Think back for a second to the last time you did a Google search. Were you looking for an actual business or were you searching for more general answers? It’s estimated that 80% of online searches are information queries made by people trying to solve a problem.
These people aren’t necessarily ready to buy now but you’d still be smart to create lots of content for these people. You’re probably asking yourself, “Why should I care about this? I only want to do business with people who are ready to buy. I’m not a charity after all.”
I totally get it, and I used to think the same way, but the smart folks at Hubspot University really opened my eyes with their Inbound Marketing model.
Inbound in a Nutshell
One of the great things about Inbound is that it really clarifies what they call “the buyer’s journey”. Your prospective customers need to go through different stages before they truly become customers. They start off with a problem to solve, then they find possible solutions to their problem. Once they’ve chosen a solution, they’re ready to make a decision on a provider – that’s where you come in.
Some get to the buying stage much quicker than others. Depending on the price point of your services, and other factors such as urgency, they may quickly go through the process or it make take years. Yes, years.
That means if you don’t create content for them while they’re in the early stages, you’re slashing your chances at future success. People remember it when you do them a favour. If you help them identify and solve their problem, they’re more likely to remember your name later when they’re ready to buy.
Using the Right Honey to Get The Money
Now that I have your attention, here are the kinds of things you can do to attract people who are good candidates for future customers.
First: Develop Personas
Before you get excited and start creating content, it’s essential to know who your future customers are.
One of the best ways to do this is to create personas. A persona is a fictitious person that you describe in detail, including their lifestyle, problems and goals. The best personas use real names and photos, and in every way looks like a profile of an actual person.
You may think you know your customers. But personas get you to brainstorm and think more clearly about how you can help them, and take the emphasis off how they help your business. Try it – you may be surprised by what you learn and the great ideas for content you get along the way.
84 percent of people buy products based on the content of a blog. Shouldn’t you get a chance to have your say as well? But don’t go for a hard sell approach. Write useful blog posts answering common questions related to your industry like:
- How do I [insert common problem].
- What is the difference between [two brands or services].
- What are the popular trends for [service or industry or product].
A great way to find popular topics is to use the autosuggest phrases that come up in Google’s search bar. It will show popular queries and may give you some ideas.
Interacting with people is also a great tactic to build your audience and attract future customers. Help people out by sharing interesting articles. The key thing here is to remember the goal: to be helpful and to educate. Don’t try to sell to these people; they’re not ready yet and you’ll just be wasting your time and possibly turning them off as well.
Videos may take more time and effort to do, but they have incredible value. 46% of people took some sort of action after watching a video and 64% of visitors are more likely to buy a product on a retail site after watching a video. I could also tell you all kinds of stats about how marketers everywhere are putting more of their budget towards video, but I think you get the idea.
A great way to start is with how-to videos. How-to videos are helpful for visual people who like to learn by watching, or for anyone who is just plain busy. They are an unquestionably effective method of communicating with your website visitors.
How Will I Know if This is Even Working?
It can be hard to measure if your blog or social media posts are attracting future customers into your pipeline, especially if you have a pipeline that takes a while to get through. Here are a few things you can track in Google Analytics that will give you a picture of the ROI.
- Visits/Pageviews: This is a really basic measurement, but this allows you to understand if people are finding you on Google and reading your content.
- Repeat Visits: Another basic measurement (also called: Frequency & Recency) , this allows you to see how useful your content is. If the same person visits multiple times, you can assume they are finding it useful.
- Sharing & Caring: Engagement level (or likes/comments etc.) is a great way to confirm the process is working. Seeing the overall engagement level rise over time shows progress, but don’t forget to dig deeper to see what content works best.
Growing Your Customer Base
It’s important to realize that engaging with your new content is just the first of many steps someone is going to take before they call or fill in a form. But if you’re not cultivating information seekers even a little bit on your website, you’re missing out on 100% of these potential future customers.
Oh and by the way – if a social media contact or blog commenter really is ready to buy, it’s OK to sell to them too. Just be sure they’ve really made that decision first!