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Content Marketing

Posted 26 July 2019

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 1

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of agile marketing.

It’s a trending topic that’s picking up steam as marketing teams look for ways to produce better work more quickly in response to rapidly changing markets.

But, odds are you might not know exactly what the term means.

You might not even be sure if you’re implementing it right now or not.

However, those who are using it intentionally right now report being 252% more likely to be successful.

And with this brief guide, you can get started seeing those benefits right now.

What follows isn’t a by-the-book agile approach. But, it does lay out an easy-to-follow adaptation that will get you organized and on track to succeed.

Why should marketers care about agile content marketing?

In short, because it works to help teams work better. Remember the statistic that agile marketing teams are 252% more likely to report being successful? That’s certainly not an insignificant number.

Not everyone is enjoying those benefits (yet), though.

A quarter of all respondents in that same survey were not using agile at all. An additional 37% couldn’t tell you if they were agile or not.

This tells us a couple of things:

  • Marketers are confused about agile as a concept. And some understand it differently (either as lower-case agile in reference to being nimble, or upper-case A in reference to following Agile principles by the book).
  • But, there are benefits for those who act now. The data shows agile marketers consider their work more successful. Why not get on board now, while you can get the greatest competitive edge?

Improving your processes from the bottom up is one of the best ways to make everything else your marketing team does better.

Okay, so what exactly is agile content marketing?

Let’s start with understanding two basic concepts: agile and scrum.

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To keep it brief, agile is a project management methodology for producing higher quality work in less time. It achieves this by streamlining workflows, organizing processes, and facilitating more effective collaboration.

Scrum is the actual framework used to implement agile processes within a team. Here’s a fast visual overview illustrating how it works:

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Getting the team together

Cross-functional teams are at the core of the agile approach.

These are teams that include members from different disciplines (writing, design, analytics, development, etc.) that will work together as a unit.

This keeps the team working together more closely than a project starting with one team, then being handed off to the next, and so on down the line until it’s completed.

In corporate speak, this might be called “breaking down silos.” That’s an accurate description, but what you’re really doing is removing barriers between people.

While constructing cross-functional teams can be a deep and involved process, the easiest way to get started is to bring everyone together into one project management tool and have them involved in collaborating on projects together from the very beginning.

Determining who needs to be on the team may vary depending on the needs of the project (meaning you don’t necessarily need to move people onto new teams on a permanent basis).

Plan your work in sprints

In agile, work starts with a sprint planning meeting. The goal of this meeting is to plan all the tasks, projects, and campaigns the team will tackle in the future.

Those ideas are then planned out into sprints, which is a two to four-week timeframe within which a project (or phase of a project) will be completed. This gives your work clear parameters for when things need to be done and deadlines that need to be abided by.

The document they’re planned in is called your sprint backlog, which is used to visualize future project and campaign ideas your team will complete.

That’s how it all works at a high level.

Now, with content marketing, you might have projects that don’t necessarily need to be planned this in-depth (for example, writing a blog post in most cases will take significantly less than two weeks).

But, for larger projects in your strategy (like ebooks, research reports, multi-channel campaigns, and so forth), this process can work extremely effectively. Here’s a more detailed step-by-step breakdown of this process:

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An easy way to build a sprint backlog is to create a spreadsheet that looks something like this:

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How you build this is less important than making sure it’s kept somewhere easily accessible for your team (Google Sheets, Excel Online, or any other cloud-based platform should work great).

That’s all that’s essential if you want to keep things simple (and keeping things simple, at least at first, is advisable).

Running easy sprint planning meetings

Once you have a general idea of what your project will be, gather the team together for a sprint planning meeting.

At DUBUB Marketing Agency, these are called team huddle meetings—the terminology matters less than the intent and the outcome. What follows is a slight variation on traditional sprint planning.

The goal of this meeting is to determine the following things about the project:

  • Project summary: A working title or basic description is sufficient.
  • What work needs to be completed? Discuss with the team what steps they’d need to take to execute their portion of the project.
  • How much effort will it take? One way to approach this is to “T-shirt size your projects” (meaning labeling tasks as S, M, L, or XL, relative to how long each will take).
  • How much time will each task take? If you’re already estimating time for projects, this will be easy. If not, MindTools has a great guide to get you started.

