Top 3 #ICON14 Insights You Can Apply To Your Web Content Strategy

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Have you been considering marketing automation software for your business? As we've helped clients roll out marketing automation software on their websites, we've worked through many of the assumptions, challenges, and victories that come with a good automation workflow. We've found that one of the common misconceptions about marketing automation is that the technology provides a silver bullet for your digital marketing. But the truth is that marketing automation is equal parts content and technology.

This week we've been hanging out in Phoenix at #ICON2014, a web marketing conference sponsored by Infusionsoft. Amidst all the software demos, case studies, and panel dicussions, we've gleaned a few insights that you can use to improve your website content strategy, regardless of the software you're using.

Good Digital Marketing is Like Living a Healthy Lifestyle

It's all about consistency, not urgency

Imagine that you walk into your doctor's office for an annual physical, and things aren't looking so good. Your doctor says, "Your cholesterol levels are higher than they've ever been. It's time to clean things up. I want you to start working out 3-4 hours every day and eat kale for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Come back and see me next week and we'll check in on your progress."

Sounds crazy, right? You don't need an MD to know that being healthy doesn't work like that. Living a healthy lifestyle isn't about "binging on health" - it's all about making consistently healthy choices, with a few mistakes here and there.

Digital marketing works the same way. Spending half the day glued to your Twitter feed isn't going to get you very far. Instead, you need a consistent plan for content that can be reasonably, sanely executed. Weekly blogging and email newsletters are a great place to start. It sounds obvious, and if you're already doing it, feel free to jump ahead. But if you're not, you can start with a list of topics, a content calendar with realistic deadlines, and a couple hours of dedicated writing each week.

Be Broader than Your Point of Sale

If you only think about users who are ready to buy, you're missing a lot of opportunities

Finding topics isn't as hard as you might think. It's all about knowing where to look. Let's start by thinking about a buyer's purchasing journey. Conventional wisdom says that purchasing works like so:

Visitors show up, and they buy what you have to offer (or they don't). But the buyer's purchasing journey is a little more complicated than that. It's not a one-step process - it's a multi-step process:

Not all visitors are at the same point in their purchasing journey. Users comes to your site to solve a problem - your site exists to help them solve that problem. But how much do they know about their problem and your solution?

When we work with clients to develop their content strategy, we find that they focus most of their efforts (content and otherwise) on the last two phases of the process: users who are ready to buy, or current customers. This leads to blog topics primarily focused on specs, features, and benefits of their offering.

But what about users who aren't quite ready to buy? They may be aware that they have a problem, troubleshooting to solve that problem, or considering possible solutions. By crafting topics and content that speaks to these users, you can help nurture them throughout their purchasing journey.

When Writing Copy, Relationships are More Important than Words

If you understand your users' challenges and problems, you'll find the right words

So you know that you need consistent content, and that you need to nurture users throughout their purchasing journey. But the burning question remains... "What am I supposed to write about?"

While there's no silver bullet, answering this question starts with learning more about our users:

  • What problems or challenges are my users facing?
  • What are my users' most pressing questions?
  • How do these problems and questions evolve as users travel through their purchasing journey?

The great thing about these questions is that you don't have to look very far to find the answers. It's as simple as picking up the phone and talking to your clients, partners, prospects, and leads. In this way you can craft content driven by your relationships, going beyond clever words on a page.

Sometimes this approach will lead you to questions and topics that seem counterintuitive at first. For example, when we started interviewing users during the awareness and troubleshooting phases of their website purchasing journey, we discovered that a common question was "Who are the best web design companies in Chicago?" To help answer this question, we pulled together some "insider information" from our friends, collaborators and (gasp!) competitors in the industry.

Does it make sense to feature potential competitors on your website? It might, if it helps your users find the valuable information they are looking for.

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Want to learn more about how develop your web content strategy? Interested in how marketing automation fits into your website plan? We're happy to answer any questions you have - let's make contact.