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The Ultimate Guide to Crushing It with Content Marketing: Best Practices, Strategy, and Examples

Have you ever dreamt of how great it would be if customers rushed towards you looking to learn more about your product/service without you having to push them into it?

How about presenting to customers and encountering few or no objections to a sale?

Does this all seem like a pipe dream?

It's entirely possible with a well-executed content marketing strategy.

In this guide, we'll put in your hands one of the most potent weapons in online marketing today - content marketing.

As this guide grows and is updated, we believe you'll want to return again and again to refer to the numerous resources included within. We have included several examples, research tools, templates, cheat sheets in addition to inspiration for developing and refining your content marketing strategy into a well-oiled marketing machine.

For your convenience, here is a table of contents. Feel free to jump to the section that interests you.

Table of Contents

What is Content Marketing?
Is Content Marketing Right For You?
Why Having A Content Marketing Strategy Is Important
11 Reasons Why Content Marketing Is Beneficial for Your Business
10 Content Marketing Best Practices
Types of Content Marketing
Over 20 Examples of Clever Content Marketing Pieces You Can Model
7 Steps to Developing Your Content Marketing Strategy
Additional Tips to Supercharge Your Content Marketing Success
Advanced Content Marketing Strategies
What Does the Future of Content Marketing Hold For Marketers?
Your Time to Take Action

 

Let's begin…

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing: The long-term strategy of building relationships with your target audience by planning, creating, distributing, and publishing high-quality content consistently to educate, entertain, and inspire while nurturing prospects through the entire customer value journey into promoters of your product/service.

Here's what a Customer Value Journey is.

customer value journey

We'll discuss the Customer Value Journey and how to map your prospects to the Value Journey in a bit more detail below [quick jump here].

Contrary to what some believe, the invention of content marketing did NOT happen in the last decade or two. In fact, people utilized the power of content marketing long before the previous century.

Poor Richard's AlmanackAccording to the Content Marketing Institute, the first recorded instance of content marketing was Benjamin Franklin's annual Poor Richard's Almanack.

Humans expressed and passed on their ideas, culture, belief systems, and concepts over the generations through story-telling.

Content marketing's impact on the bottom line is apparent in Marvel's stories. Even if you are not a superhero fan, Disney turned their Marvel franchise into a massive revenue generator over the last ten years.  It is due in no small part to the power of story-telling.

Another example of exceptional story-telling is Star Wars. Consider how this franchise captured earlier generations' imaginations and continues to do so today with new episodes and a whole new generation of viewers.

Great content engages. It doesn't "feel like marketing". Your audience readily searches for and consumes it. No one needs to prod the reader to see the value. It sells itself.

Your audience yearns for information frequently. Your prospects desire content in a natural and low-pressure environment without being disruptive and intrusive.

Outbound marketing, mostly paid advertising, to reach your customers tends to be intrusive and grows less effective as time goes by. We are barraged with advertising every day, every second everywhere we go.

Content marketing becomes a highly effective vehicle to transport your audience from where they are to where you want them to be. By telling stories, your audience gets to know you and your business better while being engaging.

As with any business, how does content marketing make money when you give information away for free?

Here's the idea behind content marketing and what makes it powerful as a strategy to deploy in your business: If you produce helpful content, your target audience will engage with you, spread your message and eventually buy from you.

Is Content Marketing Right For You?

According to the Content Marketing Institute in a 2019 B2B study, 81% of B2B content marketers plan to maintain or increase their marketing investment. In their B2C study, 59% of B2C marketers expect to increase their content marketing budget.

The numbers speak of a high degree of importance placed on content marketing as a critical pillar of a sound business strategy.

I propose that there is little difference between B2B and B2C marketing because we're still marketing to humans at the end of the day. Thus, it all boils down to Human-2-Human (H2H) interactions.

As long as you stay focused on your audience and what they want, content marketing works.

Content marketing is output at an increasingly furious rate. More and more blog content, videos, social media posts are appearing every day.

On YouTube in September 2019 alone, the number of videos uploaded per minute is 500 hours of content!

Today's web is noisy - one filled with pop-ups, promotions, banners, clickbait, and ads galore.

Millions of websites, large and small, depend on online advertising to survive.

