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How to attract customers with content marketing

Use articles, blogs and videos to generate customer leads

9-minute read

Content marketing is an online marketing strategy to attract and engage customers. Underlying that strategy is the belief that readers who take an interest in the content being posted will feel closer to the company—and to the product or service it’s trying to market.

By regularly publishing content, your company can become a trusted source of information. That means that when it’s time for customers to make a buying decision they’ll think of you first for that specific product or service.

Content marketing is generally not overly promotional: it focuses on informing or entertaining the audience rather than advertising to them.

In the world of online marketing, the goal is to help potential customers find your company. You want to build a strong relationship that leads to sales. Compelling content that can find its audience can be one of the most cost-effective strategies to achieve this goal and attract sales leads.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing attracts an online audience to one of your platforms with material that is of interest to them and tangentially related to your company. It’s a soft-sell approach to advertising your business’s products or services.

Content marketing exists in many forms, including:

  • Blogs
  • Articles
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Social media posts
  • Infographics
  • White papers, eBooks, studies and reports

Your content should be interesting and relevant to customers, position your company as an industry leader and trusted adviser, and lead to increased sales.

Your marketing content helps you achieve three key goals:

  • Create awareness
  • Build brand trust
  • Convert prospects into leads

“Content should serve your marketing objective,” says Adrian Turner, Manager, Demand Generation at BDC.

He says there are two important questions to ask yourself:

  • What's my marketing need?
  • How can I build content to serve that need?

He says one of the objectives of content marketing is to attract visitors to your website and to convert those visits into leads. This can be done, he suggests, by posting on your site material that demonstrates your organization’s thought leadership.

“You can create articles, guides and webinars, and make some of them gated, to capture information from those visitors,” he says, referring to the type of content where users need to share their contact information in order to access it.

Aside from acquiring the names and emails of those downloading the gated material, other types of clues from those users can help his team in their quest to find more prospective customers.

“One of your visitors may be interested in a specific product and has looked at 10 of your articles, or someone else has not been back in a month to read anything. So, for me, content is a really good gauge of who’s interested and who’s not,” he says.

Turner sees the collected data as a powerful tool to get to know potential clients.

What follows from there is a push to capitalize on that information. “You can continue to prospect and watch the client’s journey and promote the most relevant content based on what they’re looking at now—and then come up with their next step.”

“You’ll want to either direct them to your product or more content to read, or that’s gated, so that we can say ‘Okay, now we know that user.’”

Examples of content marketing

Content marketing can be informative as well as entertaining. Below are a series of different businesses and examples of content that they could develop:

Law firm A newsletter of media stories that touch on personal injury, medical negligence and group litigation
Car dealership A series of videos with the dealership’s mechanics offering tips on car care
Restaurant A day-in-the-life video of their head chef that highlights all the stress and satisfaction they experience during a typical shift
Travel agent A social media infographic with travel tips on everything from packing to passports
Pet groomer Videos of pets reacting audibly and dramatically to being bathed
Florist Online flower-arranging tutorials led by the owner

To come up with good ideas for your company’s content marketing, there are a couple of questions to first ask yourself:

  • What type of media is most appealing to my audience?
  • What expertise do I have that could be turned into content?
  • What can our company put online that will stand out from our competition?

Chris O’Shea, a BDC Senior Business Advisor, says you need to make your customers’ needs a priority. “Content you create has to centre around the common questions clients have, the problems they need to solve and the state of their industry.”

He says to be relevant to customers, you need to adopt the four Es of content marketing, with every piece of your content marketing having one or more of them.

4 Es of content marketing

  • Educate
  • Engage
  • Empower
  • Entertain

Why is content marketing important?

For Turner, content marketing helps move potential clients further along on their buying journey. While certain products and services may require little decision making, others may require more information about them to help people arrive at a buying decision.

