This article discusses 8 methods of content marketing that can be used on Websites by technical goods / services or software providers to drive targeted traffic of their potential buyers to their Website.
Imagine that 60% of potential buyersdid substantial online research on a product before they had the first contact with a sales person.
The good news is, branding becomes less of an issue, as quality and features are more transparent and important. The downside is that more pre-sales activity has to be done, not only to convey the message of your product but to attract the potential customer to your site in the first place.You may not have the budget of the IBMs and GEs, but you can still make it happen? How to attract Web-traffic to your site?
The answer: try to be famous for a few.
Before talking about the methods, have short look at whom you are writing for and what these people are looking for
- Buyer Persona - be precise in identifying your buyer persona. You might have even 2 or even 3 of them. Your communication (blog texts etc.) and the problems you solve will be different depending on the audience. Talk to your customers or follow discussions in LinkedIn or online forums. Also check the language style there.
- Search terms - It is not the search term “software” or “machines” that you need to focus on to bring you onto Google’s page one. It is rather the more specific issue of identifying the problem in your industry that you want to address, for example “online software for physiotherapists”. This “long-tail”-keyword may not have much traffic but it is pretty easy to position. Before spending time on any of the methods below, find out which long-tail - keyword of in your industry
is strategic or you and has at the same time high search volume with low difficulty. How do you find that out? As we technical folks tend to do it: with an online tool. I personally prefer the HubSpot Keyword Tool, but there are other alternatives available in the market.
It is important that each of the posts described below is followed by a Call-to-Action button, leading the readers to a form, where they get free additional and related information on the subject. In exchange, you get their name and can draw them even closer when they return to your Website (assuming your site is able to track this).
Let us now look at the potential of the available media to drive Web-traffic to technically-minded Websites.
1. Blog posts
Blog posts are the corner stone of content marketing. And they are absolutely vital when you are selling technical products or software.
- Solve an Industry Problem - Avoid one mistake that many people make: Do NOT write about your product. In many articles the authors write how great they are and how wonderful their product is. That is a sales-pitch, not a blog article.
- Identify the industry problem - Imagine that your potential customer gets to your Website as because he wants to solve a problem, but he may not actually fully understand what that problem is. So, identify the industry problem and show him what technically, or from a business point of view, the best solution is. At the end of your post you may want to introduce your product as a potential solution to that specific problem. I personally rather like it when the blog post marks the beginning of my buyer journey. Thus I can create awareness of a defined problem and the existence of solutions and concepts. In the Call-to-action button below the article I offer him even more detailed information about the solution to his particular problem, e.g. in the form of a white paper.
- Quote statistics or other respected or notable sources - For example, Gartner or Forrester are always well appreciated because they are trustworthy. Also you may want to give examples to substantiate or illustrate what you are saying.
A blogpost is ideal to attract new visitors to your site. Never forget: they are most likely to be new. Assume they have average industry knowledge and low knowledge of your brand or your products and services.
2. Academic reviews
Some of the most hidden treasures in industry are academic papers. These are often
- not freely accessible, as they are hidden behind a Springer or IEEE purchase button,
- written in complicated academic language,
- littered with mathematical formulae or logic
- focused on substantiation rather than practical application
On the other hand, if you wipe the academic grease away, they are often
- new and innovative
- suggesting answers to your potential client’s industry’s problems.
When selecting the articles to review, try to be focused on future implementation. Concentrate on
- industry track papers,
- academic case studies
- or statistical analyses of problems and their impact on your industry.
You can get these documents mostly for free through Researchgate. Then brush them up:
- make sure you clearly write that you are reviewing an academic publication. This is important from a legal point of view and substantiates the validity of what you are saying
- extract the factual contributions and solutions and not the validations and academic line of argument
- sum them up in a way your buyer persona will understand and identify with
- consider and discuss the proposed solution. Give your own opinion
- at the end you might introduce your own solution (product) as an already existing answer to the described industry problem.
3. Product Implementation Case Studies
Many companies give case studies away only after receiving the potential client’s contact information. This makes sense if the case study has the visionary character of a white paper. In other words when the case study has results that can be generalised and thus solve the industry’s problem.
When talking about the implementation of your products and services, it is important to make this easily accessible, either as pdf or as online-article. I prefer the latter as the potential client who downloads a pdf might disappear from my range and even pass the document on to several other potential clients, which you will then miss out on. It is far better to keep them and in their buyer journey on your Website where you can continue to build their trust in you and your products.
