If you have a solid product or service, you are probably wondering how to get your company in front of more potential customers. Many traditional marketing tactics such as print ads, radio spots, and cold calls have been around for a long time. But in today’s world, they are no longer effective.
The shift has been that consumers now make their own decisions about what they want to buy. In order for potential customers to find and select your company, you need an effective content marketing strategy.
Customers are not interested in products or services advertised that have nothing to do with their needs. Instead, they do their own research online and make their own decisions.
You need to position your company to provide the content that answers the questions of your potential leads and drives them to contact you for more information. Inbound marketing efforts driven by quality content will reduce your marketing costs and result in higher quality leads.
What Is Inbound Marketing and What Are the Benefits?
Marketing strategies of the past have typically relied on outbound marketing. Companies would put their message out to the masses and hope that it the right people at the right time.
Even if the strategy involved targeting where the message appeared, it still relies heavily on timing. It also misses an entire population of potential leads that may never see the message.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is inbound marketing. Instead, companies work to map out the buyer journey and create content for each stage. The goal is to convert website visitors into leads and turn satisfied customers into promoters.
Because inbound marketing speaks directly to the customers’ needs, it shows that you understand and care about them.
There are many benefits of inbound over outbound marketing, including:
- Simplifying the sales and marketing process with a clear message.
- Reducing the expenses of costly ads and headcount of a sales team.
- Increasing your company’s visibility and brand awareness.
- Providing information to potential leads while they do their research.
- Generating traffic to your website that results in quality leads.
Remember, many people today view outbound marketing as an intrusion. They didn’t ask for the information and don’t like feeling that it is being “forced” on them. Inbound marketing allows them to feel like they are in control and is the first step to building trust and a relationship.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing refers to creating and distributing content to an audience. The content needs to be both relevant and meaningful for the audience to take the “next step” and respond to a call-to-action. Even if the audience does not take action at that time, you want to remain on their minds so that they consider your company for future needs.
Content marketing is not a short-term strategy. Because you are positioning yourself in the vast world of the internet, you need a consistent, thoughtful content marketing strategy. You may not see immediate results or have a particular blog post go viral, but you want to remain “out there” so that your audience knows and trusts you.
Creating a Content Marketing Strategy
An effective content marketing strategy does two main things. First, it establishes your brand’s voice and works to set you apart from your competitors. Second, it uses content to drive your target audience to take an action that meets your overall business objectives.
By creating a content marketing plan, you will have a solid foundation for attracting leads in various stages of the buying journey. Here are some specifics to help you get started in creating your plan.
Define Your Goal
While your ultimate goal may be to “generate more leads,” for the purpose of your content marketing strategy, be more specific.
How will you generate more leads? Do you want them to sign up for a demo on your website or fill out a “Contact Us” form? Or do you want to collect email addresses so you can continue to reach out to them?
Identify Your Target Audience
Not everyone is a potential lead or a quality lead. You need to understand your target audience and the type of content most likely to speak to that audience.
Your content should not only provide information but also show your audience that you have the answers. This should be subtle so that your audience doesn’t feel that they are being hit with “advertising.” Rather, you are establishing yourself as a trusted expert in your industry.
Think About Your Types of Content
When companies think of content, blog posts are often at the top of the list. But there are other types of content pieces, so you’ll want to consider many different formats. Potential leads all have their own preferences when it comes to consuming information.
You should consider other content, such as eBooks, case studies, infographics, videos, and social media. If you have limited resources, think about what format is most likely to reach your audience.
Publish and Manage Your Content
Because consistency is critical, you will want to have a schedule for your content. This schedule should balance different content types, such as a few blog posts per month with a case study and some social media posts. Your content should be promoted across a range of platforms.
Track Your Results
One of the best parts about inbound marketing is your ability to track results. You can use analytics to review the number of hits and conversions from your content marketing strategy. If you do not see the results you are expecting over time, you can make adjustments.
Putting Your Content Marketing Plan Into Action
Your content marketing strategy should be a blend of sales and marketing. Your sales team should understand your buyer’s persona, and your marketing team should create the content that speaks to those potential leads. By looking at inbound marketing as a joint effort, you can create valuable inbound leads that eventually convert to paying customers.
If you stay the course with consistent content marketing, you will see your audience grow and generate even higher quality leads over time.