I recently adopted a cat from the Cat Welfare Society in Singapore. Upon the official handover, I was asking the fosterer how she felt about having to give up the cat she had cared for months on end to strangers.
“No choice. I have to let go and think of the big picture.”
This simple yet profound answer led me to think deeper about how we approach marketing and customer acquisition. Oftentimes, the directive from management is to hit certain goals and KPIs and drive business results. However, if we fail to consider the long term vision, and institute tactical “shiny” innovations and technologies in hope of driving instant short term gains, we may lose sight of the big picture. In the case of my cat fosterer, had she decided to keep the cat instead of finding it a new home, there would be an opportunity cost – she would not have the capacity to foster another cat that she would in turn be able to rehome. As such, she would not have been as effective in doing her part to alleviate the problem of strays in the long run.
Understanding the big picture or the long term company vision is vital before embarking on any marketing plan. Get the basics right: understand your customer and behaviour trigger points, before developing a content strategy or messaging. Evaluate the different tactics out there, select those that complement your messaging and move the customer along the conversion funnel.
Remember: Tactics should not come before a narrative or a content strategy.
Let’s talk a little more about the conversion funnel. Each stage of the conversion funnel corresponds to a different stage in an individual’s purchase-making decision. Therefore, the way you move the individual to that next stage requires different messaging to be paired with different tactics. A one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work here. A content strategy must take into account each of these stages, and inform marketing tactics to be successful.
Is Content Marketing the Basic Building Block of Any Marketing Plan?
I would say yes, if it is supported by research and guided by a clear content strategy that is driven by goals and an understanding of the target audience. Tactics by themselves would fall flat without clear compelling content that has a strong call to action. Think about it: what value are you communicating or providing to the user that makes them want to carry out the desired action you want to drive?
So without further ado, here are 5 things to consider when crafting a successful content strategy for driving conversions.
1. Brand. At the end of the day, what separates your product from your competitor’s if the feature set is the same, is the brand. With brand equity and recognition, customers are more willing to pay a premium for something they have heard of from a friend or a friend’s friend. What’s critical in building this brand is therefore to have a clear narrative that appeals to one’s target audience. What does your brand stand for? Knowing this provides a framework to guide your strategy and messaging.
2. Personas. Conduct surveys and interviews and build personas so you know exactly who you are trying to target and what is the trigger point for conversion. What ideal version of themselves are they trying to buy into and how can your product help them get there? Understanding who your audience is, is key to goal setting and creating content that appeals to them. Who are you writing for?
3. Goals. Set clear goals before you form an overarching content strategy that can inform your marketing tactics. After all, how can you measure success if not in tandem with goals? Are you looking for engagement or purchases? What’s the end goal here?
4. Content Marketing. What message resonates with which target audience? What kind of action does it drive and is that in line with your goals? Look at your analytics, and figure out what your customers are looking for, how they are accessing your site and what they are doing once they are on your site. That provides you with insight into customer motivation which you can then use to craft your marketing messages.
5. Marketing Tactics. Consider the different stages on the path to conversion and develop campaigns for channels that can tactically impact each group of audience, or each individual at different stages of the buying process. Which marketing tactic works well with which content to help you stretch your dollar, when you put in 20% of your effort to achieve 80% of your goals? What are you tracking and what constitutes success at different stages of the customer conversion cycle? Not all channels are created equally so where do you want to spend those precious marketing dollars?
A thorough marketing plan involves careful consideration of all these components. Know your goals before dashing out to hand over your marketing budget to the latest new innovation. Get these five things right and you’ll unlock the secrets to conversion and greater market share. Remember, don’t lose sight of the long term goal because of a short term gain!