“When someone is preparing a major purchase, they might need a bit more reassurance or better understanding before they’re comfortable enough to take the leap,” he says. “The person’s decision could be furthered along by what you post or show on your site. You want to try and develop content that addresses their needs and makes them feel comfortable in their purchase decision.”

In What is content marketing and why is it so important? O’Shea writes that creating content can also be a good opportunity to pull back the curtain and talk about what’s happening inside your business—or zoom out and discuss some of the big challenges that your industry is facing. “Talk about your wins but also be honest about the issues you’re grappling with and how you’re striving to improve for the benefit of your customers.”

Content you create has to centre around the common questions clients have, the problems they need to solve and the state of their industry.

Virtuous cycle of content marketing

How to create content marketing

“‘Who am I writing this content for?’ That’s the question you want to ask,” Turner says. “That’s going to help you determine what kind of content you need.”

Once you’ve figured that out, he suggests you start off small.

“I’m a big proponent of not going too big, too fast, especially if you’re a small business. You don’t want to invest $50,000 in content marketing and then see that you might have gone the wrong way.”

Turner says blogs are a good place to start.

“They’re easy to do. And if you write a blog post and then readers are posting interesting things on it, you’ve created a conversation. And it tells you that people are interested in this.”

O’Shea, too, advises on keeping things simple, admitting that a simple smartphone can be effective for shooting video. “You don’t always have to generate a high-production video or an 800-word article to get the job done. Often, a photo with a caption, a quick hit on your blog, a tweet or Facebook update will do.”

As for the subject matter, Turner suggests mining the subjects that are important to your industry.

O’Shea echoes this. He recommends using social media search engines to find topics of interest to your company and then invest some time in finding your community.

“You already have fans—clients who come back time after time, advocate for your company and defend your good name at cocktail parties and on Facebook. You need to find them, continually interact with them on the topics that matter to them and get them to engage with you. Ask them questions, get their opinions, challenge them, give them something for their loyalty, and do it all over again.”

You don’t want to create content that people aren’t looking for.

Once you’ve posted the content, you’ll need to see how it has connected with your target audience. “You need to make sure you have KPIs (key performance indicators) that you can follow, to make sure that the content is performing well, whether it be through visits, time on the page or a post in social media,” Turner says. “You need to be able to measure and see if this is working.”

“You don’t want to create content that people aren’t looking for.”

Content amplification strategy

The key to content marketing is making sure your content is seen by as wide an audience as possible, following the steps illustrated in the content amplification strategy below.

What is content marketing strategy?

Turner stresses that your content marketing strategy should reflect what you’re trying to do as a business. He gives the example of a business that sells high-end fashionable running shoes. “The content they create is going to try and give off the idea to people that they have the coolest shoes.”

Turner says your content marketing strategy will needs to include the taking of several research steps.

You’ll need to know:

  • what your competition is doing
  • what kind of content your audience is consuming
  • where your audience is consuming its content

Many companies use editorial calendars to help them organize their ideas, publish new content regularly and have a high-level view of the messages they are putting out.

Content marketing vs. social media marketing

How does content marketing differ from social media marketing?

Turner explains that content marketing is a tool that can help facilitate a conversation with your prospects and clients, while social media is the platform that you use to do that.

“Social media is a vehicle. And it’s one part of the content media strategy.”

Social media marketing is a bit of a misnomer since it actually requires content and thus falls under the umbrella of content marketing.

Turner says you’ll need to make sure you’re using the social media platform most appropriate to your target audience and employing the best type of article for that media.

“It’s not just plopping an article that’s 7,000 words into a post,” he says, adding that despite their being all vehicles for content marketing, X (formerly known as Twitter), TikTok, Facebook and LinkedIn are completely different from each other.

He adds that you can also opt for investing in paid searches, which offer more ways for your content to be exposed.

Next step

Learn how to define your brand, identify your customer, map your customers’ purchase journey and much more by downloading the free BDC Marketing plan template.

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