DaveAvatorThis is a guest post by Dave Schneider. Dave is the Content Director at NinjaOutreach, an all in one influencer outreach software for marketers. Say hi @ninjaoutreach.

Let’s face it – content marketing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re busy running a business or trying to get a startup off the ground, writing a blog post probably isn’t at the top of your priority list.

Your focus should be on developing an amazing product, having awesome customer service, management, prioritization, and other forms of marketing that don’t require you to write long articles that nobody is reading.

But each year, we seem to be hearing more and more about how effective content marketing strategies are.

Buffer, for example, is known for practically building their company on guest posting. Leo Widrich, Co-Founder of Buffer, wrote over 150 guest posts, which lead to over 100k sign ups!

Not bad.

And Groove, who just started heavily content marketing last year, is having a similar degree of success as seen by their article, How We’ve Reached More Than 1 Million People By Guest Blogging.

I love that blog.

So what can we learn from these great examples of awesome content marketing, to not only convert more customers, but also improve customer service at the same time? Here’s a handful of creative ways.

1. Feature experts in a round up

If you’re still working on developing your skills as a writer, why not start by featuring experts in a round up post? In essence, you are outsourcing the majority of the content.

Your job is simply to come up with an intriguing question, identify the experts in that niche, and build relationships with them so that you can feature their opinion in your article. Most of this you should be doing anyways. So now it is just about organizing.

Putting together a successful roundup post is not altogether difficult, but it can be incredibly effective.

To summarize the steps:

  1. Come up with an intriguing question relevant to your niche/business.
  2. Find the influencers by looking for who is hot in your niche.
  3. Warm them up/contact them to solicit their opinion.
  4. Organize them into a spreadsheet to keep track.
  5. Build the post, including Tweetables, a CliffsNotes version, and a custom post feature with all of the participants.
  6. Publish and share (see promotion techniques of the Giveaway as they are quite similar).

By following this straightforward method, I was able to produce a roundup post that received nearly 400 shares and to date is one of my largest long term traffic sources. Mention has put together some great expert roundups in their Field Guide series with hundreds of shares for each post as well.

2. Write about features and make tutorials

Here’s another type of feature you don’t hear too much about: Writing about your product features.

Yes, believe it or not, people like to read about this if the feature is exciting. And what’s more simple than writing about something you intimately know?

The process is straightforward:

  1. Once a new feature is released, write an article summary including a tutorial on how to use it.
  2. Add images (or gifs!) and try to imagine how a new customer can integrate it into their workflow as part of the general application.
  3. Publish it, and send it out along with the general announcement to your newsletter.

A fantastic example of this is a post from the Mention blog on How To Cut Through The Noise Using Mention where they not only address key features, but also tie them together into one process to achieve a result (cutting out the noise).

This article is the perfect customer service tool because it can easily be added to an FAQ or knowledge base. Additionally, the comments you will potentially get from the article will provide more insight into how customers think about the new addition as well as what questions they may have.

Customer Service + Customer Development + Content Marketing
= One BIG Win

3. Include case studies

I wish more people did case studies — they rock! Particularly in the Internet marketing and SEO world where so many businesses have stale blogs.

What’s more unique than a case study?

Here’s a phenomenol example I just read from Customer.IO on how concierge onboarding doubled their conversion rate to paid in July. It’s tactical and backed up by facts. As a business owner, I’m interested in doubling my conversion through new methods, and it just so happens that as a business owner I fall into their target audience.

Now I know about Customer.io, and will consider using their services.

4. Have a mission

I can’t tell you the number of people who have expressed interest in our product simply because we are a startup.

People like to root for the underdog, they like to root for people on a mission. A mission gives people a story with which they can follow along. And by following your mission, they are forming a stronger bond with your company.

One of the reasons Groove’s blog posts peak my interest week-to-week is because they have been on a mission to achieve 100k in monthly recurring revenue. In the same way that I cannot put down a book I have started, I feel the need tune in every week and check the progress.

It’s no wonder that Groove has stated on numerous occasions that content marketing has been their most successful approach for lead generation and conversions.

Whether or not you decide to have a massive ongoing mission like Groove, even simply occasionally opening up your story is enough. A perfect example in this 2014 Year End Review on the Mention blog.

So, what’s your story?

5. Be transparent

Last but certainly not least is being transparent. In a recent article for Neil Patel, entitled Why Transparency Is The New Marketing, he wrote:

“Being open about your business is a great way to gain people’s trust and loyalty. By sharing problems you maybe facing, or by sharing your financial numbers (whether they are good or bad) will help you build a larger following.”  – Neil Patel

And Neil rarely leads us astray.

Buffer excels at this. Here are a few things that buffer is transparent about:

And that’s just the tip of the Buffer Open Blog iceberg.

Whether or not you want to introduce this level of transparency at your company is up to you. However, in many cases, a little bit of transparency goes a long way in reassuring your customers that they have a part in the direction of the product and the business, and that you value their opinion.

Conclusion

We’ve all seen those stale company blogs that seem to be writing just for the sake of writing, as if to say: “Everyone is doing content marketing so I guess we should too.”

The problem is those types of blogs rarely convert customers. They’re not interesting to read once, let alone follow.

By simply adopting the five tactics above and implementing them into our weekly article writing, we can wow our current customers, improve our customer service, and market ourselves all at once.

5waysGRaphic

How have you wowed your customers with content marketing? Please share your stories in the comments below. 

Dave Schneider is the Content Director at NinjaOutreach, an all in one Influencer Outreach software for marketers. You can also find him on twitter @ninjaoutreach.

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