Great content marketing is about connecting with your customer base and target prospects. To be effective, content must be created in the right way. It must educate and empower your customers. Below, Andy Seibert, Managing Partner at Imprint, share his tips for crafting content that influences the buyer’s journey.
Tell me a little about your roles as a Managing Partner at Imprint and as the Chair of The Content Council.
I started Imprint two and a half years ago and we have a growing, talented team of content creators, designers and strategists. We’re part of Sullivan, a brand engagement firm, and they have a stellar 25 year track record, and with their investment we have been able to expand and handle our clients’ largest and most complex content needs with ease. I have been involved with The Content Council for over a decade, have been on the board for five years and am in my third year of being Chairman. In a way, the two roles have much synergy. At Imprint, we are 100% focused on helping our clients build meaningful relationships with their customers through actionable and measurable content strategies. A big part of my role at The Content Council is providing our association members’ value through our own content marketing, promoting our expertise and highlighting member programs.
Today’s buyer is enlightened and, according to CEB, already 57% of the way through the buying process before they ever contact a vendor. How do you use content to influence the buyer’s journey?
Content, when created in the right way, can be both educational and empowering. We leverage content at key moments of the customer journey, including at the early stages of exploration. Having editorial content on your site, for example, can showcase expertise, build confidence and early loyalty. An empowered prospect will likely move along the buying journey faster, and reach out to that company that provided them with the relevant content. And when the vendor is contacted, the journey is efficient for both parties as a result of educating the buyer. B-to-C companies have traditionally been further ahead of traditional B-to-B companies in providing this content, but modern B-to-B companies are adopting B-to-C strategies to much success.
According to Forrester Research, 83% of marketers are unable to measure business value from their content marketing efforts. How do you tie your content efforts back to sales outcomes and determine the ROI of your content programs?
The first step is having a client who is committed to measuring success. This means aligning with their sales, web, data, insights and financial teams. Measurement is multi-faceted and so having an internal commitment is critical. Next we work with the client to determine which specific metrics (no more than three) really move their business objectives, and stick to them. An Imprint teammate, Ken Williams, recently shared this here: http://bit.ly/1MaE0wf.
Measurement is a continuous effort – learn, pivot, respond, analyze, and so it continues.
With the enormous amount of online content today, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. What are the essential components of great, stand-out content?
- Relevance: connecting to the customer, providing the right information at the right time which makes it appear like it is personalized
- Not me-too: provide basic foundational content, but also go beyond to provide something unique – content is an extension of the brand
- Clear over clever: don’t make the reader work too hard
Companies that have a clear understanding of their brand, and also deep understanding of their audience segments, are best positioned to create content that is unique and best serves their communication and business objectives.
Who makes up The Content Council and what do they provide the industry?
The Content Council is the leading association of content marketers in North America. Our members range from large publishers to smaller boutiques. Our members are truly the experts in content marketing, and so brands turn to our members for their deep knowledge, experience, and insights. Our members provide industry-leading programs across digital and mobile, video, and print.
According to The Content Council’s white paper on the growth and transformation of content marketing, in the next two years companies will increase their content marketing budget by 10%. What does this mean for the evolution of content marketing and the measurement of ROI?
This is all good news – for both The Content Council members and for brands who are engaged in content marketing. The marketing budgets will increase due to an investment in technologies, mostly for measurement. Since we are confident that content works, being able to more accurately measure success will be game-changing for everyone involved.
How do you stay current with the growth of this marketing discipline?
I make sure a part of my every day is dedicated to consuming information on content marketing. It is an ever-evolving industry, with new channels and insights emerging on a regular basis. That is what makes it exciting! My first turn is to The Content Council’s information – the industry research, such as the recent study conducted with Ad Age, is incredibly insightful – and the blog, Content Exchange, is an amazing daily mix of curated and original content. Sign up for the email, and you’ll be kept in the know.
The Pearl Awards, the premier annual event honoring global industry leaders and individuals demonstrating excellence in content marketing, are open to entry until September 14th 2015.