Contextual Content - the Rudder of a Smooth Sail Down the Digitally Enabled Sales Process
During the last NPC held in Bangalore, I attended a seminar by the Mckinsey & Co team - an engrossing session that highlighted various approaches for enabling B2B sales. It was food for thought for every software product owner who attended the session, since the team used real-time data analytic reports to provide insights into expanding business through digital media. The data-driven discussion proved that a digitally enabled infrastructure could help overcome "shooting in the dark" syndrome - a dangerous practice that most entrepreneurs often resort to. As a technology marketer and content writer, I extrapolate this learning to technology content writing, and I present to you my thoughts on leveraging the key enabler of any digital sales initiative - your prospective buyer.
Most marketing and sales strategies focus on getting their customer to buy to their products. However, not every strategy is successful because they are keen to rush into the planning and implementation stage without engaging in analyzing the key enabler of their entire initiative - their prospective buyer. Since your prospects are surrounded by marketing and sales content throughout their waking time, the key to your success as a software product owner is to first connect with your prospects and then build trust through various aspects of marketing, especially content marketing.
Placing the prospective buyer first does change the entire marketing and sales landscape, especially, when, as sales experts in technology marketing, highlighting the benefits of our products is always in the limelight. Let's change the focus now - to connect with your prospects you need to first get into their psyche, determine their persona, and create profiles:
1. Who they are
2. What their likes and dislikes are
3. What are the usual challenges they face
4. Which possible age group do they belong to
5. What are the common sites they hang out in their free time
6. What are their problems for which your product could be a solution
7. How do they make their purchase decisions
8. What prompts them to make their product purchases
9. What channels are best suited to get their attention
The above list is just a sample - you could create many such buckets of persona-based information, categorize your target prospects, and configure this information with your marketing infra.
Your next step will be to plan customized marketing efforts for each target group - precise contextual communication. The quality of your efforts at this stage will have a great impact on your marketing campaigns, thus enabling digital sales. A couple of email campaigns and rare social media engagement would not be of much help - after all, your marketing efforts should be centered on your prospects' expectations, not yours! Your plan needs to answer the following questions:
1. What type of information would your prospects be interested in?
2. What stage of the sales cycle are they in?
3. What medium would be effective to get their attention?
4. How well spaced should the marketing efforts be?
5. What mix of marketing approaches would be ideal?
6. To what extent should your marketing efforts be customized?
7. How will plan your analytic report to assess the effectiveness of your campaigns?
The answers to these questions will help you plan your team's digital infra, content strategy, overall approach, specific tactics,and mode of execution.
Content plays a huge role in all these marketing efforts. As an expert in this terrain, I will focus on setting up your contextual content plan for the marketing phase. Categorize your content into bundles, as indicated below:
a. Content that connects your prospects' persona with your product: Expert content writers will help you prepare laser-focused value proposition based on each persona group. This contextual content will incorporate all the required flavors depending on the sales cycle stage the prospect belongs to, the prospect's persona, and the desired emotional connect. For example, at the initial stage of engagement:
a. the emotional connect would be that of curiosity
b. the purpose would be to create awareness
c. the intended result would be to engage with the prospective buyers and connect with them without forcing their attention on your brand.
This subliminal influence of content will help you connect with your target audience and move on to the next stages of the cycle from interest to dedicated followers of your brand.
At this stage, you could primarily use articles, "did you know" features, infographics, and images to spread awareness of your field of expertise. The intention is to use all possible media channels to spread the word without exactly using your brand's name in the forefront.
b. Content for building trust and creating interest to buy : Marketing is all about creating relationships. Once you connect with your audience, relationship building moves up a level to trust-building. Every relationship takes time to nurture - there is no short cut. In technology marketing too, trust is derived gradually from interest. All your push content and calls efforts could even irritate the buyer. Hence, work on a step-by-step mode of content interaction, which would help gain trust smoothly. Load the digital infrastructure with thought leadership publications, videos, case studies, certifications, comparisons, customer reviews, data and statistics related to the business impact your product can create for the prospect,. At this stage you can start experimenting with some end-user-generated content too.
You could get adventurous at the latter half of this stage. Once you proceed well with the trust-building stage, your could interact with them and delve further into what their needs are and clearly demonstrate how your product or service can help them. The communication modes are crisp at this stage with options such as process brochures, flyers, surveys,and illustrations; your team, organization, people, and work approach; your process differentiators; and your technology adoptions.
c. Content that builds desire to purchase - calls to action: The next key stage where content support is crucial is the decision-making stage.While every stage should include subtle and distinct calls to action, this stage focuses on different modes of call-to-action content. To aide your prospect in making the buying decision, create compelling content that highlights your product's competitive edge: success stories, references, video testimonials, performance metrics, performance guarantee, additional service details, valuable tips, and direct calls-to-action copywriting targeting your prospective buyers through all possible channels - from website to social media channels. At this stage, user-generated content will be precious support in capitalizing on the trust-building process.
d.Content that retains your buyers' trust and builds goodwill: This is a permanent stage of engagement -your repeat customers are your most precious resource - they account to up to 40% of your total sales in most cases; they are also your brand ambassadors, spreading good words about your products. Hence, at this stage, work on content that identifies with the buyers - new offers, products awaiting release,personalized emails and gift offers, and extensive user-generated content.
Thus, enabling digital sales requires building sharp customer profiles and personas that leverage a wide variety of content communication across multiple channels. The effectiveness of a digital sales engagement is in tracking consumer interest and effectiveness of the trust-building campaigns. The right balance of contextual content across all stages of customer engagement will ensure amazing success in your field.