Content marketing encompasses many ways to advertise and attract new potential customers. At Emerj, we’ve worked on hundreds of campaigns for AI-related products and services, and what we’ve learned is that content marketing for AI vendors boils down to two things:
- Attracting potential buyers to their offering.
- Building and reinforcing trust in that offering.
If a vendor can accomplish both with its marketing content, they should see an ROI on its marketing efforts.
While content marketing can take many forms and serve multiple purposes, in this article, we cover three main principles AI vendors should consider when building a content marketing strategy:
- Painpoints That Already Convert Customers: Evaluating what the vendor’s products can already offer customers and which business problems they solve.
- How Prospects Find a Vendor Online: Discovering how potential customers are finding the vendor’s website and its marketing content in order to better advertise to its users.
- Evergreen Content for Lasting B2B Value: Creating valuable resource content that helps potential customers in their own research and gets them talking about the vendor.
We begin our overview of content marketing principles with a call to AI vendor companies to consider the benefits they offer their customers with their AI products.
1. Painpoints That Already Convert Customers
Before creating marketing content, an AI vendor should consider the types of business problems its offering has solved in the past. One can develop a more detailed understanding of this by consulting with their salespeople and past customers. When addressing past customers directly, a vendor can ask questions such as:
- What did you think our product could do that made your purchase worthwhile?
- What was the real pain that our product helped resolve within your business?
The answers to these questions should serve as a clear characterization of the benefits conferred by the vendor’s offerings.
Consider an AI vendor selling a solution for customizing web content for individual users as one example. This solution could help create custom content, links, or layouts to drive specific actions such as signing up for an email list or downloading a whitepaper.
Our example vendor might find that eCommerce customers are most focused on converting first sales. These customers want to transform more of their first-time site visitors into first-time buyers. That said, customers outside of eCommerce would just be looking for higher advertising revenue in the form of more page views and more time spent on each page.
To the right is an example from AI/RPA vendor Blue Prism. Their white paper’s title includes phrases relating to their customers’ needs for business process automation. The company may have found its audience is most concerned with improving agent productivity and the speed at which service calls are resolved.
The whitepaper highlights the benefits of this platform in the very first word, “winning.” Additionally, they focus this benefit on deposits, which are an especially competitive area of banking. Personetics likely came to the conclusion that most of their potential customers are concerned with finding an edge over the competition, especially with deposits. If they had found that potential customers were more concerned with ACH payments, for example, they may have included it instead:
With this knowledge in mind, the vendor can write articles about these particular topics that may have been difficult to pinpoint without consulting salespeople and past customers. Below are some example headlines for content that might attract our example vendor’s types of visitors:
- 3 Ways AI can Help Turn More Visitors into Ecommerce Customers
- 2 Ways AI can Increase Page Views on an Online Platform
- AI-enabled User Experience Customization for Online Platforms
These titles are carefully written to attract the kind of people who are eager to solve the same problems that the vendor’s AI products and services also solve. Vendors should begin with a set of topics that they can build upon to eventually create the types of products readers will spend money on. This initial set of ideas should be based on the kinds of pains the vendor’s offering can alleviate.
2. How Prospects Find a Vendor Online
The second principle is for vendors to stay diligent in researching how prospective customers are finding them online. This is best accomplished by consulting the sales team and representatives from past client companies along with questions about why customers are choosing their solutions.
Prospects will often find an AI vendor’s website from a search engine result, and vendors can change their site’s language to optimize for the most relevant search terms. This is called search engine optimization (SEO). Below is a brief section below on how a vendor can conduct SEO for their website to attract more possible customers.
Search Engine Optimization
Consider a situation where an AI vendor has done research about where their customers come from and found that the majority of them find the company website through Google searches. They could then use the Google Search Console tool to find the exact search terms that people are using to find them.
If the vendor does not work primarily with Google’s infrastructure and wants to use another solution for this, other software exists that may accomplish a similar goal. The search console tool works through a web browser and would not require installation.
Finding this type of information helps the vendor create more content related to their customers’ search trends. If they choose to write more content related to those terms, it follows that more people may find the website and possibly become customers.
