Jul 5, 2016

How to Succeed at Digital Selling Using Content Marketing

by Digital Marketing Institute

Change before you have to - Jack Welch

From 1849 to 1855 approximately 300,000 people arrived in California to pursue the opportunity of a lifetime. The word had gotten out – there was gold, and lots of it, in California’s foothills. For those who understood the complexities of mining and came at the right time, there were millions of dollars to be made. Others, however, left in poverty.

In one sense, content marketing is the gold rush of the 21st century. Every day there are new success stories of startups, individual bloggers, and large corporations receiving massive ROIs from their content marketing strategies. Yet for all too many, the experience is a costly and unrewarding one.

Fortunately, content marketing is not exactly like panning for gold. Success isn’t based on entirely luck – it’s dependent on developing and implementing an effective strategy.

As we’ve previously discussed, a blog post is not an advertisement. Using your blog to constantly spam subscribers and followers with information about your company, products or services will quickly result in a loss of fans. However, you can use your blog to drive sales. If done well, your content marketing strategy may in fact become a valuable goldmine.

You can download our free ebook to find out how you can achieve selling success through digital. We've also outlined some tips below that will help to ensure your content marketing complements your sales strategy, and avoids coming off as an overbearing hard sell to your target audience.

Look at sales as a funnel, not a switch

The used car salesman often treats the sales process like an on-off switch. The customer either says “yes” or “no” – and if he says no, the salesman is out a commission.

In the digital realm, sales is not a switch, but a funnel. With at least 81% of buyers carrying out research before making a purchase, most people arriving on your website for the very first time aren’t ready to make a decision. Instead, they’re evaluating and comparing products – trying to find the one that offers exactly what they need.

With this in mind, remember that your blog and social media outlets are at the top of the funnel. A single blog post probably won’t convert the reader into a customer. However, a single blog post can turn a reader into a subscriber – taking the user one step closer to making the final purchasing decision.

When you look at your sales strategy as a funnel rather than a buy-or-don’t-buy switch, your focus transitions from that of the salesperson, to that of the advisor. Once you become an advisor, focusing on help your customers overcome a challenge or fill a need, when they’re ready to buy you’ll be at the front of their minds.

Develop the right content for the right prospects

Know your avatar

One of the worst oversights a brand can make is focusing their blog on the wrong niche.

Although it’s true that increasing your traffic is critical to growing your sales, there are blogs with just a few dozen daily views that earn more than blogs with 10,000 daily views. Why? Because they’re focusing their content on those individuals who are actually interested in making a purchase.

Your blog’s focus needs to finely balance the line between being relevant, while still being broad and accessible to a variety of audience segments.

For example, too many freelance writers make their blog focus “how to become a freelance writer”. While this content may attract a large following of aspiring freelancers, it won’t attract many clients. However, a freelance writer whose blog discusses developments in the MedTech and healthcare industries will attract specific readers who may actually be interested in hiring them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, many businesses narrow their focus too much. For example, if you sell smart light bulbs to consumers, a blog that discusses the technical aspects of smart lighting probably isn’t going to interest them much. Meanwhile, a blog that discusses the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) might attract far more followers.

The best way to ensure that your blog maintains the right focus is to develop a persona for your ideal customer. What’s this person’s gender, age, interests, income level, hobbies, worries, etc.? Then focus your content around their needs. What will they be searching for on the web? What would they want to read? Once you understand who your target persona is, developing relevant content becomes a lot easier!

End every post with a valuable Call-To-Action

When your blog is managed correctly, readers come across your content because they are seeking to solve a specific problem. Ideally, your blog post provides them with the exact insights they need to take the next step in their individual customer journey.

However, why not offer even more value? If the reader is looking for interview advice, why not offer a free download with answers to the 20 most common interview questions? If the reader is striving to get in shape, why not provide a free workout calendar or healthy recipe compilation?

However, why not offer even more value? If the reader is looking for interview advice, why not offer a free download with answers to the 20 most common interview questions? If the reader is striving to get in shape, why not provide a free workout calendar or healthy recipe compilation?

Once someone subscribes to your newsletter, you can use a CRM tool to track that interaction – monitoring the content, tools, and products that most interest them.

Don't push-sell, solve a problem!

If you found yourself on a desert island with 100 other people, and you happened to own the only well on the island, you'd never need to push-sell your water. Why? Because it’s an absolute necessity. Without it, people go thirsty. You’ll never have to find customers because customers will find you.

Although your business may never be lucky enough have a market monopoly, one thing still remains true – the more that people view your product as a necessity, the less frequently you’ll need to convince them to make a purchase. It’s only when people aren’t confident that you’re the best way to solve their problem that you have to sell them on your product.

How do you do this? By focusing on solving problems rather than trying to sell your product.

Once you understand where content marketing fits into your sales funnel, know your customer personas, and have constructed valuable, explicit CTAs, it’s time to ensure that your entire content marketing strategy is focused on solving your customers’ problems.

By making your blog a central hub on the specific problems that your company helps to resolve, people will not only find and read your content, but also come to trust you as a subject matter expert. Once people associate you as a thought leader in your niche, when you do recommend a service or product, they’ll be far more inclined to buy.

Do you know

who ultimately won out during the 1849 Gold Rush? Those who sold tools, lodging and services to the miners. While hundreds of thousands believed that gold would make them rich (and it did for a lucky few), a handful of entrepreneurs recognized that the best way to grow consistent wealth is to provide value to people rather than chase after riches.

A successful content marketing strategy should result in increased sales, but it’s not an easy get-rich-quick scheme. Rather than using your business’s blog as an advertisement (or worse, as a hobby), treat it as an opportunity to provide value to others. Use it as a tool to help those pursuing their own success – while gradually revealing the added benefit of doing business with your company.

In the end, a blog that provides useful information while guiding consumers down the sale funnel will inevitably result in greater sales. Now go get started!

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