All the noise leads to users' inevitable need to rely on ad-blocking browser plugins to drown out the noise.

Ad blockers are not new. People who adopted ad blockers are a rising number, from 21 million in 2010 to 181 million in January 2020.

The negative impact on advertisers? As more people adopt ad-blocking technology, advertisers lose an estimated range of $1 billion on the low end to as high as $40 billion in ad spend.

That's a staggering $40 billion worth of paid advertising flushed down the tubes because no one saw the ads!

How do you stand above all the noise and bypass ad blockers?

To counter the advent of ad-blocking technologies, companies need to find a way to continue reaching their target audience.

The answer is as simple as giving the audience more of what they want - content relevant to your audience.

Good content isn't going to be blocked or rejected because it is what your audience wants.

If it is good enough content, your audience will even pay money to get it.

Why Having A Content Marketing Strategy Is Important

Content marketing is a powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal. Consider how Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute compares it to a Super Bowl ad.

A 30-second ad spot at the Super Bowl costs around $5.25 million and reaches over 100 million viewers worldwide.

Instead of spending the marketing budget on a short ad spot on the Super Bowl, how about allocating it towards:

  • 70 issues of your very own full-color print magazine
  • 10,500 blog posts
  • 1,750 whitepapers/reports
  • 23 full-scale customer events
  • 65 books promoting your brand

That's a lot of mileage for a $5 million+ ad spend!

10 Reasons Why Content Marketing Is Beneficial for Your Business

If the Super Bowl ad comparison isn't enough for you, here are 10 more reasons content marketing is a powerful tactic to add to your strategic marketing initiatives.

1. Connects you with your target audience

As a primarily inbound marketing strategy, your audience seeks the content out on their own. Developing the right content attracts the right audience, like bees to honey.

2. Educates your Prospects About Your Products and Services

Often, people don't want to speak with a representative at your company for fear of being at the receiving end of a sales pitch.

What better way to ease your audience into the buying cycle than the content they sought on their own? They get to learn about your company, your processes, its people and have a taste of what you do.

3. Boosts your Brand

Branding is essentially a top-of-mind awareness.

Being in front of your audience weekly or every few days with high-quality content they love builds your brand image and keeps your company ranked high in their consciousness. The enhanced awareness allows you to continue influencing their purchasing behavior in a way others will not.

4. Extends Your Reach

Paid ads are only effective if managed properly.  In the case of ad blockers, there's no way you can circumvent those with ads.  Superb content gets shared and has the potential to go viral taking your content far beyond what you initially thought possible.

5. Increases Interactions with Your Audience

As we mentioned before, great content is engaging. Your audience is far more inclined to interact by posting comments, liking, following your page, and sharing if they like it.

6. Increases Sales With Less Effort

If deployed as evergreen content, the lifetime ROI on your marketing investment is astounding.

Besides social media, company blogs are a great channel to communicate regularly with your audience.

Patagonia used their blog to deliver terrific content for its customer base of outdoor enthusiasts.

They featured a story of one of their customers who wore Patagonia's baggie shorts for 180 days while hiking the Appalachian Trail. The story that entertains and engages, their readers learn how incredible these shorts are.

Their content helped customers discover their product and convinced their customers of the benefits without being told to buy it.

7. Boosts Loyalty
Every business seeks out new customers. A business's value increases if we focus on nurturing existing customers and not just chase new ones.

In a Bain & Company study, they found that:

    • Loyal customers spend more money
    • Loyal customers refer their friends
    • Loyal customers buy other products

Is anyone surprised by the findings?

Yet, many businesses continue to chase after more new customers ignoring their existing base. Mobile telcos are an prime example of customer neglect.

As the average value of a customer increases, you can spend more to acquire a new customer.

The company that can afford to pay more to capture a new customer wins in the long run.

8. Builds Relationships Over the Long Haul

Content marketing should be a long term strategy and not a one-off, a flash in the pan exercise. That's why producing content consistently is key to effectiveness.

9. Demonstrates How Your Products/Service Solves Your Prospect's Challenges

Content marketing is a form of 'try-it-before-you-buy' method of capturing a customer.

