If you haven’t heard of inbound marketing, you may be missing out on one of the biggest value-based marketing methodologies — which means you’re not getting the revenue you could be…which means stunted growth… you get the idea.
Inbound marketing is a business strategy for engaging consumers by providing relevant information and interaction. While outbound marketing bombards your audience with things they don’t always like, inbound marketing creates interaction and solves problems your audience already has.
How do you do this?
With a well thought out content strategy.
Developing a content strategy is critical to the success of your inbound marketing strategy. Without a content strategy, you’ll be left with bland, uninteresting and formulaic marketing messages that have proven time and time again to be ineffective.
Today, we’re going to tell you how to develop your own winning content strategy to take your inbound marketing to the next level.
What is a content strategy?
A content strategy is a plan for achieving a company’s goals and objectives through content.
Content is the cornerstone of your marketing message. It can include things like blog posts, articles, infographics, videos, testimonials, case studies, white papers… the list goes on and on. A content strategy is a way to determine what fits your brand and what will appeal to your target audience.
While the business goals of different organizations may vary widely, the goal of your content is likely to be just one: to drive interest in your products or services and increase new business.
What is “content”?
Because content can encompass such a wide variety of mediums, channels and topics, it’s best to view content according to the principles of digital marketing, which typically consists of four basic elements
Information: What is the essence of your message? What are you trying to communicate to your target audience? Your information can be factual, practical, entertaining, or some combination of these three elements.
Context: What is the content supposed to help you and the reader achieve? Who is the target audience for this material? Why is it being published and why would the user want to read it?
Media: On what channel do you publish the content and how does that affect the overall message? Examples of channels include your website, blog, social media, and email.
Form: How is the content presented? Written, graphic, audio, video or a combination? How will the user consume and interact with the content?
Each of these basic components must be considered when creating content and content strategy.
But what is it all for?
Why do you need a content strategy?
You probably don’t create a content strategy for no reason. So why is content marketing important for inbound marketing and growing your business? Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons you need a content strategy:
Demonstrating and validating expertise
Creating good content is an opportunity to position your brand as a leading expert in your industry. Customers will respond more favorably to a brand that is a thought leader in its particular niche. Use your content strategy as an opportunity to showcase your exclusive knowledge and expertise.
People trust experts more than amateurs and will hire them to solve their specific problems. Your content strategy will identify the best ways to build consumer trust in your brand by addressing these problems and explaining how you can solve them.
Improving organic search results and SEO
When you create better content, search engines like Google will recognize that your content is useful to users and will favor your results over the competition. Good content is the first place to start when considering an SEO strategy.
Generate more leads
This is by far the most important point. Your content strategy will allow more users unfamiliar with your brand to find you and interact with you, leading to more opportunities to generate new customers.
Attracting Ideal Customers
Just as important as the number of new customers is the quality of those customers. Better content means more opportunities to find users from your target audience who are in the market for your product or service.
Attend to potential customers with targeted content
Content goes beyond awareness. Create content to engage potential customers at all stages of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration and decision making. Reach out directly to users at each stage to move them through the funnel.
Create content that can be shared
Your content strategy will help you create content that is not only useful to your audience, but also to their social circle. Turning your audience into brand advocates is one of the best ways to attract new customers.
Increasing the number of returning visitors
Repetitive content will give visitors a reason to return to your site after their first visit, creating a community of users. This community has the potential to be an extremely valuable asset to your brand, creating new supporters.
Establishing brand authority
Your content demonstrates your ability to outperform the competition in what you do. Your target audience knows they will get answers to their questions from you; all they need to know is that you will provide them with the best solution to their dilemma.
Building backlinks to the site
Your expert content will be a juicy target for other sites to link to, further cementing your leadership in the industry. Depending on which sites link back to your content, your audience could increase significantly. As an added bonus, backlinks are one of the main criteria search engines use to rank your site, and this will improve your SEO.
Content marketing types and examples for B2B
There are a myriad of content types that you can incorporate into your strategy. Here are some of the most common examples:
Blogging is a tried and tested
tried and tested method of using writing as a content marketing tool. In a nutshell, blogging is when you, as a thought leader or subject matter expert, frequently write about topics that are important to your audience. The nice thing about a content blogging strategy is that anyone can do it – regardless of their industry or niche – and it’s easy to get started.
