When the notion of inbound marketing first started to gain popularity back in 2006 it seemed too good to be true.
Now, a decade later, the inbound marketing strategy has completely revolutionized the way business is conducted. In its evolution, it has also become a much more refined science.
Without a doubt, the most valuable way to cash in on the inbound strategy is to invest in content marketing.
What is content marketing, anyway?
The Content Marketing Institute – the Internet’s unofficial source for all things content marketing related – put it best:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Content marketing often gets a bad rep because it very rarely offers immediate results. To really see the benefits of content marketing requires time, knowledge and commitment.
You can’t just post a couple of paragraphs about an off-the-cuff topic once a month and expect to see a sudden influx of leads. In fact, one study found that 60 percent of marketers created at least one piece of content a day.
Writing Content People Want to Read
Like our friends at the Content Marketing Institute said, good content needs to be three things:
- Valuable: your content should be something your targeted audience wants to read, whether it’s a solution to a problem, information they’ve been looking for, or the answer to a question they’ve Googled.
- Relevant: The founding principle of inbound marketing is bringing the customer to you. In return, you need to offer them insightful, intelligent content that connects the two of you.
- Consistent: Content may be king but consistency keeps the castle running. Whether you decide your company should post weekly, bi-weekly, or more frequently, it’s important to keep it up.
Essentially, content should answer a question before the customer knows they need to ask.
Truthfully, there are dozens and dozens of types of content that can be used to power your content marketing strategy.
In a recent study, one research group found that 61 percent of customers made a buying decision off of custom content – content that was created specifically to engage, interest and delight the targeted demographic.
The same study found that interesting content is one of the top three reasons a customer will follow a business on social media.
Now, it’s unrealistic to believe that all of this attention is coming from people checking out a company’s blog. Though your blog is (extremely!) important, a variety of content types and sources will draw more attention than constantly posting bit.ly links to your most recent blog article.
Content shouldn’t just be long-form blog posts, and it certainly does not need to always be formal, informational pieces.
For more information about finding the right voice for your brand, click here.
Other content types to try include:
- Email: Emails shouldn’t be boring. Stop thinking that every email blast is a sales pitch, instead, try writing emails that genuinely add value to your customer’s lives.
- Infographics: Who doesn’t love a good infographic? They’re fun to read and fun to look at. Best of all? They’re highly shareable.
- E-books: Capitalize on your staff’s expertise by creating an informative e-book for your leads to download. E-books are a great way to increase your email list, and allow you to reach out directly to those who are engaging with your content.
- Site Pages: If you get a customer to your site, why wouldn’t you want to impress them? By adding pages such as “About Us,” “Meet the Team,” “Let’s Connect,” you’re able to form the basis of a personal connection with no face time.
The Value of Content Marketing
When you commit to a solid content marketing strategy, the benefits are both long-term and numerous.
When creating your strategy, remember these three things:
- Keep your content valuable, relevant, and consistent. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes often.
- Vary your content. Creating different kinds of content will reach more people through more platforms.
- Be interesting. As valuable as a cell phone handbook may be information-wise, no one enjoys reading it.