If you're a fan of Costco's free food samples on weekends, you'll see how a simple act of giving a product sample away increases sales, begins that relationship and improves brand recognition. All this accomplished at a small hard cost upfront.

10. Develops a Community of Advocates or Promoters for Your Company

While nurturing customers to become big-ticket purchases is great, getting them to provide testimonials and promote on your behalf is better. Since they are customers who've experienced the benefits of the product or service, they offer that unique vantage point into the buying experience. When others promote for you, there is by far more credibility than you tooting your own horn.

Now, we will cover the best practices of a well-executed content marketing strategy.

10 Content Marketing Strategy Best Practices

The web is full of content. A lot of it is mediocre at best. Instead of producing good content, aim for great content that engages, surprises, and enriches your audience. Stand above the pack and blow away your competitors.

1. Content-Rich

Create well-researched, engaging, and informative content that delivers massive value to your audience. Continue to provide value even after your prospects become buying customers. The message is one of consistency. Be a giver, and you'll be surprised how much of it comes back.

2. Quality Trumps Quantity

Don't only post a short piece of content on your blog and consider the job done. Content marketing is not a disguised sales letter. Opt for long-form content that delivers real meat and informs the reader. Put some thought into your content pieces - it shows.

3. Original

You could use rehashed content but if you want to stand out, add fresh insights to be different from others.

Repurposing old content is a great way to use existing assets. Cobbling together information and publishing it as is, however, is less effective than taking its components to reuse with some freshly updated content.

Curated content falls in the same vein. You don't want to mash the curated content together and send it out there. Take the time to add your thoughts and insight into it, so your audience gets more out of it.

Give a different perspective than your competitors. Consider giving them a behind-the-scenes look at your business operations or exclusive content only to subscribers. How about interviews and 'Ask-Me-Anything' (AMA) sessions to engage and boost loyalty?

4. Purposeful

Create content because it meets your customer's needs. If you intentionally work on building relationships with your target audience, the sales process becomes more natural later. It'll be stress-free and gracefully done - guaranteed.

5. Personalized

Take Coca-Cola's 'Share a Coke' campaign, a new spin on an old product. They put thousands of names on their bottles. Seeing your name on the bottle is exciting and unique. No one did it before.

Do you think it increases the chances of someone buying a personalized bottle? Of course, it would!

Whether big or small, companies increasingly must personalize the experience of doing business with their customers. Personalization sells - BIG time.

6. Transparent

Be upfront with what you deliver. Tell your audience what your sales process entails. When you demystify the whole buying cycle, they know what to expect and appreciate your honesty.

7. Engaging

Sometimes injecting humor into your content helps capture your audience's attention and turn it into a stare.

Imperfect Foods used humor to their advantage in these fantastic light-hearted takes on fruits and veggies.

Check out this one on social distancing meetings for fruits and veggies...

imperfect foods social distancing infographic

Source: Pinterest

How about "Spice" Girls?

imperfect foods spice girls infographic

Source: Pinterest
 

If you don't know what content your audience wants, ask them! Get them involved in the process, listen attentively, and they will love to contribute their thoughts.

8. Build More Evergreen Content Than Trending Content

How many marketing campaigns span more than a year or two? Most fizzle out and become nothing more than a memory. Content marketing's lifespan is incredible if you focus on more evergreen content your audience consumes year in and year out. The best part of it is you only needed to create it once.

9. Regularly Update Older Content

Always revisit older content if it resides in your blog to update the content or add to it now and then. You may decide to do so every six months or every year. Again, it is about quality.

10. Consistency Matters

Blogging on a random set of topics or posting on social media with no clear goal or plan is not content marketing. A good content marketing plan involves detailed research into delivering content that resonates with your audience.

Content also needs to be produced like clockwork on a timely basis so your audience will know what to expect.

Types of Content Marketing

When many people think of content marketing, the idea of blogs, video, social media postings come to mind. While these channels are more common, you will find various content marketing media speaks to your audience differently. Many people prefer visual and kinesthetic modes of learning and consuming content.

There are infographics, online courses, whitepapers, reports, guides, ebooks, cheat sheets, templates, podcasts, mobile apps, and many more. The best way to illustrate each is through some examples.