Keep everything from this meeting documented by creating a slide that looks something like this:

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Visualizing sprints and projects on a marketing calendar

Mapping all your projects on a content marketing calendar is a smart idea.

They make it easy for everyone on the team to see when things are due and which work is coming up next.

Apps and software-based solutions work best for creating calendars. If you aren’t ready to jump into a paid solution just yet, though, you can build one with a spreadsheet.

To make this simple, you can borrow this Microsoft Excel content calendar template (either download a copy or click File > Make a Copy to create an editable version).

Once you open the template, you’ll see a master tab for mapping out content:

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For each month, you’ll create a list of projects with the following information:

  • Content Type: Blog post, video, ebook, etc.
  • Publish Date: When you expect the content to be published.
  • Team Member: Who owns each piece?

Then, at the bottom, you’ll see tabs for each month throughout the year:

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Within each of these tabs, you’ll find social media promotion calendars for distributing that content (feel free to edit columns and rows to match your chosen channels and tactics):

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Would everyone please stand up …

As you work through your sprints, host standup meetings each day.

These are short meetings that should take 15 minutes or less where the team shares what they worked on yesterday, what they’ll work on today, and what’s stopping from making progress.

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To run these meetings the right way, get everyone together in the same room.

Then, have everyone take turns answering those three questions. Everyone should be standing up too (since these meetings are meant to be quick, there’s no need to get too comfortable).

It’s advisable to have your scrum master document what each team member shares. Consider creating a spreadsheet that looks something like this:

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If the team has further action items to discuss, they should do so immediately afterward to get roadblocks resolved and keep the project moving forward. This way, you can keep your meetings brief, while keeping everyone productively in the loop.

Going retro

Once the sprint is over, hold a retrospective meeting. These are 30-minute meetings to talk about what went well, what didn’t, and what you intend to do to improve in the future.

To make these meetings useful, it’s important to act on the team’s thoughts and feedback.

Otherwise, all that discussion is going to disappear into the ether once everyone leaves the room, and your time will have effectively been wasted.

Assign someone to take notes (using a note-taking app like Evernote or something else that can be shared with the team). If you have a conference with a TV, share those notes on-screen where everyone can see them.

Next time you plan a sprint, review your retro notes and be disciplined in applying suggestions for improvement. In this way, feedback from your own team can be recycled into a renewable force for continued improvement.

It’s all about iterating on data

Ultimately, that’s what makes agile work to make marketing better.

Sure, it takes effort and dedication to make it work. Fortunately, even starting with small changes can make a big difference.

And the payoff if you stick with it? Making your team 252% more likely to succeed.

Here’s to bettering your marketing, one small (agile) step at a time.

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Posted 25 July 2019

5 Ways To Use Content To Improve Customer Service And Retain Customers

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Here’s the fact bomb: More important than finding new customers is keeping the ones you already have.

But contrary to how content marketing is generally practiced, the buyer journey doesn’t end with a purchase. It continues indefinitely as long as your customer trusts your brand and remains open to your value chain. That means you need to ditch the myth that the primary function of content marketing is to generate fresh new leads.

Buyer-centric operations designed to keep your brand relevant and extend customer life cycles should be among the top stakeholders on any agenda with “business profitability” or “growth” in the title. And that means content marketing should align well with — and reflect elements of — customer service, tech support, customer happiness, and other after-sales departments.

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Comparative costs for new customer acquisition versus retaining existing customers. Image source: Invesp.

After all, customer engagement goes beyond your product. It thrives on pre- and post-sale conversations that focus on your buyers’ problems and successes, with or without your product at their disposal.

Only targeted content — the kind that genuinely shows the remedy to pain points and the roadmaps to happiness — can drive those conversations and strengthen your relationship with customers throughout the buyer journey.

The numbers don’t lie. Customer acquisition costs are skyrocketing. Brand loyalty is eroding. And digital marketing has become more difficult and costlier than before.

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HubSpot recently published an eye-opening report that highlights these alarming trends. It might surprise you but the report’s conclusion boils down to one statement: invest in customer service.

I think one of the best ways to do that is to execute a customer retention strategy that leverages the sweet spot between customer service and content marketing.

When I say “content marketing” – I do not mean ads, email campaigns, newsletters, or any type of mass mailings. I mean to ensure the content inside each and every message your company sends to customers is designed to bond and engage them.

