From cosmetics manufacturers to hotels, everyone’s a publisher now. 

The problem is no longer how much content a company can produce, but how much of it is consumed and acted upon — by the right people. 

According to The Content Marketing Institute, 70 percent of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago, and nearly a third of them intend to produce significantly more.

Good content is expensive to create. But if it’s done right, it can create a magic tunnel that takes the audience from content through conversation right through to conversion. And at the risk of adding a fourth C, you’ve got to make sure that you’re targeting the right customers.

This is the grey area where content marketing differs from publishing. 

Traditional publishers aim to create compelling content to attract readers, regardless of who they are. The money is made either from the sales or the advertising but the main purpose is great content. However content marketing is the opposite. Effective content is only a tool and the end result is lead generation.

Here are the three Cs content marketers need to conquer.

The First: Content

  1. Get your content analysis right, and do it regularly to see what content works and what doesn’t. There’s no point writing great content that’s not being read. Web guru Gerry McGovern explains how an audit of Microsoft’s content revealed 30 percent had never even been visited.
  2. Concentrate on quality, not quantity. Whether your company is big or small, don’t be afraid to outsource to create a great report or an article from an industry expert. Make sure the content offers value to consumers. That’s where you’ll get your inbound leads.
  3. Get visual. When people think content, they often think text, but that’s only one element. Nowadays, people want shorter text content and more visuals, from images to video. According to the Buffer App team, tweets with images are 150 percent more likely to be retweeted. With that in mind, make sure your head of content strategy is thinking visuals first.
  4. Target your content. Don’t think of your content as seeds to be sprinkled randomly in the hope that some of them will take root. Instead, plant with precision. Use personas, targeting and segmentation for different types of content on your website and across your communication channels. Use personalization to build up a real conversation with your customers.

The Second: Conversation

  1. Move from static to interactive. By using interactive content, you get consumers not only to pay attention to what you’re saying, but also to engage with you and your messages. According to Demand Metric, interactive content generates twice as many conversions as static content. Buzzfeed has got it right, with a persuasive mix of quizzes, calculators, assessment tools and contests. Many companies forget that interactive content is just as valid for B2B as traditional white papers and benchmarking studies.
  2. Make it easy to share. Any good content strategist knows that her job is not just about creating engaging content, but getting people to interact with the brand. This demands a savvy mix of short messages, visuals and interactive content. You need to check analytics regularly to see which content gets the most interaction, but think in term of snacks rather than meals; you want something that can be quickly and easily consumed.
  3. User-generated content. No matter how much content you create from within the company, it can’t compete with positive content generated by users of your brand. You have to be ready to stand back from the conversation and act as facilitator across social media, forums and comments boards on your own website. Coca Cola attributes a 2 percent increase in sales to its "Share a Coke" campaign, which encouraged consumers to share pictures of their personalized Coke bottle across social media. Your job is to make it easy to add and share user-generated content.
  4. Use personalization to build conversation with your customers. You need to build a good picture of your customer to deliver targeted relevant messages. Now that the growth of the Internet of Things is seeing increased use of beacons by retailers, businesses will be able to build increasingly more meaningful conversations with customers based not just on online behavior but also on in-store customer journeys.
  5. Go mobile. Your content needs to reach your customers regardless of their location, so it needs to be adaptive and multi-channel. That means you need to have a platform that allows you to have a COPE strategy — that is, create once, publish everywhere.

The Third: Conversion

  1. Map your customer journey: Your customers have different needs for different content, depending on which stage of the customer journey they’re in. It’s not enough to create a whole load of interactive content across channels. You have to map the buying process to it, which will vary considerably depending on the purchase.
  2. Create multiple types of content.  Create content that spans the entire customer journey, from raising awareness about your industry and eventually your brand, to becoming an expert opinion leader and a reliable source of information. This could involve the creation of everything from short Twitter posts and infographics, to webcasts and youtube videos, right through to white papers and industry comparisons.
  3. Be where your target customers are. Just as you need to create different types of content, you also need to provide content to your customers at a multitude of touchpoints. You need to create relevant content that can be consumed on the channels they use.
  4. Create transactional content. Creating ‘how to’ content that spans infographics, text and videos allows you not only to position yourself in your industry, but also gives you an easy transition to asking customers if they’d like a demonstration or quotation.
  5. Make it easy to convert. All of your top scoring content should make it easy for customers to contact you, with a clear and engaging call to action.
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  Title image by Pink Sherbet Photography.