Content is king. This is a concept Bill Gates understood back in 1996 when he wrote his essay about how content would shape the future of the Internet. He outlined a vision of a world beyond print, in which readers would be “rewarded” with instant access to a deep well of information that would be enhanced by elements such as audio and video.
Gates’ vision of the future was right on the money. Today online content plays a central role in generating revenue, as marketing teams use it to attract, guide, educate, engage and influence customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
How can marketers make sure content attracts and captures customers? First, it’s imperative to map your buyer’s journey so that you can align content accordingly. But how can you do that when customers today do not follow a single buyer’s path? In fact, their routes are circuitous, indirect, personalized and highly changeable.
To truly create compelling content and assets that help the sales team close deals, you need a deeper understanding of how your buyers use content during the purchase stages of “awareness,” “consideration” and “decision.” Recently, DemandGen published some interesting insights based on the results of its 2015 Content Preferences Survey. Here are some takeaways and tips to keep in mind.
1) Create digestible content.
A full 74% of buyers feel they have less time to view content than they did just a year ago. Accordingly, they prefer shorter, interactive types of content, including infographics, video and ROI calculators/assessment tools.
2) Create mobile content.
Many buyers are now using tablets to consume content (from 37% to 60% in a single year) and 86% of buyers occasionally or frequently access content on mobile phones.
3) Invest in a variety of content assets.
In most cases, no single content asset that will make or break a sale. Buyers will likely return to your site multiple times to consume different content before interacting with you. Therefore, it’s important to hedge your bets by investing in a variety of content genres. In other words, you can’t solely rely on whitepapers or video to get buyers in the door and keep their interest—you need a party platter they can pick and choose from.
4) Vary content messaging based on different buying stages.
Content marketing is not one-size-fits-all, meaning that not all types of content are appropriate for each stage of the buying process. During the initial phases of research, for example, a prospect might find an introductory webinar more useful than an in-depth report or white paper that features very specific data and information.
5) Avoid creating content that’s focused on you and not the buyer.
Is there a time and a place for a sales demo? Absolutely. But when it comes to content, you should assume that most prospects don’t have the time, desire or mental space to absorb a lot of information about the technical marvels of your product. Nor do they want to consume content filled with self-promotional fluff or thinly veiled barbs aimed at your competition. Instead, they want to hear interesting stories about things they care about (hint: focus on their business challenges and how to solve them). Empower your team members with the tools to understand buyers’ needs to the best of their abilities, then create content with these needs in mind.
Content is not simply a way to capture customers. It’s a way to shake hands with customers and build mutual trust. The aim of great content is to create enjoyable, educational experiences that people relate to and want to share. If you can accomplish that, you’ve just made the sales team’s job a whole lot easier.
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