Stop Chasing Online Sales

Stop Chasing Online Sales


Sales not meeting your targets? Is your website generating leads?

Here are two startling facts  about online marketing:

  • The first: 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via content marketing rather than ads, but brands spend more on advertising than on content such as articles, according to ContentPlus.
  • The second fact: 91% of B2B marketers employ some sort of content marketing, but just 36% believe that content is effective, according to MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute.

Why are those facts startling? Because while content is increasingly a factor in both consumer and business decisions, brands are either uneasy with their content-marketing efforts or are missing the boat entirely.

Why does content matter? Consider how you approach a purchase: Whether you’re looking to buy a lawn mower or a health plan, you Google options, read online reviews and recommendations and maybe poll friends on Facebook or Twitter.

Google calls this the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’, which acknowledges that people arrive at a business through multiple online sources. We are now being led directly to brands via our personal and business relationships.

In today’s search-and-social world, businesses should focus on enabling interactions instead of chasing transactions. The key is to create helpful content that’s seeded with honest empathy.

Related: How to Maximise Every Sales Opportunity

Answer questions

A good golden rule of content marketing is simply to answer questions. Instead of focusing on radio, TV and pay-per-click advertising, shift your efforts towards generating sales through informational blog posts and videos.

Remember to focus on the nature of your content: Be willing to answer online the tough questions most people in your industry want to avoid until they meet a customer face-to-face, such as specifics about costs and potential problems.

The lesson is this: Too many companies create corporate-centric rather than customer-centric content. The former is about you; the latter is about what you do for your customer – a subtle yet critical shift.

A good lens through which to view any content you produce involves asking yourself whether your customers will be grateful for this content. In effect, will they thank you for marketing to them? If the answer is yes, then you have gold.

By answering questions, you are addressing specific pain points, demonstrating that you understand customers’ specific issues and concerns. Decide what you wish to communicate to generate leads for your business.

Watch your voice and tone

The way in which you articulate empathy is crucial. Voice refers to the personality you convey in your content, and it’s unique to every company.

In addition to voice, consider tone. The voice of your website might be snarky, upbeat or fun, but there may be areas where the tone should shift. Customer-service pages – places customers visit when they have a problem – might drop a snarky tone in favour of one of helpful concern.

The search-and-social landscape creates enormous opportunities. The question becomes: What are you doing to take advantage?

Related: Don’t Let Your First Sales Go Bad

Quick reference guide

  • Do you have a platform to answer customer questions?
  • Is your content customer-centric? (This means no product talk!)
  • Does your content have personality?
  • Do you consider your tone and how everything you post will be perceived?
Ann Handley
Ann Handley is a veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Ann is co-author of the best-selling Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (Wiley); the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs; a columnist for Entrepreneur magazine; a keynote speaker, mom, and writer.