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5 Reasons Your Fuel Company Needs a Content Marketing Strategy
(and what you need to know to get started!)
Posted on September 9, 2019 - By Melissa Bellas
If you’re familiar with today’s marketing, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “content is king.” But what exactly does that mean – and more importantly, what does it mean to retail energy companies?
Contrary to popular belief, content marketing is not new – it’s actually been around far longer than the Internet itself! Rooted in storytelling, content marketing has traditionally been a way for brands to introduce themselves, share their history and expertise, and ultimately, set themselves apart from competitors. And thanks to advancements in interactive technologies and evolving media consumption habits – content is proving to play an increasingly important role in how today’s consumers get information.
Defining Content Marketing
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as, “…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
That’s a pretty loaded definition, right? Now, let’s break it down a bit.
Content marketing is strategic. This goes far beyond just posting the occasional blog, or sharing a photo on Facebook whenever you get around to it. Careful, deliberate, and well thought out planning provides companies with a clear sense of what they need to accomplish. Need to generate more leads? Schedule more tune-ups for the off-season? Whatever your goals may be, mapping out your content can help get you there.
Content marketing is all about delivering value. What are the interests, pain points, or even some of the most frequently raised questions among your prospects? What types of content could you deliver to help inform, entertain, and engage them? You can create tons of content, but if it doesn’t resonate with your target audience, it ultimately won’t guide them through the sales process. Make sure that the people who take time to engage with your content are truly getting something out of it.
So now that we know the importance of content to your prospects and customers, let’s talk about why a content marketing strategy is important to your retail energy business.
- Improve Brand Reputation
In today’s bustling digital marketplace, competition is at an all-time high – which is why it’s vital for fuel companies to work to build trust with their leads and customers. And the more valuable content you can provide, the easier it becomes to build this trust. When prospects read your content, they begin to develop an opinion of your company. If they find your content to be engaging, educational, and valuable, they, in turn, start to associate these same things with your business as a whole. Better yet, content is a way for you to get your business in front of your prospects without the hard sales pitch that some other tactics employ. The more content you put out, the more brand recognition you gain – and ultimately position yourself as the local expert.
- Set Yourself Apart from Competitors
When a prospect searches online for “heating oil Worcester,” or “propane delivery near me,” odds are, your business will not be the only option. So how can you separate your business from the others and make sure you get the call? Content is proving to be a solution.
The topics and perceived value of the content you provide can be the difference between a prospect choosing your business over a competitors’. For instance, if a prospective buyer is researching the different types of hot water heaters, and your business has a blog about selecting the right water heater for your home, a guide to tankless water heaters, and an FAQ page to address any remaining questions or concerns, they’ll be more inclined to work with you than other companies lacking this helpful information.
Beyond the types of topics you cover, you can also differentiate your business from competitors through your content’s language and personality. Does your content have a serious and professional tone? Informative and fun? Somewhere in between? Establishing your business’s voice can help you create unique content that your audience comes back for.
- Feed the Search Engines
When it comes to search engine rankings, there is no substitute for great content.
The more digital content you have, the more likely you are to match what your prospects are searching for. And the more matches you have, the higher your rankings will go!
For example, creating blogs and articles that address the questions and topics your target audience search for gives you more chances to rank for those corresponding keywords. And with every new page of content resulting in a newly indexed page on a search engine, more content means more chances for ranking.
- Influence Conversions
Can content = conversions? The answer is a resounding yes. With 74% of consumers preferring to get to know a company via articles rather than ads1, content provides endless opportunities to connect with and educate your audience. And beyond working to build trust and relationships, your content can encourage conversions by giving consumers the information they need to make an educated purchase decision. In fact, content marketing boosts conversion rates nearly 6 times higher than other digital marketing tactics2.
- People Like Content!
Recent research shows that 80% of people like to learn about a company through custom content. Better yet, 20% of internet users’ online time is spent just reading great content3. The numbers don’t lie – your leads and customers want to read quality content. Whether it be entertaining or educational, leverage your content to speak to your target audience, provide some type of value, and shoe consumers what your business is all about. Give the people what they want!
Getting Started: Tips for Creating Great Content
- Create with your audience in mind.
One of the most common mistakes businesses make is creating content just for the sake of creating content. Regardless of the tactic – content, social, search, etc. – any marketing campaign needs to be directed toward a specific target audience. And when it comes to content marketing, the key is to be strategic in making sure the topics you choose and content formats you use are relevant to your audience’s needs, interests, and challenges.
- Use different formats
Videos, infographics, podcasts – while we often think of “content” being written pieces such as blogs and articles, it’s important to remember that content can take many forms. And with people consuming information in so many ways, you want to make sure you have strategies in place for each channel you’ll be using to communicate with them. Consider some of the following formats to kick up your content.
Be consistent with your updates
Who says content has to be all text? In today’s digital world, more and more businesses are leveraging video to share content with their customers and prospects. In fact, 87% of marketers have already integrated video into their strategies4. Consider giving a behind the scenes tour of your offices, a short Q&A session with your CSRs, or even a quick “how-to” style video. 85% of consumers want to see more video content from brands they follow5 – give the people what they want!
Nobody wants to read a block of text all the time. In fact, on average, website visitors only see about 20% of the text6. With dwindling attention spans, infographics have become a particularly valuable medium to translate complex data and/or topics into easy-to-grasp illustrations. Combining the best of text, images, and design, infographics are more likely to be shared than text-based content – so you can reach even more of your potential audience.
- Case Studies
When a homeowner is in need of propane, heating oil, or HVAC-related services, they’ll either A) Ask a friend for a recommendation or B) research local companies online for themselves. And with 9 out of 10 people now researching companies online before making a purchase decision, case studies are proving to be an invaluable asset in establishing your business’ reputation and expertise. While there are several content formats you can use to tell prospects how good you are at what you do, case studies show potential customers how you’ve actually done it, complete with results. Think of these are built-out testimonials. After all, there is no better endorsement than a happy customer!
Content marketing can be compared to a gym schedule – if it’s not performed on a regular basis, both cases will yield fewer results. To be successful in content marketing, you have to publish on a regular basis. Consider creating a content calendar where you can map out the next several weeks or months of the content you wish to publish. When you have a set plan, it becomes easier to keep your content efforts up-to-date.
Digital marketing starts with content. Not sure where to begin? Call in a professional! The writers, designers and developers at Warm Thoughts are here to help.