It wasn’t until half way through the starter that I realised I’d been seated next to my dinner party nightmare. As is usually the case at polite dinner parties, the conversation drifted into the waters of career and work but before the main course had even been served, the guest to my left had already dismissed the idea of publishing original content, and promoting it through social media channels, as “something only my teenage grand-daughter’s generation do”, “an egotistical personal branding exercise” and “something media types faff around with but it won’t help the bottom line.”
To his credit, my dinner party companion softened as the evening wore on and did seem to be genuinely interested in the arguments I was putting forward once we got deeper into the conversation.
But, if you ever find yourself needing to explain the compelling business argument for publishing high-calibre content (or even if you need a refresher yourself) this is how it works…
Helps people find you online
Guides people into your Sales Funnel
Increases trust and awareness
Provides information at the ‘point of consideration’
Increases customer retention
Encourages loyalty and repeat business
High-Quality Content Helps People Find You Online
This is a simple equation - Customers are searching for content. If you want them to find you, give it to them.
Quality, in-depth content on your site will improve your SEO and make you easier to find in a number of ways, not least of all because it increases the ‘dwell time’ i.e. the length of time visitors spend on your site.
Google rightly assumes that a site where people stick around must be high quality so moves it higher up in the rankings. Publishing compelling, long-form, well-written content will encourage people to stay on your page to read it and move you higher in those important stakes.
Content increases your SEO, provides a stream of sustainable traffic and converts visitors to leads. It also gets your brand in front of new audiences.
Why does SEO matter so much? 88% of consumers use an online search to seek further information. That’s a staggering statistic. Can you really afford to ignore the requirements of 88% of consumers? Of course not.
"88% of consumers use an online search to seek further information"
And as for promoting it through social media channels, if you think social media is only for the “cool kids”, bear in mind that two billion people use Facebook alone to specifically search for content every day.
“An egotistical personal branding exercise” couldn’t be further from the truth – you’re providing a service for customers that are actively searching for that information.
As technology changes, the way people consume content is changing and instead of waiting for marketing efforts to come to them, consumers are hungry for content. If you aren’t publishing original articles and blogs, you’re simply not going to draw those people to your site and, it’s important to quantify, these are ‘warm’ leads; consumers who have already shown an interest in your area by pro-actively searching for information. Quality content helps them find you, instead of your competitors.
Once they’ve found you online, compelling content drives consumers into your sales funnel…
High-Quality Content Guides People into Your Sales Funnel
There’s a very common misconception that high-quality content is always a top-of-funnel marketing tactic and loses its efficiency further along the process. While this isn’t accurate and content can be crucial at all stages - from discovery to consideration, conversion and retention, providing information that can make the difference between sale or no sale all the way through - top of the funnel is undoubtedly one of the key areas where content plays a vital role.
At the start of the relationship, content serves the key purpose of raising awareness of your brand among potential buyers and the market at large.
Depending on where you’re publishing and promoting your content, you have the chance to enlighten a wide range of people about what you offer as well as providing more detailed information for consumers that are closer to a decision and actively seeking content.
Importantly, content also gives you a voice. You get the golden opportunity of putting your point across and getting it in front of those you want to convince – for example, if you’re worried that customers will instinctively pick a ‘bigger fish’ than you, write engaging content that opens up the debate and puts your own point across about why smaller companies can be more agile, flexible, creative or whatever else you want to express.
Do it well enough and you’ve just bought customers into your sales funnel.
"Importantly, content also gives you a voice. You get the golden opportunity of putting your point across and getting it in front of those you want to convince"
On-site content, or long-form content published on platforms like LinkedIn, provides an invaluable opportunity to offer information and can be crucial part of the customer’s decision making process.
Once you’ve driven people into the sales funnel, original content helps them get to know you…
High-Quality Content Increases Trust and Awareness
Content undoubtedly fosters the relationship from lead to conversion.
It’s a no-brainer really - regularly putting your name and your content in front of your consumers, increases awareness, which in turn builds trust, which in turn drives people towards the bottom of the sales funnel, encourages them to buy and impacts your bottom line.