Over 20 Examples of Clever Content Marketing Pieces You Can Model

When it comes to content, the sky is the limit. Be creative and think out of the box when brainstorming for ideas. Also, don't be afraid to inject humor or fun into it to jazz up the piece, especially if you're in a boring niche.

Mix it up and explore different avenues to expand your reach.

Blogging Examples

A tried and true method of reaching your target audience is through blogging.

Buffer.com

They offer a software service that helps businesses manage, schedule, and analyze the results of social media postings.

Buffer utilized a 3-prong strategy to grow their business. The company began with a guest blogging strategy to kickstart their growth. They published content several times a day on high authority, highly visible sites. Their content marketing strategy worked, and Buffer attracted their first 100,000 users.

They also managed their blog and focused their efforts on writing high-quality, shareable content for key influencers who had the attention of their target audience.

To further extend their content marketing efforts, they utilized email marketing to share their best content.

All their efforts paid off handsomely. Today, Buffer is a recognized and trusted brand with almost 4.5 million registered users and one million visitors per month to their blog.

ArtOfROI.com Blog

Yes, we do eat our own dog food. We created high-quality, information-packed blog posts to engage your audience and educate them on what we do. It establishes credibility and trust while building up relationships with our clientele. The tools we share are also the same tools we use ourselves.

Infographics and Images Examples

Infographics are the visual representation of any kind of information.

Content Marketing Institute's History of Content Marketing

CMI's infographic is informative and boosts its brand as content marketing experts.


Courtesy of contentmarketinginstitute.com

Unbounce B2B Lead Generation Manifesto

A Soviet-style take on B2B marketing, Unbounce's infographic is visually attractive and generates loads of interest while being educational to B2B marketers.


Courtesy of unbounce.com

GetVoIP's 20 Reasons Why Remote Workers Are Richer, Happier, and More Productive

While many companies create infographics for their industry, consider designing one for an adjacent industry to yours. A VoIP service produced an infographic about remote workers, something not directly related to their service. The infographic appeals to the same audience who would use VoIP services.

Source: GetVoIP

Imperfect Foods Infographic

We covered before how they used humor to engage their audience and give a different take on the idea of veggies and fruits. Another cool example is their take on social media acronyms below.

Source: Pinterest

Rolex

The iconic watch brand leverages the power of high-quality photography to convey their brand's image of quality and timelessness.

Source: Instagram

The result: They garnered over 11 million Instagram followers and over 7.5 million FB followers.

NeoMam - Why People Like Infographics

NeoMam Studios created an infographic showing you 13 reasons why people like infographics. Click on the graphic to be taken to the interactive infographic.

 

Social Media and Video Content Examples

Today, many social media platforms exist that we have to choose which to use depending on the audience we are trying to reach. Each caters to a different audience, and it's important to note what content users prefer on each platform before embarking on your social media content strategy. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube are all excellent channels, but which one is right for you?

Generally speaking, you'll want to note the following demographics and characteristics:

Facebook Demographics: universal appeal, widely used among all age groups
Instagram Demographics: caters mostly to millennials aged 18-34, highly visual medium
Twitter Demographics: excellent for breaking news, also great as a customer service and support channel
LinkedIn Demographics: skews towards an older crowd than Twitter and Instagram, great for professional networking
YouTube Demographics: universal appeal, widely used among all age groups

Glossier

One of the problems with content marketing is being consistent. What if you don't have to create any content once the strategy takes off?

Capitalizing on user-generated content, Glossier boosted its brand on Instagram. It's pure genius because they didn't have to produce the content, and their audience loved the attention by being featured. The result: more than 1 million Instagram followers

Lush Cosmetics

They are known for their ethical values and quirky product names. Lush utilizes various content marketing methods to reach its audience. Their behind-the-scenes videos show how they make their products. Combining with social media, they encourage users to share and hashtag photos of customers using their products. Their Instagram Lush (North America) account has over 4.3 million followers.

BlendTec

Blendtec leveraged fun videos to drive engagement. Their 'Will It Blend' video series resulted in a 700% increase in sales. Check out one of their latest videos: Blend an iPhone 11

Their YouTube channel has over 868,000 subscribers, with each video attracting millions of views.

