The cus­tomer life cycle of a prod­uct or ser­vice is a del­i­cate process to man­age. You need to find the right cus­tomers, con­vince them to make a pur­chase and keep their inter­est so they con­tin­ue to come back. But how do peo­ple find out about your busi­ness? How can you show how use­ful your ser­vice is to the right peo­ple? And how do you keep exist­ing cus­tomers inter­est­ed?

If your answer to those ques­tions is to adver­tise on tra­di­tion­al chan­nels, like TV, radio, bill­boards and the like, it’s pos­si­ble you’ll see a good return on invest­ment. But you’re not tar­get­ing a par­tic­u­lar audi­ence with such a broad mar­ket­ing approach. If you don’t have a clear def­i­n­i­tion of your brand sto­ry, your tar­get audi­ence or where to con­tact them, there’s no way to give prospec­tive cus­tomers what they need or want to hear.

Con­tent mar­ket­ing involves all the mate­r­i­al that’s cre­at­ed for a spe­cif­ic audi­ence to help build your brand and engage your audi­ence. It merges your brand mes­sag­ing with your audience’s desires and needs to cre­ate an expe­ri­ence or an emo­tion­al con­nec­tion. Each deliv­er­able has a par­tic­u­lar intent; your pur­pose may be to noti­fy exist­ing cus­tomers of a new fea­ture, to edu­cate prospec­tive cus­tomers of your product’s uses, to increase brand aware­ness or to accom­plish some­thing else entire­ly. This means that, ide­al­ly, con­tent mar­keters address all stages of the cus­tomer life cycle and buy­ing fun­nel. Con­tent mar­ket­ing entails a vari­ety of media, includ­ing blog posts, prod­uct white papers, webi­na­rs, land­ing pages, social media posts, ads, emails, info­graph­ics, videos and arti­cles. If you’ve vis­it­ed a blog, seen Twit­ter or Insta­gram ads, or watched Face­book and YouTube videos, you’ve no doubt seen a vari­ety of con­tent mar­ket­ing mate­r­i­al.

How can you use con­tent mar­ket­ing to sell? Here’s a look at some exam­ples of prac­ti­cal con­tent mar­ket­ing and how you can use it.

What can content marketing do?

Depend­ing on the nature of your busi­ness, con­tent mar­ket­ing can accom­plish a num­ber of things. When done well, it can attract new cus­tomers, edu­cate exist­ing clients on how to use your prod­uct, re-engage drop-off cus­tomers, high­light news­wor­thy men­tions of your com­pa­ny, fea­ture oth­er busi­ness­es that use your ser­vice and more. More impor­tant­ly, it can help cus­tomers estab­lish an emo­tion­al con­nec­tion with your brand or prod­uct. Con­tent mar­ket­ing helps build your brand with the infor­ma­tion you cre­ate and dis­trib­ute, and can ulti­mate­ly help you sell your prod­uct or ser­vice. If you pro­duce high-qual­i­ty, steady con­tent, you can increase your audi­ence engage­ment organ­i­cal­ly as more peo­ple rely on and respect your brand.

At the com­pa­ny I work for, our mar­ket­ing and cre­ative teams ana­lyze every stage of the buy­ing process and cus­tomer touch points, from ear­ly research and aware­ness stages to the con­ver­sion and engage­ment phas­es. We know that repeat cus­tomers are less expen­sive to main­tain than new ones and are typ­i­cal­ly more engaged than the aver­age non-cus­tomer. But we don’t just mar­ket to exist­ing cus­tomers. The goal is to pro­vide the right mes­sage to the right per­son at the right time.

For exam­ple, our prospec­tive cus­tomers don’t always come from a finan­cial back­ground, and we want to fos­ter a sense of finan­cial respon­si­bil­i­ty in our cus­tomers. So we took a holis­tic approach to our mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy. Small-busi­ness own­ers can access our resource page to learn about a vari­ety of top­ics, from loan prod­ucts and finan­cial terms to mar­ket­ing, man­age­ment and sales guides. Our blog reg­u­lar­ly pub­lish­es arti­cles, info­graph­ics, tem­plates and prod­uct reviews specif­i­cal­ly for our tar­get audi­ence, small-busi­ness own­ers. Doing so helps increase vis­i­bil­i­ty and trans­paren­cy while guid­ing the cus­tomer along a com­plete life cycle.

Even if you don’t pro­vide the right prod­uct for a par­tic­u­lar vis­i­tor, that’s fine; your on-page con­tent mar­ket­ing can still accom­plish the goal of pro­vid­ing the appro­pri­ate mes­sage for that per­son. The fact that the per­son inter­act­ed with your brand is still ben­e­fi­cial.

What can content marketing do

How can you use content marketing to sell?

Once you’ve iden­ti­fied your cus­tomers, what they want, where to find them and your objec­tives, you’ll be able to pro­duce what’s actu­al­ly use­ful to them. If you dis­trib­ute con­tent of val­ue, whether that be humor­ous, infor­ma­tive or help­ful, peo­ple are more like­ly to share and link to your con­tent. This helps increase brand aware­ness on a qual­i­ta­tive lev­el, but it also can help improve your site’s search engine opti­miza­tion with addi­tion­al links going back to your web­site on a quan­tifi­able lev­el. These inbound links help improve your site’s rank­ings. When your web­site is more promi­nent­ly list­ed on a search engine results page, you’ll organ­i­cal­ly out­rank your com­pe­ti­tion. This increased vis­i­bil­i­ty and brand aware­ness and bet­ter search engine results can also help estab­lish cred­i­bil­i­ty for your brand.

Email cam­paigns are anoth­er effec­tive form of con­tent mar­ket­ing I’ve seen increase con­ver­sions. One of my company’s email cam­paigns that has been par­tic­u­lar­ly suc­cess­ful focus­es on recent web­site vis­i­tors who ulti­mate­ly did not con­vert. We sent them a fol­low-up email with well-craft­ed mes­sag­ing based on the spe­cif­ic prod­uct they researched. The email con­tent reminds the cus­tomer of our product’s ben­e­fits, while mak­ing it easy for them to con­tin­ue where they left off. This tar­get­ed mes­sag­ing can apply to oth­er sce­nar­ios, such as edu­cat­ing new cus­tomers on fea­ture ben­e­fits, remind­ing peo­ple of pre­mi­um offer­ings or lead­ing them to explore addi­tion­al prod­ucts and ser­vices. Email is just one cus­tomer touch point where you can cre­ate a mean­ing­ful con­nec­tion with your cus­tomers. A suc­cess­ful con­tent mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy guides cus­tomers along; it caters to peo­ple on var­i­ous stages of their jour­ney.

How can you make con­tent mar­ket­ing work for your busi­ness? Start with what your cus­tomers want, and cre­ate con­tent that is rel­e­vant to their inter­ests and your core busi­ness. As you can see, effec­tive con­tent mar­ket­ing doesn’t just uti­lize one approach. Employ­ing var­i­ous con­tent mar­ket­ing meth­ods can help you diver­si­fy your efforts and reach more cus­tomers in the buy­ing cycle.

SOURCE: Forbes