Most of the messages you send customers in your website copy, email, chat, text, calls, at events, or in person should be designed to engage them, even if they’re already a long time customer.

Why you ask?

Because unfortunately, your customers also possess the permanent option to jump ship and switch to your competitors.

As Salesforce discovered, churn — the process where a company slowly dies from runaway customer attrition rate — is a real thing and can literally lead to corporate doom.

You don’t want that to happen.

So here are five ways to reframe the content/copy in all your messaging in order to improve customer service, retain more customers, and — who knows — even unleash an army of brand ambassadors.

Tip 1: Involve customer support, service, and happiness teams in content development.

Your peers from after-sales operations know a lot — perhaps more than anyone else — about what customers really want from your business and which features and benefits will keep them satisfied enough to stay around longer. (In fact, strategic improvements in Customer Service alone can double customer loyalty and retention rates.) 

These teams hear tons of complaints and praises, answer queries of every kind, troubleshoot usage issues, and receive constructive advice (on best practices, feature wish lists, and other crucial customer issues) every single day. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to infuse your marketing content with needle-moving insights and real-world customer data from these units.

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Image credit: Nextiva

Tip 2: Make case studies, testimonials, and success stories a staple presence in your editorial content calendar.

Nothing resonates with customers as much as compelling stories about customers like themselves who face and solve similar — if not identical — problems.

Make an audit of customer reviews about your product or service in third-party platforms or review sites. Find out what makes your product tick or tumble and use that to develop customer-centric content.

Use issue resolution reports or incidences as the backdrop for useful, relevant content targeting your broader audience.

And unless they’re discussing a known issue without a proper workaround, never leave negative reviews unanswered. Create content that specifically addresses the negative issue and makes a solid counter-case for your product.

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Effect of positive reviews on consumers. Image source: BrightLocal

Tip 3: Transform your website into an easy plug-and-play, DIY resource.

Your clients need people from customer care to be there when they call. But they also want to do things on their own whenever they can.

That means your website should be easy to navigate and include not only chatbots, Help Centers, and FAQ pages but also regular content that focus on directly helping customers use your product or service better, easier, and with more impact.

High-quality content that uses your customers’ own language should provide practical answers to real-world questions before they are even asked by your buyers. The first two items on this list will help you anticipate and answer many of these questions.

These days, you certainly need to go beyond just a killer FAQ in order to update and refresh customer engagement. For starters, go for tips-and-tricks type articles or blog posts that enable your customers to glean more value from your product.

Tip 4: Purpose-driven content to energize your communities and drive advocacy programs.

Online communities that connect your product with customers help keep your brand relevant. Whether these communities are officially sanctioned or just a hodge-podge of connected users of your service across different platforms, your participation should go beyond simple posts and lip-service concern.

Your marketing team should develop purpose-driven content for these communities. Remember that the more active these communities are, the better they serve as platforms for brand advocacy and evangelism.

Be sure to make relevant content that is immersive, experiential, and authentic. Show customers that you genuinely care about all their issues.

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Image credit: Nextiva

Finally, don’t ignore fun surveys, quizzes, and games. And remember to reward loyalty with gamified tokens, real discounts, and compelling prizes.

Tip 5: Develop an omni-channel, multimedia mindset.

There’s no going around this reality. The business world is on full throttle heading towards digital.

But more importantly, customers are already there. Which means they’re basically everywhere all the time, discovering products on social media and posting service queries from their phones.

They understand and consume articles, newsletters, and infographics. But they also seek crisp videos, webinars, and engaging podcasts.

Don’t discount any channel or medium unless you’re sure no one from your customer base uses it.

For content developers, this omni-channel and multimedia environment necessitates the embrace of responsive design and multimedia messaging.

Millennials — the largest customer demographic — are said to be “tech natives.” Generation Z goes even further — they’re virtually born with tech in hand and matured being heavily dependent on their personal gadgets.

These generations will account for the bulk of customers and decision makers in both the B2C and B2B markets for years to come.

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Despite the growing interest in brick-and-mortar experiences, the future of customer engagement remains overwhelmingly digital. And by nature, digital is omni-channel and multimedia. Content can’t afford to be any different.

Conclusion

Business is not as easy as it used to be. It’s getting harder to get new customers and easier to lose the ones you already have.