Downloadable e-books are not like another blog post or video, but feel like genuine value. They require a little more effort than standard written content, but the payoff is worth it. Put your e-book behind a form to collect users’ contact information and funnel them in.
A case study is a complete report on a project your company has done. It begins with a statement of the problem, continues with an explanation of what happened next, and ends with an explanation of how the company fixed or improved something. A good case study also contains analysis and statistics to support the claims about the project’s results. Use case studies to show how you can solve your target audience’s problems.
Templates are a great type of content to experiment with because they can help you generate leads while providing value to your audience. If you have template tools that help your audience save time and succeed, they are more likely to connect with your content in the future.
Infographics can be used to organize and visualize data in a more compelling way than words alone. It’s a great content format to use if you need to convey a lot of information in a simple and comprehensible way.
Creating videos takes more time and effort than creating written content, but as visual marketing grows in popularity, they will become increasingly important. Videos are nearly 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other forms of content, so don’t neglect this opportunity to connect with your audience.
If your audience doesn’t have the time or interest to read content every day, start a podcast to help them discover your brand. Consider creating a podcast if you have interesting people to interview or interesting discussions to host.
Social media posts are critical to expanding the reach of your brand and providing content to your customers where they spend their time. It’s important to remember to tailor your content to the specific social media channel on which you intend to post it. For example, Instagram is best for images, infographics and videos, while Twitter requires shorter, more succinct content.
How to create a content strategy
Now it’s time to get your hands dirty. Follow these steps to create your own content strategy. Make sure you follow each step in order, as each one will build on the previous one.
1. Define your mission and goals
This will help you and your team focus on what’s important and keep your marketing efforts on track.
Mission: This is what you want to achieve, but not necessarily the end result. It will be the link between where you are and where you want to be.
Goals: These are measurable and achievable steps on the way to achieving your mission. They are very important – make them hyper-concrete so they can be broken down into individual tasks.
2. Define key performance indicators
KPIs are measurements of progress toward your goals. Determine which KPIs will give you the most insight into the effectiveness of your content strategy and where improvements can be made. These could be metrics such as site traffic, new customer acquisition, cost of acquisition, and others.
3. Know your audience
Do research to determine who your current audience is and what your target audience looks like. The demographics will help you build an overall picture of your audience. Once you’ve identified your audience, create buyer personas to target your messages and content to different segments.
4. Conduct a content audit
Analyze all of the content you’ve created in the past and assess what needs to be reviewed, removed, or repurposed for future use. Many of the content you’ve created in the past may be useful for future content (with a slight update). It doesn’t hurt to repurpose old content if necessary, especially if it was successful when originally posted. Identify gaps in your content that represent opportunities to create new content.
5. Identify the best channels and types of content
If you already have a large social media audience, use it to create content. The same goes for things like website traffic or email signups. The channels you define will determine the types of content you create.
6. Choose a content management system
There are many great options for content management tools. We recommend looking at well-known platforms like HubSpot to help manage and automate your content management strategy. These tools can help you get organized, and many have built-in features to streamline your content creation process.
7. Develop a content calendar
Set a schedule for publishing content, including which platform to publish it on. A content calendar will help organize the process of creating more and more content so that everyone on your team knows what content has already been published, what is being worked on, and what will be done soon.
8. Create your content
You can finally get to work! Follow your content calendar and plan out what needs to be done to create the content you are going to publish. Research topics and then write blogs, record podcasts, create graphics and make videos.
9. Distribution and Marketing
Create a content promotion strategy. Some content will amplify others, such as social media posts to promote a new blog or an email announcing a new e-book. When creating content, remember that “perfection is the enemy of good.” Don’t spend more time creating content than necessary – after all, it’s meant to be consumed!
10. Measure and improve
Analyze your content results based on the KPIs you identified in step two. Determine what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be improved. Content creation is a never-ending process of creation, distribution and refinement, so don’t skip this step.
Use this guide to develop your own content strategy, and the results will speak for themselves. The only catch is that you really have to do it, and it takes time, energy and effort, but it’s worth it.
Content development is just the beginning. Inbound marketing services include researching search terms and keywords, setting marketing goals, developing buyer personas, researching competitors, aligning sales and marketing, and more.
You need an inbound marketing strategy to be successful. Click here for our complete guide to developing and implementing an inbound marketing strategy.