No, it’s not the “there is no ROI from content marketing” myth.
I am going to debunk that in the first sub-heading.
I am talking about the “we don’t need to do content marketing because our customers don’t read blogs/research online” myth.
It’s 2012. Are you really going with that excuse in B2B marketing and expect to survive?
To be clear, I am not arguing for or against specific types of content. I am no blogging wingnut and if your market is more responsive to video I will be the first person to urge you to get on that bus.
In fact, I will send you off with a list of best practices and examples so that you can race to the front of the pack.
But you have to realize that you are bringing a knife to a gun fight if your competition is killing it with their blog…
…while you have shuttered your comatose blog which is on it’s deathbed because you went about blogging in a half-assed fashion.
This is true for any kind of content. Its success or failure in contributing to your bottom line depends on you.
Now, to the debunking.
I don’t need to produce content because I sell…
Global Plastic Sheeting, a California based company with less than 10 employees grew sales by 100% and leads by 92% thanks to content marketing.
Louis E Page Inc., a fencing company with six employees expanded its customer base from New England to the entire United States thanks to its blog. It also snagged 2,156 leads from organic search in one year.
Marketing automation software for highly regulated industries like healthcare?
Distribion, whose clients include a number of companies in sectors like financial services, insurance and casino gaming has seen revenue increase of 40% in one year thanks to content marketing collaterals like blog posts, whitepapers and webinars.
Notice a trend here? These are all obscure and un-sexy niches. People are more likely to be excited over tablets and pizzas than they are going to be over chain link fences.
Yet, as these mini case studies show, companies who have bucked the conventional thought process and dived into the pool have seen handsome growth, not in soft numbers like brand awareness and conversation, but in hard business metrics like sales and leads.
Why did that happen? Two words- online research.
Are you at the customer’s ZMOT?
ZMOT, or Zero Moment of Truth, is Google’s take on this pre-shopping moment. It’s a play on the older FMOT (First Moment of Truth). ZMOT, unlike FMOT which occurs at the point of purchase, is the moment when a customer starts researching her options.
And today, that’s increasingly happening online and driven by mobile devices. Look at these numbers
- 70% Americans go online to look for reviews, shop for deals and find out the opinion of trusted authorities.
- 79% customers use a smartphone to research before buying.
- In 2011, the average shopper used 10.4 sources of information like TV ads, magazine articles, word of mouth recommendations from family and friends,websites and blogs.
- In 2010, only 5.3 sources were influencers.
- 84% of shoppers say what they found out during the research stage influenced their decisions.
These stats are a few out of a report from Google called “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth”. Based on a survey of 5000 customers, this e-book looks at what’s driving buying decisions across sectors. And here is one very important nugget that stood out for me.
If consumers will do research online for houses and health care, they’ll also do it for Band-Aids and ballpoint pens.
If one site can get 3000 comments about Scotch tape in one year, you can bet your next pay check that people are online searching and talking about assembly line automation software or refurbished medical equipment.
They are doing it for fencing and plastic sheeting and medical insurance.
Benefiting from prospect conversations
Google’s prescription for brands to appear in the conversation at the pre-shopping stage is classic content marketing strategy. It can be broken down into these parts:
- Put someone in charge of the process.
- Find out who your customers are.
- Determine the questions they are asking.
- Create content that answers those questions.
- Optimize that content for search engines and social media sharing.
- Hit all channels, including video and mobile (Psst: 79% websites are not customized for mobile.)
- Set up reasonable metrics and benchmarks. Test and measure everything – homepage layouts, landing page text, email subject lines, click through rates, conversions, ROI.
- Keep your ear to the ground, and piggyback on events that might not be directly related to you.
- Don’t be afraid to change, and always try something new. Fail, learn your lessons and try something else.
Nothing’s linear anymore
Your prospects don’t move along a funnel where choices are narrowed at each stage- they can dump you at the altar for something better.
Their buying journey is not only influenced by bosses and your direct competition- it can be influenced by Google’s algorithmic changes,an earthquake across the world, a comment thread on a ratings site or the crazy talk of a radio host.
In this incredibly complex environment, you can control very few things, and producing persuasive content that presents your brand in a favorable light is one of them.
Don’t deprive yourself of that advantage.