Given this climate, content marketers need to align their strategy and editorial calendar with the goals of their peers from customer service and customer success who own customer retention.

This alignment is no longer a strategic move but an existential imperative.

But there’s good news: The seeds for compelling content are already there in the reports, metrics, and data of after-sales customer care units. Digital marketers only need to harness this rich trove of data and transform it into content that provides a) practical answers to customer issues and b) clear pathways to their success.

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Posted 3 July 2019

Why Is Content Marketing Important?

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Have you ever heard the phrase, “content is king”? Though content marketing used to just be a way to set yourself apart from your competitors, it has now become a necessity for any modern brand. Content marketing is at the heart of most successful digital marketing campaigns. Behind every great brand is a wealth of valuable and relevant content that really connects with the company’s audience. But you may still be wondering, why is content marketing important?

To help you better understand the importance of content marketing, we’ve put together a list of the top advantages that content marketing can provide your small business:

1. Improve brand reputation by building trust through content marketing.

One of the greatest benefits that really shows the importance of content marketing is the reputation building qualities of great content. In today’s busy digital marketplace, it’s vital that businesses work to build trust with their leads and customers. Building trust can help your business establish a positive brand reputation.

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Creating custom content is a great way to get to know your leads and customers while building good will.

Great content can help you build trust with your leads and customers. When consumers read your content, they start to develop an opinion of your brand. If the content that they find is engaging, educational, and valuable, then they will start to think the same things about your business. The more value you can provide with your content, the easier it will be to build trust with your target audience.

In addition, when your leads and customers start to see that you are consistently publishing content across platforms, they may come to see you as a leader in the industry. Publishing content through third-party publications or sharing your content with influencers can also help you further build trust within your target market.

2. Great content helps influence conversions.

If you’re really wondering why is content marketing important, then look no further than the conversion statistics. Here are just a few of the stats that really speak to the importance of content marketing when it comes to improving website conversions:

  • Content marketing provides conversion rates about 6 times higher than other digital marketing methods. (ABG Essentials)
  • After reading recommendations on a blog, 61% of online consumers in the U.S. then decided to make a purchase. (Content Marketing Institute)
  • According to 74% of companies surveyed, content marketing has increased their marketing leads, both in quantity and quality. (Curata)
  • Video content can help provide a great ROI and significantly increase conversions, according to 72% of businesses surveyed. (CrazyEgg)
  • HubSpot reports that inbound marketers are able to double the average site conversion rate (from 6 to 12%), in part due to their content marketing efforts.
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Quality content marketing can significantly help you improve your website conversion rates.

Content marketing helps to improve conversions because it allows you to connect with and educate your leads and customers. Not only are you working to build trust and relationships, but you are also encourage conversions by giving consumers the information they need to make an educated purchasing decision.

To optimize your content for conversions, be sure to include a clear call-to-action. Your CTA tells the reader what they need to do next, guiding them to the next step in the conversion process. Whether converting means making a purchase, getting more information, or contacting your sales team, it’s important to make it clear to the reader within the content what you want them to do next.

3. Optimized content helps improve your SEO efforts.

The importance of content marketing becomes more clear when looking at the role that content plays in helping your business build and improve search engine optimization (SEO). SEO plays an important part in improving visibility for your business online. However, if you want to improve SEO, you need to create optimized content.

According to Tech Client, content creation is the most effective SEO technique. In fact, business sites that post consistent blog content have on average of 434% more pages indexed by search engines than those that don’t publish at all. The more content you have on your site, the more pages the search engine has to index and show to users in their search engine results.

Though more pages does not necessarily result in higher traffic, it does give your brand the opportunity to rank for more keywords. For instance, creating blogs on different topics that are relevant to your target audience gives you more chances to rank for the keywords that these target users are searching for on the search engines.

Not to mention, the more content you have on your site, the more reasons you give visitors to stick around. This means a higher on-site time, which can also positively impact your search engine optimization. Google sees time spent on site as one indicator that your site provides valuable content.

Want to consistently provide valuable content to your website visitors? You should! Consider our blog writing services as an option to boost your content marketing game. 

4. Creating great content is a cost-effective way to bring in new leads.

For those wondering why is content marketing important, take a look at all of the ways that content can help your business bring in new leads. Lead generation is important for small businesses that rely on consistent traffic to grow their brand and boost sales. Content marketing is not only great for lead generation, but it’s also affordable.

