Here's the two times when your earned media will have the most influence on potential buyers.
The competition for customer attention online is more intense than ever before. Organizations are creating content at a pace and frequency that can make your head spin! However, many of these organizations lack a real strategy around content creation and promotion that will genuinely attract and influence prospects rather than simply creating words on pages.
Today, buyers are doing a ton of research prior to making a buying decision. Targeting your prospects with earned media in specific areas of the buying decision is an effective way of converting prospects to buyers. The customer decision journey (CDJ--featured in the graphic below) is a great framework for organizing content and targeting prospects using earned media.
Earned media is especially effective when targeting prospects in the consideration and evaluation phases. Most online consideration and evaluation occurs on industry communities and third-party websites that are trusted by your prospects. These places are where your organization can have the biggest impact on driving prospects to choose your offering over the competition.
Developing an Earned Media Strategy
Creating a variety of content resources to target these two phases and marketing them on relevant web properties is the foundation of winning prospects who are considering and evaluating solutions by you and your competitors. A quick read through the Earned Media Guide can also help jump start your earned media strategy.
First, your organization must create content that's relevant to the specific phase and third party website. Then, you must pitch content via a "teaser article" that will generate demand for the content resource. Prospects will then click through to download your resource. This process will build lead and e-mail lists to feed business development processes.
Here's what the basic process looks like:
Consideration Phase Content Ideas
People go online to gather facts and information about products or services more than ever before. Make it easier for your prospects to find this information online by developing valuable content that addresses their most common search queries. You can find this information by researching Google search trends.
Develop content that helps your prospects better understand facts, data and information about your product or service offering. This includes:
data calculators or other tools
Influencing the consideration phase is more about education than closing the deal.
Evaluation Phase Content Ideas
Prospects reach the evaluation phase only after deciding that they will use a company that uses your offering or strategy. This makes the evaluation phase extremely valuable, since this is when a prospect makes a choice between you and a direct competitor. Marketing client case studies is an effective way to show prospects in the evaluation phase that choosing your organization is the best way to get the job done.
Drive prospects to choose your solution by marketing articles that show 'how to reach success' using your offering. Highlight examples of success from your clients without making the content sound like a sales pitch. Creating a "How to Achieve Success In..." guide for prospects can be a goldmine to market to target audience communities.
Evaluation phase content ideas include:
success guides (a non-sales-y case study)
analyst opinions that support your offering
providing knowledge support in online discussion forums
Earned media is one of the most effective ways to generate demand for your brand using the most powerful tool in marketing--placements on trusted industry communities. By positioning your brand as an authority and getting other sites to vouch for you, you can build your audience and gain their trust. Learn more about this process with the Earned Media Guide and get started with promoting branded content on your industry communities today!
AARON ADERS: Aaron is co-founder of DigitalRelevance™, a national leader in earned media and inbound marketing services. Building on more than a decade of Internet marketing experience, Aaron steers the strategic vision behind DigitalRelevance market research and collateral. @drelevance