Hootsuite

Tapping into the popularity of the show Game of Thrones, Hootsuite parlayed it into a story about their brand in a video: A Game of Social Thrones.

The result: Hootsuite generated over 1.3 million views, and the campaign became one of their most successful branded pieces of content.

How about the dull business of shaving? Here's how Dollar Shave Club turned their video content into a wildly successful viral campaign:

Podcast Examples

How about interviewing people in your industry to position yourself as an expert? John Lee Dumas, the host and founder of 'Entrepreneur on Fire', does this exceptionally well.

He interviews one entrepreneur a day and publishes each podcast episode. In April 2020, he made over $267,000 while in the middle of a lockdown!

How's that for profiting while on Skype?

Print Publication Examples

John Deere

They produce a publication called the Furrow. Published since 1895, they still churn out the magazine more than a century later!

When they first started, they wanted to help the company's customers with their issues and demonstrate their expertise.

They wouldn't be producing a publication this long if it wasn't useful.

 

 

 

AARP's The Magazine underscores the value of knowing your audience and delivering content that speaks to them.

Beyond the numerous awards for content, design, and photography, AARP publishes the largest consumer magazine read by more than half of their 37 million readers actively.

 

EBooks and Guides Examples

LinkedIn

The company creates ebooks and guides, showcasing their approach to social media marketing.

They offer many useful resources, and these are a sampling of what's available on their page:

LinkedIn Pages Playbook
Sophisticated Marketer's Guide
7 Tactics for Content Promotion
LinkedIn Targeting Playbook

Their guides and eBooks inform and help their audience maximize the social media platform to generate better results. A win-win all around.

CopyBlogger

Copyblogger delivers several content-rich ebooks and guides on copywriting. His copywriting 101 landing page directs you to download his free copywriting ebook 'Copywriting 101: How to Craft Compelling Copy'.

Online courses, Templates, Checklists, Cheatsheets Examples

HubSpot

HubSpot is one of those companies that did content marketing right from the start. Using a variety of content marketing methods, they grew the company into a multi-million dollar company.

  • They offer a variety of free tools, checklists, templates, and cheatsheets.
  • They produced detailed and helpful blog posts on topics their audience wants to read.
  • They also created inbound.org for courses, an educational and content sharing hub to promote its certification and partnership programs.
  • Created videos for FB and used LI to send traffic to their site.

ArtOfROI.com's Worksheets

We offer free downloads of useful resources such as worksheets and planning tools we use in our own business for our readers. Examples are the free Customer Avatar Worksheet and Content Marketing Editorial Calendar you can download in this blog post.

Mobile App Example

Charmin

Charmin expressed their brand's well-known sense of humor with its 'Sit or Squat' restroom finder app. It helps people find clean bathrooms when needed and comes in handy. Users downloaded it over 100,000 times and sealed the brand's recognition in their customer's minds.

Source: Charmin

Additional Tips to Supercharge Your Content Marketing Success

If you're going to embark on content marketing as a tool in your marketing arsenal, you'll want to make sure you get the most out of your investment in time and dollars.

  • Always be clear and concise in your benefit of the content piece. For example, in a headline of an article instead of "How to Segment Your Email List," a more concise headline reads, "25 Ways to Triple the Effectiveness Of Email Marketing With Segmenting" or "How to Triple Your Sales With A Simple Email Segmenting Tweak."
  • Expand your content's reach by referencing influencers in your industry. Link to their content and reach out personally to inform them you did so via social media or email.
  • Be consistent with content marketing efforts. If you blog, do it consistently, whether weekly or every few days. If you post on social media, do it daily to engage your audience.
  • Guest blog in your industry and drive traffic back to your site via a link. It is a great way to leverage someone else's traffic to build authority and branding.
  • Leverage more than one channel to expand the reach of your marketing. After all, it only takes a little more effort to capitalize on content marketing you already created. Blast your content out through an email update, social media post, or video.
  • Utilize analytics to measure what's working and what's not. Watch for content pieces that become incredibly popular and aim to do more of it because that's what your audience wants.
  • Develop both evergreen content as well as trending ones. While trending topics deliver a surge in traffic and interest, it fizzles after a while. Your audience will still have something to consume by having evergreen content on your site or social media properties after the trend fizzles out.
  • Be consistent in the voice for all your content marketing. Think of your voice as a part of your company brand. Also, consider words that you never want to use in your content, such as buzzwords, colloquial, or slang words. The use of a style guide helps maintain consistency across all your team members and guest content creators. Again, always refer to your audience and how they communicate.
  • Repurpose and repackage old content. Sometimes content doesn't need to be created from scratch, and it also saves money while using existing assets.
  • In thinking about your content marketing formats, consider using more than one method to deliver a bigger punch. For example, create a video or blog post and share it on your social media accounts.
  • Repurpose existing content into other formats to get the most mileage out of your content marketing efforts. Think about ways to transform your information into infographics, a webinar, video, cheatsheet, or checklist.

