Inbound Marketing: Invest in content to generate leads
I was digging through last year’s Wisdom Report and found a great quote supporting some recent research I’ve done on inbound marketing. (Today is the deadline to submit to this year’s Wisdom Report. Take a look. It only takes a couple minutes and is totally free.)
Jon Miller, VP, Marketing, Marketo, told us last year that although marketing budgets are in a 10-year shift out of brand advertising and into more measurable channels, he recently saw an uptick in brand-building tactics.
“Instead of mass advertising, today we are investing more in smart ways to build brand such as in social media, search engine optimization, and content marketing,” he said.
‘You need to take baby steps’
Miller’s advice was for marketers to take a portion of their budgets normally spent on trade shows and list purchases and to use it to hire writers to publish and promote content.
“By getting your company’s expertise out there, you create broad awareness and affinity for your brand. Those investments will turn into leads, but they will be very early stage leads. So don’t just send them to sales: be sure to score them to identify the best ones, and nurture and develop the rest with more great content and thought leadership,” Miller said.
This strikes a close resemblance to a conversation I recently had with Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute. Pulizzi noted that a well-planned content marketing strategy can achieve a range of goals — including lead generation. However, marketers just starting out should start small.
“Just because you have a content-marketing focus does not mean that you stop doing traditional media,” Pulizzi says. “Good content marketing takes time. If you completely shut of your other channels, someone is going to get fired. You need to take baby steps… I would never say ‘kill your advertising’ because in a lot of cases it works — it just works differently.”
Make a serious commitment
Taking ‘baby steps’ helps avoid marketing disasters — but you also need a serious commitment for any chance at success. Using high-quality content to attract leads is a strategy that takes time and effort.
Writing one blog post per week and spending 10 minutes per day in social networks is not likely to bear much fruit. Instead, you should set concrete marketing goals and select the best tactics to achieve them. Then you must regularly publish the high-quality content that your audience needs most — whether it’s a series of how-to videos, an e-book series, or something else.
Content creation can be expensive in terms of dollars and time spent — and some tactics are better than others. Here are the most effective tactics for creating content, as reported in MarketingSherpa’s 2011 B2B Benchmark Report:
1. Repurpose and reformat existing content: 64% of respondents
2. Encourage customers to submit testimonials and case studies: 53%
3. Recruit authors internally: 48%
4. Outsource to a consultant or agency: 27%
5. Use social media to encourage brand advocates to produce content: 20%
Creating compelling content is never easy — but more marketers are finding that it is helping them fortify their brands’ credibility and attract prospective customers. Take a look at your budget and schedule for 2011 and see if your team can find the time to give your audience the content it’s looking for.