It’s official: inbounding marketing has replaced outbound marketing as the King of the Hill. As of 2015, companies are three times more likely to see a higher ROI through inbound marketing (getting discovered by customers) than outbound marketing (directly pitching to customers). Even so, many businesses still focus on outbound marketing as a core strategy.
Content marketing is arguably the most favorable form of inbound marketing today. At its core, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Marketers continue to rate content marketing as one of the most effective and increasingly valuable marketing strategies in recent surveys. At the same time, businesses are not always getting the biggest bang for their content buck because they are not using the right strategies.
Here are four strategies to help your company expand its content marketing campaign:
1. Think about and target your key audience(s)
It’s better to target a smaller audience that consistently converts rather than a larger one that ends up being a pool of visitors who don’t convert. To better understand your audience, analyze current trends in the market.
What is working (in terms of content marketing) with your particular audience? An impressive tool for tracking the behavior of your target audience is BuzzSumo, which helps companies analyze which content performs best for any specific topic as well how their competitors’ content is performing related to any given topic.
It’s also important to remember that your content marketing campaign will likely be adjusted considerably as your company and its products evolve. Don’t just guess on topics, but make sure that it responds to the needs and desires being communicated by your target audience. Creating a dynamic relationship between your content and your audience is one of the key ways to keep your content marketing fresh in a way that will lead to regular conversion of visitors into customers.
2. Know and align your goals to desired outcomes
Before producing content for your campaign, you should know why you are doing it from a business perspective.
Are you just looking to build awareness about your business? Do you need to retain customers but increase their rates of purchases? Are you striving to convert customers into evangelists to boost sales through word of mouth?
As these questions suggest, there are a number of legitimate business outcomes that can be achieved through a successful content marketing campaign, and for your own to succeed, you need to establish your goals.
If you’re looking to just build awareness, share your content with key influencers (e.g. business leaders, people with a large following, etc.) via social media outlets that you know your target audience frequents.
If you’re hoping to keep your current customers and get them to buy more, offer up rich content that educates them about key concepts related to your product and deepens their connection to your brand.
If you want to transform your customers into evangelists, design entertaining content that customers can share themselves which will create a buzz around your company.
Being specific about what business outcomes you hope to achieve before beginning a content marketing campaign will help you develop and execute that campaign most effectively.
3. Go where (and when) your customers are
Once you know your customer base and your own content marketing goals, you’ll have an idea of where to best reach out. Much of content marketing is internal (like a company blog, for example), but there are also other areas you should push your content to as well.
Connect with leaders and high-end publications in your industry and see if they’re interested in publishing your content on their own blog, so you can reach their audience. Finally, considering how much time people spend on social media, it’s crucial that you share your content across your social media accounts to maximize your reach.
Also, make sure that you’re not just in the right places with your content marketing, but that you’re there at the right time. Having a content schedule keeps your company motivated and on track to produce lots of great ideas to reach your customers, and you’ll be able to build an audience faster if you post at a consistent rate and people know what to expect from you.
To help create this consistency online, try a tool like Buffer, which allows you to schedule will post for you automatically, reducing your need to monitor your schedule every day.
4. Offer a unique angle
Your potential customers are swimming in information in this digital era. You have to find a way to stand out. Creating content that offers a unique angle on why they should go with your business over your competitors’ is essential.
One example of a unique angle is using insightful content to position your company as a thought leader in a particular field. People are very willing to defer to experts in a given field, so the smartest companies are letting their experts communicate directly with their customers as a powerful form of content marketing.
For example, Toptal is a company that sources freelance tech talent and offers a blog aimed at developers and those who hire developers. The developers themselves provide content for the blog, allowing the company to produce visionary insights from the very talent their client companies are looking for. This approach builds confidence among clients that they are getting a quality product working with this company.
For your own business, try to combine your expertise with your products or service to provide unique insights to your audience and become a thought leader in your field.
While the future generally looks promising for content marketing and companies that use it wisely, these four strategies should provide useful guidelines for your overall approach to effectively using content marketing to boost your company’s performance.
How is your company using content marketing in creative and effective ways? Share with us in a comment below!