There aren't many businesses left that aren't using content marketing to generate leads and establish domain expertise in their industries. According to ionInteractive, 86% of B2B businesses are using content marketing. There's a lot more content out there than there was a few years ago; it's much harder to distinguish yourself with your content marketing. The reason that there's so much content marketing out there is simple - that's the way modern buyers buy. Google is now the first step in almost every purchase decision. So with all those companies using content marketing to grow, how do you stand out in a crowded field? That's the true distinction between marketing and good marketing. Here are 4 tips to improve your content marketing in 2016 and shine like a beacon to your prospects.
Micro-target your audience
We've often advocated targeting niches as an effective business strategy for most SMB companies. By micro-targeting niches, many SMBs have created business foundations that can be carried over to other niches. The reason for this is straightforward - if you have domain expertise in a small niche, you can take advantage of that expertise in a way that larger competitors can't.
Enterprise companies can't afford to develop highly targeted solutions for small niches and operate profitably. SMB companies, on the other hand, can develop tailored packages for narrow audiences and still produce enough revenue to be profitable. SMB companies can also be more nimble than their enterprise competiton in responding to changes within their target niche's world.
Your content marketing can complement and enhance your niche focus. To stand out from the pack, create content that is specifically developed for your target niche. Rather than create content for the technology industry, think about creating content for developers of cybersecurity software. Show them that you know their industry and are a helpful source of information that helps them do their jobs better.
Distinguish your content visually
It's not enough to be a good writer to distinguish your content in 2016. Presentation and promotion is just as important as writing good content. Your content should be optimized for how your audience consumes content on the web.
Consider the following scenario. A buyer searches for "cybersecurity for government contractors" on the web. Google returns the search results, and here's what comes back. The searcher is presented with numerous options to choose from, ranging from legal information to paid advertising.
Most searchers skip past the paid advertising and try to guess which option best matches the intention of their original search. They scan the meta descriptions (the short paragraphs describing the content of the search result) and click on the one that sounds like it might be what they're looking for.
They then scan the article itself to find the information they need. If they find it quickly, they might take the time to read the whole article. Internet readers scan content to find the nuggets of information they are looking for.
Design your content to help them. Here are some ideas to distinguish your content visually.
- Have a large, well-written headline that will attract the attention of your target audience. You're not trying to attract everyone, just people who may buy your solution or recommend you to people who will.
- Use images in your content to appeal to your buyers and inspire them to act. Most of us respond to the right visual stimuli, so use images in your blog to get people's attention to promote your brand and value proposition.
- Use sections, lists and other visual cues to break up your content into bite-size chunks. This is crucial to helping your buyers find the information they need.
- It's not a visual cue, but write good meta descriptions to distinguish your content in Google search results. Although meta descriptions don't have SEO value, they help your audience immensely when ther are well-written and descriptive.
If you're interested in what a good, modern blog looks like, I recommend 17 of the Best Examples of Beautiful Blog Design by HubSpot.
Be creative with the types of content you create
Step out of the box and create new types of content like videos, infographics and calculators to give your audience buyers something new and different. Different people prefer different types of content. Experiment with different types of content to see what resonates with your target audience.
The key is to use variety in your content. You might write a long-form blog post for a controversial topic in your industry while you create an infographic to visually describe a process important to your target audience. Savings calculators and other types of interactive content are good ways to draw buyers into your marketing process.
Don't fall into the trap of doing the same-old, same-old - experiment with things that your competition isn't doing.
Have a documented inbound sales process
Some SMBs present a jarring mismatch to potential buyers - they help buyers with content marketing without adjusting their sales process for continuity. It's important that your sales process continues to be helpful and recognizes how your buyer has interacted with your marketing process.
A good inbound sales process recognizes what content and web-pages the lead has accessed and helps them find the help they need to complete their buying process. That almost never involves a hard sell. Your inbound sales process should be based on helping people solve problems - not selling them something they don't need or want.
It's more important than ever to create excellent content to propel business growth. While most businesses are using content marketing to generate leads and build their brand, relatively few of them do it well. Use the 4 tips to distinguish yourself from the pack by being helpful.