Content marketing is a vital component of any marketing strategy. Savvy marketers devote time and money to developing various types of content, including white papers, webinars, tweets and blogs, which appeal to and engage their audiences.
But are marketers getting the most out of their content? Not all content is created equal, so it’s up to you to determine what will deliver the most ROI. And, while each piece serves as a way to engage with a potential lead, content ROI is maximized when it is used at the optimal stage of the buyer’s journey.
White papers, for example, support sales in that they provide helpful and in-depth information on a product or service to a prospect conducting initial research. They are often gated, requiring that prospects enter their name and contact information in order to access the material. This helps move prospects down the sales funnel and allows marketers to capture information they can ultimately pass on to their sales departments.
However, while helpful, using content to obtain customer contact information only scratches the surface. Content that provides a deeper level of engagement with the customer and then allows marketers to monitor exactly how the customer engaged provides more value to marketers than a simple name and email address. Webcasts are a great example of this. Attendees have multiple ways to engage with your brand during a webcast, and after the event you can get detailed information on how long audience members were engaged, what questions they posed in a Q&A, what documents they downloaded and what content they shared. The interactive nature of webcasts allows organizations to obtain more data and, as a result, paint a more detailed, clearer picture of their audience, obtaining a deeper understanding of their interests, what motivates them, and how they interacted with your content. This information then enables accurate ranking of sales leads and lets you follow up in a much more personalized manner based on how interested prospects are and where they are in the buying cycle. How you distribute different forms of content depends on its type and intended audience (more on that in my last post here). But what’s most important is that you take a strategic approach when building content and understand where each piece fits within that strategy. At ON24 we let four principles guide our strategy – analytics, consistency, recycling and timing.
1. First up is analytics, which should be attached to everything when possible.
As I mentioned, delivering useful content to potential leads is only the first step – the analytics on how they interacted with that content can be a marketer’s most powerful ammunition. Audience behavior can be transformed into data that is fed into CRM and marketing automation tools that then enable marketers to follow up with customers in a personalized manner. In fact, the combination of webinar and marketing analytics, for example, can significantly improve lead qualification and inform every facet of your marketing program – including content marketing, demand generation and social media.
2. Businesses should also deliver a consistent message to their audiences.
While content should be personalized and customized depending on the channel, it is important that the core message remain unchanged. Clear goals, a central narrative and a distinct voice as a campaign is launched provide the foundation for a successful ongoing effort.
3. Next, organizations should recycle what they’ve created.
Content is expensive to create; therefore, it is foolish to only use it once. Repurposing content can be the easiest way to increase its value and ROI. For example, a marketer can take a webcast video and redistribute it across various channels. It can be posted in its full form on the company’s YouTube channel, and snippets of the video can be tweeted, added to a website and included in an executive’s blog post. In this example, we have one piece of content, distributed across four distinct channels. This increases views of the video, broadening the brand’s reach and the content’s value (more on content recycling here).
4. Finally, timing is of the utmost importance.
This will determine exactly what type of content you serve up to your prospects and when. Marketers need to understand where the customer is in the buying cycle and deliver appropriate content accordingly. From the level of engagement and overall interaction with different pieces of content, businesses can accurately qualify leads. For example, if they have downloaded a white paper that gives a brief overview of a company, they are in the beginning of the buying cycle and should be nurtured. On the other hand, if a lead is attending various webinars and asking specific questions on functionality and pricing, it is safe to assume that it is a “hot” lead.
We’d love to hear about how you’re using different types of content and the ROI your business has seen from its content marketing programs. Do you feel one particular type of content yields better results than others? Comment below.