This week we’d like to present a guest post from Content Strategist Monica Nastase of Changing Travels.
Content strategy – this buzzword that many companies use and even want to apply to their website, but are confused and don’t really know where to start. If that’s you too, don’t worry, many businesses go through the same head-scratching phase.
The starting point for you is the hard cold truth: you’re not in control of your business anymore, your users are. According to a study by Corporate Executive Board, 57% of prospects have decided on a purchase based on online information, before even contacting you.
You’re used to telling your customers you’re the best. Listing your “unique” products or services, talking about your company history and your achievements, used to bring in the business. But today there is one issue: the Internet has flipped the business world on its head. The promotional messages, advertising and paid PR that were effective until recently, are now fruitless. Ineffective, disturbing, expensive. Due to the continuous stream of promotional messages all around, users have become immune to them and started to search for “the real” information about products. The internet helps them with peer review sites like Tripadvisor or Yelp.
So, what can you do to stay in the game?
Study your audience
Besides delivering excellent products and services, stop centering on yourself and start focusing on your audience.
Study your target market, what motivates them, and what needs they have. Conducting an audience research doesn’t only mean getting the demographics and segmentation. You also need to look at the psychographic elements like their interests, values, and lifestyle.
If you sell women’s cosmetics, for example, find out what questions your audience has. Do they want to know how to get hydrated longer? How healthy and natural the cosmetic products are? How to choose a product over another in a product line? Find out what interests them, and deliver that information through articles, interviews with experts, infographics, features… Forget about telling how great your products are. Everyone’s product is “the best”, or “revolutionary”. Customers are so immune to that, that they are going to ignore your promotional message completely.
Your audience has different needs at each stage of the sales process
Besides knowing the psychological profile of your audience, you should also split it into purchase stages. There are the people shopping around, looking for information, not knowing exactly what they want. There are the ones who know about what they want, and are debating between 2-3 products, and yours may be one of them. Then there are those who are almost convinced – hand-on-the-credit-card-convinced – but still look for final proofs that they made the right choice. And then there are the current clients, your existing business. This is a crucial segment to keep happy and informed, so they come back and give you repeat sales. As you know, retaining a customer and making a resale is much cheaper than making a new sale.
Splitting your audience into several groups, based on the stage where they are in the buyer’s journey, is one of the key tactics of successful content marketing.
You have to create content for each group, because each group has different objectives, and looks for different information. You must deliver that information, not to make a sale directly, but to “push” them through the sales funnel. If a prospect is shopping around for information, your objective is to provide that information and to push them to enter the second audience group, where they discovered what they want and they are debating between 2-3 products. Hopefully, you delivered useful enough information that one of those 2-3 products is yours. For each stage of the sales funnel, you have to deliver relevant information for that group. Not general information about products, the industry or inspirational quotes. Relevant material that answers directly that segment’s questions and worries.
Today you must accept that you’re not in control anymore. You cannot pay your way to get the most eyeballs on your product, to make more sales. That’s so 1982.
To create a successful content marketing strategy, knowing your audience is crucial. Afterall, to serve your prospects you need to know their pain points, their wishes, and where they are in the buying process. Start serving your audience and you will start to see how the content you produce becomes more relevant, is more valued and increasing numbers of prospects gather at your door.
Monica Nastase is a multilingual copywriter and content strategist based in Barcelona. Monica helps SMBs create relevant and engaging content that satisfies their audience. She writes in English, French and Spanish. See more about her expertise and services here: http://changingtravels.com/.