What questions are your customers asking? Content is your platform to answer those questions and to begin a meaningful conversation with people that you want to engage with. Building awareness for your product or brand is essential and creating trust is now viewed as an important metric.
“Content marketing offers a unique opportunity to build significant relationships with your audience, because it is not overtly advertising products or services,” points out SEO expert Christelle Macri. “As a result, it enables you to position yourself as a trusted source or industry expert, while simultaneously boosting website traffic and brand recognition.”
Focusing your marketing efforts on creating the correct kind of awareness is the cornerstone of any content strategy. Here’s how to work through your customers’ questions to arrive at a strategy that builds the right sort of awareness to generate more conversions, leads and sales from your current customer base.
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What is awareness?
Can your customers recall who you are and what you do/what you offer? Are your marketing efforts relevant to them? “Brand awareness is the level of consumer consciousness of a company,” explains Track Maven. “It measures a potential customer’s ability to not only recognize a brand image, but to also associate it with a certain company’s product or service.”
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Marketing allows you to align your business goals with your outreach efforts. It allows you to connect more people and products in an authentic, problem solving way. In traditional marketing, the net is cast far and wide, collecting leads and customers in a broad fashion, refining messaging as customers trickle down the sales funnel, to deliver your products and services to a few refined leads at the end of the customer journey, or marketing funnel.
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By “flipping the funnel” and focusing more on “best-fit customers” and their needs, marketing efforts are refined to build authentic, nuanced relationships that build awareness from the ground up. Businesses with strong awareness and branding move to the top of the consideration phase for the customer, are more trusted and are therefore more likely to be considered.
Why is awareness important to your marketing efforts?
It’s impossible to create a solid content strategy without knowing the results you want to achieve. To identify which part of the sales cycle you want your content to target, you need to ask the right questions.
Content is a way of asking questions and posing responses to get your customers excited about, invested in and conscious of your products and services. As Track Maven says, “When consumers are aware of the product a company offers, they will more likely go straight to that company if they need that product, instead of researching other places that they can acquire it.”
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How can content generate awareness and increase the “right” sort of awareness?
It’s important to think about messaging, and generating the “right” sort of content for your marketing efforts. To reach your customers you need to be seeding out authentic messages that resonate with them and their requisites; allowing your customers to frame their business needs within the context of your sales and marketing funnel.
Prioritize customer engagement
Since the advent of social media, it’s been easier to engage with customers one-on-one and to gain real-time feedback about needs. Content seeded across social platforms allows you to engage with your customer base in a (generally) non-invasive and authentic model – seeing what questions are being posed and how you can provide solutions to problems your customers are having.
Be aware of the different stages of your customers’ journey
Customer journey mapping is a valuable way to place your customers’ questions in a coherent sequence that allows you to content create and respond in a timely and genuine fashion, while making best use of your resources. Journey mapping allows you improve customer experiences and to build out “touchpoints” across your timelines.
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Attracting, converting, and nurturing
What is your customer doing today? What touchpoints have they engaged with your brand? How you build awareness at these three crucial stages of your customer journey is something worth considering. Building targeted leads via content requires awareness of your customers’ journeys by asking, “Who are these people, where can you find them, what are their problems, and how can you help?”
Awareness to generate better ROI
Creating content that promotes brand awareness is the first step in your marketing efforts to attract, retain and convert customers. The more information your customers are equipped with, the more informed they feel and the more empowered they are to buy. Awareness builds brand differentiation and when done “right”, builds brand trust. Content is the cornerstone of your marketing in that it delivers these messages in a variety of targeted ways.
How can content service customers’ needs, with the aim of conversion?
Content starts, opens up and maintains a dialogue with your customers; it is the avenue that you deliver your brand messages by. By now your business should be using a myriad of content solutions; from traditional marketing (brand assets, campaigns, content on websites) and via bespoke digital assets, such as video, SEO strategy, infographics, whitepapers and social content.
According to Econsultancy, for every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them. Awareness built via content will speed up the path between acquisition and conversion, and allow the “right” kind of leads to land at your doorstep. Google prospected that 49% of B2B researchers who use their mobile devices for product research do so while at work; so, making this information easy to find, on the right channels, and accessible in real-time is imperative.
Do an “awareness audit”
What is the “right” kind of awareness? Put simply, it is answering the questions that your customers have in an authentic and sensible way; allowing customers to make a purchase decision that involves your brand and products.
Depending on the conversion and consideration phase, you don’t need to shy away from controversy, or asking/answering the tough questions. “In the most general terms, a brand audit is a detailed analysis of your brand in its current state,” says Jayson DeMers, founder of a Seattle-based content marketing and social media marketing agency. “By determining which qualities of your brand are currently effective and which ones are not, you can restructure your identity and your messaging goals to produce better results.”
An awareness audit will serve your content strategy by analyzing your current position and providing new insights into your brand. Look at the demographics of your target audience and chart what awareness they have, and how your brand plays in the mix, amongst your competitors. Ask yourself, “How can content solve and enhance my brand’s promise?” and “How are my targets receiving this messaging?
What is the “wrong” kind of awareness?
Of course, in order to build up a picture of the “right” kind of awareness for your brand, it helps to assess what the “wrong” type of awareness might be. DeMers points out that no two companies are the same, so what works for one brand may not work for another. “Once you have a good understanding of what’s currently right or wrong with your brand, you can create an action plan to readjust your standards and a marketing strategy to support it.”
Brands and products usually become less relevant over time, and content can be an essential tool in keeping relevance in the market. Brand promises need to be updated and an engagement strategy is one way of achieving this. Content is usually the gateway, marketing is the path/platform chosen.
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Content builds awareness, and awareness builds meaningful relationships
Building the “right” sort of awareness for your customer via content avoids your brand being singled out as just “noise” to your customers. Generating authentic relationships with your targets and nurturing these relationships is made easier when you understand how your brand interacts with the broader landscape.
Effective content answers questions, fulfills needs, opens a dialogue and pitches your brand as the solution. It generates interest, fosters positivity and keeps conversations going. Quite simply, honing your brand awareness via a robust content strategy will ensure that your customers’ needs are being fulfilled and that they are empowered to choose you, over any others when they purchase.