Quality Over Quantity, But How Do You Focus Your Inbound Marketing Content To Drive Leads?
The same amount of energy it takes to light up a room for a year can be focused in the form of a laser and used to cut through concrete. Strategy helps focus your efforts.
It’s not hard to see that today, content drives a lot of positive outcomes when it comes to marketing. Blogging gets more people to your website and improves your rank on Google. Whitepapers and e-books turn visitors into leads. Other content moves prospects through the sales process much more easily than yesterday’s sleazy sales tactics.
But, that’s the 30,000-foot view. Does anyone (your inbound marketing agency or your internal team members) really know the blocking and tackling associated with using content to drive leads and revenue? If you’ve been running inbound marketing campaigns for over 100 clients for the past six years, yes, you learn a thing or two about using content to drive business results.
Here are the non-negotiables around inbound marketing’s perspective on content marketing if you’re looking for leads.
Strategy Before Tactics
If you’re not sick of hearing this, you should be. People still try to take a shortcut and start blogging or creating content with no concept of overall strategy. Perhaps it’s human nature to jump right in without thinking through the consequences, but in the case of inbound and content marketing, those consequences usually include less-than-expected performance.
Inbound has so many moving parts (if you’re doing it right) that you need a road map, plan and strategy to get you the desired outcomes. Skip this step at your own peril. It’s like baking a cake without a recipe. Sure, it might come out OK, but the chances of it being delicious are very small.
Take the time to create an inbound strategy and plan first. This includes basic marketing strategy like personas, messaging, differentiation, stories and expected results. Next, build out the inbound tactics required to get there, including the projected results. Only then will you have the map you need to navigate your inbound effort.
Search And Content Are Forever Connected
One of the biggest parts of strategy and planning is making sure the tactics are connected. For instance, search and content need to be sewn together if you want your content to help you get found on the Web. You can blog until you’re blue in the face, but if you’re not using the right keywords, keyword phrases and questions in exactly the right way, you’re never going to get found.
It’s not just about search when you’re planning a content marketing strategy. It’s also about creating campaigns that are integrated so that blog articles promote long-form content, emails promote blog articles, videos promote long-form content, social media conversations promote videos and so on. There are a lot of moving parts, so without a plan, this can get out of control quickly.
Map Content To The Sales Funnel With Answers To Questions
Prospects have questions. The best way to turn visitors into leads and leads into new customers is to answer those questions. Historically, salespeople have answered prospects’ questions. But today, people don’t want to talk to salespeople, so you need your marketing (specifically content) to answer their questions.
The best way to do that is to map out the questions and create highly creative, educational content that answers the questions. Then, present these content options at the perfect stage of the prospect’s buyer journey. To do this right, you need website pages that support all phases of the buyer journey: awareness, consideration and decision-making stages.
Once you have this all mapped out and planned, it becomes an exercise in construction. Think about a Lego set. Without instructions, building even the most obvious model is challenging. With a set of instructions, however, 10-year-old boys build huge Star Wars Battle Cruiser models in very short time frames. The power of the plan is unmatched.
Apply Analytics To See Which Content Converts
Since you have a plan, you also have certain performance expectations for all your content. If they hit the expected levels, no worries. But, if they miss or even exceed, you need to be aware in real time and take the appropriate action.
Continually Optimize For Even Better Results
Content without analytics is like ice cream without the cone. Yes, you can eat it, but the cone makes it so much more manageable and enjoyable. Set metrics for all your content. Then, track it and see if it performs, outperforms or underperforms. From there, you make additional decisions based on data to rename content, create new CTA buttons, redo landing pages or shutter the content because no one is interested in that topic. Theses are all solid, performance-based decisions that drive overall program performance up and to the right.
The day-in-and-day-out optimization work is what takes moderate program performance and turns it into amazing program performance. This optimization effort is often overlooked in most inbound programs. You get caught up in the production and stop looking at analyzing data, reviewing performance, responding with a plan and then acting on that plan. Once you add this element to your program, we typically see performance lifts in the area of 10% to 20% per month across most of the major metrics.
Start Today Tip – Anyone (from an inbound marketing agency to internal team members) who wants to start executing without strategy should be eliminated from consideration. That’s a move to placate you into thinking they can get you results sooner than other people. Putting points on the board early equals a failed long-term effort. Instead, spend the time, money and energy to think through your inbound program. One way to mitigate the risk associated with its complexity is to plan it out. This plan is going to impact your website, content, lead nurturing, search and even sales efforts. So, get it right the first time. You’ll see better results faster by taking your time upfront.
Square 2 Marketing – Inbound Results Start With ME!