7 Steps to Developing Your Content Marketing Strategy

1. Define Your Goal

What is your goal? Be clear in your objective because it defines what you do next.

Possible goals to consider:
Build brand loyalty
Educate your potential customer on the product?
Engage your prospects?
To increase leads for future marketing efforts?
To increase sales?

Each approach to the goal differs, and that's why you choose one at a time based on your buyer persona or customer avatar.

2. Know Your Audience

The most important key to success with content marketing is knowing your target audience.

If your content doesn't speak to your target audience and your product/service doesn't address their problem, you're barking up the wrong tree.

If your audience doesn't see how your content is relevant to them, they'll ignore it.

If you don't have a clear idea of your buyer's persona yet, I highly recommend going through our Customer Avatar Worksheet. You can download this free resource to establish and document your target audience here:

[ Download Your Customer Avatar Worksheet ]

3. Determine What Channels You Want to Use

As a start, being overly ambitious is like information overload. Simply choose one or two channels that your audience is most likely using to get started.

4. Brainstorm for Ideas

Before planning your content, you'll need to know what to put in it. Brainstorm using tools such as:

Answer the Public is an excellent visual representation of all the relationships to the main topic of interest. View questions people ask related to your topic.

Quora is a question and answer platform where you can read both the questions and answers to gather information on your topic.

Another great platform to check out for content ideas is Reddit. Browse subreddit, and you'll see lots of user-generated content to break your writer's block.

Search YouTube for the main topic, and you'll see lots of videos and titles. From there, look for videos that have a large number of views and/or comments. If a topic the video talks about is popular, you can bet that your audience would be interested as well.

Not many people realize that Twitter is an idea goldmine. Search Twitter for hashtags of relevant topics to your business and view the tweets. For more in-depth research, you can add generic hashtags to your main topic, such as 'howto', 'question', 'problem', 'tips', 'tutorial', 'beginners', 'learn' to generate even more ideas.

KeywordTool.io is also an excellent resource for mining content ideas.

Blog Ideas Generator by HubSpot is another tool to find more ideas.

5. Develop and Maintain a Content Editorial Calendar

Once you've got your bucketload of ideas, start prioritizing and sorting through your list to see what information your customers would love to see.

Where possible, shortlist a few topics bi-annually or annually and let your customers vote on what they'd like to see.

You can use tools like SurveyMonkey.com to solicit ideas. Keep questions to less than 10 for maximum effectiveness.

If you're looking for deeper insights, avoid the multiple-choice questions and simple Yes/No type questions. Ask the 5W's and 1H (who/what/when/where/why & how) questions.

Your editorial calendar should go out for at least three months, but you may extend it to a year's worth of content if you are so inclined.

[ Download Your FREE Editorial Calendar ]

6. Create and Distribute the Content

Once you've developed the content, cast a net as far and as wide as possible. Use more than one social media channel to announce the new content.

Promote it actively, so it gets increased visibility, and your target audience will start growing.

Utilize guest blogging, where applicable, to give yourself a huge boost in traffic and reach on high-authority content sites in your industry.

7. Analyze What Content Worked Best

Study what content drove newsletter sign-ups and other form submissions, increased return visits, higher resource downloads.

Once you've got some channels or methods that work well, always test new ones regularly to up your game.

Treat it like a game of sorts, conduct A/B tests and pit your winners against test cases to see which won. The process is lots of fun and might yield some surprising and unexpected results.

