What is Inbound Marketing?
That might seem like a bit of a no brainer since inbound is practically everywhere in today’s digital marketing world. But despite how common the term is, a lot of people don’t actually know what’s involved in a successful content marketing strategy.
Sure, content generation is a key component, but what kind of content really resonates with today’s consumer? When should you use one type of content over another? Where in your marketing funnel should you employ each?
These are all reasonable – and incredibly common – questions, especially among our customers. That’s why we’ve put together this overview on the various content marketing tools you can use today to get the most out of your inbound marketing campaign.
We’ll dive into the similarities and differences between each content type, when to use them in your campaign, and a few tips on how to perfect each.
So, let’s get started.
Long used as the technical backbone of a marketing funnel, whitepapers provide a wealth of in-depth information on a particular problem along with how your solution ﬁnds a new way to solve it.
These documents are typically around 5-12 pages long and usually lack the visual pizazz of other content types. But what it lacks in style and glamour, it more than makes up for in facts, ﬁgures, and hard data.
Where Do Whitepapers Fit into Your Marketing Funnel?
Whitepapers are highly versatile pieces of content. Depending on the level of complexity, they can be a great way to attract new leads in the earliest stages of the buyer’s journey or they can inform prospects in the later stages about why your solution is the one they’re looking for.
In general, though, whitepapers are most commonly found in the middle of the marketing funnel due to their highly-technical nature.
Quick Tips on How to Write a Whitepaper That Converts
Although you won’t ﬁnd any steadfast rules for creating the “perfect whitepaper,” there are a few conventions to follow to get the most out of this content type.
- Always use data and research to back up your points.
- Professionalism (proper grammar, professional copy, polished design, etc.) are key.
- Don’t be afraid to get into the weeds. Whitepaper readers are searching for speciﬁcs.
- Avoid a salesy tone. Use facts to convince, not flashy persuasion techniques.
Blogging is often the bread and butter of most inbound marketing strategies. This versatile platform is best used to bring in new leads through organic SEO ranking, establish authority on a subject, and link potential clients to the various other forms of content you offer.
These brief content posts can be used to highlight a speciﬁc issue, point prospects towards a particular product, or simply build loyalty to your company through a familiar voice.
Where Does Business Blogging Fit into Your Marketing Funnel?
Business blogging is usually found at the top of the marketing funnel precisely because the topics covered can be so diverse and numerous. Beyond that, posts often don’t require nearly as much time or resource expenditure as other content types, making it a cost-effective way to cast a wider net, so to speak.
Use blogs to bring people into your funnel – and other content types to guide them through it.
Tips for Business Blogging Done Right
The best inbound marketing methodology will follow the blogging guidelines below.
- Consistency is critical to keeping your audience engaged. Decide on a schedule and commit to it.
- Be patient. It takes time to build up an audience with blogging but once you do, the beneﬁts will easily be worth the wait.
- Find the balance between brevity and value. Info distributed through this medium needs to be easily consumable yet still helpful.
Do not underestimate the importance of social media marketing in modern business. While you may be tempted to bypass this form of promotion based on how new it is alone, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become some of the most effective tools for modern marketers according to the Content Marketing Institute.
As with blogging, this part of inbound requires consistency and dedication. But put in the time and effort required to maintain a regular and valuable presence here and it can do wonders for your visibility.
Where Social Media Marketing Fit into Your Marketing Funnel?
A top-of-the-funnel content type to be sure, social media is a great way to attract the attention of an enormous number of people day in and day out. And when your content is engaging, others will share it with their contacts, spreading your influence even further.
Tips for Savvy Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing may seem simple, but don’t be misled – it takes strategy and expertise to pull it off. Here are just a few tips to start you on the right foot.
- Share content that’s both valuable and related to your business. That’s the sweet spot.
- Don’t be afraid to repost other sources. Engaging with others, after all, is the point of social media.
