Content Marketing in the Technology Industry

Tiffany G
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The concept of content marketing is nothing new. Actually, its earliest use is often attributed to John Deere's original farming magazine, dating back to 1895. Today, the face of content marketing is a bit different (now incorporating many facets of digital marketing), but it remains a staple in brand-building and customer loyalty. In fact, 7 in 10 marketers actively use it as part of their strategy.


Of course, no content marketing plan is a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, every individual brand needs to create a content plan that works for their business and is customized to their own niche and customers. So, in this guide, we'll go through the steps that those in the technology industry should follow to create a content marketing strategy that consistently attracts leads and engages customers while building loyalty in the long run.


Components of an Effective Content Strategy


Content marketing isn't something that can build a brand overnight. Rather, its success relies on a strategic combination of blog posts, videos, social media usage, and various types of content that align to portray an attractive brand image, instill the business' USP (Unique Selling Proposition) in its leads, and build awareness about the company.

For technology businesses, in particular, coming up with an effective content strategy can be challenging. Results require a combination of SEO strategies to increase organic traffic to your site in conjunction with paid advertising to help you snag hard-to-reach leads who are searching for extremely competitive keywords. More than that, you need to build your strategy on top of a brand that actually connects with your ideal customer in a way they'll remember.

As such, your content strategy begins with identifying your brand's persona and goes on from there.

Branding

A "brand book" is an essential, foundational resource that you simply have to develop. As a technology company, multiple people will be speaking on behalf of your brand, whether they're professional writers who you hire to create content for you or team members who create documentation, interact with customers, or in any way represent your business.

A brand book is a document that details everything you want your brand to be. It explains your brand's personality, it addresses how your brand should speak to customers, and it provides all the necessary information to train a complete stranger on how they should portray your company.

Without a brand book, any content marketing efforts you invest in will have minimal impact because the content won't necessarily fit your brand image. Consistency is key when it comes to branding, and branding is fundamental to building a reputable, recognizable tech company.

Objectives

The next component of a content marketing strategy is defining your marketing objectives. The KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you track will depend on your overall business needs, but every content marketing strategy requires the development of more specific, relevant metrics to be impactful.

For a tech company, objectives will fall under categories like these:

  • Brand Awareness: Define the ROI and target metrics for content that builds awareness, impacts consumer perception, and prompts consideration of your offerings.

  • Promotional Content: Define the ROI and target metrics for direct response ads and other promotional content that can directly lead to trials and/or sales.

  • Employer Content: Consider the need and objectives for employer-related content, such as content to aid in recruiting and company expansion.

Your objectives will ultimately be further broken down based on each type of campaign you plan to run. If you're just starting out, most of your campaigns will have the objectives of building awareness and, in turn, acquiring customers. However, companies with a current customer base will also need to consider the objectives for campaigns that re-target lost leads, re-engage trial subscribers, and seek to renew expired/soon-to-expire customers.


Personas

If you have not already defined at least one customer persona, this is another fundamental step that will support and enable all of your content marketing efforts going forward.

The goal of a customer persona is to detail who your ideal customer is, and you might have more than one, depending on how specific you'd like to get (and how many products you offer or industries you serve). For instance, a SaaS business selling project management software might have a persona representing the typical customer in each niche they serve, like: "Small Business Sally" that would be targeted with Plan A and "Corporate Corey" who would be targeted with Plan D.

Your customer personas may include:

  • Average age
  • Gender
  • Salary
  • Location
  • Education
  • Job title
  • Family size
  • Personal goals
  • Cultural influences
  • Media preferences
  • Purchasing hurdles
  • Relevant fears

The customer personas you define will help inform your approach to content, including what you publish, when you publish, where you publish, and even how you get your message across. You'll also need to consider which persona a specific piece of content is targeting so that it can be written accordingly with the most impactful Call-to-Action (CTA). Knowing your customers' personas will support the creation of a content marketing strategy that's informed by the customer journey (more on that later).


Keywords

A well-planned content strategy entails keyword research and regular usage of Google Analytics and other tools. When used correctly, these tools will help you understand things like search volume and identify the short-tail and long-tail keywords you should be vying to rank for. Your keyword strategy will grow and change over time as you gain rankings for certain keywords and determine that others have lost importance.

Monitoring your performance for your target keywords and updating the target keyword list requires hands-on involvement, or you can outsource it to an expert. In either case, your keyword list will ultimately inform what topics you create content about, so having an extensive, well-researched list will make planning out your content down the road much easier.


Understanding The Tech Customer's Journey


In every industry, there's a certain process people go through on their way to making a purchase. Identifying the various stages of this process is important as the stage a customer is in will impact the efficacy of the content presented to them.

In other words, a lead in the "Awareness" stage is much more likely to respond to informational content about your brand's offerings than a sales pitch that immediately tries to push them to schedule a consultation for a product they ultimately know nothing about.

Breaking down the customer journey is important for any company's marketing strategy, but that journey can be a bit more convoluted for tech companies due to various complexities.


Phase 1: Awareness

Prospects in this phase have just become aware that they have a problem or pain point, so now they're just beginning the search for a solution. They have minimal knowledge about what's out there, which is why you must identify and segment these prospects based on a persona. Your personas will help you reach them by speaking to their specific pain points and needs.

Content to show prospects in this phase includes:

  • Targeted advertising addressing their pain points.
  • Informational content that points out features addressing their needs.
  • Promotional content that introduces and builds a reputation for your brand.

Phase 2: Consideration

In the consideration phase, prospects are beginning to get to know your brand and your competitors. They have a good idea of the products or services available to them, and they will continue researching as they consider their options to see what best fits their needs.

Content to show prospects in this phase includes:

  • Comparison content, like "Your Product vs. XYZ," that showcases your brand's strengths.
  • Testimonials and reviews for your brand and offerings.
  • Pricing information and answers to their questions about setup.

Phase 3: Preference

As they round out the consideration phase, prospects will now have a preference as to what solution they want to choose. Now is your final chance to show off your company's value and make sure they choose you. This is when prospects tend to get a lot of re-targeted ads providing extra value, like a discounted first year, free coaching, etc.

Content to show prospects in this phase includes:

  • Promotional content that offers extra value to prospects.
  • Free trials and other offers.
  • More information about price, ease-of-setup, etc.

Phase 4: Purchase

In this phase, the customer has made their decision and is ready to make a purchase. This is the bottom of your "sales funnel," and the hope is that you've kept as many prospects as possible from stage one and held on to them all the way to this stage. However, there's still a risk of losing them if you don't provide a smooth purchase/subscription experience.

Content to show prospects in this phase includes:

  • Promotional content with CTAs leading directly to your sign up, purchase, or subscribe page.
  • Excellent follow-up content, like in their email inbox, to get them set up and using the product.
  • A survey or exit feedback questionnaire in the event that they don't complete the sign-up process.

Phase 5: Onboarding

Every tech company knows that the work is far from over just because a customer has signed up or made a purchase. The onboarding process is critical for customer satisfaction, success, and retention, particularly for SaaS businesses. During the onboarding process, a customer must be able to quickly and easily find all the information they're looking for or else they'll quickly grow frustrated.

Content to show prospects in this phase includes:

  • Product walkthroughs and tutorials to get them started.
  • Manuals and documentation to answer all common questions and use cases.
  • Active support staff, ideally with live chat or email support.

Phase 6: Retention

Even after onboarding, tech companies (specifically SaaS and subscription-based companies) have to stay in touch with customers and continue marketing to them. This is the only way to retain customers in the long-term and turn clients into brand evangelists who will spread the word and generate referrals for your business.

Content to show prospects in this phase includes:

  • Customer satisfaction surveys so they know they matter to your business.
  • Feedback requests and updates about product development.
  • Brand stories and other content that shows the character of your company.


Building an Engaging Content Calendar


With an understanding of the customer journey, you're better equipped to plan out a complete content calendar that addresses all of the different types of content your company needs to create. To help you stay organized, it's best to categorize your content into the following:

  • Brand awareness content that tells people about your company, your founding, your values, and the people behind the business.
  • Product awareness content that explains your offerings, features, pricing, and compares you to competitors customers may consider.
  • Onboarding content that explains use cases, answers questions, and provides walkthroughs of your software.
  • Loyalty-building content that showcases case studies, client testimonials, awards your brand has earned, and so on. This can also be grouped into brand awareness content.

With these categories of content defined, the next steps are to:

1- Decide how often you need to create content for each category.

2- Decide what specific content goes into each category.

3- Decide where the various types of content you create will be published.

Before you get overwhelmed with the creation of your content calendar, recognize that it starts out as a mere schedule for your content. You don't need to worry about any of the specifics (i.e., article titles or topics). For now, you just need to figure out what type of content you're going to share and then begin penciling it in.

It's best to lay out a content schedule for an entire calendar year, as this allows you to accommodate for seasonal content, annual promotions, and the like. Once you have that schedule in front of you, you can begin filling it in with content ideas.




Finding Unique Content Ideas


By far, one of the most difficult, on-going aspects of maintaining a content strategy is figuring out what to write about. For technology companies, this can be particularly tough. After all, you don't want to bore your readers with the technical complexities of your software, but you do need to find ways to tell interested prospects about all the finer details.