Though content marketing costs about 62% less than traditional marketing tactics, it generates about 3 times as many leads, according to DemandMetric. The affordability of content marketing makes it a necessary tactic for small businesses that want to maximize their budget.

It’s important to note that content marketing is time intensive, and it can also take a while to see the results of your efforts. This is especially true when it comes to SEO. However, when it comes to creating quality content, a little can go a long way. In fact, according to Social Media Examiner, more than 81% of marketers found that they experienced increased traffic by investing as little as 6 hours per week in their social media content.

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Not only is content marketing an affordable tactic, but it also provides an ROI that small businesses just can’t ignore.

The importance of content marketing is easy to see when you consider the return on investment. Since creating content is fairly affordable and highly effective, many small businesses will see an impressive ROI on their content marketing over time. In fact, per dollar spent, content marketing efforts produce 3 times as many leads as paid search ads.

The key to maximizing content ROI is creating a content marketing strategy that takes your target market into consideration. You should never just create content for the sake of creating content. If you want to get your money’s worth, your content should be strategic in the topics you choose, types of assets you produce, and your promotional methods.

5. Content enables your brand to showcase your subject matter expertise.

Consumers want to know that they are dealing with experts who know the ins and outs of the industry. This is another answer to why is content marketing important. Content marketing allows your brand to demonstrate its expertise in the field while providing valuable knowledge that can help readers make a more educated purchasing decision.

Every time that you publish a new blog post, white paper, or other piece of content, you’re showing leads and customers how much you know about the industry and the challenges that they face. When it comes time to make a purchase, consumers will remember the brand that provided them with the information they needed to better understand their problems, solutions, and other options.

Let’s say it comes down to purchasing from a business that publishes consistent content that’s educational and informative or one that doesn’t have any content. The consumer is more likely to purchase from the business that has demonstrated their knowledge and expertise. That way, they can have peace of mind in knowing that they are being taken care of by industry experts who can answer their questions and easily troubleshoot any issues.

6. Want to build relationships with customers? Publish great content.

If you’re still wondering, why is content marketing important? Consider how great content marketing can help you build relationships with your customers.

But what about those who have already purchased from you? Repeat customers are the bread and butter of many small businesses. In fact, according to BIA Kelsey, 61% of SMBs say that half of their revenue is coming from repeat customers. Furthermore, Marketing Tech Blog reports that a loyal customer is worth, on average, up to 10x as much as their first purchase.

It’s clear that loyal customers are nothing but an advantage to your business. If repeat sales make up a significant portion of your company’s revenue, then you’ll need to find ways to strengthen your relationships with current customers.

This is where content marketing comes in. Providing great content doesn’t stop after a lead becomes a customer. Content that provides value for your customer base will help increase brand loyalty by strengthening the relationships you have with customers. This can encourage repeat sales and help you establish powerful brand advocates.

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As you can see above, not only do customers feel more positive about a company with custom content, but they also feel closer to that brand.

So what type of content is best for building brand relationships? Assets like how-to videos and other types of informative visual content can help your customers get more out of your products or services. The more value they get, the more likely they will be to return.

Brand guides and comparisons are another great example of content that can help provide more value for your customers. By helping customers make smarter purchasing decisions, you are working to build further trust and encourage repeat sales.

7. Your leads and customers want great content!

Why is content marketing important? Well, your leads and customers want to read great content. In fact, 20% of the time that internet users spend online is spent just reading content.

And if you’re thinking that people don’t want to spend time reading content from brands, think again. As the infographic below shows, 68% of people like to spend time reading about the brands they find interesting. Additionally, 80% of internet users like to learn about companies through the custom content they provide.

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These statistics show that not only do consumers like content, but they want to read great content from brands like yours!

So why not give the people what they want? Create custom content that speaks to your target audience and provides some type of value. Whether it’s entertaining or educational, use your content as an opportunity to show consumers what your brand is all about.

The key to creating effective content that helps you connect with your eager audience is focusing on topics that are relevant to their needs, interests, and challenges. And don’t forget to show a little bit of personality to help consumers get to know your brand and what sets you apart from the rest.

