How to Make Content the Cornerstone of Your Inbound Marketing Strategy by @JuliaEMcCoy
If you’re a smart marketer, you already know that inbound marketing is the way to go. In addition to being easier and more effective than outbound marketing, inbound marketing provides companies with the opportunity to draw in customers based on value rather than forceful advertising.
Read on to learn more about how you can make content the cornerstone of your inbound marketing techniques.
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Comparing inbound to outbound marketing is a little bit like apples to oranges: they’re not very similar. Let’s start with outbound marketing. Outbound marketing is also known as interruption marketing. It works by broadcasting a message to a large population and hoping that, within that population, there are several interested parties.
TV advertisements, banner ads and radio ads are all examples of outbound marketing. In order for outbound marketing to work, the message needs to be dispensed through a wide variety of channels in a wide variety of ways and, since, the would-be customer didn’t ask to hear about the product, good or service, it has to interrupt what they’re doing in order to tell them all about it.
This, by definition, is obnoxious and alienating.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative. Inbound marketing has been revered among marketers for its effectiveness and low-impact approach. Instead of going out and finding would-be customers where they sleep, inbound marketing uses content, value and interest to draw customers to a specific site. When inbound marketing is done right, it is much less about a sales pitch and much more about providing content that customers find valuable and interesting.
In addition to being vastly more effective (45% of all direct mail sent is never opened, 85% of people skip through television commercials and 84% of 25-34-year-olds will leave a website if the advertising is too obtrusive), inbound marketing is also drastically less expensive than outbound marketing, with 49% of marketers reporting a positive ROI on inbound marketing efforts and the average inbound lead costing a whopping 61% less than outbound leads.
That said, it’s obvious why so many marketers are touting inbound marketing as the way of the future.
5 Key Ways to Use Content to Draw in Customers
If inbound marketing is the way of the future, how exactly do you use it to bring more viewers to your site or to draw more customers to your business? The answer is simple: content. Content is the number one resource companies can leverage in order to expand their business and reach a wider audience. But how?
1. Become the Go-To Resource
If you want to learn about content marketing, you go to Content Marketing Institute, because they’re one of the primary resources on the web for people with questions about the topic. It stands to reason that, by becoming the go-to resource on a given topic, you have the potential to draw a huge amount of customers to your site. In order to do this, companies need to focus on dispersing useful content throughout the entire body of their website.
Regardless of what type of company the site belongs to, the content featured should offer interesting tidbits of information, summations of related news stories, high-quality visual content that underlines products, goods or services as well as plenty of well-written blog posts that display the company’s authority and knowledge. The goal is to give customers a virtual one-stop-shop of related knowledge in order to establish yourself as a resource and keep people coming back for more.
2. Be Unique
If you haven’t noticed, the web is pretty saturated with content. Therefore, it’s going to be virtually impossible for companies to stand out unless they are differentiating themselves from the crowd through truly unique content and surprising approaches. This doesn’t mean you have to be revolutionary, but it does mean that you have to be different.
To figure out what makes you different, take a moment to consider what your company does better than everyone else (this is a marketing strategy in and of itself, by the way). Once you’ve got your answer, seek to make your content reflect that specific quality or trait. Tailor your posts to orbit around the company’s central values, include images that showcase customers using and loving your high-quality products, include testimonials and leverage any awards or recognitions to help your company stand out in the sea of content that is today’s web environment.
3. Be Consistent
No matter how great your content may be, it won’t matter if you only post it once every six months. In order to be successful in using content to draw customers to your business, you have to be consistent in your content distribution. This applies to post timing just as much as it does to your site’s branding (once you’ve chosen a logo, tag line or style, stick with it to avoid confusing customers and losing brand recognition).
In terms of post timing, make sure you’re posting regularly. When, exactly, you choose to post will depend upon your unique users’ peak activity times. As a general rule, however, a company should create 3-5 posts each day that are shared at different peak times. This serves the purpose of giving your readers something to look forward to while also helping you establish a reliable presence and provide unique, fresh content consistently.
4. Use More Images
Did you know that 90% of the information the human brain receives on a daily basis is visual and that the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text? If that’s not a case for including visuals in your content, I don’t know what is. If you needed more convincing, maybe you should know that 40% of people respond better to visuals than text and that viewers spend 100% more time on sites with images than they do on text-only sites.
All that said, the message is clear: include high-quality, unique images in your content to drive engagement and get more readers. Images include everything from beautiful stock photos to infographics. Keep in mind that you’re probably best off using a mixture of visual content, as a variety of content performs better than one specific type of content (such as blog posts) dispersed over and over again.
5. Keep it Simple
In order for readers to truly love your content, you need to keep it simple. This applies to your message as much as it does to writing style. Long, drawn-out and confusing sentences will get you nowhere and great business writing is simple. Omit unneeded words and phrases and pare your writing back so readers can grasp it instantly. When it comes to the message, don’t try to pack too much into one post.
Focus on one interesting topic at a time and include a prize-winning call-to-action at the end. This is truly the recipe to great content: exciting ideas expressed in ways that readers can relate to and understand.
The Case for Content
By now, it’s clear that readers are hungry for content and the site that offers the best, most valuable, most useful content is the one that will win every time.
When a site commits itself to creating content that helps readers answer questions and solve problems, it positions itself to become a valuable resource in the web-based world. Once a brand has established itself as a go-to resource, it becomes a familiar and trusted touch point in the sea of content and people would rather buy new items from familiar companies than go somewhere else altogether.
This is a huge asset for companies everywhere: by creating great content, a company can become that familiar go-to, when it comes to their customer’s buying choices and reference points. Additionally, companies that use high-quality, original content as the cornerstone of their marketing strategy have a wider reach than companies that rely on advertising tactics and sales pitches.
That said, it’s clear that the future is content and companies that dedicate themselves to creating content that stands out from the crowd are likely to achieve marketing success.