Inbound Marketing, Demand Generation, Account-Based Marketing, Email Marketing And Influencer Marketing All Need Content To Drive Results
Over the weekend, it occurred to me that with so many marketing strategies available to marketers these days, it’s very hard to figure out which methodology, tactic or combination of tactics is right for your company. That got me thinking about how content is the one consistent thread across all these types of marketing systems.
Inbound marketing needs content to convert visitors into leads. Demand generation needs content to create awareness. Account-based marketing needs content to engage prospects. Even search engine marketing needs content for the search engines to find, rank and present content to people searching.
If these diverse marketing methodologies are the engines that drive leads, new customers and revenue, then it seems apparent that content is the fuel. An engine without fuel won’t run, an engine with the wrong fuel will run sporadically and an engine without enough fuel will run inconsistently.
As marketers, business owners, CEOs and sales leaders, it seems like the key to lead gen and revenue acceleration is keeping the engine fueled up and running smoothly.
Here’s how to keep your marketing engine fueled up and running like a top-performing race car with strategic content marketing.
Pick The Right Fuel
What you write is more important than just writing. You need the right content. This means you need content for people at all stages of the buyer journey. This means you need content for both marketing and sales. This means you need to intimately understand your buyer personas so you can create content that resonates with them because of their actual challenges at work but also because of their demographic and psychographic profiles.
For example, if your target prospects are creative types, they might prefer infographics, slide shows and videos instead of whitepapers and e-books. But if your target prospects are engineers, they’re probably going to want to read whitepapers and research studies. Content is not always written. In fact, in most cases today, content is pictures. Understanding your best prospects and the types of content they want to engage with is critical.
Keep The Engine Fuel Tank Full
When people ask me to explain inbound marketing at the highest level, I like to say, “blogging drives visitors and long-form content drives lead generation.” Both represent types of content. If my statement is true, then the more you blog, the more visitors you’ll gain, and the more long-form content you publish, the more leads you’ll generate. This means you’re going to need a system that produces a ton of content and a system that cranks it out day after day, month after month, year after year.
A ton of articles are on the web regarding content and the argument associated with quality vs. quantity. I’m not advocating quantity over quality. I’m telling you that to keep the tank full, you need both. You need high-quality content, you need it in all the right formats and you need it to be high-quality, engaging, educational and creative. You need both quality and quantity to be successful, making it even more challenging to keep up with those requirements.
Adjust The Fuel Mix Based On Performance Data
Top race car teams are constantly adjusting the formula for their fuel to drive improved performance from the car. You want to take a similar approach. When you start, weekly blog articles might seem like the right approach. A quarterly whitepaper might fit perfectly into your budget and match nicely with your personas, but after a couple of months your review of the performance produces underwhelming results. Now what?
Now you have to look at your mix and adjust it accordingly. Do we need more blog articles? How many more per week? What pieces of long-form content are we promoting in the blog? Can we provide better content in context to those blog articles to improve the conversion rate? You might have to balance the mix of written vs. video content, too. In fact, the balancing act and the desire to dial in the perfect formula for your content should be something you work on every single month.
The Cheap Fuel Is Not Always The Best Fuel
Sometimes it takes an actual experience buying cheap fuel to show the difference in the car’s performance. The same holds true with content. If you’re grabbing blog articles from a writing service for $100 a clip, that’s only great if those blog articles are converting visitors into leads, driving your keyword rankings up and producing leads from organic searches across a variety of keywords.
Don’t ever blog just for the sake of blogging. If your investment in content is not producing results, not improving results and those results are not driving your business, you need to stop and regroup. Cheap is almost never better when it comes to inbound marketing, content marketing or any kind of marketing for that matter.
Would you pick the cheapest attorney, doctor or accountant? I hope not, so don’t pick the cheapest marketing agency or cheapest content provider either.
Keep An Eye On Fuel Efficiency
Again, race teams are constantly trying to get more mileage out of their cars. You want to think about your content the same way. Here’s an example we use to get efficiencies from the content we create for our clients. When we write a 20-page e-book, we’ll work hard to curate a nice handful of related blog articles right from that original e-book. Now we don’t have to write those blog articles from scratch and we can promote the e-book in every single blog post.
You can work the same approach in reverse. Over the fall last year, we did 100 tweets with inbound marketing tips that we packaged up into one long-form e-book titled 100 Tips To Improve Your Inbound Marketing. As long as you’re keeping close track of the performance for both the long-form and short-form content types, you’ll almost never produce content that doesn’t produce results.
Most race teams have entire departments working solely on the fuel for their car. You probably need to consider something similar. Content is a science, just like inbound marketing is a science. How you create your content needs to be efficient and effective. For instance, make sure you talk about your prospect more than your own company. Make sure you use stories to get your point across. Make sure your prospect is the hero in your stories, not your company, product or service.
You’re going to want your content to be disruptive and upset your prospects’ status quo. You’re going to want it to tell compelling and emotional stories that get your prospects to engage with you and your company. You want to write for conversion too, meaning the stories you tell have to leave your prospects wanting more and having to connect with you to get the rest of their content fix.
This constant flow of content is what attracts visitors to your site, turns those visitors into leads and nurtures those leads into sales opportunities. Then, the content your sales team uses during the sales process turns those sales opportunities into new customers. Make sure you invest in the fuel for your marketing, perhaps even more aggressively than you invest in the rest of the components.
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