Content that builds connections with customers is important. And content that generates emotion and helps them overcome a challenge is key to converting them into buyers. As your prospects move through the buyer’s journey, good storytelling helps ensure your brand is top of mind, especially when it’s time to make a purchasing decision.
The content you produce can look different in B2B versus B2C. For example, B2B content marketing may require more touch points throughout the buying journey, in part because the sales process can take months (or even years), and multiple leaders are usually involved in the decision.
Regardless, fitting smaller stories into your larger brand narrative and defining where they fall within the funnel will drive a lot of your strategic decisions. But before you start creating content for a campaign, you first need to identify the purpose of each clearly.
Creating Content for Engagement vs. Conversion
Not every piece of content is meant to drive a sale or even generate a lead. Some content may simply aim to increase brand awareness and establish your company as a thought leader in the industry, and these are necessary.
It can take time for people to take the leap and buy a product or even fill out a request for more information.
And before they do, they need to trust your brand as a thought leader in the market.
Once a potential customer is aware of your brand, you want to drive them further down the funnel through engagement and conversion. As a refresher, engagement happens when people interact with your brand in some way but aren’t necessarily interested in making a purchase, like when they share your content on social media. This generally happens at the upper stages of the marketing funnel, where the priority is building your brand’s initial relationship with your audience.
Conversion means different things to different businesses. In today’s digital age, it most often means transitioning somebody from merely trusting your brand to showing some sort of interest in actually making a purchase.
It usually happens in the middle and bottom of the marketing funnel and means a prospect has taken an action, like downloading an eBook or filling out a submission form that allows you to build a deeper relationship with them. Even lower in the funnel, conversion might entail scheduling a demo, attending a webinar or event, or making a repeat purchase.
Optimize Your Storytelling for Engagement and Conversion
Ready to take your content to the next level? These five strategies can help you fine-tune your content to drive more engagement and conversions.
1. Identify key metrics from the get-go.
During the content planning stage, identify a clear list of metrics or KPIs. This list will help you create content that meets your engagement and conversion goals. Metrics to consider include:
- For engagement:
- Web: Landing page bounce rate, exit rate, time on page, pages visited per session, hyperlink clicks, repeat visitors
- Social media: Likes, shares, and comments
- Email: Open rate, click-through rate
- Conversion: Marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, revenue generated, number of sales, long-form content downloads, repeat customers, click-through rate
2. Track and direct readers through the buyer’s journey.
If you don’t direct prospects to the next step, they’re more likely to leave without purchasing or even engaging with more content. Creating a user experience that nudges them through the buyer’s journey is important.
For example, you can direct readers from a blog post to a long-form piece of content (like an eBook), a product landing page, or a submission form (e.g., event registrations or product demo signup). You can also use banners or pop-ups to encourage readers to sign up for an email newsletter or access free resources.
To track how buyers interact with your content, use tracking methods such as adding UTM codes to URLs to understand the buyer’s journey and map their engagement with content.
Gating content for lead generation
Not all your content should be freely available. Consider gating some of your content to gather prospects’ contact information and assess the quality of your leads. Your high-value content pieces, like webinars, educational courses, and exclusive content, are good for this use.
3. Create and optimize content that drives emotion.
Before you start publishing content, make sure it’s a right fit for your audience. This increases the odds that it will engage and convert prospects into buyers. This is particularly important when optimizing content for organic search.
Choose keywords, write headlines, and craft meta descriptions that specifically address your audience’s needs.
Also, keep your readers’ past experience and knowledge level in mind. Know their challenges and offer a unique way to solve them, or answer a question you’re confident they’ve actually asked.
Content created simply to bring in impressions on your website isn’t beneficial in the long run. That just brings you readers with no intention of purchasing. But tailoring content to the right audience makes it more likely they’ll find your content useful and engaging—and ultimately convert.
And if you’re in B2B marketing, don’t forget there are often multiple decision makers involved in a major purchase. Consider creating content that targets each one of those personas with the topics they care about most.
Build an emotional connection through good storytelling
Developing an emotional connection with your audience is the best way to build their trust in your brand. This means knowing your customer and presenting them (not your company) as the “hero” of your narrative. They are the ones who need to solve a specific problem.
To achieve this, thoroughly research your customer and develop personas grounded in quantitative and qualitative research. To turn a prospect into a lead or a sale, you need to know your company inside and out so you can create content that showcases how you can help the “hero” solve their problem. It may benefit you to consult with subject matter experts during this process since they likely know your products or services best.
4. Prioritize content promotion and distribution.
You can’t expect your audience to engage with your content if they can’t find it in the first place. And one of your responsibilities as a content marketer is to make that user experience an easy one. Some common ways to promote and distribute content include:
- Sharing it across your social media channels
- Including recently published content in a regular newsletter sent out to your audience
- Building out a sales email sequence that includes newly published content like an article, product landing page, or eBook
- Linking to long-form content or product landing pages within blog posts where appropriate
- Encouraging your sales team to share new content from their personal LinkedIn accounts
5. Be consistent with content publication.
A consistent publication schedule enhances the customer experience and helps increase brand credibility, reputation, and trust. Publishing on a regular schedule brings potential leads back for more content, which is especially important during a lengthy B2B sales process or high-stakes B2C purchase. For instance, they may need another question answered or have a new challenge to solve before they make a purchase.
Planning out your content with a calendar showing what you plan to publish and when (even if rough) is a good place to start. Ultimately, your cadence will vary depending on your company size, bandwidth, and available resources.
Remember, you don’t need to start from scratch every time. Repurposing existing content is a good way to maintain a consistent message across all your channels while saving time and resources.
If you want to level up customer engagement and conversion, it’s time to tighten up your processes. Start with prioritizing good storytelling, clearly defining your goals, and publishing content that drives a response, whether it’s emotional or digital. You can’t expect the revenue to start pouring in just because somebody read a blog post you published. The buying process often takes time. And establishing that initial trust for your brand is where it begins.
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