Content and Inbound Marketing
With customers being 57% through their buying cycle before interacting with the supplier, marketing is responsible for owning more and driving greater progression to sale than ever before. Naturally, this creates the requirement for an effective inbound strategy.
The challenge with inbound activity is that you require something customers want, some way of attracting, engaging and identifying prospects. Within many complex B2B channels e-commerce of products may not exist, but the thing customers 'want' is solutions to their problems. The most effective way this can be delivered is through content; knowledge to help them resolve challenges, insight to help their business, tools to make their life easier.
Download A3 Infographic: Inbound Content Marketing
Content is at the centre of any effective inbound strategy. There are four key factors in which content assists inbound acquisition of leads: promoting thought leadership, building brand equity, amplifying the message, and driving organic traffic.
In promoting thought leadership, you provide a platform to promote your subject expertise and capabilities. It is a great way to begin conversation and engagement around topical issues, challenges or trends. Many companies use this as a way of being seen as industry leaders and demonstrating they understand the marketplace. It allows you to introduce corporate values - as long as they help address challenges and problems of your audience.
"Teaching people something new about their business, challenge or need is the number one driver in buying criteria." source: Forbes
In order for your thought leadership to be adopted by your audience, credibility is vital. In demonstrating experience and results you gain trust and credibility. The value of your products and services is enhanced which helps to develop your positioning within the market. The key is to provide evidence supporting your capabilities in a holistic compelling story.
"94% of buyers view multiple pieces of content from the vendor they select." source: DemandGen Reports
There is no point creating great content if no one knows about it. Using social channels broadens your reach beyond existing contacts. That’s not to say don't encourage existing customers to share their stories and your content - these are a great way to start spreading the word. In socialising your content, you give the community a chance to promote, publicise and syndicate it. If it’s great content that offers real value, they will naturally do this on your behalf spreading your reach even further. The result is a vastly diverse range of touchpoints that drives relevant prospects to you.
"75% of buyers use social media in their buying process." source: Inside View
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
In creating touchpoints throughout the Web and fuelling social conversations you organically build backlinks. The more value your content offers, the more people will want to share and link to it. This all helps to improve your search ranking, provided you have a good site structure and optimised keywords. Online, you have greater visibility and attract a wider audience. The higher you rank, the more web-traffic you generate and the more people that find your content fuelling the cycle.
"93% of business purchases use search to begin their buyer journey." source: Marketo
At the centre of all of this is the need to identify prospects - converting the unknown to known. Content feeds the inbound activity, but also it is what makes someone "step over the line" - from being just a visitor to someone that you know is interested in what you have to say, and what you can do for them.
A trail of engaging 'open' breadcrumb content is likely to be what is discussed and shared online. This should all link to your killer content. Content that is 'gated' to identify interested visitors. Prospects should then be nurtured and accelerated towards a sale.
So when you are looking to develop an inbound strategy, be sure to have a solid content strategy in place in order to drive acquisition and conversion, otherwise the traffic you get will remain unknown.