How to Create a Super Content Marketing Machine in 2020. Marketing hasn’t changed much since the beginning of the 20th century. Businesses find a platform with a large audience that fits their target market, and then they try to sell a product or their brand in a short amount of time. This is known as outbound marketing, and it has been the way consumers hear about the majority of products and brands.
Only recently has a new form of marketing emerged. It’s called inbound marketing, and in this guide we’ll be focusing on a very important ingredient of inbound marketing called content marketing.
Introduction to Content Marketing
Content marketing can be incredibly effective when used the right way—but the tricky part is knowing how to create an effective content strategy, seeing when it’s working for you, and understanding when it should take precedence over other more classical marketing methods. Sometime around 1994, inbound marketing introduced a new strategy for marketing products and brands in the digital era.
Instead of pushing out a message to the masses, it relied on creating content that potential customers search for online. This was a sharp contrast to traditional outbound marketing where brands would find a platform with a large audience that fit their target market, and then try to pitch their product or service in as short amount of time as possible.
What is Outbound marketing ?
Outbound marketing is marketing that pushes the brand’s message out to its prospects. Inbound and content marketing is marketing that pulls or gravitates prospects to (hopefully) a trusted source. Content marketing, then, can be much more powerful in that it can appeal to a target audience in a very specific way, drawing people in who have a need or desire in the topic.
This results in building interest and relevance around your product. Content marketing can consist of blog posts, infographics, webinars, podcasts, videos, slides, and free PDF downloads (like the one you’re reading now). It can span across many different channels, though digital is where it really shines.
Crafted with the specific target customer in mind (versus a broadly-defined target market), this content helps solve a problem or make life more pleasurable in some way, building on the core product or service it’s meant to sell, and creating value and interest in and of itself. In some cases, content marketing can be so valuable that people will fork over hundreds of dollars so they can get access to content.
Every year, Hubspot hosts their Inbound conference, which brings about 7500 attendees. The theme of the conference (inbound marketing) is also consistent with the software Hubspot sells. The more inbound marketing grows, the better Hubspot will be. Now let’s look at an example of how content marketing can work. Let’s say Bob is having trouble with his car. Every time he drives over a bump, his car makes a “clunk” sound. So Bob runs a quick Google search for the issue. On the search results page, Bob sees an article detailing what the clunk sound might be.
Let’s say this article lives on Carworldautoparts.com. Bob clicks on the article, and gets drawn in, reading a description of the problem and positing ways to fix it. According to the article, Bob needs to buy a part before he can fix his car. Coincidentally enough, Carworldautoparts.com sells that every part. Right on the spot, Bob orders the part, which arrives on his doorstep two days later.
Bob refers back to the article and fixes his car, saving a $500 trip to the mechanic. The team has made a happy customer because of their inbound marketing efforts. They attracted a visitor, converted him into a customer, and now they are a trusted resource for Bob when his next car issue arises.
Not all customers convert as quickly as Bob. Some may take months with many repeat visits while others will take years and return only intermittently– and certainly, not everyone who views your content will convert into a loyal customer. Your key goal in content marketing is to continuously produce exceptional content that compels people to return for more.
As you keep at it, you’ll build your library of content that gets deeper on a few topics or expands to many, and which can be 6 HOW TO CREATE A WELL-OILED CONTENT MARKETING MACHINE • KISSMETRICS.COM packaged in a variety of ways. Landing pages with infographics, microsites with how-to videos, forums with whitepapers… Over time you will have amassed many pieces of content that make your digital properties fascinating places for your consumer to spend time.
The Benefits of Content Marketing
Inbound content marketing is getting better every year, and so are its benefits to the brand. Let’s run through some of them.
Content Marketing Targets an Interested Audience
When done correctly (that’s the key), inbound content marketing can be aimed directly at your prospects. Think, “personalized” over “one size fits all.” Here’s a flowchart illustrating how inbound marketing reaches your target audience: Person has an issue or wants more information about a particular subject. The person finds your site. Person becomes educated about issue or subject of interest. Person comes back for more information, signs up for email newsletter, and begins to open and read them. This person is beginning to form a valuable relationship with the brand.
Largely because it was targeted and got the right exposure. The person actually went looking for information and discovered content that educated and provided value. She arrived at your page with an interest. From a return on a marketing perspective, this drives much more benefit over the “ad waste” that occurs when passing in front of uninterested eyeballs. Outbound marketing is just that—a message blast to people who may or may not see it, and if they do, they simply may not care.
Content Marketing Costs Less over Time
While the initial time and energy needed to create content can be significant, it can be one of your most powerful and cost-effective marketing tactics. Once it’s finished and published on the web, it can travel far at minimal cost and it’s open for anyone to discover. Let’s say you wrote a blog post in 2011.
Since the moment you published it, people have been discovering, enjoying, and sharing it. As a result, today over 100,000 people have viewed and been informed or inspired by your piece of work. This is assuming you have good SEO and your site gets a decent amount of traffic.
Now, let’s say that of those 100,000 people who viewed the post, 50 of them became customers. Unless you’re charging an extremely low price for your service, it’s a safe bet you have a positive ROI on the hours or dollars you spent creating that piece of content.
If you could spend 3 days writing a great piece of content that 2 years later still would be attracting a few customers, each bringing in a couple of hundred bucks a month, would you do it?
This is why inbound content marketing is so cost-effective. The content is timeless, and it doesn’t cost much to produce. The only costs are salaries for people who create the content, any services that need to be purchased to help distribute the content, and hosting fees. You could even choose to inject a bit more cash in helping it get found by search engines or by placing it strategically in web areas you know your prospect lives.
Content Marketing Improves as Your Library Grows
Let’s be honest, one blog post won’t do much. Neither will two. But 50 or 100 could be a nice and effective surprise if you weren’t expecting prospects to find it. However, if you want inbound content marketing to really work, you need a sufficient library of free content. A big library is about 500 web articles on one topic. So 500 articles on car repair can be thought of as a substantial library.
The better content marketing companies are increasing their number of web articles every week, and in most cases every day. Search engines like fresh material, and lots of it. You’ll get more visitors with more quality articles. But it’s very important to focus on quality over quantity.
Focus on quality content, and then get your flywheels going so you’re frequently putting out content. Over time you’ll have thousands of indexed pages that incorporate relevant keywords and will start to really rank on Google, and your visitor count will grow along with the page count.
Developing a big library takes time and work, often more so than traditional marketing. Companies that are serious about inbound marketing usually hire their own in-house writers or pay guest bloggers to write. You can use a service like Contently or post an opportunity at the ProBlogger Job Board. Start experimenting, and see when it makes sense to scale up your content production. Today, the KISSmetrics blog gets a lot of traffic, but it wasn’t like this in 2009 when we launched our first blog post.
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