Estimated read time: 8 minutes
Legendary business guru Peter Drucker once said the sole purpose of a business is to “create and keep a customer.”
So, here you are, producing great content, and your traffic has increased as a result. But as Mr. Drucker pointed out, the objective isn’t content for content’s sake. It’s to create and keep a customer. And while not everyone who consumes your content will become a customer (and that is OK), you want to do everything possible to make those that should be customers become customers as quickly as possible.
Sure, as you will read below, calls to action are critical. But there are other, less obvious things that need to happen, too.
So, what’s the recipe for converting all that traffic into buyers? Follow these four steps for building a content program that gives readers what they want: solutions to their opportunities and challenges.
Engage through genuine expertise
Too much of the B2SMB content I see today falls flat. While there are several reasons for this, here are the two most glaring ones:
- Brands produce content that’s too far afield from their core expertise. (Why should a bank, for example, be giving out advice on how to network on LinkedIn or fit exercise into the workday?)
- The content feels “same-old”—the approach and takeaways repeat too much of what the reader can find in many places online or already knows.
To really stand out, you have to stick to areas related to your offering. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t produce content that is tangentially related to your company’s mission. It’s great, for example, for a bank to write about areas that intersect with SMB financial management, whether fraud prevention or tips for managing cash flow.
Moreover, your content must be POV-changing: it needs to help SMBs see the topic in a new light or teach them something new. The way you do that is by relying on the best experts—whether internal or external—to provide the insights. Those experts can either produce or byline the content, or they can be interviewed and featured in it. Experts the difference between content that changes the POV vs. content that is too obvious or commonplace. (For insights on the differences among some influencers and experts, check out this post.)
By focusing on your domain expertise, you’re much better positioned to build a lasting audience for your content and become a go-to resource for content. Said another way, it is hard to convert a reader into a customer when your content doesn’t lead them to your product.
Build out your audience
Before you create a customer with content, you want to focus on building an audience. These are people who are interested in the subject matter of your content and will view your site as a go-to. Being a top destination is one of the major goals of your content program because you are attracting readers who could turn into customers or referral sources.
The process for this starts with the content you create for the beginning of the buying journey. And remember that in the beginning, the SMB is in pursuit of ideas. When you create content about the buyer’s needs (and, for the beginning of the journey, less about your products), you are building trust, accelerating the buying journey and building an audience.
While social media is a great way to push content out, you’ll want to create a direct communication channel…. This is where your email newsletter comes in. This way you can continue to message and educate, accelerating the buying journey and keeping your brand front of mind.
As in the words of famous retail entrepreneur Sy Syms, “An educated consumer is our best customer.” If your content has done its job, it has educated the reader.
But once you’ve educated someone and they trust you, you need to make it easy for them to continue on their buying journey with you and ideally, of course, buy from you. That means that every piece of content you create needs to include at least one “call to action” (CTA)—some way they can continue their relationship with you.
Of course, not everyone is ready to buy now, and most of your website’s visitors are still in the early stages of the buying journey. So consider giving them multiple ways to interact in addition to “buy now.” Some other common CTAs:
- “Contact us” to learn more about our product or service.
- “Try” us out with this free trial.
- “Subscribe” to our emails.
- “Read more” about this topic.
Those last two—”subscribe” and “read more”—are an easy way to stay in touch and nurture those businesses that aren’t ready to buy today.
Stay consistent across sales and marketing
Today’s SMB doesn’t care, and sometimes doesn’t even know the difference, whether they are interacting with your sales team or with your marketing team. Having a consistent message as the buyer continues her journey is therefore critical.
Unfortunately, this is where many companies really drop the ball. When you don’t have consistent messaging among channels, you create “FUD” (fear, uncertainty and doubt)—which chills any sales opportunity.
To have a consistent message, your salespeople must understand the content strategy and be following the content themselves. They should also be equipped with late-buying-stage content (aka “sales enablement”) that aligns with the content on your site.
If possible, your sales team should know what content any prospect they’re working with has consumed, so they can ask the right questions.
As you look to create customers, remember that trust in your brand is more important than ever. You’ll build trust only by having a consistent message across all your channels and showing you care as much about helping SMBs as you do selling to them.