Here’s what winning marketers will be doing in the coming year.
Last year saw many marketers increasingly focus on content in their efforts to market and sell to small and midsize businesses. As we worked with clients, attended conferences and sought insights from industry thought-leaders throughout the year, we were constantly on the lookout for trends, best practices and common threads that characterized the most successful content marketing initiatives. As we move into a new year, we thought we’d share the 5 critical strategies that we believe are most critical to continued success in 2018.
1. Building an audience
Rented audiences (paid media) are becoming increasingly fragmented and costly to reach. Companies that build their own audiences, beginning with a solid base of email subscribers, are seeing increased customer engagement and stronger, more measurable ROI. Why? When you build an SMB audience, you are building a trusted relationship with interested prospects and loyal customers who want to hear from you. Once you have their trust, you can nurture your relationship with them throughout their buying journey, ultimately guiding them toward conversion.
2. Creating your own platform
Successful marketers today are thinking like media companies and creating their own content platforms. Instead of trusting their content to social media and other platforms controlled by “gatekeepers,” companies are publishing on branded platforms they exclusively own and control. Separate branding (see CMO.com as an example) sends the signal to the reader that the content is about the reader and not the brand. This helps build trust in the platform as a valuable resource, giving readers a reason to sign up and keep coming back for more.
3. Creating exceptional content
With virtually everyone creating and distributing content, it has become essential to develop content that breaks through the noise, changes the audience’s point of view and keeps them coming back. Present possibilities and tell them things they do not know: best practices, examples of what others are doing that are producing results, etc. This will ultimately create opportunities to show how your product is the final logical step.
4. Staying focused on revenue
Content for its own sake is so 2015. Realize that not every potential customer is ready to buy today, and create content for every stage of the buying journey. Moving prospects along with strategic CTAs leading to logical next steps keeps customers engaged and brands top-of-mind when they are finally ready to convert, leading to greatly increased revenue over time.
5. Actually having a content marketing strategy
A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute revealed that roughly 2/3 of businesses surveyed still do not have a documented content marketing strategy. If yours is among them, consider this an alarm bell. Ad hoc approaches to content (a blog here, a whitepaper there), temporary campaigns and other toe-in-the-water approaches to content are ineffective in attracting and retaining the attention of busy SMBs and standing out from competitors that have continuous, comprehensive content marketing programs.
All year long in this space we’ll provide our best advice for reaching small and midsize businesses with content that they care about and want to consume. Whether these ideas are new or familiar to you, we know that if you move forward with any or all of them, you will see positive results.