Lee Odden on Nov 23rd, 2010
We’ve established the value of content marketing here through many different posts. Most of the focus has been on creating value from content at the top of the funnel in a buying cycle. That’s where a lot of marketing dollars are focused and it’s an area of focus for the consulting offered by many online marketing agencies.
Content is the source of why search engines exist and therefore, essential for any discussion of SEO. Content is also the means through which brands engage customers on the social web through helpful information, resources, advertorial and even entertainment.
Another perspective to consider is that when brands and individuals share information on social networks and media sharing sites the outcome is content. There are many ways to be more effective with social content creation, sharing and engagement that marketers are not taking advantage of.
From an overall marketing and customer engagement perspective, all content is not created equal. Any kind of content isn’t appropriate in any kind of situation despite what recent content advocates would have you believe. Since much of the focus of online marketing is on customer acquisition, many SEO efforts emphasize transaction or lead generation outcomes. That’s what they’re held accountable for. Unfortunately, search to purchase or social to purchase are not the only ways people interact with information online. Research before purchase as well as education and support afterwards are also important.
Being in the “brand as publisher” business is better than not creating any content at all, but it’s a much more effective thing to be purposeful in content creation & marketing according to the full customer experience. Seeing content engagement opportunities holistically can provide a company more ways to initiate, maintain and enhance customer relationships.
For example, in the context of online marketing, there are many different touch points during the customer relationship. Using the Buying Cycle model of: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Service and Loyalty, marketers can best plan what kind of content may be most appropriate to engage customers according to their needs.
For a holistic editorial plan, here are a few types of content and methods of communication to consider:
- Public Relations
- Word of Mouth
- Social Media
- Search Marketing
- Social Media
- Product/Service Reviews
- Direct Response
- Social Commerce
- Social Media (ASB Virtual Branch is a great example)
- Social CRM
- Online Messaging (LivePerson)
- Search – After the sale queries on FAQ, Knowledge-base content
- Email Newsletter
- Social Network, Forum – community
In the development of a content marketing strategy, there are numerous opportunities to be more relevant and effective. Planning content that’s meaningful to the customers you’re trying to engage according to where they are in the buying cycle and overall customer relationship provides for more efficiency in content creation as well as the repurposing of content.
Holistic content marketing and editorial planning also helps make better use of tactics that transcend the relationship timeline like SEO and Social Media. It’s especially the case with holistic SEO that content producers can extend their reach and visibility to customers that are looking – not just to buy, but to engage with brands in other ways.
By considering the content needs across the customer lifecycle, not just acquisition or conversion, companies can become significantly more effective and efficient in their ability to connect relevant messages and stories with customers that are interested. The result: shorter sales cycles, better customer relationships and more word of mouth.
How is your company leveraging content throughout the customer relationship? Are you coordinating a content marketing strategy that integrates SEO and social media? Does it make sense that the business of content strategy and promotion of content extends beyond marketing?