You’ve likely heard it before, but we’ll say it again: Content is king.
Even in the manufacturing and industrial space — where relationships and word-of-mouth referrals kept companies going for so long — content marketing is the most effective way to drive high-quality leads and dream customers to your website.
Creating strong content and engaging prospects is so essential to businesses that there are numerous books, webinars and entire conferences dedicated to getting marketing and sales professionals from across the globe up to speed.
In fact, our own Mikaela Tierney will be speaking at INBOUND 2016 on building a strong content team next week. So, to give you insight into some best practices on creating eBooks, white papers, blog posts and other content that will help work your prospects down the marketing funnel, take a look at some common content questions answered by Mikaela below:
Why is strong content so important for my website and marketing strategy?
Beyond being the best way to connect with your prospects, content is key (literally) for SEO and improving your positioning across search engines. It also allows you to further develop your brand. Ask yourself: What do you want your business to be known for? What message and tone do you want to convey to your prospects? Who do you want your audience to include?
Volvo, for example, conveys a sense of safety and dependability through its formal, carefully dictated messaging to responsible adult buyers. Casper or Dollar Shave Club, on the other hand, each employ a much more lighthearted tone that targets — and resonates with — with a younger, 20-or-30 something audience.
How can I make sure that I’m writing content that’s right for my prospects?
A great place to start is to determine a few personas for your customers. Throughout the buying process, consider which types of people you interact with or market to. These different roles should each become a target persona — or a representation of your ideal buyer based on their buying habits and existing market research.
To do this, think about their top priorities, their stress points, and their overall buying habits. As you develop your content, keep these characteristics in mind as if you were speaking to them directly. While reading content that targets them specifically and speaks to their individual needs, these personas — and the people behind them — will more easily connect with your material… and your business.
How do I decide what the most effective form of content is between eBooks, webinars, infographics and everything else that’s out there?
Going back to the personas we just discussed, you should test out different kinds of content to see which are most effective at reaching your target audience. There’s no one-size-fits-all, so try having a little fun with it — no one wants to read the same things all the time!
Instead of your usual blog posts, try out some listicle formats or Q&A interviews. Instead of a standard eBook, test out a step by step guide or an infographic. The last thing you want to do is bore your readers — the more interesting your content is, the more engaged they’ll be with both your content and your business.
My company is too specific and unique for content marketing. What do I do?
Try it anyway! While the overarching concept of content marketing may seem daunting, it seems much more reasonable when you break it down. At its core, you’re just writing a page (or even a little less) on a topic you’re already familiar with — your own industry!
Even if your business focuses on a highly specific, technical field, your target customers (and personas) are out there. This means there are readers who are interested in learning more about your field, your business, and your offerings.
How can I find a writer who understands the industrial space and what my customers need?
This is definitely a tricky one. With the team here at RPM, we got lucky enough to find a few very talented in-house writers who have developed a deep understanding of all different aspects of the industrial field.
But if you’re just starting to implement content marketing for your business, I’d recommend starting with freelance writers before hiring someone to permanently join your team. There are a number of online platforms that can connect you with a skilled writer, including Upwork. I’d recommend building a relationship with a select few freelancers so they have an opportunity to develop a better understanding of your business rather than alternating between a number of different writers.
What’s the best length for a blog post or white paper?
While this depends on your audience and specific topic, our RPM Content Team typically aims for around 450 words for blog posts (a good length for SEO) and between 800-1200 word eBooks or whitepapers.
You want to make sure you include enough information to provide value to your reader (and optimize for search engines), but you don’t want to make your pieces so lengthy that the reader loses interest halfway through. The constant fear of “TL;DR” is a big consideration in content development.
How do I know if content marketing is working?
You’ll see results! But it won’t happen overnight. It’s a strategy that takes some time and energy investment, but it will help you to establish your company as an industry thought leader and get your name out to new prospects.
One of my favorite content marketing stories is the experience of Marcus Sheridan, the owner of River Pools and Spas. (Seems random, I know, but stay with me.) Marcus’ secret to content marketing was simple, but incredibly effective — through blog posts, he answered the questions his customers and prospects were asking. No one else in his industry was doing that back then.
By writing about what people wanted to learn, providing the answers and information they were looking for, and being honest and straightforward in his content, Marcus grew an audience. After a few months (or more) of nurturing the audience and establishing credibility, River Pools and Spas starting bringing in millions — yes, millions — of dollars.
I remember reading a New York Times article on this story years ago — before I even got into the marketing industry — and being surprised at how such a simple concept could be so effective. But it was back then, and its impact is even more effective today! Even if your results don’t happen immediately, content marketing is a great way to establish your credibility, connect with prospects, and drive interest in your business.
What are you going to be presenting on next week?
I can’t wait for Inbound! I’ll be teaching attendees how to break away from their dependency on freelancers and instead build a high-quality, high-production in-house content team.
When I first took on the role of managing content production at RPM, I was hit with the stress of unreliable freelancers, missed deadlines, and disorganized writing requests. I learned from firsthand experience how to get organized and overhaul an existing in-house team, so I’m excited to share what I’ve picked up in the process to help other improve their own experiences!
Even if you won’t get to hear from Mikaela in person at the Inbound conference, you can still get tips on crafting strong content to generate leads — we have plenty of resources to help you out.
There’s one item in particular, an on-demand webinar we did in partnership with ENGINEERING.com, that will be particularly useful in helping you create content to drive prospects down the marketing and sales funnels.
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