ELFA Webinar Provides Key Takeaways on Reaching Customers Through Content Marketing

An introduction to omnichannel marketing, ways to build a content marketing strategy and a case study on bringing these elements together were the focus of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s Aug. 19 webinar, “Reaching Your Customer in a Digital World.” More than 225 equipment finance professionals attended the hour-long, interactive presentation, which was designed for marketers of all levels of experience to achieve more effective customer interaction.

Brittney Weber, chair of the ELFA Communications Committee and vice president and direct marketing manager senior at Huntington National Bank, moderated the event with panelists Monica Bruegl, marketing consultant; Katy Ellquist, senior global content strategist and marketing consultant at Caterpillar Financial Services; and Heather S. Friedman, vice president of corporate marketing at GreatAmerica Financial Services.

Weber started by thanking the ELFA Communications Committee for convening the webinar.

“We’ve got a great, supportive group of marketing and communication professionals from across the equipment finance industry on the committee,” Weber said, inviting those interested in joining the group to contact the ELFA.

Bruegl then provided an overview of omnichannel marketing, which provides a seamless client experience regardless of the channel (email, banner ad, video) or device (phone, laptop, etc.). When measuring omnichannel marketing ROI, Bruegl noted that improving the client experience is a top priority for companies today, even outranking other priorities such as price.

“This really illuminates how the client journey is becoming a competitive playground for all of us,” Bruegl said.

At the heart of omnichannel marketing is content marketing, which comprises planning, creating and sharing valuable content for a target audience in order to achieve a business goal. Below are five takeaways on the basics of content marketing.

Content should solve problems for customers and educate them about services your company offers.

This content should essentially be all the supporting content beyond a new product release announcement or spec sheet that helps to drive sales. By sharing relevant content, your company can establish itself as an industry authority and build trust with customers.

Take a simple, methodical approach to get started. To begin a content marketing program, first get informed.

There are dozens of free content marketing resources available online to help you and your team learn best practices and new concepts at any experience level. Create a budget, allocate an amount that works for your business and increase the investment if desired outcomes are met. Set goals for evaluating each piece of content, such as effectiveness in increasing awareness, lead generation or social media engagement, and report, review and refresh as needed.

Content should be simple, consistent and creative.

The recommended reading level for general marketing content is eighth grade, and keeping it simple can allow your content to be shared with a broader audience and increase your reach. Establish a consistent tone and voice and maintain it to avoid confusing your audience. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope on what’s acceptable for your industry. Unique content is more memorable and can help you stand out from your competition.

Have multiple ways to use information.

“Everyone consumes content differently, so it’s really important to have a good variety of ways that you share and repurpose some of the same information,” Ellquist said. “This is a time to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about what you would want to see.”
Content can take a variety of forms, including blogs, whitepapers, e-books, infographics and videos. Repurpose and take an omnichannel approach for greater visibility. Potential channels include display advertising, social advertising, paid search, email marketing, online forums and employee sharing/engagement.

Document your content marketing plan.

Fewer than 40% of content marketers have a documented content strategy, so only 35% can demonstrate ROI of their efforts. To track your program, create a content strategy playbook as an overall guide, create and maintain a content calendar to plan initiatives throughout the year and document your reporting process to enable analysis of effectiveness and gaps in the program.

In Friedman’s discussion of a LinkedIn case study, she provided social media dos and don’ts that included not sending mass spammy messages that show little effort or violate the “connections before transactions” rule.

“You’re all in the environment of meeting people, getting to know them and figuring out how and if your company can help them,” Friedman said. “If that’s your approach in real life, it should also be your approach in the social media realm.” The same can be said for a thoughtfully designed and executed omnichannel content marketing strategy.

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