Unlike blog articles, such an implementation may well be related to your product. But try to make sure that the language is rather descriptive and not “sales pitchy”. Imagine a reporter writing about it. Important points in the Case study are
- the initial problem description
- the features of the solution you provided
- the migration process from the status quo to the updated status with your solution
- the evaluation (ideally, place quotes and comments by a customer or an independent auditor).
Until now, I have never seen e-Learning listed as content marketing tool. And yet it is such a powerful one. There are multiple sources which you might use to get good e-Learning which does not necessarily need to be costly. If it is true that clients need to be in contact with a product for 7 hours, e-Learning is the best way to make progress. You might offer the basic training without requiring the contact information. After the “point of no return” ask for it prior to giving access to the next step.
- Brush up existing internal content - Often content is already available in your company, prepared for internal or customer trainings. Offer this training to your customers free of charge, engage them. You can easily turn PowerPoint Slides into animated Trainings (e.g., with the Camtasia ScreenCam Tool). No need to be perfect. The prospects are of your kind. It is better to be honest and convincing.
- Syndicate existing external content -Often, there is e-Learning available as a result of research projects. Offer your publication channel and thus free advertisement to the researchers, traded against access to the e-learning content and solution.
- Buy You might buy a set of licences - with a downpayment from a producer of e-Learning software. They are normally not expensive if you restrict the maximal number of concurrent licences. Just do not compromise on quality, when trying to save money.
- Turn your texts into e-Learning content. The learning management system Moodle is available free of charge and allows you easily to turn text and images into a convincing and valuable learning sequence.
A powerful method of attracting people to your Website are online tools:
- calculators of values relevant in your industry (e.g., the resolution attainable with a radar transceiver at a certain frequency),
- converters (e.g., calculating the weight of something based on dimensions),
- code generators etc.
- and more - There are many more options, which might be more specific for your market. Just think about it ...
The advantage of such tools? You easily get backlinks of user communities in your industry and thus get additional traffic.
6. Product Demos
Product demos are a very special magnet to potential clients.
- They attract visitors and create visibility as good demos are discussed in the community and generate backlinks
- If you are selling software you may even provide a SaaS with limited functionality but of added value to the customer. That brings him back to your Website whenever he needs your service. When his trust in you and your solutions has reached a sufficient level he might buy it. Best practice says that there should be in average 11 visits to a Website until a customer is motivated to buy (I have never seen any statistical substantiation of this fact but it goes in line with my experience).
- If you are selling machines you might just show the GUI which actuates some simulation of the machine.
But watch out. Demos are a great way of generating qualified leads. So freely accessible demos should be really limited and rapidly motivate the visitor to sign up for a free extended demo. Then you have his contact details and can start a personalized, targeted and solution-oriented sales process.
7. Youtube Videos
Youtube is a good medium to be explored. There is not as much high quality competition as in on the Web, but people do like searching there as videos are easier to digest than written text and often more entertaining. You can also provide the video as embedded object in your Website and give the transcription as well (this is of added value for the customer and it is trackable by the search engine).
However, do not forget the Hashtags in the descriptive text and the hyperlink to your Website in the video and in the descriptive text.
8. Social Media Marketing
I would not consider Social Media Marketing as an independent method to attain Website Traffic. It is rather a way of guiding traffic to some of the above described methods. Communicate the availability of any new content to those social media which are the most frequented by your buyer persona. I personally had very good experience with Twitter (properly hash-tagged content) and LinkedIn (in the right expert communities). Google plus should always be part of the communication, as Google itself considers it important for its ranking.
- Do not give out White Papers for free. They are of value to the prospective clients, so ask for their name and contact details in exchange. However, do not disappoint them by providing low quality text.
How to get SEO visibility to the White Paper in spite of being hidden behind a form?
You might offer the introduction and the beginning of the paper out for free (try to be longer than 2500 words with that “sneak”), e.g., as a blog article. Then in order for them to progress, they will need to provide contact details,.
- Also avoid providing stand-alone content (no matter through which method). Always embed it into a campaign (use a tool for it of course), with a clearly defined goal and time period. Your first campaign might be off track, but as you are learning, you will get better. And if you think you should improve something, do it. Even the text and hashtags below a Youtube video can be updated without losing the video ranking.
These methods are like ingredients for a Pizza. Play around with them and try to adapt them to your customers’ taste and way of thinking.
If you would like to get a free assessment of what media-mix might work best in your specific case, contact us. It is free and non-binding:
Photo: "Queue", courtesy of William Warby, Flickr