The practice of content marketing is growing. Its concepts are spreading like wildfire beyond the walls of enterprise into the world of small business. In fact, 48% of B2B marketers will increase their content marketing budgets in 2014. On the other hand, only 34% of B2B marketers believe their content marketing is effective (Source: CMI’s 2013 B2B Small Business Content Marketing Benchmark). Uh oh.
Small businesses investing in content must have a strategy that is a hybrid between inbound marketing efforts and follow-up marketing practices to produce the brand awareness and ROI they need to grow!
As you integrate content into your small business marketing strategy, here are the three things to focus on when using content to drive interest, capture those interested people and turn them into customers:
Create Compelling Content That Attracts People…The Right People
Over the past few years, I’ve seen hundreds of small businesses begin using content in their marketing. Often, the first mistake they make is creating content that doesn’t speak to their target audience, meaning the audience of people who can truly benefit from the products or services they offer.
Before you even start creating content, you have to ask yourself, “Where do my customers go to find information on how to solve the problems that my product or service solves for them?”
For example, if you are a dentist who offers cosmetic services like teeth whitening, many of your potential patients likely go to Google searching for information on teeth whitening. You can create content, which helps educate them about the types of whitening they can choose from and how the process works for each type. The idea is to provide them with educational resources that speak to their pains and help them solve their problems.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when you are creating content to attract potential customers:
- What are the pain points that my product or services solves for my customers?
- How can I create a piece of content (like a blog post or a short video) that will help address their issues?
- What are the questions I hear most about my industry that I can create content to help answer?
Capture Potential Customers With Content Lead Magnets
In addition to creating content like blog posts and short-form videos to attract the right people to your website, create more comprehensive content lead magnets that give visitors a reason to “opt in” (sign up) to your marketing through a web form posted on your site. The content must be simply irresistible and educational so that people would at least give their email address to receive.
Here’s another example. Say you are a personal trainer and you want to build your email list of potential clients. Create an eBook of the top 10 exercises for rock hard abs and give it away for free on your site. Anybody looking for useful tips on how to cut their belly flab will give you their email address in exchange for something valuable to them…also known as a six-pack.
Building a list of potential customers who are interested in hearing from you in the future is essential to growing your business. Make sure you deliver your content lead magnet to them in an email so you can verify they’ve given you a legitimate address.
Here’s a list of some other popular small business content lead magnets you can create:
- Email newsletters
- Educational webinars
- Educational email series
- Educational video series
- Educational reports
- Educational whitepapers
- Free consultations/quotes/reviews
- Free trials
Once someone fills out a web form in order to download your irresistible content lead magnet, you can follow up with that person automatically. There are several email marketing software options that can help you with this.
But, before you follow up beyond the initial download, you want to make sure you get permission. You can do this by placing a check box on your web form that asks them if they’d like to receive future messages from you.
This step is absolutely crucial! Always make sure that you ask permission to follow up with them before you send anything else. You don’t want to send irrelevant content to those who don’t want it. If someone downloads your eBook and that is all they want, that’s all they should get. Email spam complaints can be detrimental marketing.
If they’ve checked the box indicating they’d like to hear from you, let the follow-up begin!
Here’s a simple follow-up email sequence you can send to someone who has downloaded your content lead magnet and wants additional information from you. This series will help you continue to provide educational value while presenting relevant offers to grow your customer base:
The first email: Send immediately – Confirm their request to download your content lead magnet and deliver the content.
Email #2: Two days after their download – Send another high-value educational content piece.
Email #3: Day 4 – Discuss the pain points your product or services helps them overcome.
Email #4: Day 7 – Present a special offer (like 10% off) in a message that relates to the conversation about their pain points in the previous email.
Email #5: Day 14 – For those who didn’t purchase, send them a final progressive special offer (like 20% off).
You can use content in your small business to attract new people you were never able to reach before through old-school outbound marketing efforts like direct mail and newspaper advertising. You can also capture important contact information from people who may be interested in buying your product or service. Finally, you can follow up with those people in a meaningful way that continues to educate them, lowers their purchase anxieties and turns them into raving buyers.
Want to become a powerhouse B2B content marketer? Register for the Online Marketing Institute’s Small Business Content Marketing Conversion Certification and learn how to use your educational content to turn your interested visitors into loyal customers!