There is no doubt that the advent of the Internet, and the subsequent growth of digital marketing, has leveled the playing field for businesses of all sizes, allowing even the smallest to get a toehold in the market against larger and more established competitors.A digital presence alone, however, will never be enough to remain competitive. To compete with the “big guns”, begin by developing customer awareness for your products and services.Then, you can begin to build trust and credibility. Finally, you will have everything in place to convert your target audience into paying clients.
This of course is where demand generation comes in to play. An effective demand gen strategy uses content to educate, inform, and critically engage with your target audience, in the process creating the interest and loyalty that you are seeking. But how does custom content boost your demand gen efforts and what types of content are the most effective? Let’s take a look.
Demand Gen v Lead Gen
Creating custom content requires an understanding of exactly what demand generation is, and how it differs from lead generation.
The primary purpose of demand gen is to impress your audience with your knowledge of your subject, and project thought leadership in your sector, by providing them with useful and informative content. The main purpose is to educate and engage not to gather information that can move them into the sales funnel. When done properly demand gen content creates a positive impression that has the potential to turn the audience into qualified prospects who can become the loyal customers of the future.
Demand gen shouldn’t be conditional, requiring something from the audience before they get to see the goodies you have on offer. You should be giving information and insights freely to gain trust, before deploying lead generation strategies that require gated customer data to access information. Getting the balance wrong between the two and you run the risk of losing your intended audience and the potential for conversions that they might have offered.
Custom Content is the Future
Consider some of these stats collated by the Demand Gen Report and you will soon be able to appreciate the impact that custom content is having in the B2B environment.
- More than three-quarters (78 percent) of CMOs believe custom content is the future of marketing.
- Almost half of all small businesses (48 percent) and four in ten large organizations have documented content marketing strategies.
- Businesses that use content marketing have six times more conversions than those who don’t.
- Content marketing leaders experience almost eight times higher growth than others.
- Content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing.
- More than three-quarters (76 percent) of B2B marketers’ blog and 82 percent who do so regularly say they see positive ROI.
While the potential benefits are clearly recognized there is still something of a shortfall in getting the best out of custom content, with just forty-two percent of B2B marketers saying that they are effective at content marketing. At the same time, around the same proportion (44 percent) said that content production is their greatest challenge.
Custom Content for Demand Gen
So what types of original content can be created for demand gen and how can it reach your target audience? Here are a few ideas to boost your ROI.
Video. With the aforementioned stats also suggesting that visual content gets more views, and that video can improve conversions by a massive 86 percent, video should be a key component in the content mix.
People tend to pay closer attention to video and skim less than they do with text. That makes it an effective medium to tell your brand story, get ideas across, and explain concepts in a natural, engaging way.
According to Hubspot ninety-nine percent of businesses already using video for marketing plan to continue, with more than a third of those that aren’t using it planning to get on board. Video consumption continues to increase and savvy marketers are taking advantage, producing custom video content to meet consumer demands and expectations.
Infographics. These eye-catching representations of information are a tried and trusted means to disseminate information for demand gen marketers. Visually distinctive and easily shareable across the social media platforms, Infographic scan be an effective way to demonstrate knowledge and encourage engagement.
Webinars. The webinar provides a great opportunity to demonstrate your expertise (not to mention your sparkling personality) and create a positive impression, especially if you are able to partner with an industry thought leader or influencer. The interactive nature of the event allows for much more in-depth analysis of a topic than could ever be achieved in an infographic or press briefing. On demand options after the event give the opportunity to extend the shelf life of content.
White paper. Long form content such as white papers and eBooks have long been a staple of the demand gen marketer. Used to present research findings, discuss industry issues, and present solutions custom white paper content can be effective in raising the visibility of the sponsor in search engine results.
SlideShare. According to the 2017 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends report from the CMI, more than a quarter of B2B marketers use SlideShare to distribute content. Four in ten rate the SlideShare platform as an important factor in overall content marketing success. Demand gen marketers shouldn’t overlook this channel as an effective means of distributing custom content and improving search engine rankings.
Go Multichannel. Be creative in repurposing custom content to have a wider impact. Whitepaper content can be used to create an infographic or SlideShare presentation. Video and webinar presentations can be built around the same topics. Be resourceful in getting the most out of content and extending its impact and reach.
Go Social. Whatever type of custom content is deployed, the social media platforms offer indispensable tools to help the marketer to reach their target audience. Free options are available for those on a limited budget; however paid social advertising is likely to more effective. Either way the social channels are key to the effective distribution of content for demand gen purposes.
High Quality, Low Hurdles
The choice of content and distribution channel for the demand gen effort will be irrelevant unless two overriding factors are constantly at the top of the agenda.
- Content must always be high quality, providing relevant information, answering questions and solving problems for target prospects. If your content can’t fulfill that basic brief then you might as well not hit the publish button.
- There should be no barriers to accessing the content. Demand gen is all about creating a positive impression. Remember that first impressions are all important and that if the first thing your prospect sees is a request to give up information, they will most likely just move on.
Creating an effective demand gen strategy is a long-term undertaking. It can also be one that isn’t as easy to measure and justify as some of the shinier tools in the marketing box. However, it is a vital foundation to all the other marketing activitythat will ensure healthy revenues and profits for a business. Therefore, it shouldn’t be overlooked.
Last thought. I was at the Growth Marketing Conference last week and Chad Kerby at Infusionsoft had a great comment about marketing that really resonated with me: Clear and consistent messaging equals trust and trust equals sales. I think marketers need to take that same approach with their Demand Generation efforts.
How do you approach demand generation? What types of custom content work for you? I would love to hear about your demand gen experiences.
This article was first published on V3Broadsuite.