[Column] Fleur Willemijn van Beinum: Help content for hot leads and short sales
Help content claims your leadership par excellence. If you show-and-tell your pride and passion for what you do, and know how to do this in an informative and functional way, you proof that know what you are doing. And that’s (part of) being a leader.
“The only thing the potential customers ask us once we get to the table, are the costs. Having your help content in place results in hotter leads and shorter sales processes.” According to Bart Verhulst [Co-Founder and Director of Strategy & Partnerships at PressPage.
He explains this from first-hand experience. “We use data to discover our audience’s needs and optimize our content on their keywords. Nowadays we publish a little less content with more focus on SEO quality. This results in hotter leads, as they are better prepared and far more eager to buy. You start the first f2f meeting already a few steps into the sales process.”
If you are not familiar with the Help-Hub-Hero model, please check it out. It originates from YouTube, yet is usable for all content.
Mostly the ‘help’ content is defined as ‘always on’. A continuous flow of campaigns to promote a product or brand. I would like to re-define and add the ‘why you do what you do’ as help content. Actually, start with this content first before you jump on the marketing bandwagon.
Why? Because you need to explain first why your (potential) customers should buy YOUR product instead of the competitors' product. What makes your brand special and your products indispensable or essential to improve their lives.
Please notice this is not sales-driven marketing content. This is being proud and show-and-tell your amazing brand and products. It is functional and slightly emotional. The biggest difference with sales-driven marketing is that there are no call to actions, no funnel, no activations, or promotions.
Besides, this content is timeless. And it leans heavily on SEO and SEA, instead of paid social media or other activation channels.
Why this help content creates hotter leads? Because you functionally answer the audience's common (search) questions. You are audience focussed and not focussed on yourself. People like to be serviced and not to be marketed to.
Based on experience by Bart Verhulst, having the extended help content in place does result in an absolute number of more leads. And a significantly bigger part of these leads is very hot. ‘People are eager, inspired, and educated by our content, even before they contact us’.
Shorter sales process
“Once you get to the face-to-face meeting, you notice they have done their ‘homework’ and they are very well informed. There is no need to explain our platform anymore, the features, and the specs. Bart explains. “Compare it to buying a new TV. You do your extensive research online for specs, features, and brands. And then go to your preferred brand to negotiate the best prices possible.”
“It's not just about giving them content when they're already researching a new TV, it's about already entering the space before that - and giving them inspiration on how much enjoyment they would get in the first place from buying a new TV.”
“So with the leads that enter via your help content, you can skip the first and or second meeting to convince them of your brand and product. By the time we get to the table, potential customers are eager to discuss two things - requirements and cost.”
Why it works, in a nutshell
Your potential customers search for answers and your help content pops up above the fold in Google: SEO and SEA. If they do contact you, they are inspired, enthusiastic, better informed and thus it is easier to close the deal.
Case study: PressPage Guides for new audiences via SEO
Practice what you preach, PressPage developed guides with in-depth insights on 'Brand Newsrooms', 'PR distribution', 'PR Strategy and Planning', and 'How to prepare for Crisis Communications'. The content in these guides is about the industry, trends, tips, and tricks. Anything but praise for PressPage. The objective is first to inform based on audience needs, sales are second.
A bit more context on their guides - they follow the framework of problem education - solution awareness - solution research. Their goal is to provide potential customers with educational content on the pain points they might be having. Then creating awareness about how they could solve the problem. And finally having content that answers their question about whether or not PressPage is the best solution for them.
With these guides, they aim to reach a new audience. Those who are searching for content on specific PR topics and uses Google for a specific query based on keywords. The business case is a long term, this audience downloads the guides, subscribes for updates, and with time, they contact PressPage for more information and detailed pricing.
Bart explains there is no need to include these guides prominently at the home page or in the top navigation, as these as pure SEO landing pages. And they are doing their job excellent: generating search traffic. Due to confidentiality, I cannot give you the statistics and details of this traffic. You do can find these guides on their www, a bit hidden in the footer.
