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White Paper: 7 Steps to Better Content Marketing

Date: August, 2013 --

While content marketing isn’t new, it has gone through a bit of a renaissance in the last few years and the digital era finds it becoming an increasingly sophisticated process with potentially enormous impact. So leave aside the small irony that in this White Paper Data Services has created content marketing about content marketing and read on for a primer on how to make your content marketing strategy a successful one.   

“Content marketing” is really the discipline of presenting useful information and solutions for free as a lead generation practice, which is to say (1) attracting the right kind of visitors to your website with the promise of useful need-responsive information, (2) providing them with that useful and needed information while (3) capturing their respect and trust and finally (4) offering to making them customers. 

Content marketing can take shape in many different forms, be they White Papers, Case Studies, Blogs, Newsletters and more. In many cases, companies are able to utilize more than one of these communication mediums within their outbound, inbound, digital, social, direct and other marketing/communication initiatives.

In some ways content marketing is very like that awe-inspiring long-form magazine ad by David Ogilvy with three columns of information about the Rolls Royce, beginning with the fact that at 60 miles per hour the loudest thing you can hear in the car is the tick of the clock in the dashboard, with technical copy describing details of the car. The headline grabs while the content teaches and convinces. What it lacks is an on-page name-capture device, but it does list all the dealers in the newspaper’s catchment area!

The theory behind content marketing is a simple one: Customers are bombarded by offers in today’s media-overloaded world and, in many cases, no longer respond to a standard purchase offers for products and services. In short, your overt sales messages are more and more simply being ignored by those with whom you communicate.

The reasons for this vary widely, but in many cases a consumer may simply lack familiarity with your brand or not fully understand why it’s products/services are right for him/her (or his/her business). Where content marketing has the potential to really shine, is when your organization is able to leverage its expertise in order to advise those receiving your communications on topics pertinent to your readership. When done effectively, a successful content marketing strategy will not only engage readers, but establish the source company as thought leaders within the industry while educating them in a more palatable manner on the company’s products/services. When done right, this should translate to more inquiries and more sales.

So here is a very condensed plan of action of a content marketing program implementation. 

1.         Set goals for the company’s lead generation and traffic to the website. The goal is to use content to lure readers to the company’s site, inspire questions and content downloads, and encourage engagement.

2.         Undertake keyword analytics exercises, perhaps including longer phrases that potential customers would be inclined to search on. Undertake research into effective words in social media and search engine exercises to identify effective keywords. Internal corporate brainstorming would be in order, especially to identify “long-tail” words and phrases. The goal here is to understand which keywords should be highlighted within the copy of your content marketing to increase the chances it will get noticed by those interested in your industry or product vertical.

3.         Develop, display, deploy and revise content. Much of what you have can be repurposed.  If necessary, the focus on a particular industry or product set can be changed. Themes and subjects can be tested within the website’s blog, newsletter and/or social media postings. The goal is to demonstrate the company’s expertise and identify the needs of the prospects as they perceive their needs. What do they download and what do they comment on in your blog and other social media? What do they spend time reading?  This is as much research into identifying potential customers’ needs as it is creating an online presence.

4.         Do not neglect calls to action and links in every piece of content distributed. Capture, capture, capture and engage, engage, engage.

5.         When offering content for downloading, test short, medium and long-form registrations to test the audience’s patience and needs. Ask for feedback and commentary.  The more you get, the more likely you can identify needs and deepen the conversation. On the B2B side, what corporate levels are registering? For B2C you may track small data such as gender, age or other demographic info you’re able to capture on the form. The conversation and the content may have to be modified for the audience that is seeking your content.

6.         As the population and the prospects’ needs become better understood, modify the messaging to personalize and refine the targeting upstream and begin to move outward into email marketing and other media. A corollary here is the need for a robust unified database to capture all prospects’ interactions and the journey to that important transaction close.

7.         As with all forms of marketing, tracking your content strategy is of paramount importance. When content is used within a marketing automation strategy for ongoing communications and/or lead warming programs, an effective tracking or “lead scoring” mechanism can greatly assist with understanding where someone is in the sales cycle. Are they just researching or are they ready to make a purchase. Once this latter stage is reached you may want to trigger some reaction, whether this means sending a specific offer or prompting a sales person to reach out depends on your business.


This is an exciting prospect – refocusing the website with the purpose of drawing to it the target audience you believe you need with the promise of useful information and intelligent discussion of solutions to that audience’s problems. 

Your perception of the market’s needs, how those needs and solutions are perceived by your market, the identity of the solution seekers, and the process and path they will follow to reach you are all detectable and may turn out to be different than you originally believed.  And so content marketing in the digital age teaches everyone something. 

And can we prove it works? Yes, we can with the testimony of the Chicago direct marketing firm of Jacobs & Clevenger who adopted content marketing as a business development strategy and realized the following results:             

• Doubled the number of pages on the website within 90 days

• Increased inbound visits to the website by more than 900% within 90 days

• Generated 50 times more inbound leads than the prior period

• Increased the number of inbound links 8-fold in 90 days and 25-fold in 120 days

“For the last few years, we have been telling clients that organizations which consistently create and distribute valuable information to prospects, especially at critical decision points in complex sales journeys, were rewarded with purchases and long-term loyalty,” explained Ron Jacobs, CEO of Jacobs & Clevenger.  “I got tired of being called out for not doing content marketing for ourselves.  However, even I have been surprised by the results.  Content marketing is another successful tool that every direct, digital and database marketer should add to their toolbox.”

To read the whole story click here.  And since you are reading this, we suspect you’ll find other content on their blog that will interest you.

Finally, given that this exercise is intensely data driven and data dependent, be sure to discuss with the experts at Data Services, Inc. how effective data management and lead scoring strategies can supercharge your content marketing and other initiatives.