Which brings us to the next answer to the question, why is content marketing important…

8. Content marketing helps you set yourself apart from competitors.

In the busy digital marketplace, it’s vital that your small business differentiates itself from competitors. This is the importance of content marketing. Content marketing is an effective way that small businesses can work to set themselves apart from others in the industry and show what makes their company special.

The topics that you create content around and the value of the content you provide can mean the difference between a consumer choosing your brand over a competitor’s. For instance, if a buyer is doing research about their challenges and certain products that can help solve those challenges, they will be more inclined to work with the business that’s provided them with helpful information.

If this isn’t enough to show you why is content marketing important, consider the role that content plays in helping you develop a brand personality and voice. Beyond just the type of content that you produce, you can also set yourself apart from the competition through your content’s language and the way that you present your information. Is your brand personality serious and professional? Fun and educational? Maybe a mix of both?

Determining how you want to portray your brand and developing a brand voice can help you create content that is unique to your business. This brand personality can help you connect with your target buyers and show them what makes your business special. One of the best ways to show this personality is through the marketing content that you create.

9. Content is important during each step of the marketing funnel.

Now let’s think about the importance of content marketing when it comes to your marketing funnel. There are three major areas of your marketing funnel that you need to think about while you’re developing your digital marketing campaigns. And content marketing plays a role during each stage of the funnel.

Here’s where content marketing comes in throughout the marketing funnel:

  • Top-of-Funnel (TOFU): At the top of the funnel, your prospective customers are just starting to become aware of their problems. They are also starting to become aware that there are solutions available. During this stage, content can help educate them and get them the information they need to decide which type of solution might help.
  • Middle-of-Funnel (MOFU): At the middle of the funnel, leads are evaluating their options for products or solutions. Content during this stage of the funnel is meant to educate leads on what their different options are so that they can start to narrow their choices and come closer to a final purchasing decision.
  • Bottom-of-Funnel (BOFU): Once leads reach the bottom of the funnel, this means that they are ready to convert. Content during this stage is meant to give a final nudge of encouragement to the buyer and empower them to make an informed purchasing decision.

To get a better understanding of content in each stage of the funnel, take a look at this graphic:

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Here you can see how content marketing plays a role through every stage of the marketing funnel as well as which types of content work best to top, middle, and bottom-of-funnel leads.

When creating content marketing to reach potential customers at each stage, be aware of what each lead needs at this point in their buyer’s journey. Prospects at the top of the funnel need more general information that helps them better understand their challenges and potential solutions. Leads who reach the middle of the funnel need more detailed information that encourages them to evaluate their options. While leads at the bottom of the funnel need content with specific details about your unique product or solution to help them make an educated purchasing decision.

10. Content helps support nearly every other digital marketing strategy.

Yet another importance of content marketing is that consistent, quality content helps support every other part of your digital marketing strategy. Most small businesses have more than one tool in their digital marketing toolbox. From email marketing to social media to PPC ads, there are many different tactics that you can use to attract and engage your ideal audience.

Do you want to know what all of these strategies have in common?

Great content!

Your business needs to create engaging, high-quality content as part of any tactic that you employ in your digital marketing campaigns. For example, let’s say that you want to launch an email marketing campaign for lead nurturing. You have to develop email content that is engaging and encourages readers to take the next step. You can also use pieces of content that you’ve already created to help nurture those leads, such as a blog or whitepaper that gives them the information they need to move them through the funnel.

There should no longer be a question of why is content marketing important because content marketing integrates into all other areas of your digital marketing strategy. It’s also the glue that holds together your campaigns and what ultimately helps make them successful. Without great content, all you have is ideas. And ideas, no matter how great, don’t convert on their own!

Conclusion

With all the benefits described above, it’s easy to see why is content marketing important for businesses of all sizes. Not only does content marketing help you boost visibility, but it can also help you build stronger relationships with your leads and customers.

If you really want to see the importance of content marketing in action, it’s time to get started. Work on developing a content marketing strategy that has your target buyers at its core. Then, you can be on your way to creating valuable content that helps boost conversions and improve customer retention.

If you want to learn more about how partnering with a content marketing agency like DUBUB Marketing Agency can help you drive more traffic and increase conversions, be sure to check out our Content Marketing Services page for more information. Heard enough and ready to get started? Contact our team to discuss your content marketing plan.

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