Content marketing: 5 hallmarks of quality content
As content marketing is getting a stronger foothold, more and more marketers and business leaders are starting to see the importance of quality content as a key element in the marketing mix. Studies show that blogging and content production gives a good effect, but the question we often are left with is: How should this quality content look like in practice?
In this blog post, we will identify and examine five characteristics of quality content – and how this appears in a content marketing setting.
Quality Content is:
- Customising the buying process
- Strategically though out
Before you begin, you must know who to turn to. In our own content work, we use so-called personas. – A persona is a fictional, yet realistic, description of a typical or target user of the product. A persona is an archetype instead of an actual living human, but personas should be described as if they were real people. [Source N/N Group]
We have defined 6 such personas, and here are the 3 most important:
- Businessman Freddy – represents corporate and line managers
- Marketer Anne – represent marketing managers.
- Infoman Joe – represents information/communication managers.
Image shown is inspired from HubSpot and shows the mentioned personas.
For each persona, we also have a complementary profile. Here we have identified and described the roles the person has now, and what challenges and goals he has. We also have included demographic details such as age, income, education and place of residence, as well as a small “story” about the person.
It’s so much easier to produce content that is relevant to your audience when you have a face with a story to relate to. We always write to one or more personas. Sometimes Freddy, other times to Anne. And sometimes we write to both.
As in many other B2B scenarios, there are often multiple personas involved in our customers’ purchasing decisions. Often a CEO and a marketing manager. Their need for information is often different – the marketing manager has a greater interest in the academic aspect and how-questions while the CEO will be more concerned with what-questions, eg. “What kind of returns can we expect from a partnership.”
- Customising the buying process
Whether you’re writing a blog post, an e-book, a guide or produce a video or podcast, you should know where in the buying process the receiver is to hit the right nerve of the person’s need for information.
Another word for the purchase process is what HubSpot call The Buyer’s Journey: The active search and preparation process a potential customer goes through, that leads to a purchase.
You should produce content for each of the three phases of the customer journey:
- Awareness (recognition phase): The person is experiencing symptoms of a potential problem or opportunity. In this phase, he/she will consult vendor-neutral content which helps to identify and articulate the symptoms or problems. E.g. “I have a sore throat and fever, and my body is aching all over. What is wrong with me?”
- Consideration (evaluation phase): The person has now clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity. He/she will now continue to search for content that helps him/her to understand all the available approaches/methods to solve the problem or opportunity. E.g. “Aha! I have a strep throat. What are the alternatives to ease or cure my symptoms?”
- Decision (decision phase): The person has defined its solution, method or approach. He/she will look for decisions in the form of documentation, statistics, comparative tests or neutral customer recommendations, so he/she can comprehend or recommend a decision. E.g. “I can consult my doctor. It will cost me £20, but I’ll get fast help and the medications I need.”
Tip: If you use a marketing automation system such as HubSpot, you will be able to automate the marketing process so that the potential customer will automatically be offered new content as he/she progresses on the customer journey.
The content you create should have an editorial feel as opposed to a commercial and selling copy. Content Marketing differs here from advertising in that it provides value beyond the product/service you are selling. Where advertising talking about product excellence and its unique features, the content marketing talks about solutions and methods and will transform the reader to a smarter consumer/purchaser.
The content should deliver on one or more of the following criteria:
- Timeliness and newsworthiness
- Helpful, informative and instructive
To use ourselves as an example: Instead of exposing new contacts for selling content, we seek to build relationships with potential customers by offering valuable content. This blog is part of the strategy, as well as our growing selection of e-books.
You primarily create the content for people – but do not forget the search engines! In short it is about to deliberately use keywords and phrases that your potential customers will use in their search – depending on where in the customer journey they are. This will ensure that they find you on Google.
- Strategically though out
Although this is the last point, it should be the first thing you think of. What is it you want to achieve with content marketing, realistically? Do you want to use it for branding or for lead generation?
Companies looking to generate leads (real sales opportunities they can process further until the person/company becomes a customer/member) will get the best return by using content marketing as part of an inbound marketing strategy.
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