Hit Your Target! Using the Right B2B Strategy to Reach an Audience

More Wisconsin businesses are starting to see the value in reaching their target audience through content marketing. That means creating articles, videos, graphics, and all sorts of media designed to draw attention to your company and establish your expertise on a given topic.

However, any company that jumps right into content marketing without a plan is making a huge mistake. There’s much more to it than setting up a blog and getting on social media.

Strategy is at the core of any marketing effort. Without the right strategy, it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s unlikely your efforts will grow your business in any significant way.

So, where do you start?

Continue reading Hit Your Target! Using the Right B2B Strategy to Reach an Audience

Principal/Agency Director

Is Your Website Ready for Your Content Marketing?

Make no mistake, content marketing is the buzzword of the year. Businesses across the board are jumping on the bandwagon in hopes to revitalize their marketing strategy and continually improve their relationships with consumers.

As information-hungry consumers who are constantly connected, we crave instant answers from Google and habitually search a new product or brand in order to determine its value – What is this product? What does it do? Where can I find it? Who makes it? Can it help me in my daily life? Is it worth buying?

This is where a polished website is crucial and builds the foundation to a successful content marketing program.

Build a Strong Home Base
A strong website will be the groundwork of your content marketing program, acting as the home base for your consumers as they go through their buying process.

Here they can always return to find original, high quality content such as blog posts, e-newsletters, product brochures, and other information about your business on a regular basis.

And since it’s your owned property, you can control your overall messaging, unlike other platforms, which can be confining in terms of creativity or distribution.

But don’t forget that although content is key, your website’s design and usability is just as important.

Guide Consumers Through Your Website
Your website should also be a consistent part of your strategy when creating new content.

Whenever relevant, a call-to-action should appear in blog posts or infographics to drive consumers to your website and even specific web pages for downloadable guides or related content that would be beneficial during their buying process.

This can be for a variety of reasons: to keep tabs on warm leads by collecting their contact information for future outreach; targeting certain consumers for future product deals; or testing the merits of a monthly newsletter.

By staying with consumers throughout their buying process, you’ll be able to reach out to them when appropriate and generate concrete leads for your business.

And when you house your content directly on your site and have multiple web pages with beneficial information, consumers are also more likely to stay on your website to explore instead of leaving after getting the information they need.

Measure, Report, Optimize, Repeat
According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America report, only 21 percent of B2B marketers say they are successful at tracking ROI in content marketing programs. But the number went up to 35 percent when businesses had a documented strategy in place.

In simple terms, those who have a standard process on measuring content performance will more than likely be better equipped to make the right decisions when it comes to content.

CMI also reported that website traffic is the top metric of choice for businesses looking for data to inform future content decisions – 63 percent of businesses say it’s a reliable measurement year-over-year.

By running an analytics program, like Google Analytics, you can easily see data on what content is attracting consumers, how it’s convincing consumers to stay on your website longer, and which consumers will be more receptive to direct contact by your sales team in the future.

Not only can analytics inform your strategy, creating consistent, quality content and distributing through a wide range of communication channels will help improve your overall SEO ranking.

If you take the time to build a solid web presence all directed through your site, next steps in building your content marketing program will be that much easier. So if your business plans to increase your content marketing output in 2016, make sure your home base is ready for your consumers.

Principal/Agency Director

How to Implement Content Marketing Software into Your Strategy

Some time ago, a bank president shared with me that his sales team was not using their new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. I asked him why not and he told me that the CRM had over 80 possible fields and was overwhelming to use.

It turns out the sales team simply did not have the time or computer access to use the CRM software correctly. They were only using about 10 percent of the software’s capabilities! Since no one took the time to consult with the team or understand their sales process beforehand, the bank was now locked into a lengthy, expensive CRM contract that was hard to break.

So, how do CRM software and other programs relate to successful content marketing? First, let me take a minute to define content marketing.

Wait… Isn’t Content Marketing Just a Program?
Easy answer? No, but let’s dig a little deeper.

Content marketing is the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable and engaging content with a target audience in order to acquire new audiences or deepen relationships with existing customers.

It’s the vital link between customer awareness, action and sales conversion.

From the conversations I’ve had, it’s a common misconception that content marketing is simply a software program. Although software is a valuable part of managing and tracking the results of content marketing efforts, it’s only one part of the process.

The key to content marketing is to have an ongoing, consistent strategy. When there’s a solid understanding of what makes your audiences tick, producing and delivering engaging content can easily complement your audiences’ natural buying cycles.

Consider this. A prospect has the potential to interact with your earned media (public relations efforts), owned media (blog, newsletters, videos), shared media (social media), and paid media (display ads, advertorials, Google AdWords). This interaction needs to be positive, consistent and well thought-out.

You also need to think about how you want to position your brand.

  • Who are your target audiences? Where do they look for information?
  • How do you integrate information about your products and services into engaging content?
  • What content format will have the most impact? When do you deliver this content?
  • How will your sales team interact with and leverage the content to amplify your sales process?
  • How will you measure the success of your content marketing efforts?

You get the point.

You need to be smart about the content you’re producing to add value to your prospect’s decision-making process. And, it’s important to understand that great content can also exist in a variety of forms — videos, infographics, slide decks, press releases, product demos, e-books, games, case studies.

There is no shortcut to great content. It takes work, dedication, creativity and expertise. The challenge is to select formats that will resonate with your audiences.

By delivering outstanding, crafted content when your audiences are looking for it, you’re better able to address their needs and wants in a positive way at the right time.

It’s about creating a relationship, not a transaction so align your content to their buying cycle, don’t push your sales cycle on them.

When Does Software Come into Play?
There are hundreds of software programs to choose from that can ensure you receive relevant information to make right, ongoing adjustments to your content strategy.

Once you have your strategy and objectives in-hand, you can determine what software needs can be applied to specific tasks or measurements of an ongoing content marketing program. But before you decide if you even need software, you need to set your content marketing goals.

Similar to my earlier CRM example, you shouldn’t start a program without first planning your strategy. A strategy of any kind with only a software program, and no sense of strategy, will produce mediocre results.

Like selecting a CRM, you need to take the time to understand the situation, determine your goals, and what tactics and tools you need to get there.

Content marketing software can deliver and organize content, optimize conversations and measure results, but cannot take the place of a good strategy, relevant and engaging content, and understanding audience segments.

When you’re looking at content marketing for your business, research and strategy will ultimately help you create a roadmap to results. Have a process to develop meaningful content, use that content to enhance your existing marketing efforts, and then evaluate software programs that can help you deliver content and measure success.

This article originally appeared on page 17 in the Aug. 10, 2015 print issue of The Business News as “How is Buying CRM Software Like Content Marketing?”. This article has been modified for this blog.

Principal/Agency Director