Content search is the first step in the buying process for many consumers. According to David Meerman Scott, "when people come to you online, they are not looking for TV commercials. They are looking for information to help them make a decision". Successful businesses build a relationship with their customers before applying high-pressure sales. Simply put, offer content to build reputation, reputation builds trust and loyalty, trust and loyalty leads to sales. "Content drives action" is the bottom line.
The key to driving sales through offering content, without the high-pressure banner ads and pop-ups, is an optimized website. The example that Meerman Scott uses is Amazon.com. Amazon.com uses website optimization to guide its buyers through the final decision to purchase. The flow of the customer's clicks determine at which stage of buying they are at. Amazon uses these patterns to direct the customer to certain websites which will help the customer to make that final decision to make the purchase. Make it a point to avoid the traditional marketing experience - we no longer want to interrupt the customer's buying process with pop ups and loud banner ads, we want to help them through the decision making process by providing information content in a user-friendly way.
We are not giving content to our competitors, we are giving content to our consumers. A blog, for example, gives customers a chance to make a personal connection with a company, it offers an opportunity for the customer to interact with the 'company', and have a voice. It also gives companies a perfect opportunity to reach the niche of the market. Research where your customers are spending their time on the Web, become active, offer your knowledge and expertise. Accept criticism, and know when to act. Allow loyal customers to step in for you, should your company be on the verge of a public relations crisis, you are already a trusted member of the blog, you already have an 'innie' - you have a way of reaching your customers directly. You are IN!
Sure, the competitors can take the content and do what they please with it. What is important here, is to realize that you, as a company, need to set yourself as the leader in the industry. Sure, competitors will offer the same content eventually, but who offers it first? Who offers the most? From the words of Scott, "Content turns browsers into buyers".
Resource: The New Rules of Marketing & PR
By David Meerman Scott
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