Updated: Apr 16, 2020
Let’s start with the obvious: as a business owner, you’re passionate about your products and services. It can be hard to understand why more people don’t see what you have to offer and immediately say “I NEED THIS! Here! Take my money!”
For the buyer, there are four steps in the buying cycle:
Awareness of want or need
Considering the purchase
More often than not, the problem isn’t that they don’t want what you are offering, it’s that they don’t know it exists or that their lives would be better because of it. The problem could be that your potential customer doesn’t know they need your product or that your product should be part of their research.
So, how do we go about solving that problem?
Content marketing and search engine optimization.
Search Engine Optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, is a fancy way of saying your product or service comes up first when someone searches something related to it. Try it out: search for something you’ve been interested in buying. Try something like a new bookcase, business coaching, or plane tickets. The first results are either sponsored or they’ve moved up the search ranks by following some basic rules that the algorithm of your search engine really likes.
The computers behind search engines like Google and Bing like to provide users with relevant, fresh content in their search results. They scan for how often the search term is mentioned, how close it matches, and for “backlinks” (any time another site links back to your content). For example, if you are a farmer and a local farm to table restaurant reposts your blog on how radishes are doing this year, that’s a backlink!
The more people and businesses that link back to your content, the higher you rise on the ranking. And the higher you are on the ranking, the more likely you are to be a part of a potential buyer’s research! Problem solved, right?
You’re probably wondering how to get those backlinks and how to make sure those keywords are showing up. That’s where content marketing comes in.
If you’ve even purchased anything because of an ad you saw on social media, a blog post you read, or a video you watched – then content marketing has worked on you! Webinars, quizzes, even free eBooks are all examples of content marketing.
That buying cycle on the seller’s end looks something like this:
Traffic (Potential customers going to your site or page)
Engagement (Potential customers commenting, sharing, or otherwise engaging with your site or page)
Conversion (Potential customers becoming customers and buying from you!)
And how can you get in the game of content marketing and see your company rise in the search game?
Here are 7 ways to go from underdog to leader of the pack in those searches!
1. Start by creating content!
Step one is simple. In order to do well in content marketing, you need to create original content! Start blogging on your website, encourage discussion and engage an audience on social media, create how-to videos, or create a quiz to find out which kind of radish you are. (Who wouldn’t honestly take that quiz?!)
2. Keep creating content!
Search engines don’t want to point their users to stale content. If you go too long with no new content, you’ll start to fall in the rankings. Set up a schedule. Create content in bulk and have it set to post on a regular basis. Don’t have time to record that podcast every week? Record a few episodes all at once and then post them once a week instead.
3. Engage an audience.
Social media is a great place to engage an audience. Gain followers by posting more than just information about your products and services. Try something like a post about what you and your family did on your vacation. Consider a video that shows what your back office looks like. It may not seem like people would use that as a reason to buy, and maybe they won’t, but it will help with the awareness step in your potential customers’ buying process! The more followers you get and the more engaged they are, the more word will spread to those who are interested in buying!
Prime Example: West Michigan-based Shefit does a great job of engaging an audience in their social media. Sarah, the owner, launched a campaign around how we talk about fellow women in social media. Not only did she improve the chatter on the Shefit Facebook site, but the company reached a lot of potential buyers! Shefit also posts workouts, how-to videos, and uplifting ads that start a conversation.
4. Become (or utilize) an influencer.
What’s an influencer? Think Oprah. Millions of people buy the products she puts her name on. Why? Because she has a track record of using and loving great products. She is the ultimate influencer with a massive audience. Sadly, we can’t all be Oprah, but gathering a following of people who look to you for life advice (and buying advice) is a huge win. You’ll be able to promote your own products and services with ease. The added benefit is that you’ll be able to work with other influencers to offer their products and services. Then, they do the same for you. There are those backlinks we mentioned earlier! It’s a win-win for everyone.
Not sure how to become an influencer? Or maybe you just aren’t ready to make that commitment yet? Utilize an existing influencer. Share your products and services with a blogger or Instagram star for free. If they love it, they’ll post about it. Chances are, they’ll reach more potential customers (and customers who are more relevant to your industry) for less than a traditional ad!
5. Focus on the customer.
What is your company’s mission? It probably has something to do with improving lives through the use of your product or services, right? If your content focuses on those people whose lives you are working to improve, you will gather more awareness. Selling radishes? Post a healthy dinner recipe for those looking to make changes to live longer, healthier lives! (That recipe should, of course, include radishes).
Keep your target audience in mind when creating content. Underground Cookie Company out of Kentwood, MI does a great job of this. Their posts are full of family-friendly, feel-good content. Comic books, superheroes, great causes. They aren’t likely to post something like a yoga routine – unless it involves balancing one of their delicious ice cream sandwiches!
Once you’ve got a lot of content, go back and reuse! Revisit that old quiz or recipe. That’s what Throwback Thursdays are for! Reblog other people’s posts and ask for comments. Ask for results based on a previously-released how-to video. Content should stay fresh, but putting a new spin on a classic is always in style!
7. Proofread and edit.
Just trust us on this one. Read and re-read, watch and rewatch your content so people are having quality discussions around your content, not around your use of apostrophes.
Need help? CIS Agency has got you covered!
There’s a reason you can go to college and major in marketing – there is a LOT to learn and understand to make it work for you. These concepts seem simple, but that doesn’t make them easy - or quick. Don’t have the time to go back to school for the marketing degree? Don’t worry, we’ve got the experience you need for less than those credits would cost you!. Let CIS Agency put our knowledge and skills to work to help you get the traffic, engagement, and conversion that you deserve!
Author: Alicia Shumaker