- Engage, engage, engage. Answer every question. Address speciﬁc comments. Like and talk about posts. Higher engagement means more interaction and greater visibility.
One of the best ways to add credibility to your product is by supplementing your content strategy with case studies. Similar to a whitepaper in that it usually offers a fair number of speciﬁcs on how a company overcame a problem using your product, a case study is far more focused on the actual story behind the success.
Where Do Case Studies Fit into Your Marketing Funnel?
Case studies are best utilized in the middle of your funnel when the customer is focused on ﬁnding a solution rather than learning more about the problem. The more your customers can relate to the focus of the case study, the easier they’ll move along to the later stages of the funnel.
Tips for Credibility-Building Case Studies
Case studies can be tricky to master. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.
- Adopt a narrative voice to help with the storytelling but remember to keep things professional.
- Don’t go overboard with the length or details. Case studies should be short (2-3 pages) but packed with a solid amount of detail as well.
- Be sure to include direct customer quotes as well as photos, illustrations, and design elements to make the document more attractive and effective.
Video is undeniably taking over as the king of content. In fact, CISCO predicts that by 2020, more than 80% of all internet trafﬁc from consumers will be from video alone. And if your inbound marketing strategy isn’t already taking advantage of this brave new medium, you’re losing out.
Some of the beneﬁts of video marketing are that it’s far easier to consume than a lengthy blog post, it can incorporate visual appeal (thus attracting even more leads), and it can now be paired with a host of lead-nurturing features like dynamic CTAs, embedded share links, and more.
Where Does Video Marketing Fit into Your Marketing Funnel?
While it’s most often used in the early stages of the marketing funnel to bring in new leads, video marketing can also be used to communicate customer testimonials, conduct highly detailed webinars, and showcase speciﬁc product offerings as well.
As a result, companies can and are using video almost everywhere in the buyer’s journey.
Tips for Compelling Video Marketing
Video has never been more of an essential part of content strategy. The tips below will help you create video that attracts and resonates.
- Tackle a highly speciﬁc question as that’s often why people seek out video content in the ﬁrst place.
- Add some color. Visual appeal is one of the biggest beneﬁts of video marketing so be sure to take advantage of that fact.
- Personality is key here. Nothing makes people want to change the channel more than being bored senseless.
Traditionally, email marketing was thought of as just another way of promoting products. However, the modern (and most beneﬁcial) email marketing deﬁnition to build your campaign around is "a means of building relationships with potential customers via email."
The distinction is a crucial one. Email marketing is no longer just about peddling your wares to unsuspecting recipients – it’s about creating a connection with your audience and building rapport. And given the expanding global market for nearly all services, customer experience is poised to become the main differentiating factor (more so than both price and product) between prospects that convert and those that walk away.
Where Does Email Marketing Fit into Your Marketing Funnel?
While email marketing can be great in nearly any stage, it might be better to think of it as a method of guiding your audience through the funnel rather than solely as a type of deliverable content. It’s the avenue through which you pass on relevant content, maintain the relationship, and guide them to other information that can usher them further down the buyer’s journey.
Tactful & Tactical Tips for Email Marketing
The ability to speak directly to your customer is incredibly valuable. Here’s how to take full advantage without causing sky-high unsubscribes.
- Have a clear call to action with each email.
- Don’t oversell – getting pushy too early in the relationship can jeopardize it permanently. Instead, link out to valuable content you think your audience would actually enjoy.
- A/B test everything – subject lines, body copy, even sign-offs. Snappier copy means little room for error.
INBOUND MARKETING MADE EASY WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS
The future of digital marketing is clearly inbound. It helps boost brand awareness, creates more loyal customers, and has an ROI that would drop the jaws of marketers a few decades ago. But all of these beneﬁts can only be realized by building a comprehensive and well-planned strategy that takes full advantage of the content marketing tools at your disposal.
With the tips and strategies outlined in this guide, you can rest assured that you’ll know just what type of content to use and, most importantly, how to use it to its full potential.