know what a person cares about is to meet them and empathize with them. For this, one of the most useful techniques is the definition of the buyer persona (BP).
If your first pimples came out in the nineties, you will remember that game called “Who’s Who” in which you had to identify a character chosen by your rival. If he had a mustache, glasses, blonde or brown hair, curly or straight, etc. Something similar must be done with the BP: assign traits such as age, educational background, occupation, leisure, cultural concerns, marital status, number of children, etc.
The BP will thus determine not only the type of content but above all the tone that we use in our communication. Once we are clear about the recipient of what we are telling, the phase of articulating a coherent discourse arrives.
A Bit Of Storytelling
In recent years, storytelling (or telling stories) has been omnipresent in marketing and other areas of communication such as conferences or public speaking. Its great virtue lies in the fact that it takes us to the realm of the concrete, whether it is someone’s life and their experience or real events with impact and the ability to generate engagement. For this reason, storytelling has a specific weight in content marketing. This technique operates at different levels.
- Brand image or brand awareness. Creation of a consistent story that includes things such as the origins of the company, the challenges it has faced, the solutions it has found and the human team that has made it possible. It is vital that this story also shows the mistakes made and the challenges overcome and the solutions found. Our reader doesn’t want a fairy tale, so he avoids sweeteners. Storytelling also has a more general dimension: all the content we create or buy, be it videos, posts, influencer sponsorships, etc. They help to generate a story: what interests us, what goals we have, what our knowledge of a certain subject is, and the like.
- Application in specific contents. If we write a post about a technical problem and its solutions, we can draw on the experience of one of our users. “Jaime contacted us because he was not happy with his CRM and was looking for a custom solution”. Personal experiences are valued more because they allow you to connect with them. The same thing happens with user criticism and reviews: they put a face, name and surname to a user experience. These types of tools and approaches can be applied in all the formats in which we work.
Earned, Paid And Owned: The Content Trilogy
But what are the contents at our disposal when establishing a strategy? There are dozens of possible contents, from the simple and classic blog to more sophisticated and expensive alternatives such as sponsoring a web series integrating one of our services, such as, for example, that the action takes place in one of the establishments of our restaurant chain. However, all of them can be classified into three specific categories.
- Earned: Those mentions we receive in third-party media. They can be from a review in a magazine to a user rating on the Amazon page. This is the content with the greatest credibility among consumers.
- Owned: The content that we generate ourselves. This broad category includes both our own blog posts and e-books, newsletters, webinars or our own website.
- Paid: As its name suggests, these are paid advertising actions. This includes banners, PPC ads and mailings, but also influencer content sponsorship.
All content is part of a strategy, contains a series of messages and images and uses a transmission channel or medium. In a very synthetic way, since there are hundreds of formats, we can talk about the following:
- Our web. It is the most basic and fundamental format. Although the proliferation of mobile apps and the era of social networks has meant a greater share of the cake, our page is still the starting point of our strategy.
- Our blog. It is the natural extension of our website and, so to speak, its most organic and living component by virtue of its constant (in theory, of course) updating.
- Social media posts. Content we create and share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.
- Sponsored posts. For example, an article or a video in which an influencer uses one of our products or services.
- Graphic resources are a powerful communication tool.
- Videos: They can be integrated into articles or have their own entity to be shared in RRSS.
- E-books: They allow to offer denser and more complex content.
- Courses: An online course is also an ideal way to generate leads.
- Webinars: It is the way to take advantage of your know-how to communicate it in an online event.
- Podcasts: They are content almost as old as the Internet, but highly efficient in the case of users who spend a lot of time traveling.
Journey Through The Sales Funnel
As we have anticipated, content marketing is fundamentally a journey in which we accompany a user, adding value, from initial interest to conversion and subsequent loyalty. It is about the buyer’s journey that is divided into the stages of the so-called funnel or funnel.
Far from being a new concept, it dates back to 1924, when the American William H. Townsend developed the first funnel in the history of marketing based on the phases of the AIDA model (attention, interest, desire, action). In its most basic version, the funnel has three fundamental stages.
