You’ve just launched the new website for your company.

It’s dramatic, visually engaging and the university-grad who built it for you, assures you it is the “latest thing in lead capture technology”. Now you can just sit back and watch the customers flow in… Right?

Probably not.

Today’s customers are interested in a lot more than just how your homepage looks on their iPhone during their morning latte. Before you’re even invited to have a conversation with them about your solutions, they’ve thoroughly armed themselves with info about your brand – and have countless channels through which to consider their options.

In order to captivate and convert customers in an increasingly informed marketplace, you need more than a website and an idea for how you will celebrate success (I recommend hot air ballooning if you’ve never tried it). You need quality content that delivers the right message to the right customer at the right time. Right now.

Our simple 5-step process will help you develop a content strategy that builds trust with your audience, saves you time and money, and generates new business opportunities.

Step 1: Set your goals

Do you want to educate your customers (to make you appear more credible?), do you want to be seen as a thought-leader – so customers will trust suggestions you make to them, or do you simply want to generate new sales leads via your website?

In this stage, create a roadmap for yourself that identifies your customer (who are they and what do they want), which will importantly let you focus the development of your content to speak to the right customer.

Step 2: Decide what type of content you will produce

There are 6 main types of content, and each has a specific purpose – or will speak to a particular customer type. After you’ve identified your target customer in Step 1, you should then be able to work out which of the content types below will suit that audience best:

  • Blogs: It’s not only a great way to show that your company knows what it’s doing, but is also effective at getting your SEO working (Google value rich content more and more), and is having increasingly positive effects how search listing rank your site.
  • Video: Create snackable content that can be viewed quickly – perfect for customers that consume your content on mobile devices. Video is also one of the easiest types of content to engage with.
  • Infographic: Although more costly to produce, visual / infographic content is similar to video in its appeal to customers. It’s snackable, quick and easy to consume.
  • White-papers & case studies: It feels like it delivers more value to a customer – almost like they are getting something for free. They are long-form, and deliver a feeling of credibility, particularly when they are evidence-based.
  • Podcasts / webinars: Giving your customers an opportunity to learn something new (distracting them from what they are currently doing) is demonstrating increased effectiveness. Similar to white-papers, podcasts / webinars can help you build a level of credibility with your audience.

Pro tip: Don’t just pick the content type that “looks cool” or that you saw at a seminar and thought “we should do that”. Define your customer properly in Step 1, and choose the type of content that they want.

Step 3: Segment your customers

Not all customers are sure they need something. Some are just looking for inspiration… others are ready to buy your product – and they just need a little more convincing. You need to make sure that at each of the “buyer stages”, you have the right content to match.

We call the buyer stages: Thinkers, Comparers and seekers.

Thinkers are probably not ready to buy from you – but they still might be thinking about a purchase in the future. They are looking for general info, things that might validate their choice to buy, or reasons why your product is best.

Favourite content: White-papers, videos, blogs

Comparers are customers that have a little more idea about what they want – but still want more information about their options.

Favourite content: Case studies (particularly that show your product), Calculators, Official industry reports.

Seekers are looking for solution… Now. They need to know that if they do business with you, it is the best possible solution for them. They want a price, confirmed service expectations and potentially even an idea of “what’s in it for me?” (i.e. “show me the deal”).

Favourite content: Buyers guides, fact sheets

Step 4: Create your editorial map

You need to plan out what type of content you will create – linked to each customer type – and design your map for how you plan to distribute it.

Importantly, at this point you need to look to your resourcing and prioritise the development of more critical content types. For example, are your customers more interested in your social channels, or do they respond to email invitations to “access exclusive white-papers”? Which ones are accessing your content via links from search engines?

Create a basic timeline that organizes each content type and when you will release / promote it… a basic editorial map can help you focus what is being delivered to who, and when:

Simple editorial map

Audience Article title Author How will you promote?
Mon Thinkers Article 1 John Push: Facebook
Tues Thinkers Article 2 Jane Push: Email blast
Weds Comparers Article 3
External Push: Facebook
Pull: Adwords
Thurs Seekers Article 4 John Push: Email
Fri Seekers Article 5 John Push: Event invite
Pull: AdWords
Sat ALL Article 6 Jane Push: Facebook

Step 5: Define what success looks like

How will you know if your content is hitting the mark? What types are getting better responses from what type of customer – and importantly, which of your content is converting to new sales! Set yourself up for success by implementing a process to track activity, which will make sure you get the most out of your content strategy.

  • Downloads: This is a great metric for determining the popularity of your content – and it indicates a higher level of interest. Categorise the customers that download your content as “high-value prospects”, and schedule follow-ups with them.
  • Time on page: Forget “unique page visits”. How long people actually stick around on your page is far more important. If this number isn’t getting bigger over time, it might mean that your content isn’t right for your audience. Test new content types to improve the mix.
  • Shares: This will tell you how much your audience potentially values your content – and is a good way to track what channels it resonates better on. If you are seeing lots of social activity resulting from shares, consider increasing the level of your social delivery as a primary channel.
  • CPC / CPL: “Cost per Click” or “Cost per Lead” are specifically for tracking your spend / demonstrating that your content investment is returning value to your business. Ideally you will link your promotion (investment) to a sales channel and then link this back to ROI. I’ve never had a boss that didn’t like a positive ROI report!
  • Followers / Subscribers: If you are generating fans for your content on social, your followers value will be a good measure for your brand prominence. If this was one of your objectives, track this metric closely.

In a world where customers are holding more and more of the power, are increasingly informed and empowered to seek out comparisons / alternatives before they commit to purchase, there is unfortunately never a one-size-fits-all engagement strategy. That said, with the right amount of planning and capability to try out new things (by monitoring what’s working and what’s not), you’ll be hot-air ballooning before you know it.