At this top of the sales process, your content can help integrate your business into your customers ‘trusted brands’ by creating trust in your content.
As the move further down and closer to a sale, your content educates them on why they need what you offer and why they should pick you instead of your competitors.
Case studies and ‘How-to’ content that showcases your product or demonstrates your expertise is invaluable in helping them make a decision and while it may not be the ultimate deciding factor, it will certainly play a crucial part.
"...content that showcases your product or demonstrates your expertise is invaluable in helping them make a decision"
If businesses deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they will reward you with their business and loyalty.
Getting your content in the forefront of potential buyers’ minds, will help them come to see you as a brand that can be trusted and which has authority in the market. In addition, by giving potential customers useful content you’re associating feelings of trust, loyalty and gratitude with your brand.
53% of consumers say offering free content on a topic they’re interested in is effective for attracting their business. More than half (56.7%) are more likely to buy something they have read about through online articles.
The same research demonstrates that an incredible 93.2% of consumers surveyed used online search to find information about a company or product within the last week, 89% read an online article, more than half (50.8%) downloaded content from a website and over a quarter (28.5%) followed a company on social media.
Once they know more about you, quality content can help them make their buying decision…
High-Quality Content Drives Sales and Provides Education at the Point of Consideration
Making sure that a potential customer has quality content in front of them when they reach the point of consideration - through regular publishing and promotion through all your social media channels - can make all the difference between why they would pick your business above somebody else’s.
Content that educates customers about why they should choose you, why they need your product or how they can use it, and helps you leverage crucial decision making points in the sales funnel by offering consumers solutions to potential concerns.
It offers a point of differentiation from your competitors and gets your brand message out. It also gives your sales team something to work with.
Sales reps are consistently looking for a good ‘excuse’ to reach out to prospects and sharing a new, relevant piece of content or resource is the perfect justification for getting back in touch with any leads that may need warming up.
In addition to providing that excuse to make contact, the piece of content may just contain the right information at the right time to push them towards a positive buying decision.
Once they’ve bought from you, awesome content encourages them to spread the word and become a repeat customer…
High-Quality Content Increases Customer Retention
Once the sale has been made, the impact of content is still ongoing. By continuing to provide content that is applicable to both potential and current customers, you can stay forefront of their mind, become one of their favourite trusted brands, and either secure repeat business or generate word of mouth referrals, bringing other potential sales your way.
People love to be proved right and if your product or service has hit the spot for a customer, they will usually be only too pleased to talk about, share, pass around and ‘like’ further content relevant content to demonstrate their own good sense in choosing you!
If you continue to provide your customer base with consistent, on-going, valuable information that is relevant to their own lives, even after the point of sale, they will reward you with their business and loyalty.
Using content to create a strong business persona will help you become one of your customers most trusted brands.
In recent research, 90% of respondents said they had an emotional response to the brands who best use storytelling in the creation of their brand, with the overriding emotion as love.
"90% of respondents said they had an emotional response to the brands who best use storytelling in the creation of their brand, with the overriding emotion as love."
The report, conducted in association with 3Gem Research, asked 2,000 consumers to rate brands against eight storytelling strands, including authenticity, sense of purpose, memorability and other key characteristics.
High quality content is one of the most powerful ways to tell you brand story and create that emotional connection.
After all, who doesn’t want a firm customer base who cite ‘love’ as the overriding emotion they have for your brand? High quality content and a clear brand message will help you achieve that.
As coffees were served and the dinner conversation wound to a close, my sceptical dining companion and I had reached a greater understanding of each other and I feel like I had been given the opportunity to address a lot of reservations that I suspect many people have but few are bold enough to actually voice.
Publishing high quality content IS a powerfully effective way to drive sales, it DOES benefit your bottom line and I’m glad I had the chance to explain why.
If you ever find yourself in a similar dinner party predicament, remember this article.
Pass the salt, pour yourself a Pinot and set the record straight.