Top of the Funnel (ToFu)
The content we generate in this phase is intended to draw the user’s attention. This phase, which is also called awareness, means that someone wants to know exactly what their problem is and how to remedy it. Your future buyer may be wondering how to fix a flat tire on a bike. It is the type of search profile that an average user does on Google. “How long should you put a chicken in the oven?” “What are the ingredients of a gazpacho?”. In this first stage we will choose to offer content that serves to meet that need.
Continuing with the bicycle example, we will opt for a post or an explanatory video on the main causes of a bicycle puncture and how to fix it on the road. In this phase, we are not looking for conversion, but for newcomers to become familiar with our content ecosystem and find it useful. This is a crucial time for them to start trusting us as a source of information and/or entertainment. It is also the lead generation phase, that is, user profiles for which we already have contact information through a subscription to a newsletter or a request for more complex content.
Middle of the Funnel (MoFu)
Here the interest and desire phases of the AIDA model are compressed. We have a user who is already aware of what his problem is and who is looking for the best solutions. If he has already consumed content from the previous phase, we can offer him concrete solutions. Now you know how to repair a bicycle wheel. However, you may have no idea what the best options are among the repair queues. Or what kind of tires are more resistant. Here, for example, we can introduce a comparison.
Leaving the world of cycling, here we could offer a case study on marketing trends in a specific sector or optimization of landing pages. In the latter case, the search in the ToFu phase would have been: how to improve my website traffic? We are now focusing on a more specific aspect of traffic and conversion.
Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu)
In this part of the buyer’s journey, we get to the action. The help or information content gives way to the offer of specific services and products. This phase is perhaps the most similar to conventional advertising in the sense that we recommend a specific product.
Beyond the funnel
Once the conversion is done, technically the funnel has come to an end. However, a truly crucial aspect is missing: loyalty and prescription. That is to say, that our consumer repeats and, above all, speaks well of us. As stated, earned media includes reviews from (if possible) satisfied customers and is a powerful tool for expanding our buyer base.
In fact, there is already talk of the inverse funnel. That is, once the journey from ToFu to BoFu is completed, a new journey would begin that would consist of the following phases:
- Repeat purchase.
- Claim (advocacy).
Software Tools To Make Life Easier
After a quick look at the various facets of content marketing, it’s pretty clear that it’s a vast and complex field, with many factors to consider. Whether it’s gathering content ideas, defining buyer personas, or designing campaigns, there’s a tool for every need.
Starting from an effective website in WordPress, we can develop content for posts and campaigns with tools like Buzzsumo. It is equally important to have systems to define and schedule our content calendar. CoSchedule is one of the best known, but there are many more.
In general, the ideal is to integrate our content strategy in a marketing automation system in which to manage the frequency, intensity and content of contacts with your users. This is a topic of great interest that would require a post with its own identity. However, you can take a look at Pardot to get an idea of its features.
What Professional Profiles Are Needed To Execute All This?
We leave the most important for last. Because we can already have the best strategy in the world or the most powerful content ideas that if we don’t have the right human resources, everything will be in vain. We have dedicated a specific post to this issue, but these are some of the general guidelines that should be taken into account:
- Content developers. Whether it is a copy for the creation of a video or an editor for your blog, it is convenient to have professionals who dominate the medium, are capable of transmitting desire and enthusiasm and, above all, that allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors with original content that generates engagement.
- SEO Specialists. Content development must work in tune and in parallel with intelligent positioning management. We write for humans, yes, but also for search robots. Finding the balance between the two is one of the keys to content marketing.
- Designers. On the one hand, we would have the profiles related to the generation of audiovisual content: animations, infographics, etc. However, it is also necessary to have specialists in usability and graphic interface so that our content is as well protected as possible.
- Specialists in social media. We are not only talking about the classic community managers but also about managers of the RRSS strategy who understand the peculiarities of the medium and know how to dose the contents.