How to get your help content
There are a few sources to get an overview of the help content.
- Google and YouTube data
First, data by Google and YouTube. Do a reversed search query on the keywords your audiences are using in relation to your industry, brand, competitors, and products. What is the first and second keyword they use? Read more on 'Data for content'
Take those keywords as the answers and develop your content accordingly. Keep in mind this type of content is very functional, descriptive, to the point. No fuzz. No blah blah. No marketing. Forget the polished and shiny content, stick to the functionality.
- Competitors content
Second, analyze your competitors' content. Not only with the data, the first source, also deep dive in their www. Make a list of their help content topics. And create an H1 and H2 overview: what are the actual words they are using in their content titles? H1 is the main title in a content piece, H2 is a subtitle. Google scans these H1 and H2 to rank your content for SEO. This overview is important to know for the level of functionality in your own copy. Read more on 'Analyse your competitors content'
- Sales and customer care input
Third, ask the sales and the customer care department for their input. They have the first contact with (potential) customers and know their questions, worries, and insecurities.
Tips for the help content production
- Be extensive. Create minimal viable topic content pages with inexpensive content first. Then develop the expensive content for those pages that actually get visitors.
- Once you know what pages and topics get traffic, use different formats. You can tell the same story in a long read, in a video, create a white paper or a slide show. Different people, different preferences to consume content. Just make sure everything is SEO optimized.
- Create a list of your help content pages with the URLs. Having an overview is always a good idea.
- Make it timeless. So you can push this content over and over again. Yet do a frequent check and update accordingly. A quick tip: schedule the help content maintenance quarterly on your agenda. You can do this in batches or all in one go.
- I get that it is expensive to produce all content at once, especially with the return on investment in the long term. Create batches and allocate a part of your yearly budget. Or integrate the help content production with campaign content production. It saves costs to do both types of content in one go with your agency.
- Mobile-first. A bit of a no-brainer, yet often forgotten. As goes for all content, mobile-first is the way forward. By preference even social-first, yet this can be a step too far at the moment for the help content as you seed via SEO and not via social.
How to measure success? I suggest using your SEO ranking and visitors on the pages as KPIs. Make it a quarterly or half-yearly KPI as it takes time to get the ranking and generate the traffic.
Link to PR
The nice side effect is to use this help content for PR. Once you send out a press release on a new product or feature, you can add these help pages as cross-selling or ‘more information’ to feed the press.
Make it easy for journalists to create content based on your input. Like all of us, they are busy and like to be serviced with information as much as possible. It’s their job.
Why most brands do not have this in place (yet)
This all sounds pretty much like a no-brainer. In reality, most brands do not have this in place. Given the automotive example above. Or think about a dairy producer who doesn’t claim the story ‘why drinking milk is good for you’. Or a coffee producer who has no SEO content on the number one search ‘how to make a cappuccino’.
In my experience, there are three main reasons:
- There is a focus on marketing and sales campaigns. This is the shiny award-winning stuff. The help content on the basics of ‘why you do what you do’ is not that sexy.
- The revenu is in the really long term. It takes time to develop this type of content and no immediate results. Again, not sexy.
- Last not least, telling ‘why you do what you do’ is often overlooked and taken for granted by the brand. We simply forget to show-and-tell our pride and passion for the brand and its products in the rat-race for the marketing and sales revenue.
The better your help content, the hotter the leads, and the shorter your sales process. This a commonly overlooked and nice side effect of having your content sh*t together.
Affliation to PressPage
For transparency, I am biased regarding PressPage. I absolutely love their platform and in my opinion, they are the best out there for digital newsroom software. Their amazing list of clients speaks for itself. Next to that, they provided me with their platform to publish my own content. Yet there is no financial affiliation.
Fleur Willemijn van Beinum is an experienced Content and Social Media Strategist with a proven track record for over 35 top notch clients.
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