Note: This article was filed by a paid contributor to Xerox.

The world of sales has changed. No longer do salespeople take the lead in the buyer’s journey. Instead of learning about products and services from conversations with sales reps, buyers do intensive research on their own. According to statistics gathered by HubSpot, buyers do an average of 12 online searches before ever visiting a brand’s website, and read an average of three to five pieces of content before ever engaging with a sales rep. Clearly, content marketing is vitally important to today’s businesses. Here are 10 steps to creating a successful content marketing program.

  1. Set measurable goals. Know what goals you want to achieve with your content marketing, and how you will measure them. For example, goals might include generating more leads, more qualified leads or converting more buyers. Metrics used to measure success could include website traffic or conversion rates.
  2. Know what types of content buyers are looking for. Interact with prospects via surveys, focus groups and social media listening to learn what their pain points are and what they want to know before making a purchasing decision. With your target customers’ interests in mind, you’ll be able to create content that answers their questions, while also guiding them to your solution.
  3. The Top 10 Marketing Tools Used by Small Businesses: 2016 State of Small Business Report – Survey of 1,100 Small Businesses/Wasp Barcode Technologies

    Know what type of content salespeople need. Just as important as tailoring content to your buyers is tailoring it to your salespeople’s needs. Talk to your sales team regularly to find out what’s missing from their content arsenal. Small businesses use a range of online and traditional marketing tools along their sales journey.

  4. Think quality, not quantity. With so much content out there, poor-quality content won’t get the engagement you need. Quality content is more likely to get attention, get shared on social media, and enhance your business’s reputation for thought leadership. You must invest adequate time and budget in content marketing if you expect results.
  5. Use a variety of formats. Depending on their personal preferences, buyers research purchases in multiple formats. Some buyers would rather read about your solution; others want to watch a video. Some want to read in-depth eBooks, while others want “at-a-glance” spec sheets and product comparison charts. By sharing the same information in a variety of formats, including print, you’ll reach the widest possible range of buyers.
  6. Repurpose information. Help keep content marketing costs within budget, save time and enhance the overall quality of your content by repurposing the same information in different formats. For instance, turn an eBook into a series of blog posts, pull out statistics from the eBook to create an infographic, or share the information from the eBook in a video interview. You can even repurpose digital content into print content, such as using charts or infographics in a sales letter or brochure.
  7. Make it mobile-friendly. Whether out and about or sitting at their desks, B2B buyers turn to their smartphones when researching products and services. Nearly half of B2B researchers who use their mobile devices for product research do so at work, according to HubSpot. Xerox® Mobile Print takes use of a mobile device to the next level enabling users to work from anywhere, with simple, convenient and secure printing. Use responsive design to ensure that your content renders properly on mobile devices. Include plenty of white space so hyperlinks and buttons are easy to click on when users respond to your call-to-action.
  8. Think visually. Buyers have lots of information to sort through when making a buying decision—so make your information stand out by incorporating color, icons, photos, graphs, charts and infographics into your content marketing pieces. The data shows printed colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80 percent. In study after study, color proves its value time and time again. Check out these superior quality, high-resolution color printers from Xerox to see how we can help you bridge the color gap without increasing costs or interrupting the way you work. For color laser multifunction printer Xerox® ConnectKey® devices provide fantastic color and the ability tokeep projects in-house to maximize the ROI of your marketing dollars. Many people like to print out content for later reading, and eye-catching design can ensure yours doesn’t get lost in a stack of papers.
  9. Develop and document a content marketing strategy. Just 32 percent of marketers using content marketing have a documented strategy for doing so, according to research from the Content Marketing Institute. Knowing how each piece of content you develop fits into your overall marketing strategy, and how you’ll use it to move buyers along the path to purchase.
  10. Amplify your content on social media. Use the social media networks where your buyers spend time to share your content. Encourage them to share it, too, and you’ll exponentially multiply your audience.

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