What Are The Rules Of Content For Inbound Marketing?
In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Beacons Point is featured as one of the Top Inbound Marketing Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile!
Committing random acts of content marketing is a waste of time and money. Without a solid digital marketing plan, your marketing efforts won’t produce the results you want and need. If you jump in head first without any research or background on a topic, you may find yourself questioning your decisions afterward.
There are a few “rules” to live by when it comes to creating a content marketing strategy and deploying an inbound marketing strategy that can significantly increase your effectiveness:
- Understand your buyer persona
- Have a clear inbound strategy
- Create high-quality content
- Measure against your goals
- Deploy CRM and marketing automation
Inbound marketing works best when high-quality content is created for your target market and customers. The more you can customize the experience and provide the kind of content that’s relevant and valuable for your audience the more successful you will be.
Your inbound marketing campaign should follow a few basic rules to improve the customer journey and generate leads and conversations. You want to try to center all of your content around the “Attract, Engage, and Delight” ideology of the flywheel this is one of the biggest ways inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing.
- Attract: Provide valuable content to establish your brand as a trusted expert.
- Engage: Provide insights and solutions that solve customers’ problems and challenges.
- Delight: Provide the support to help your customers continue to find success after the sale.
These three components can create a flywheel effect that becomes self-sustaining to attract and drive customers through the buyer’s journey and then share their success with others.
5 Rules of Content for Inbound Marketing
With the flywheel as your guiding principle, let’s jump into the 5 rules of content for inbound marketing.
1. Understand Your Buyer Personas
Clear buyer personas help you keep your ideal customers or target audience in mind as you are creating all types of content. Based on your market research and customer data, you can segment your customers into various groups, which helps to identify key content areas.
Creating solid buyer personas requires you to:
- Do thorough research on your customers and potential customers
- Identify customer goals and pain points
- Analysis of how your products and services solve their challenges
- Creating a profile of your ideal customer
While buyer personas make up the backbone of your outreach strategy, unfortunately, a lot of time organizations create them and then put them on the shelf.
Once you create them, share them widely within your organization to ensure everyone is clear on where you’re focusing your efforts. This makes for better strategic alignment between sales and marketing—one of the keys to faster revenue growth and increased profitability.
Keeping your buyer personas front and center helps make sure you are creating the right content, using the right channels for delivery, and targeting properly. Whether you are using social media, your website, or creating content for distribution, buyer personas help guide your plan.
It’s a critical step to understand your intended audience, so you can create an effective strategy that speaks directly to your buyer personas.
2. Have a Clear Inbound Strategy
A comprehensive content strategy is an engine that drives your ROI. While buyer personas help you frame your content to address customer pain points and challenges, that’s just part of the equation. You need a comprehensive long-term marketing strategy that leverages your personas and aligns with your business goals.
Content without direction is a costly exercise. You can spend a lot of time creating and marketing content that doesn’t move the needle.
Instead, your inbound strategy also needs to include competitor and industry research to ensure you can articulate your unique selling proposition (USP) and weave it throughout your narrative. You also need to conduct keyword research to understand how people are searching for the information you’re providing and use it for search engine optimization (SEO).
The best inbound campaigns all tie together with an overarching campaign strategy. One of the more effective strategies is the hub and spoke method. Create topic clusters that support and link to the central strategic core of your campaign with one central piece of content that branches off into more in-depth pieces that provide greater detail and context. This allows you to tailor each piece of content directly to prospects to create higher levels of engagement to drive them through the buyer’s journey.
Your content can then focus on what customers and potential customers need at the particular stage they are in for optimal engagement and demand.
3. Create High-Quality Content
The content you create is a direct reflection of your brand, so you want to make sure it’s high quality. You need to provide real value to establish your company as an expert.
Each piece you create should align with your strategy and have individual goals. Before you create anything, you need to establish the goal for the piece. For example:
- Are you trying to build brand awareness?
- Are you trying to obtain organic traffic from keywords?
- Are you trying to get engagement on social media posts?
- Are you trying to capture a lead via a call-to-action?
- Are you trying to get someone to take the next step?
- Are you trying to close a deal?
The goal will help you decide how to approach content creation.
As you build your content, you need to focus on both quality and value. Without providing an underlying value for the people that view your content, you’re not going to be successful.
Ultimately, the information has to be relevant and provide useful information. However, it also has to frame your company as a trustworthy authority. This means also focusing on the appearance of the material, the design, and a logical framework for workflow.
For example, if someone reviews your content and takes action, don’t send these leads to a complex or non-user-friendly website. That can significantly impact your conversion rate. Make it simple for people to fill out a lead gen form or deliver them to a single-purpose landing page.
There are all sorts of inbound marketing content you can create, including:
- Blog posts
- Website content
- Case studies
- White papers
- Guest posts
- Webinars and events
- How to guides
- Email Marketing
- Press releases
- Expert interviews
- Thought leadership
Good content will position you and your organization as subject matter experts to build trust and authority as potential customers are doing their research and considering potential solutions.
4. Measure Against Your Goals
You put in the work to understand your buyer persona, you crafted a great strategy, and you created high-quality content. Next, you need to measure performance to ensure your strategy is working. You likely also need to report on your marketing efforts to your CEO, CFO, or others.
Make sure you have a customer relationship management (CRM) or other tools that can track customers at every touchpoint and automate your reporting.
Inbound marketing reporting can help us see how all of our marketing activities relate to each other and work together as a system. For example, HubSpot has great customizable dashboards and a reporting process that is intuitive and easy to use. You can set up dashboards and visualization that make tracking easy and print the reports you need.
While each piece of content you create should have its own goal, you also need to quantify your broader strategy. Vague metrics such as posting 4 blogs monthly or improving your position on the search engine results page (SERP) are too broad and are not going to help you create great content.
While you may want to achieve these goals with campaigns, they don’t include the granular data you need to track to demonstrate a correlation between your inbound marketing tactics and your results.
For example, if your goal is lead generation, you need to track the number of leads delivered from your inbound marketing efforts. This helps you see whether your overall strategy is working but can also let you know what specific content is resonating and meeting your goal.
If you are more focused on nurturing and moving potential customers from being marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) to sales-qualified leads (SQLs), you’ll need a different tracking measurement.
Setting SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound — is a solid strategy to focus your tracking and reporting.
5. Deploy CRM and Marketing Automation
One of the keys to success in inbound marketing is delivering relevant content to the right person at the right time. This means customizing or personalized content and content delivery. The more effectively you can do that, the more successful you can be.
That can be challenging to do — especially at scale.
Deploying a robust CRM and marketing automation are key because they will help guide your buyer personas along the buyer’s journey.
Previously, it was up to marketing teams to develop leads and sales teams to activate potential leads and turn them into customers. Today, it takes a consistent approach and alignment between marketing and sales to activate customers at each stage. Services such as social media marketing automation, email marketing automation, segmentation, and lead scoring can boost your marketing efforts and leave time for team members to focus on other areas.
A few CRMs and Automation services that we think are great include:
When considering a CRM and marketing automation, you’ll want to compare features, capabilities, customer experience, and price points to make sure they meet your goals. Some, such as HubSpot, offer free options to get you started.
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Improve Your Inbound Marketing
Efficient inbound marketing requires a commitment and a solid plan. Following these five rules for content, you can create a more effective content marketing and inbound marketing strategy. Whether you do it yourself, take recommendations from a strategist, or hire a freelancer or a marketing agency creating helpful and relevant content should be the top priority for any inbound marketing strategy.