In the first part of our two-part series on planning your content marketing strategy to go beyond blogging, you learned about using entertainment and education to get customers and prospects to interact with your content, rather than just passively reading it. You learned how to use gamification, short videos and animations to get the word out, with a little humor sprinkled in for fun.
In our second lesson, we’re going to focus more on practical methods to compel your customer to take action. Fun and games are one thing – but at some point, someone’s going to need to show their manager or boss some concrete details that demonstrate the real value of your offer. Here’s how to give it to them.
Tried and True: Content Marketing 1.0
Although certain types of content still stand the test of time, including pricing sheets, white papers and feature lists, these are quickly being replaced by newer, more engaging versions. Why download a pricing sheet when you could get a customized quote? Why let a white paper gather digital dust somewhere in the catacombs of your hard drive when you could actually try before you buy with an online demo?
But before you ditch your PDF report in favor of an interactive checklist – keep in mind that many of your prospects are still going to actively request these types of things, simply because they want something they can print out and compare. Despite rallying cries to the contrary – paper isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. With that being said though, let’s take a look at how to take your content marketing efforts one step further.
Create a Comprehensive Resource Center
There’s one thing to be said about resource centers – they get backlinks by the truckload. Let’s face it, bloggers, marketers and journalists need research – and they need it yesterday. So rather than trying to create it from scratch, they’ll eagerly link to a source that has taken the time to not just gather all the information, but put it into an easily-readable, easily linkable format.
HubSpot is one well-known example of this practice, as is SmartInsights. Each one focuses on a core area of expertise, along with all the sub-niches within it. Beyond that, however, they make every offer available to visitors in a downloadable guide, checklist, webinar or interactive tool. Because only a basic version is available to visitors, there’s an incentive to subscribe and get the whole enchilada, instead of “leftovers”.
SmartInsights is one example of a content resource center
How to Do It
Building a link-worthy content resource center takes time, but the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see results. It’s not just about creating blog posts, however. You’ll essentially be curating the “best of the best” when it comes to content in your area of focus. Subscribe to industry-leading blogs in your niche. Scout for trends from top research organizations like ComScore and Pew. You’ll need to scrutinize and tie together things like charts, infographics, survey findings and statistics – all in one place.
That being said, not many people are up to the challenge, because it looks an awful lot like work. But you’re a KISSmetrics reader, and if anyone can do it – you can.
Provide a Custom Quote with a Pricing Calculator
As more and more competitors try to jockey for first place in the search engines, websites are becoming increasingly more interactive. It’s no longer just enough to compete on price or even customer service. You’ve got to offer something customizable – and pricing calculators are a great way to do it.
Take Etsy for example, the Amazon of the handcrafted world. Many people would love to create and sell their crafts online, and Etsy makes it point and click simple for them to do so. However, these are crafters, not businesspeople – so how do they know what to charge?
Enter the Etsy Pricing Calculator.
The Etsy Pricing Calculator is a free online tool to advertise inventory management software
Made by a company which specializes in finance tools, inventory tracking and spending for handcrafting artisans, the Etsy calculator is a free tool that illustrates what someone should charge for their crafts based on time, materials and other factors. The calculator also doubles as a nice incentive to get crafters to take the next step in managing their inventory, calculating expenses, and turning their hobby into a lucrative home business.
How to Do It
If your product or service doesn’t have a lot of variables that make calculation more complex, you can have a simple quote pricing calculator/estimator made with a little web programming through sites like Freelancer or oDesk. If, however, you need something that takes more complex variables and branches into account, you may want to look into an advanced solution like Calcwheel – which lets you build an online pricing calculator through their online service.
Get People Clicking with an Interactive Demo
Depending on what you sell, having an interactive demo can instantly pre-qualify your customers for you, by letting them test drive your program, product or service before they buy. No sales. No pressure. They’ll either see that it’s exactly what they’ve been looking for – or it isn’t.
There are hundreds of foreign language learning products out there, but one of the most well-known is Rosetta Stone. One of the reasons it stands out is its free interactive demo, which lets you choose from dozens of languages while getting a basic primer in the language of your choice. Although you can’t speak back during the demo as you can with the actual software, the demo does walk you through what using the actual program is like.
Rosetta Stone’s interactive demo encourages prospect participation
By the end, you’ll have learned a few words of the target language, and come away with a better understanding of the basics – which is exactly what you need to take the next step in language learning.
How to Do It
There are several software tools available to help you create interactive demos and simulations, including Demo Builder, MadCap Mimic and ActivePresenter. Each one differs in terms of features and pricing, but it’s a good idea to try a free, lite or trial version of each to see which one will meet your specific needs.
All of the programs will allow you to record the screen, along with including specific effects, highlights, zooms or call-outs, to create a sort of interactive video demonstration. They all also have a rudimentary editing suite and specialized effects to help with user comprehension and feedback.
Now it’s Your Turn
What are your favorite content marketing tools? Share them with us below in the comments!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps website owners increase conversion rates through user-friendly design, compelling copywriting and smart analytics. Learn more at iElectrify.com and get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up. Follow @sherice on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+