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Six Tips for Successful Online Marketing

The benefits of bite-sized content to engage busy buyers

Online marketing is under heavy pressure to be all things to a target market in the ways that market wants them to be—right now. Instant marketing, on-demand pressure and today's culture of constant change impact not just the speed, but the quantity of content you need to create continuously to lift engagement.

There's no downtime anymore. Create a campaign, send it out, monitor real-time results, tweak your strategy, add new content to your website, blog, create webinars, podcasts and compelling events that engage buyers. Oh, and don't forget to give sales better conversational briefs, customer stories and buyer profiles that fit with those personas it took you painstaking hours to develop.

Whew. That's a lot of stuff. If I'd have gotten more specific, it'd be really scary.

What can really be disconcerting is when you put all that content you've worked so hard on out there and then you look at the brief amount of time your buyers spend reading it. Scanning has become an art form. People grab a bit here, a bit there and try to give themselves a crash course in intelligence gathering that will enable them to make graduate-level decisions about complex sales with the equivalent of a fourth-grade education. Not because they don't want to learn, but because time is scarce and the subject matter is not their expertise.

You need a strategy for putting all this work into a context that matches how your buyers access and use it. Not to mention your sales team.

Consider the following 6 contextual tips when developing your content and you'll see your level of engagement lift because you're matching buyers' needs.

Pull:
The quality of your online content, and the way it's presented can work for you or against you. Buyers have different informational needs at various stages of their purchase process. They will scan first to gauge relevancy. Once they decide you have information valuable to them, they'll grab what they can now and return again to learn more. The returns are the critical objective. The more frequently you can touch them with high-value content, the more top-of-mind space your company will occupy. Think about pull in stages. The more meaningful touches they have with you, the more time they will allot for your content.

Time:
The scarcity of time that buyers have to pay attention means that you need to break things down. Address issues in bit-sized pieces they can digest quickly and easily. Showing respect for their time earns you points. Stage your content to grow longer as it gets deeper. Link it together so they can extend their time as they engage, but make sure they get full value from each piece. The secret of meeting time constraints is tight topic focus.

Conversation:
You're not just talking to one buyer. Seven is probably the smallest number in a consensus group for a mid-sized B2B complex sale. Focus on developing content that's easy for them to use in conversations with the others in the buying group. Storytelling, used in a business context, means that the buyer can actually envision themselves in the situation, eliminating the pain and moving successfully into the future. This gives them a context for discussion. Facts don't generate conversation, situations do. Situations they can relate to.

Variety:
Everyone in the buying group won't successfully integrate the same kind of content into their thinking. Some people respond better to video, some to audio, some to live presentation formats. Others want the words on a page so they can ingest as they expand their thinking to wrap their minds around the concepts.

Interaction:
Content is no longer just a one-way monologue where you do the telling and your buyer takes it all in and decides if they believe you. People want ownership. They want control and they want involvement. Listening, hearing and responding are critical components to incorporate with your content strategy. The dialogue needs to go both ways for it to be effective. Encouraging questions that explore your expertise can help drive interactions.

Immersion:
The better integrated your content is, the more immersion you will get. I call this topic density. Topic density means that you've successfully pulled your buyer from one related content resource to another, expanding their knowledge transfer to the point that they feel confident and competent in having a sales conversation with your company.

Applying these six tips to your content development will help you deliver marketing on the go that isn’t just hit and run. By varying the length of your information and tightening focus for bite-sized knowledge consumption, you’ll be laying the foundation for a lengthening engagement because the value they get quickly will entice them to spend more time. Just as a fine-dining experience begins with an appetizer, then a salad, an intermezzo, an entrée and then a dessert, so too can the stages of your content delivery build the momentum of your buyers’ engagement, ultimately resulting in opportunity lift.

More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.

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