At its heart, marketing is all about getting potential buyers to your product and converting them into paying customers. In the past, a business might create an ad or other marketing content, then distribute it widely and hope it fell on fertile ground. Today's approaches are more streamlined. With tons of user data available for analysis, a company can pinpoint what it sees as its ideal customer and then approach them in places that they are most likely to be present.
Driving potential customers to a business's website is a lot easier today than it was at the inception of the e-commerce boom. Content marketing has proven to be one of the most effective means of driving customers to a company's website. By developing content that is informative and has a definite narrative structure, businesses can provide value to consumers with more than just the products or services they sell. This value proposition is critical to getting consumers interested enough to visit the company's website.
Below, 10 entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective explore some of the best practices any company can implement for creating content and leveraging content marketing in order to drive more customers to its website.
1. Prove you really know your target audience.
We create "gifts" -- shareable games, experiences, bits of VR fun or hyper-customized product samples, not so much in the form of an ad, but as peer-to-peer delight: proof that a client really understands what's important to their target customer and the cultures they're immersed in. It's a powerful way to drive people to places they may not ordinarily go -- a web sign-up form or a social reshare. - Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)
2. Keep your content benefit-oriented.
For content to be a conduit for attention, action or acquisition, it needs to give something of benefit to the audience. And this benefit will vary by audience segment as the needs will be different given these segment groups are in different stages of the purchase journey. Developing a content map that aligns to the audience is much more effective and is meaningful to the audience. - Raashee Gupta Erry, UPLEVEL - Digital Media Consulting
3. Be real, genuine, intriguing and relevant.
Always speak directly to either the interests or pain points of your target audience. You must intrigue the audience by presenting an innovative approach, a solution or a thought direction that resonates with the audience and is unique and encourages them to want to learn more because it has "edge." The approach could be as simple as a successful case study, a new technology or feature, etc. - Oz Etzioni, Clinch
4. Aim to solve customers' needs and problems.
I'm going to be channeling content marketing guru and author Rebecca Lieb on this one, passing on what she taught me! Businesses exist to solve their customers' needs and problems. The most engaging content is whatever helps those customers. Let them know you understand their need, pain point or problem and point them to a solution. Be customer-centric. Be entertaining, educational, informative or utilitarian. It boils down to their needs, their wants and their pain. - Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide
5. Try to whet their appetite.
Companies often try to say everything to their customers in their content. This is a mistake, as it creates information overload and paralyzes the user from doing anything. Instead, use content to pique the interest of a prospect and use that natural curiosity to drive the call to action of learning more via your website. In this way, traffic numbers will go up as customers seek out the information they need. - Patrick Ward, Rootstrap
6. Set your content free.
Many marketers obsess about the call to action or form fill. But, the reality is, buyers today are in control of their journey and they'd rather find information somewhere else than give up their anonymity to read your gated e-book. Enable buyers to learn from you versus your competitors by ungating your content. If customers are learning from you, they'll want to engage and, ultimately, meet. - Latane Conant, 6sense
7. Make sure it addresses the purchase process.
Think through the purchase process from your customers' perspective. What are the questions they'll have at every stage of consideration? Make content that addresses each of those questions in a factual, non-sales manner using the language that your client is likely to use. It's effective because that is the way your targets will search and you'll help them when they're most open. - Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)
8. Write headlines that shine.
Whether it's a great subject line for an email or a winning headline on a Facebook ad, starting with captivating, attention-grabbing copy is a quick way to drive top-of-funnel customers to our clients' sites. Then we focus on educational content to further raise awareness and educate the user on the product or service that will aim to address their specific question, need or pain point. - Warren Jolly, adQuadrant
9. Build anticipation and quickly pay it off.
Where do we see high levels of engagement to be inspired by? Every month, 500 million people watch videos from BuzzFeed's Tasty channel. For context, why? These videos are quick (action is sped up). They also build anticipation of the next step along the way. They show the full "story" and leave the viewer satisfied. It’s a winning trifecta. - Kristen Anna Roeckle, Concentric Health Experience
10. Say something surprising.
I won't say this is always true. But more often than not, what makes something interesting is that it's out of the ordinary, unexpected. Contrarian opinions. Perspectives that challenge conventional wisdom. Looking at an old problem through a new lens. If someone walks away from your content thinking they learned something new and valuable, and were maybe entertained along the way -- you win. - Todd Morgano, Falls