How can you best use your content marketing to build up an engaged subscriber base? Here are five tips and tricks from experts in the field.
Chances are that you want to build a new audience. You likely also have lots of content designed for prospects interested in your product, service, or brand. How can we best put this content to use – or create the right content – in service of acquisition, when often, we don’t know anything about these anonymous visitors interacting with our content? Sure, we all have Facebook fans and LinkedIn groups and Twitter followers. But we also need subscribers who are engaged with us over time and on our own properties. While outside social platforms are a great way to find a new audiences – and nurture ones you have – they are also much better used to build a subscriber base that you own.
How do we use content to build that subscriber base? I spoke with some smart marketers and gathered these five tips and tricks:
1. Keep It Real
You have to remain human-to-human, said Ed Youngblood, vice president of messaging and communications at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprises. "Remember who the target is. A burden to marketing today is automation for automation sake, and how difficult it seems to be for marketers to address human needs and to speak through content the way we’d speak to a person."
2. Focus on Subscription as the Key Metric
According to the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs recent content marketing benchmark report, less than one-third of all marketers are setting subscription goals as part of their content marketing. "That means all the content being created is focused on activity metrics (shares/traffic) or direct sales/commerce," says Joe Pulizzi, founder and chief executive (CEO) of the Content Marketing Institute and author of Epic Content Marketing. "I believe this is incredibly short-sighted. Perhaps the holy grail of content marketing measurement comes in the form of an opt-in email subscriber to your content. Then, once we can build a relationship with that reader, we need to look for metrics that show the difference between a subscriber and a non-subscriber. Do they buy more? Do they stay as customers longer? Is the sales cycle shorter?"
3. Be Relevant by Leveraging Real-Time Posting
"Being a marketer nowadays means being digital – which is all about creating content, sharing content, and making it easy for others to share the content," says John Balla, director of marketing for the SAS Institute. "One of my favorite ways to build a new audience is to create content at a time when my audience is concentrated and tuned in to the same place. Twitter is very good for that, such as during a publication-produced webinar or a Tweetchat. Another perfect example is real-time blogging during a large conference, while actively using the show’s hashtag on Twitter. The key is to do it during the conference when everyone is tuned in.
"I try to write ‘real-time’ blog posts at every large conference I attend – usually one to two blog posts each day and publish within 30 minutes to an hour after the session is over. Then, I tweet about it like crazy using the show hashtag. It’s not easy to do well, but preparation helps make it possible. I use the show program to get prepped in advance on speakers and topics, but also to form my own viewpoint so I can write quickly and enthusiastically about the topic."
4. Create With Intention to Scale
"We are starting to be much more intentional in scaling the use cases of the content," said Youngblood. "We used to create a white paper and then think about how to use it. That is a bit backward. We now take a strategic approach before putting time into the creation of those singular assets. We also repurpose and customize content that is created in different regions – using content from Europe in the States and even sharing between the East and West coasts."
5. Be Share-Worthy
"Share-worthiness has to do with whether or not the content is valuable to the reader or somehow clever or funny," said Balla. To me a jackpot is taking an idea and adding humor to it so people want to share it. I also like to spotlight good thought leaders, because their followers are then inclined to share the tweet about my blog post. Also, people love pictures – I like to take lots of pictures during conferences and use the speakers’ Twitter handles and company identities and I get more Twitter followers that way (and re-tweets)." A summary of Balla’s activity at the most recent DMA Annual Conference on Eventifier is located here.
Employ these tips not just in the pursuit of content creation, but also to build a subscriber base that will continually engage with your brand and community. Owning the content platform is a much better way to market over the sales cycle, and to provide insights and feedback on your content choices. What are your tips and tricks for acquiring customers through content? Please use the comments section below to share.