Published on March 10, 2016 by Dominik Steinacher
Inbound marketing is one of the trendiest expressions around, but in plain terms it’s about using quality content to get customers onto your sites.
It’s not just about getting customers onto your sites, though. It’s also about keeping them there — and ideally, about getting them to convert to a sale. And that’s where it’s important to offer personalized, tailored content that answers buyers’ needs through every step of their journey.
Often, businesses get stuck in what they need to sell rather than in what their customers need to know. You need to give them a reason to interact with you. Ask yourself one crucial question before you create any type of content: “What value does this give my customers?”
Then, once you’ve figured out the magic formula for creating the right type of content, you have to work out a plan that combines content strategy with ecommerce goals. Here’s the bad news: They won’t always overlap.
Even though we sales guys would love every piece of content to lead directly to a sale, I’ve come to realize that these pieces are bricks that build the engagement we need to generate sales. I’m not a bricklayer, but I do know how important it is to plan before you build, so I’ve put together some points on how to make content help you generate leads and increase your sales.
Lots of companies start with an ecommerce platform, but realize along the way that providing simple product listings with images is not going to seduce savvy digital customers. Instead, you need to use the full arsenal of digital tools at your disposal. Make and share high-quality images and videos that will make your customers want to love you. In a recent survey, 73 percent of consumers said they were more likely to purchase after watching a video explaining the product.
By integrating your platforms, you can better reuse content across different channels to provide value to buyers when they are researching the market, assessing your product and even post-purchase.
It might be that you want to attract three very different audiences or that you have the same audience but are interacting with them at different levels of awareness about your product. If they’ve never heard of you, you’ll have different goals than if you’re their favourite brand.
Using your digital marketing platform, you can get insights into what content works well for a variety of different customers throughout their digital journey. For example, you can track the initial website browsing patterns made through their desktop, to the optimal open time for that person to check their emails, to their final purchase from the app on their mobile device two weeks later. This then allows you to adapt content suited to each customer journey that will build you closer engagement to your audience and therefore enhance sales.
Ask not what your customers can do for you, but what you can do for them. Think about what it is they really need to know, and how this content interacts with the product you’re trying to sell. It might be that it doesn’t. If so, you have to work out the relative value of getting them on the site even if you can’t do a hard sell. A recent Marriott official pointed out that content is never a dead brand. If it gets customers into your brand’s ecosystem and keeps them engaged, then it’s doing its job.
This is where you need to have a COPE policy (create once, publish everywhere) that allows you to get the most out of your content by using it in different places. For example, you could create a short video for your website, but share it on social media and apps, as well as on digital displays in your outlet. You can even use the same content to trigger location-specific promotions with beacons.
It’s not a case of “build and they will come.” With a cluttered market, even the cleverest content can get lost. That makes it doubly important to promote and cross-promote your content across free and paid social media, as well as through your direct marketing channels.
Dominik Steinacher is Magnolia's Chief Commercial Officer, and is globally responsible for all clients and partners. Dominik is an enthusiastic crossfitter, and loves running, biking and playing tennis. He was a pole vaulter for 14 years and won the Swiss championship in 1996. Follow him on Twitter @dsteinacher.
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