Content marketing is an interesting business to be in…
On one hand, you’re offering your target audience information on how to be able to do something better.
Yet on the other, you’re ultimately wanting them to move further down the sales and marketing funnel so you can keep the lights on in your business!
Eventually you need to ask for the sale, because just showing people how to DIY is not going to pay the bills. (Having said that, you’d be amazed how many people will ask for your help without you having to pitch them, just from you explaining your process).
A crucial step in content marketing is having a “content offer” that’s presented to people when they visit your site. This could be an ebook, a video, a checklist, a template – anything that helps them solve a problem they’re having.
The idea is that you’re giving this content to the visitor in exchange for their email address, which then allows you to build the relationship with the person over time, establishing yourself as an expert and building trust. That way, if and when the person is in a position to buy your product or service, you are the obvious choice to buy from.
So it can all go back to our content offer, which is your gateway. It’s a piece of helpful content that gives a customer a small taste of what they’ll get if they choose to work with you…
Creating the perfect content offer can be tricky, though. “How much information should I include?” “How much should I give away for free?” “What type of content should I be offering?” These are all valid questions that many people new to content marketing struggle with.
We’ve put together 5 quick tips to help you create the perfect content offer for converting visitors into leads.
1. Make it valuable
A good rule of thumb for a content offer is to give something the person would actually pay money for.
Also, if the actual content itself on offer is worthwhile to your target audience – and they want it – you’ve created a hunger for your content that is only satiated through more interactions with your business.
It can be hard to really “open the kimono” and share your processes with strangers, but this is what’s really going to be irresistible – something only YOU could provide insight on.
This might be a process you follow to achieve a certain result. Or it might be a case study of something you’ve achieved for a customer, showing step by step how you did it.
Many people are apprehensive to share too much because they worry people won’t need them if they can do it themselves, but this is nothing to be concerned about. Most people don’t WANT to do it themselves – they’re too busy doing what they’re good at, so showing them that you can walk the walk just makes it much more likely they’ll hire you to do it for them.
2. Solve an actual problem
So many times we see a content offer being created because it was easy to do or ‘made sense’ at the time. If that sounds like you, then stop! Do a bit of research and figure out what your audience is craving.
For example, let’s say you sell gaming PCs. Perhaps your audience is wanting a checklist of items to include in their gaming PC, instead of your planned content offer about “How-To Set Up Your Gaming PC” (which they might already know how to do). It’s important to understand where your potential customers are in their level of education about your product, and not just where they are in the buyer journey. You can do this by going back to basics and ensuring you’ve done the hard work on creating your buyer personas.
Whatever the case may be, research, ask questions and you’ll be rewarded with knowing what to educate them about to build trust and authority.
3. Match the TYPE of content to the right stage of the buyer journey
A mistake we see a lot of businesses making is offering the wrong type of content based on where the visitor is in their progression along the sales funnel.
For example, let’s say someone arrives on your blog from seeing your latest article shared on LinkedIn – great, you’ve got a valuable visitor who fits your buyer persona perfectly. They get to the end of the blog post (a general post about solving a particular problem). The “next step” offer at the end of the post (see point 5 below) then offers the person a free consultation with a member of your team.
Do you see the problem here? You’ve gone straight from meeting someone at a party to inviting them to your parents’ place for dinner!
This type of offer would not be very successful because you haven’t yet built any trust or rapport with them. It would be better to offer them a research report or free video educating them further about the topics in the blog post, then in a week or two (or months later, depending on your product/service buying cycle) present them with the free consultation AFTER you’ve sent them several other emails educating them further first.
The diagram below shows the types of content appropriate to each stage of the buyer journey.
4. Authentic content
Another cardinal sin of content offers we see is an author or company writing about something that they clearly have no expertise in. For example, an IT company may be writing about how economic legislation will change their country’s industry. Or a marketing consultancy writing about how the rising cost of housing will change Gen Y’s future goals.
Along the same lines, companies often try to take a shortcut with content marketing by outsourcing the entire process. It’s fine to outsource some parts of your content marketing, but outsourcing too much creates a disconnect between your internal (valuable) knowledge and what a writer can find anywhere on the internet with a bit of light research.
If you’re wanting to write about something you don’t know about, interview a thought-leader, ask an expert, or better still, write about something you are knowledgeable in. And make sure you’re working closely with the content creator so they know what to say.
5. Include a ‘next step’
The final step in creating a perfect content offer is to include a next step; usually called a Call-to-Action. A call-to-action is a visually attractive button or image that will pull the reader’s gaze to it. “Click me, click me!” it calls out from the end of the blog post, or from your sidebar.
You, as a reader, don’t want to press it because you’ve got all the information you came for. However, the content was so appealing. You loved every piece of it and are wanting more. You click the call-to-action. You’re not disappointed.
As a marketer, this tool is a great way to continually engage with your audience as you deliver them more interesting content and they in turn move deeper down ‘the rabbit hole’.
When we do website reviews for potential clients one the biggest mistakes we see time and time again is not having a “next step” at the end of blog posts.
When you’re creating your content offer, remember the 5 steps: make it valuable, solve a real problem, match it to the buyer journey, make it authentic, and always have a next step.
If you follow these 5 guidelines, your content offers will soon become irresistible and you’ll find yourself becoming a sought after expert in your industry.
Do you have any other insights into creating content offers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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