[This article was originally published in February 2019 and has been updated and revised.]
One of the most common challenges facing any business engaged in a digital marketing strategy is the need for inbound content marketing.
That means publishing valuable content that educates and engages your prospects. This type of content is critical for an effective inbound marketing strategy. And any business can do it!
Inbound Content Marketing Isn't Like 'Old School' Marketing
There was a time when most all "marketing" was based on advertising. In fact, for most of us as consumers, if we were asked we would have said that marketing was advertising. The problem with that "old school" approach is that most people don't care for ads and most of us don't like being "sold to."
Today, we refer to that approach as "outbound" marketing and recognize that, while this approach involves more than paid ads, it is still experienced largely as such.
In stark contrast to outbound tactics is what we today call "inbound" marketing. And one of the core components of this approach is online or digital content. So, what exactly is inbound marketing? And what is the "content" in inbound content marketing?
Inbound Content Marketing: No More 'Disruptions'
We describe inbound marketing as the creation of relevant, valuable content designed to be discovered organically. In other words, when your prospects or audience is online shopping, researching, reading, or checking their email.
In contrast, outbound marketing is involves disrupting a prospect's experience watching TV, listening to the radio, reading a magazine, or even driving down the highway (think billboards!)
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, typically employs the publishing of useful content such as blog articles, email newsletters, social media posts to attract a prospects’ attention. This online content is then discovered through organic search results thanks to search engine optimization (SEO), as well as by word of mouth, social media shares, and other online channels that don’t disrupt a user’s overall experience.
Okay, time for some full disclosure. The content marketing model is not a new one.
While we think of outbound marketing (namely paid ads) as "old school" the truth is that newspapers, magazines and news outlets have been utilizing the effectiveness of useful and relevant content for hundreds of years.
"But I don't run a newspaper!" you might say. True enough, but even a local HVAC shop or retail store, for example, can effectively use inbound content marketing strategies to drive traffic to their website or their brick-and-mortar location. In fact, if you are already posting content on your company blog or emailing newsletters to your audience, you're engaged in forms of "inbound content marketing."
So, a good question to ask at this point might be, "What is good inbound content marketing?"
Stop the Presses! Creating Content Consistently
One of the cardinal rules of content marketing is that your published content should be regular and consistent. Spotty, random, or just occasional blog posts or other content uploads can create a perception that your brand lacks focus or intent. And it also fails to attract and keep return visitors.
Ideally, your brand - your business - should be producing a variety of online content on a regular basis. While we may only work during business hours, the Internet is open 24/7, as is all social media platforms, email, and numerous other channels for content consumption.
And it is quite likely that your prospects and your audience will be there to find, see, or look for your content any time of day, any day of the week.
While the impact and traffic driving capacity of great content is powerful and seemingly free to produce, that's only partly true. Good inbound content marketing is powerful. And if you write and create ALL of your own content then you could possibly argue that it is a "no-cost" process.
Except the cost of your time.
And time is money.
Especially if you're the business owner. Because your time is one of the most valuable assets and resources your business has, it must be prioritized. And even if you hand it off to someone like your social media-savvy receptionist or your marketing manager, assuming you have one, inbound content marketing done right is still a time-consuming process.
Which is why many businesses opt to outsource this type of work to a good inbound marketing agency. And, while we certainly endorse that approach, if you really want to have your own hand in the pot, so to speak, there are other options for feeding the voracious content-creation beast!
Inbound Content Marketing as a Group Effort
Okay, so maybe that's a bit hokey, but implementing a team for your content creation efforts can benefit your business in a number of ways.
For one, it helps position your employees as "niche experts" in your business. In other words, they know what you do, how you do it, and why. And - if you've trained them properly - they also have an intimate understanding of your customers who are representative of your ideal target marketing audience.
By giving them the proper tools, resources, and direction, your staff can expand the reach of your content marketing simply by sharing updates, industry insights, and even their own work-related experiences on your business social media profiles or blog articles, as well as other medium such as short-form video.
This can be both "formal" content that is assigned and delegated and "informal" content that your employees choose to post on their own schedules.
LinkedIn, for example, offers a great platform for this type of content contribution on their LinkedIn Pages function. As the social media platform itself points out,
"Employees typically have 10x the social reach of their company. Share your employees’ best posts on LinkedIn, and leverage their networks and their voice to build a connection to your brand. You can also share your best member mentions on LinkedIn."
Again, this works best when done within the plan of an inbound content marketing strategy. This means having a content sharing plan and process in place. But the most important element is the engagement of your employees with the end result of employee-generated content.
Another powerful and "value-added" benefit can come from the process of encouraging your employees to create and share their passions and expertise with various types of content.
And, according to a piece from Marketing Insider Group,
"This shows your employees they are valued, giving them more confidence to express their own personal ingenuity at work, which in turn, reflects on the level of customer service, sales and marketing, and even the quality of the products or services offered by your company."
Leveraging the power and reach of social media platforms and other channels using employee-generated content is not only a strategic approach to content creation, it allows for delegation that fosters greater value in return.
Business Blogging Doesn't Have to Mean "Slogging"
Although your company's business blog should not be your only form of content, it can and probably will be the foundational content platform of your inbound marketing strategy. Consequently, great care and effort should be put into your blog.
So, the oft-asked question: "How often should I publish blog posts?"
Generally speaking, the more often you publish, the more opportunities you have of driving traffic. In fact, research from HubSpot has shown that companies who blog 3 to 5 times a month, or weekly, typically see twice the web traffic than those who don’t blog at all or less than once per month.
In addition, B2B businesses that blog more than 11 times per month generate three times more traffic than those blogging only once per month.
And if you're wondering, yes, more posts can result in even greater returns in web traffic and better SEO results.
But who's going to crank out all of those high-quality, relevant blog posts every month? Once again, your staff of in-house experts can be a great source for regular blog posts provided you have a clear strategy and plan in place to facilitate it.
The takeaway here should be: Yes, you can (and perhaps should) outsource the bulk of your content marketing work, but you can benefit greatly by "in-sourcing" and delegating much of the content creation to your own employees.
Getting Help with Your Inbound Content Marketing
Inbound content marketing is a powerful strategy for boosting traffic to your business - both online and in-person - but you don't have to do it alone nor master it yourself. You can get professional help. The reality of inbound content marketing is that, while it incredibly powerful and cost-effective, achieving your marketing objectives does take time.
It won't just happen with some blog posts published a few times a year or other great content you put out there only once in a while. Your audience and prospects will need to consume your content for a while before they'll contact you. But without that great content out there online compelling them to do so, your inbound content marketing goals may never be met.
The good news is that you don't have to figure it out alone. In fact, one of the best investments you can make with your marketing budget is to partner with an expert inbound marketing firm like BroadVision Marketing.
Click this link to get your free Complimentary Inbound Marketing Session so you can make an informed decision, or call BroadVision Marketing at 707-799-1238.