2.73 million blog posts are written on a daily basis
The inbound methodology is based on the premise that creating high quality content that attracts, educates and informs your prospect will result in lead generation and an uptick in your marketing ROI.
And it is true, to a point.
However, 2.73 million blog posts are written every single day! Social media marketing is getting tougher to navigate, even as more businesses are adopting inbound marketing and recognizing its effectiveness. Unless your small business is fortunate enough to be prospecting in a niche market that is still in a content deficit, your dilemma is not how to get enough content onto the internet.
Your biggest challenge is to make your content stand out from the social media clutter and drive traffic. Actual eyeballs.
To do this, you will need to employ some additional marketing strategies
Become an expert in content promotion. This means you will need to research the best channels for each piece of your content. Yes, you will want to promote your new content on the standard LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook channels. But also consider content syndication, recommendation services, strategic placement on external sites, guest blogging and more.
Kissmetrics has published an excellent blog on novel ways to promote your new piece of content. One so-obvious tip that I have overlooked so far is to put links to new content on your most popular old content. While I will often link back to relevant posts in our blog archive, I hadn’t thought about forward-directing links before.
Consider some paid promotion to boost your traffic counts. With an appropriate native ad placement or ppc campaign, you can target your ideal prospects quickly and cleanly. Especially if your content marketing strategy is fairly new or your business is operating in a crowded niche, this can be an effective use of your marketing budget.
High Quality Content
It has been said ad nauseum in marketing circles, but your content needs to showcase the same high quality you exhibit in your business. Not just any content will drive the marketing ROI you are looking for.
In many instances, the search for high quality content will lead you to hire experts in various fields: writers, video scripters, video producers, graphic artists to develop infographics and visual appeal.
In a 2013 copywriting survey by UK-based content marketing firm Sticky Content, two-thirds of respondents reported that product managers and marketing do the majority of the digital writing in the business. They are already juggling so many balls, the time and effort they devote to crafting copy is decreasing. This will lead forward-thinking marketers to seek out either experienced content writers or outsource writing to agencies or marketplaces that specialize in writing or creating content. http://blog.visual.ly/five-b2b-marketing-trends-2015/
Working with skilled freelancers extends the reach of your marketing team and gives you access to their specialized skill sets without the drawbacks associated with hiring additional staff. While it can feel intimidating to work with creative professionals, remember that their job is to implement your brand story. Develop a smooth process to write in-depth creative briefs for each of these external team members. The more information you provide to them, the more they will be able to align their final product with your marketing goals. Include your target buyer persona, your marketing goals and any documentation your writing team needs to create your content.
High Quality Delivery Systems
When trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace, you will want to look at your content delivery systems. Are you only creating blog posts? Consider adding video to your mix. You could create “webcam” style videos, explainer motion graphic videos or high-end production videos. Repackage a series of blog posts into an in-depth ebook or white paper to use as a premium content offer. Create infographics to simplify complex data. And go beyond the standard PDF when thinking about how to deliver your content to your readers. There are programs that can convert a PDF to a flipping book style, or add hyperlinks and animations to your content. For an in-depth discussion of this topic, read Next-Level Content Marketing by Ted Box. I can guarantee by the time you have reached the third chapter you will be thinking about new content delivery systems.
Flexible Circular Sales Process
We are accustomed to thinking about the buyer’s journey as a traditional sales funnel. At the top, we create content that is designed to attract new prospects. As they move deeper in the funnel, the theory goes, we deepen the content and engagement with the prospect until they finally reach their moment of decision.
However, we might be better served to realize that no buyer’s journey is precisely the same as another. The process is far messier, circular and flexible than that. You could have a prospect engage with one page of your website and realize you are the company they have been searching for. It happens. You could also have a prospect read every piece of information you ever published before deciding to wait a month longer before contacting you. Create multiple “onramps” and “final destinations” for these prospects who wish to engage with your content in the manner they prefer, and then nurture your slow movers with drip campaigns and content designed to keep them engaged with you.
Customer Service and Follow-up
Even in the transition to our digital economy, there are some basic business practices that can lift you above the competition. Customer service and prompt follow-up are two of these. Just because a customer contacts you digitally, you do not have the option to delay your response or — far worse — not respond. One marketing company reported in a survey that an astounding 51% of inbound inquiries are never contacted!
[We have] conducted extensive research on short- and long-term B2B buying patterns. One of the most striking conclusions is that the number of qualified prospects that will buy short-term is matched by an equal number who will buy, either from you or a competitor, downstream. This is why nurturing your prospect database is such a valuable activity. This means that you must follow-up not only when the lead first comes in (even though our research shows that 51.4% of inbound inquiries are not contacted), but also on a regular basis until that individual/company is ready to engage with you and buy something. http://customerthink.com/b2b-sales-and-marketing-trends-for-2015/
Social media presents an unparalleled opportunity to listen to what your prospects are saying about your company, your industry or the problems you solve. Take advantage of that opportunity and have a conversation with your prospect! Be helpful! Solve a problem for them even if there is no financial reward immediately evident. The companies who proactively tell their brand story in social media reap rewards of higher brand awareness and loyalty.
Follow Best Practices
Finally, when attempting to differentiate your small business from others in social media, remember to follow simple best practices.
- Use social media to develop a community, not promote yourself.
- Add value to every conversation. Retweet others, comment on articles, answer questions, promote partners.
- Discuss industry trends and events.
- Share your own business blog posts and invite discussions.
- Share interesting posts from others.
- Follow the 80-20 rule: spend 80% of your time building value and brand presence. Spend 20% of your time describing what you do. Make sure you include crystal clear CTA’s once in awhile!
- Analyze, analyze analyze. Make sure that you can see the ROI from your social media efforts and share the underlying analytics with your team! Analyze and repeat!
While we may have passed the heyday of picking the low-hanging inbound marketing fruit with easy content creation, small businesses today still have no choice when it comes to online and social media marketing. They need to be active. With a little added dose of creativity and patience combined with good analytics, inbound marketing is still the best strategy for small businesses to grow their organic reach and lead the conversation in their industry.
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