January 7, 2014

Why Content is Your First Sales Call

The precise relationship between content and a conversion isn’t always apparent. In this Q&A Steve Rotter, author and Vice President at Brightcove, tells us why content is your first sales call (and probably the second as well)

How does content help achieve business objectives and consumer engagement?

Content is paramount. It forms the foundation for all customer communication (via email marketing or social channels) and allows brands to create a ‘brand personality’ on their own terms. That’s why we are seeing such a massive increase in the use of video for content marketing. Your content is your first sales call (probably the second and third as well). If that is the case, what do you think would work best, an engaging video introducing your product or a 10-page whitepaper?

How can brands target their content more effectively?

It all comes down to knowing your customers and what they care about. For most marketers, this means two things. First, clearly defining your target audience (often referred to as marketing personas).

Secondly, understanding the various stages of the buyer journey. By developing rich personas for key buyers, brands can speak to a vast group in a way that seems one-to-one. The best way to develop meaningful personas and related messages is to craft detailed answers to questions about target buyers. What are their key responsibilities? What are their pain points? What motivates them? How big is their budget? How can your brand or product make their life easier?

What’s the role of social media in eliciting user-generated content and how can it be managed?

It’s useful to think about user-generated content (UGC) in two categories. Spontaneous UGC, such as ratings and reviews, and campaign-based user generated content. For brands that are confident in their product value, spontaneous UGC is great because it gives your most vocal supporters a voice to share their excitement about your product. Video testimonials about a product or service can be some of the most valuable marketing assets a company has. The other category, campaign-based UGC, is another example of integrating paid, earned and owned media. For example, Disney/ABC recently launched a campaign called ‘Unstoppable Moms’. The show encouraged viewers to submit written or video descriptions explaining why their mom is “dedicated, caring, confident, loving, determined and ready for anything,” and then selected a series of semi-finalists.

How do you describe the relationship between content and SEO?

At a very basic level, if your content is on target, it should have the words and phrases that matter most to your audience and therefore provide the right SEO impact. But many marketers are beginning to realise that not all content is created equal when it comes to SEO. According to MarketingSherpa, pages with video attract two to three times more visitors and see 157 per cent increase in organic traffic. Why? Because search engines view video as a higher value content-type and therefore give it an SEO advantage.

How should brands measure the success of content marketing strategies?

As with any communications endeavour, reasonable goals should be assigned to content marketing initiatives – but with a long-term view. Sometimes the goals are measurable, i.e. an increase in Twitter followers or achieving a specific traffic benchmark for the corporate blog.
Other goals are more difficult to measure, such as positive buzz on message boards or online recommendations. Content marketing’s challenge – as with its sister effort PR – is that it’s not always easy to draw a direct line between a piece of content and the closing of a sale; however, a prospect can read a whitepaper one day and place a sales inquiry on another. Brands need to have confidence that their content is moving the needle, something that can be gleaned after a holistic six-month or one-year review.