Similarly, there may be terms that the vendor reasonably expects people would use to find them, but the website is not actually ranking high for. If our example vendor sold software that automatically customized website experiences for different users, it may think a term such as “customized web services” might generate traffic. However, if the company is not ranking for that term or anything similar, it is possible that it is not a very popular term at all.
In this case, the vendor would want to focus on more popular search terms and phrases that still reflect the true nature of its AI products. If the vendor finds that the search term is popular enough, they may choose to create more related content in order to compete for that Google ranking.
When managing SEO, the vendor can choose to capitalize on areas where they are already succeeding or find search terms they should be succeeding with and make new content to bolster them. That said, there are ways to improve site traffic outside of SEO. The brief section below explains how a vendor can do this using the same kinds of information from their sales team and past customers.
In this example, the vendor has found that their customers have found them primarily through TechCrunch and other news outlets. The vendor can decide to leverage this type of traffic for an SEO benefit. To do this, the vendor would need to develop a strategy for getting featured on those sites or creating content similar to what customers were reading before they found the vendor’s website.
Perhaps TechCrunch has been continually offering reports on the latest big investments, demonstrations, and tech use-cases. In this case, the vendor would resolve to create content about similar topics in order to rank closer to this type of news site. Alternatively, the vendor could study TechCrunch’s content and model its own after it. This may require the company’s best judgment to determine the most popular and most relevant content to model future articles after.
3. Evergreen Content for Lasting B2B Value
The third content marketing principle we encourage AI vendors to consider is that some content can serve as help reference materials to help the audience understand AI concepts. This type of content should be considered evergreen, or consistently valuable across time. They are AI resources that will help solve a visitor’s problem.
For example, consider a potential customer searching for information on how AI-enabled search applications work. A well-written piece of evergreen content on this topic would provide a thorough explanation that would let the visitor stop searching.
A vendor should create evergreen content that can serve as the most useful resource for the business problems potential customers are struggling with. They should avoid time-specific keywords such as the current year or titles that might indicate a list. Below are two example titles with explanations as to why they make effective evergreen content or not:
- 6 Quick Strategies for Improving Ecommerce Conversions in 2019: This title would not serve as effective evergreen content because it is specific to the year 2019. This implies an eventual expiration of the value the article offers. Additionally, the phrase “6 quick strategies” is not likely to attract a visitor looking for a business resource on a highly technical topic.
- A Complete Guide to Artificial Intelligence for Ecommerce – Four Ways to Improve Online Conversions: This title can make for a highly effective piece of evergreen content. The phrase “a complete guide” lets the reader know that the vendor has conducted comprehensive research to create the document. The title also promises four strategies to improve online conversions, which will likely attract visitors that work in sales or web development for an eCommerce company.
The purpose of this third principle is to create long-form content, or content that is at least 1,800 words long, that wins more traffic simply by merit. An AI vendor should want their website to be where visitors are able to satisfy their intent. A searcher looking to improve their conversion rates should be able to stop at the vendor’s website because they found what they were looking for.
We advise vendors to create evergreen content as a foundation for their content marketing initiatives. This type of detailed reference article can be updated annually or biannually to stay relevant for both potential and current customers.
To the right is an example of an effective title for an evergreen whitepaper from the AI vendor Avaamo. The title clearly states the topic of the whitepaper and refers to a problem eCommerce and logistics companies are likely to have.
The subtitle, “reinventing the way your business delivers,” promises to explain how AI changes the flow of delivery. This information is easily updated with more research on conversational AI as the technology evolves.
The image below from SAS is another example of an effective title for evergreen content. The first clause proposes a clear value in explaining AI capabilities in IT. The second clause gets more specific by focusing on natural language processing (NLP), which can attract more readers who have been looking for a resource to fill this niche. This webinar can be conducted multiple times in order to engage as many readers as possible, and SAS can update the presentation’s structure and information as AI improves over time.
Following these three principles should lead to higher conversion rates on a vendor’s landing page, even if just implementing some of them as a vendor gets their content marketing strategy off the ground.
Header Image Credit: EDKENT Media