Advanced Content Marketing Strategies

Depending on what stage your target audience is in, you'll want to create content customized to suit the stage they are in for your product or service.

Content Marketing Based on Stages of the Customer Value Journey

Left on their own, a customer will get lost in this journey. As your company provides the solutions the customer seeks, you have to lead them gently through the process.

Someone at a different stage of the Customer Value Journey may be ready for different kinds of content.

Let's say a training company decides to create a team-building blog post, and their target audience has never heard of them before. At the end of the blog post, they offer a free 1-hour consultation that eventually attempts to sell that prospect on a $30,000 training program.

What are the chances of this process succeeding? The chances of success are slim. The sales process fails because it jumped one or more stages.

It ultimately resulted in the lead not being primed to buy. Heck, the prospect just got to know the company!

Instead, suppose the training company offers a free downloadable ebook on team building first. In that case, the company captures their prospect's interest and has further opportunities to market to them in the future. The company collects an email and follows up with regular useful content.

The process builds a top-of-mind presence in the customer and increases the possibility of doing business with the training company.

Let's face it, entry-point-offers (EPOs) such as free or low-priced eBooks, even low-priced short webinars, don't generate a lot of money. They tend to be loss leaders or break even at best.

EPOs don't generate profits; rather, their purpose is to "warm-up" your customer to a high-ticket offer in the future.

In the Customer Value Journey, we view the EPO product as part of the Convert stage. Your customer is primed for the Excite stage because they already know you and made a small investment of money with the entry-level product.

Here's where you need to continue to build the excitement they had when they first bought your EPO. You could offer more high-quality, value-added information exclusive to your buyer lists only, stuff they can't find anywhere else.

Once you have that customer in the Excite stage, your goal is to move them to the next phase, which is Ascend. It is at this stage that most businesses start to reap the benefits of a long-term customer. It takes work and patience as well as a lot of built-up goodwill.

Knowing what stage a customer is in allows you as an expert content marketer to cater the content specifically for the right audience at the right time and the right place.

Effectively, the Customer Value Journey empowers your marketing by guiding your prospects and customers through the buying journey in a natural, caring, gentle, thoughtful, helpful, and graceful way building lots of goodwill along the way.

In our Customer Value Journey, we have eight stages a customer goes through.

customer value journey

In the Awareness stage, a company video could help your audience understand the process you take to create the product, such as crafting beer, making ethically produced soap, creating a unique BBQ sauce, etc. The process helps to differentiate you from your competitors and gets you noticed.

The Subscribe stage could be content (blog post, webinar, social media post) that drives them to opt into your email list for updates and get more amazing content.

What Does the Future of Content Marketing Hold for Marketers?

The audience will probably desire to receive their content via multiple avenues or channels instead of just one or two in the future.

Besides the standard blog post or social media post, review the number of channels content marketing is delivered. As you grow, develop the bandwidth to expand your reach and influence through other channels.

According to Entrepreneur's 2020 analysis of future trends, we are likely to see content marketing expand to various channels such as:

  • Video live streaming of content and webinars to platforms like Facebook
  • Voice search optimized content through assistants like Siri, Google, and Alexa
  • Augmented reality (AR) visuals like those used by Taco Bell on Snapchat
  • Conversational engagements with your customers through platforms such as Facebook Messenger and chatbots
  • Dynamic or adaptive content is delivered based on data such as location, demographics, buying preferences, and interests.

Again, many are not entirely new. Many marketers underutilize these methods at the moment. If you're going to capitalize on content marketing's benefits, it's best to get a head start.

Your Time to Take Action

It's time to get started with a content marketing strategy if you haven't done so already.

Effective content marketing increases conversions, improves brand awareness, boosts revenue, and establishes you as an industry leader. With so many benefits, a company would be wise to increase mindshare with a deliberate, well-thought-out, and executed content marketing strategy.

The potential is enormous - only 42% of companies view their current content marketing efforts as "mature" or "sophisticated" (B2B Content Marketing 2020 Report).

If you add the ones practicing together with companies who aren't already executing any content strategy, imagine your business's growth potential.

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The Ultimate Guide to Crushing It with Content Marketing: Best Practices, Strategy, and Examples

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