Inbound marketing is less of an alternative and more of a buzz-word-fueled way of describing how modern marketing campaigns should be structured. The old school outbound approach to broadcasting marketing messages on broadly matched channels at great cost only work for a handful of industries and the largest companies. The rest of us? We need a smarter way of doing it – and that’s where inbound tactics come in.
The core concepts of inbound marketing hold strong in 2017 and will continue to do so. Provide value to your ideal audience. Do it better than anyone else. Be there when they need help. They will come to you when it’s time to buy.
It really is as simple as that.
But there are some nuances and best practices that are increasingly important in the execution of such a strategy. With so many businesses investing big into content, you need to stand out, and there are certain things that need to be done to augment your efforts. Let’s look at three such best practices and how they can be addressed in your marketing.
No Content Exists in a Bubble
A common mistake when first producing content is to focus on the schedule and churn out one topic at a time, as needed. The problem with this is that content starts to live in a bubble – independent of other pieces you might produce and without any input from the entirety of your online presence.
A good inbound strategy finds a purpose for every piece of content produced, all within topic clusters that relate to key pain points or issues that your brand addresses.
Once you’ve identified your personas and their major pain points, content strategy should build on those, addressing different areas of concern and interest as they relate to those questions. A single blog post can’t do the entire topic justice, nor does it leave you open for future articles or content pieces.
When brainstorming content topics, build them in relation to the larger goal of your inbound campaign. What problems are you helping to solve, questions answering, or issues addressing? Build a cluster of topics around those focal points to ensure you cover them in-depth and provide real value.
One Piece of Content Should Live On
After those content pieces are created, they should live on as long as possible, in as many forms as possible. A well-written blog post is a powerful tool that can drive hundreds or even thousands of visits to your website, all consisting of potential prospects.
But what if that blog post could do more, or on the flip side, what if it doesn’t drive all that traffic? When what?
Rather than scrapping your efforts and starting from scratch every time you publish, look for ways a single piece of content and the resources that went into creating it, can be used again and again to build something more comprehensive. That means:
- SlideShare presentations based on your blog post
- YouTube videos based on your SlideShare presentations
- Infographics highlighting key points from your post
- Social media posts scheduled over several weeks sharing key points
- Live video or recorded discussions going over high-level points
- eBooks or white papers pulling together several blog posts on related topics
- Emails highlighting key points and driving through call to action to a relevant download
Even just one or two of these practices can greatly extend the life of a piece of content and help you expand your marketing funnel and improve your response rates without having to increase time spent producing content.
Production is a Fraction of the Process
Which brings me to the final piece of the puzzle. This is not a new concept, but it is just as important today as it has always been. Content production is meaningless without a good system in place for promotion and distribution of that content.
There are millions of articles written every day on every topic under the sun. Billions of pages exist on the Internet and for yours to compete, you need more than just another quick blog post. You need a promotional plan that will get it in front of the right people.
For every hour spent producing content, another hour (and probably two) should be spent promoting that content. This is where many companies have issues. They invest heavily in production, having blog posts written several times a week and updating social media channels every day, but don’t do the legwork needed to build an audience that will engage with the content. That means:
- Building a larger community on social media through discussions and active communication
- Joining and engaging in community groups on LinkedIn, Google+, and industry forums
- Reaching out to influencers and thought leaders to build relationships and build an audience
- Identifying and distributing content to industry directories and news sites
These tasks take time and a keen focus on the people that are most likely to engage with and appreciate the content you are producing. There is no easy-mode button and it’s a lot harder to find a good promoter than a good writer. For this reason, it gets overlooked far too often, and can be detrimental to your marketing efforts. Always have a plan in place when you publish.
Getting the Most from Your Inbound Efforts
If you are eager to improve your inbound marketing efforts, drive more traffic, and generate more leads, you need a plan in place that will ensure the right topics are being covered, the content is being repurposed effectively, and it is getting promoted to the right audience.
By hitting on all three of these important points, you can get more done with less effort and start to see better results. Interested in learning more about how content marketing can change your business’s digital efforts? Download our free marketing ready checklist to learn what changes you should make on your website before publishing your next piece: