How to Use Content to Drive Sales

How to Use Content to Drive Sales

Keep your sales looking content with content. See what we did there?

By Daniel Kidd

These days the line between editorial content and marketing is particularly thin. Many marketers have woken up to the fact that in order to drive acquisitions and generate new leads, the old marketing techniques of ‘sell, sell, sell’ no longer work. Instead, most marketers have integrated the distribution of insightful blogs, videos, photos and Q&A articles as an essential part of their marketing strategy, via owned content such as blogs and social media.

Connect with consumers

Consumers are now looking for valuable content that respects their intelligence, rather than simply bombarding them with reasons to buy a product or service. In fact, content marketing can be used to develop an ongoing relationship with consumers, in which you’re rewarded with repeat custom and brand loyalty.

Content marketing is becoming more popular with marketeers, as it allows them to connect with an audience as well as driving brand awareness and engagement in a more genuine way than traditional methods. It’s also a great tool for driving acquisition (getting leads and potential customers to make a purchase) if done the right way.

Getting it right

In order to use content marketing to drive acquisition, you have to walk a very delicate line, which includes publishing content (such as blogs, videos, photos and articles) that does enough to showcase what you have to offer (products or services) without being overly salesy.

In other words, consumers don’t like content that sounds like you’re just trying to sell something – you have to come up with engaging, clever content that’s valuable and relevant to your target audience. Your target audience may be very specific, or within a certain age group (you certainly can’t appeal to everyone), but getting it right with your particular market is absolutely essential for driving acquisition.

In order to be successful, you need to think about the type of content your customers will be interested in, whether they’re repeat customers or new leads who haven’t yet made a purchase. All of your content should be generated on one main owned channel (most likely your blog or website) and then shared via other channels such as social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc.).

Well written copy gets audiences engaged, interested and ready to follow your call to action. It can provide your business and brand with a unique voice and character. It encourages audience interaction and social sharing, boosting your brand exposure and reputation. In short, great copy increases conversion rates, which increases your sales.

In order to generate copy that will drive sales effectively, you should first define a specific aim. This will normally be to follow a particular action on your website, like signing up to a newsletter. Set a realistic conversion rate based on the needs of your business.

Next, think about all the things that might encourage the audience to take action. Write these down as a list, and pick out the top three or four points that are most compelling. Then do the same for all the reasons they’ll probably say no. This will give you a clear idea of the positive points to focus on and the anxiety you’ll need to address in your copy.

Essentially, the copy needs to give the audience a good answer to the question “what’s in it for me?”, so what you’ll commonly see in the most effective copy is an emphasis on what the audience can get. Whether it’s good advice, an advance preview or a limited offer, you need to identify something they’ll want so that you can offer your call to action as the ideal solution.

In this way, well written copy combined with the right kind of exposure can multiply the effectiveness of your marketing strategy and boost your sales.

Get filming

Video content is a highly important consideration for your business for several reasons, the majority of which centre around how users interact with it.

First of all, it’s a very engaging medium. Users tend to share video socially more than any other type of media content and the knock on effect this creates can impact positively on your business. People trust the opinions of their friends more than anything that any marketer may tell them and this word-of-mouth effect can create a big boost in engagement with your company, expanding your accessible audience.

There are also what we might call ‘emotional benefits’ of employing video. It gives you the opportunity to connect with your audience on that emotional level by telling them a story and influencing what they feel through.

Video is also an ideal way to access people using their mobiles to search. In fact, it’s the one form of online content that doesn’t require any form of optimisation to work well on mobile so your message arrives completely unaltered and undiluted.

It’s also highly visible in search results and there are instances where some of the more successful video-based social media campaigns have an effect on Google search rankings. This offers users another entry point to your website, so there are also significant SEO benefits to populating your website with quality video content.

A quick look at viral content from recent years shows some common themes. Popular videos have content that people want to share with others. For consumers and the typical internet user, this is usually content that makes them feel a powerful emotion, especially humour, inspiration or happiness. For businesses and professionals, content will be shared if the information is clear, helpful and shows expertise.

The very best content not only invokes these emotions or has useful information, but also has a purpose and is original. After all, there are lots of other videos out there to compete with, so having a unique or interesting idea or style can go a long way to making your video stand out. Genuinely new and interesting videos are the only ones that have a hope of being picked up by larger sites and gaining new viewers.

Of course, some content seems to go viral for odd reasons, such as being laughably bad or offensive. The internet is a fickle thing and can be hard to predict. Even so, the best way to ensure that there is consistent interest and traffic to your content is to provide good quality videos with enthusiasm. Video is one of the most effective and fun ways to find and share information, and so capturing a feeling that resonates with your audience is an almost guaranteed route to success.

Commerce before content

If you’re just starting out and want to use content to drive acquisition, it might be difficult, as building up a quality suite of content that resonates with your potential customers may take a while and very often involves high upfront costs. It would probably make more sense to utilize the most cost effective direct channels first, before introducing clever and relevant content to the mix. That way, consumers will instantly know what your business is about.

More content marketing tips

Try expanding your reach by getting involved with guest blogs on other sites relating to the types of products or services you’re trying to sell. This works particularly well when the blog is a larger, more visited site than your own.

Another good way to help drive acquisitions is with carefully worded calls to action at the bottom of your content. The right wording could make all the difference between readers closing the window, or clicking through to see what else you have to offer — though, once again, if you sound salesy, you’ll lose that customer forever.