Start With Your Keywords

As stated earlier in this guide, practically all of your content ideas should be informed by your keyword research. That's because keywords with high search volume show you exactly what prospects want to know, and creating content around those keywords both addresses your prospects' questions/concerns and aids your SEO strategy.

Of course, one article targeting a keyword like "Best Subscription PMS" won't help you. Instead, you need to build out a content plan the addresses both short-tail and long-tail keywords with a variety of different content forms (i.e., blog posts, videos, etc.). Additionally, you'll want to look at semantically related keywords and write content about those, too.

Think About Your Brand

Not all of your content should be targeting keywords. In fact, when it comes to building brand awareness, a good percentage of your content (like case studies and background on your company) will actually be entirely unique, and that's great news. This content introduces people to your brand and what makes it special, and it's well worth investing time and money into this foundational content alongside your search engine optimized content.

When it comes to filling the brand awareness and loyalty-building slots in your content calendar, consider topics like who your employees are, what goes on behind-the-scenes of your company, and what makes your brand great. Talking about company culture, the individuals who make your business work, and similar topics will really help people connect to your brand.

Behind-the-scenes content, be it a look into your offices or an introduction to your newest team member, also works particularly great on social media. Plus, it's an easy source for video ideas (or even podcast ideas) in the event that you're expanding beyond content writing.

Analyze Your Competitors

Keeping an eye on the competition is never a bad idea, and your niche's biggest brands can be a good jumping-off point when you're trying to fill up a content calendar with ideas. While you never want to steal another company's idea, you should certainly take inspiration from their high-performing pieces.

For instance, if a leader in your industry has started a highly successful series explaining the various use cases for their product, it's a good idea to follow in their footsteps. Creating unique content along the same lines for your own business will provide customers with all the information they need to make a side-by-side comparison. Plus, it gives you excellent content for various personas in the awareness and consideration phases.

Ask Your Audience

When in doubt, asking your audience directly is a viable option for expanding your horizons and collecting feedback about what will truly interest your customers. Plus, sending out surveys or putting questionnaires on your website will help your audience feel like their voices are being heard.


Exceptional Examples from Tech Companies


While you're out there looking for inspiration, you can start with these top tech companies who are doing content marketing right.

Buffer is a content-scheduling tool that you may very well end up using as part of your content strategy execution, but before you even get that far along, you might very well turn to this brand for some inspiration. One of the best things Buffer has been working on is a series of podcasts that cover the topics of marketing, growth, sales, social media, and more.

If you look elsewhere, you'll also see that Buffer has an extremely customer-focused, well-categorized blog where you can find all sorts of high-value content to aid the formation of your content marketing strategy. Plus, it's a given that — since Buffer is a tool built around publishing to social media — they have a pretty good social media marketing strategy, too.


Considered the biggest disruption to corporate communications since the launch of Gmail itself, Slack is a team communication and collaboration tool that has taken the business world by storm. So, even on the off chance that you don't use it at your own company, you're very likely to come across some of their content marketing ideas anyway.

One particularly powerful example is the "State of Work Report" in which Slack surveys over 17,000 workers from around the world to give brands a better understanding of the internal challenges they should be looking to confront. It's a great resource for business leaders, managers, and HR professionals everywhere. To complement it, Slack also offers an expansive resource library.

As a global enterprise, you might not think that major companies like Dell Technologies have to do much to stay in the spotlight. However, they're constantly working to stay relevant and maintain a positive consumer perception. While striving for this, easily one of the best things Dell has done was launch their focus on girls in STEM.

While it's just one portion of their content categorized under "transformative leadership" Dell is a tech giant that perfectly showcases what real content marketing means. Since they serve a very wide audience — ranging from home users to educational institutions and professionals — covering topics that align with emerging societal values and goals is a smart move. In fact, it's something all technology companies should be aiming to do.

Great Writing Forms The Core of Effective Marketing

As you can see, creating a content marketing strategy isn't something you can do in an afternoon. To be effective, a content strategy requires you to lay out some foundational elements, such as your brand book and customer personas, so that you can go forward in creating a content plan that will actually resonate with your customers.

Of course, if there's one takeaway from this guide that has to be remembered, it's that the actual quality of your content is paramount to any form of content marketing. That's why Scripted has a database dedicated to the industry's top technology writers to help brands like yours make an informed decision about who to hire.

If you're interested in learning more about Scripted's writing team or if you want to explore our Cruise Control service for a completely managed content marketing solution, reach out to our team.

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