This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
It’s one thing to simply conceive and publish; it’s yet another to earn consumer loyalty and trust.
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Despite content marketing having been a much-discussed topic for several years, many businesses still don’t have a solid strategy in place. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute’s 2020 report found that only 41 percent of respondents had a documented marketing strategy, regardless of the fact that 84 percent of brands classified as “most successful” said their content helps build customer loyalty.
Clearly, there is massive potential for using content marketing as part of your company’s overall growth strategy, but there is a big difference between simply doing content marketing and doing it well. What digital consumers define as quality content evolves along with the internet. Ensuring that you deliver on consumer expectations will make all the difference in your ability to grow your business. Here are some ways to stay on target.
The Power of Personalized Stories
To stand out from a crowded field, you must ensure that what you produce is personalized to the target audience you want to reach. For example, segmenting your audience based on where they are in the sales funnel allows you to drill deeper into the specific questions they may be asking.
Evergage’s 2019 Trends in Personalization Survey Report found that 88 percent of marketers felt personalization helped them deliver superior customer experiences, while 59 percent felt it increased loyalty, and another 50 percent saw a measurable ROI from personalization efforts.
Personalization doesn’t just mean inserting a customer’s name in an email. It means making your brand story come alive through relatable content and storytelling that connects on an emotional level, personalized to the customer’s current relationship with your brand.
Diversifying Your Content Options
You’ll likely need to produce a lot of content before you stumble upon something that goes viral or at least delivers a big boost to your sales numbers. Then it’s time to maximize the impact. As WordStream founder Larry Kim writes on Medium, “When you find a unicorn that does well in one channel, promote it on other channels. This will amplify its impact by 100 or 1,000 times. You should also write new blog posts on the same (or a related) topic, write guest posts on the same topic for other sites, create social media ads to promote your unicorn content, turn your topic into images or videos for social media content [and] run webinars about the same topic to generate leads.”
When you diversify content and go beyond standard blog posts, you open up the potential to reach a much wider audience and boost engagement. While Nielsen Norman Group research found that most people only read 20 percent of articles with 600 or more words, a HubSpot survey found that 54 percent of consumers wanted more videos from brands they liked.
Let Users Tell the Story
Most customers realize that the underlying goal of your content is to increase sales and leads, which can lead to questions about trustworthiness and authenticity. That’s why so many successful content-marketing strategies allow for user-generated content. As Chaya Baradhwaaj notes on this site, “Consumers trust genuine reviews by real users when making a decision to shop for a product or service. They want to know what influencers or experts have to say about the product. There is a big leap that marketers need to take in capturing this genuine feedback and presenting it at the right places in the omnichannel consumer journey.”
For brands, capturing and using customer-generated content is the primary hurdle to creating meaningful and influential content. Testimonials that can be used on your website and positive Google reviews are a great starting point, but to really get things going, you’ll want to solicit more detailed experiences.
Depending on your brand, you might want to use an Instagram campaign that gets fans to share posts featuring your products and a branded hashtag. Incentivizing such campaigns with a prize can go a long way in increasing fan enthusiasm and generating more curated posts.
B2B brands often find success with case studies highlighting their work for a client. Remember, these case studies can also serve as positive PR for your clients, which should make them all the more willing to participate.
When you diversify your content efforts, share meaningful and informative brand stories and get your audience involved, you’ll be better positioned to address questions and concerns that come up during the buyer’s journey and engender their trust. All of this will help you extend the reach of your brand.
Quality content delivers dramatic results. It’s up to you to ensure you give this powerful marketing tool the emphasis it deserves.