We all know what marketing content is, right? Simply put, marketing content consists of communication assets — such as blogs, videos, eBooks, white papers, webinars and more — that marketers can use to influence their consumers along their buyer journey or “path to purchase.”
It goes without saying that content is a critical influencer along that path, from your prospect’s initial touchpoint such as a social media post to a webinar designed to “close the deal.” It’s for this reason that having a strategy behind the development of content, as well as a process for both distributing it and measuring its effectiveness, is crucial to the success of any marketing campaign. After all, monitoring how customers interact with content, and using those insights to make strategic and tactical adjustments, can only improve the effectiveness of both messaging and marketing dollars.
With the exponential growth of marketing message touchpoints, content marketing programs have become an omnichannel experience. Consumers now move more fluidly from channel to channel than ever before as the opportunities to experience brand and promotional messaging continue to grow. It wasn’t long ago, for instance, that sending an email using a device on one’s wrist was unimaginable… and yet, today, here we are.
As the opportunity for, and richness of, these touchpoint experiences evolve, so must the marketer’s content marketing plan, all the while taking into account the increasing number of touchpoints along their prospect’s buyer journey. As these prospects move along the purchase path, they are continually interacting with the individual content assets that the marketer creates. Together, these interactions become the prospect’s overall experience of the marketer’s messaging… provided that their development and distribution are guided by a solid content strategy. In organizing content in such a way that it has the greatest impact on the potential customer on their path to purchase, marketers often set the “Four R’s” as their objective: Reach the 1) right person with the 2) right message at the 3) right time in the 4) right place.
The Content Funnel
Achieving the Four R’s objectives with content begins with an in-depth understanding of the target consumer; number 1 of the Four R’s… the right person. This is accomplished by creating personas or fictional “user types.” Creating a persona, sometimes referred to as a customer profile, provides the means to identify a prospect based on projected demographic and psychographic characteristics such as gender, age, education, household income, marital status, etc. For example, if the goal of a bank’s marketing campaign is to build a student checking business, it’s essential to begin with the creation of a persona that represents the target prospect; more than likely, the young man or woman between the ages of 16 and 18 who is “leaving the nest” for either a first real job or attending college. Only then is it possible to predict with any accuracy how that individual will engage and respond to the content to which they’re exposed on their buyer journey.
Once the prospect has been identified, targeted content can then be developed and, importantly, organized and distributed in a way that optimizes its relevance at each touchpoint. This is where the funnel comes into play.
A solid content strategy is founded upon what’s known as the “content funnel.” The funnel represents the buyer journey, with general content at the top and more narrowly focused content at the bottom. This provides the marketer with the opportunity to actually visualize the “hierarchy of content,” that is, to map out the marketing content based on the prospect’s position in their path to purchase.
Each piece of content is designed, using a call to action (CTA), to direct the target individual to content that is further down in the funnel. The top of the funnel, at its widest, is where the most general or “awareness building” content resides. Example: Website, social media. Moving downward, as the funnel narrows, so does the focus of the messaging. Content is still informational in nature, but beginning to become focused on the offered product’s features and benefits. This is your “consideration” messaging. Example: White paper, Ebook. At the bottom of the funnel, its narrowest point, is where “decision-making” and “commitment” content resides. Here, the content is designed to make the sale, “close the deal.” Example: Webinar, sales call.
Each time a prospect moves down the funnel, experiencing marketing content along their buyer journey, they are responding to the content you’ve placed there. For example, Bob is surfing one of his favorite social media platforms when he sees a post, placed by a local bank, that piques his interest in an auto loan. He clicks on the post and is taken to a blog on the subject, presented by the local bank. After reading it, he decides that it might be worth investigating the bank’s loan offerings. He does this simply by clicking a link in the blog, which takes him to the bank’s website. Here he’s presented with additional, fairly detailed information on the benefits of a low-rate loan. He is also given options; for instance, to use a rate calculator, view a video, and/or fill out a form to set up an appointment with a loan officer. While Bob is presented with options along his journey, he is on a guided path; one that was pre-ordained by a content strategy. Each action is calculated to lead to another action that will take Bob further down the funnel and ultimately, to a loan application. Meanwhile, all of his actions are being tracked and measured.
Measuring responses and taking action
A solid content marketing strategy is built on measurable content. Each marketing communication asset — from Twitter post to webinar — must have a CTA that is measurable, no matter the desired action. The most often used CTAs direct the viewer to:
- share content, i.e., “re-post” a social post
- view another content piece further down the funnel
- provide contact information
- book an appointment or complete a purchase
In the example of Bob and auto loans, the bank developed and strategically distributed their content in such a way that they were able to “guide” Bob to the desired response at every touchpoint of his path to purchase. Of course, a prospect’s response to content is never 100% predictable. However, tracking and monitoring response to content does make it possible to predict response fairly accurately.
When it comes to social media, for example, there are numerous applications that provide for post scheduling and engagement measurement. With a few clicks, it's possible to know which posts are popular and which aren’t, which ones received the most views, and which ones were shared. Similarly, with email campaigns, email marketing applications provide valuable statistics such as open rates and click-through rates. And, when it comes to websites and landing pages, applications such as Google analytics track performance indicators such as the number of site visits, visit sources, visit length, and bounce rate, to name just a few.
No matter the form of content, from post to website, marketers can readily understand prospect behaviors and what changes, if any, are needed to achieve the desired results. These applications also offer opportunities for testing where, for example, the effectiveness of one email’s subject line can be tested against another. Why test subject lines? Getting a subject line right can improve an email’s open rate. Knowing a website’s bounce rate, i.e., the percentage of individuals who visit a site and leave without taking further action, is also a valuable insight. High bounce rate? Perhaps the information on the product page was unclear, too lengthy, or not comprehensive enough. Making and testing site page updates can increase a page’s ability to lead the visitor to a purchase.
In order for content to be effective, a strategic approach to its development and distribution must be taken. The marketer must:
- Define the target customer and identify those touchpoints in the prospect’s path to purchase where content can engage that prospect most effectively
- Track and monitor the prospect’s response to the marketing message at every stage of the journey
- Use the learning gleaned from performance data to make strategic and tactical adjustments as needed, continually refining messaging and placement
With a solid content strategy in place, the marketer can reach that right person, at the right time in the right place with the right message.
About Bank Marketing Center
Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging developed by banking industry marketing professionals, well trained in the development of effective marketing communication, that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. And with them, your brand. To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in branch signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com. You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at email@example.com. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.