In order to run an effective inbound marketing campaign, a strong content marketing strategy is essential. Inbound marketing is all about putting yourself in a position for consumers to find you by allowing them to navigate the first part of the sales funnel on their own.
We've already discussed how to attract more leads to your website, but what do you need to do with them once they are there? It's time to capture their information.
To accomplish this, content is required to both attract consumers as well as to inform and assist them to the point that they are ready to seek guidance through the rest of their buyer's journey. The following will help provide you with a better understanding of how and why content is so important to an effective inbound marketing campaign.
The Value of Content
Good, relevant content has numerous purposes within an inbound marketing campaign. Your content can provide value to your brand by doing the following:
- Provide an opportunity for SEO - The ability to optimize your content for SEO can help to strengthen your website's standings on search engine results pages, such as Google's search page. This helps to increase visibility and draw more organic traffic to your content, traffic consisting of potential leads. Just consider this fact - companies with blogs draw 55 percent more web traffic than companies without them.
- Educate your visitors - Your content can be used to educate your visitors, not just in terms of the products and services you provide, but also in terms of providing helpful information or advice that is relevant to your brand in addition to identifying the pain points of your audience and providing solutions to their problems. By doing this, you can build trust for your brand among your readers.
- Build brand authority - The more high-quality content that you publish that's relevant to your industry, the stronger your reputation as an authority within that industry will grow. Stronger brand authority leads to more trust and loyalty among both consumers and businesses within your industry.
The Inbound Buyer Journey
When we talk about content along the inbound funnel, we are talking about a buyer journey. Before diving into how content fits in along the funnel, you should understand a buyer's motivations at each stage:
- Awareness Stage (Top of funnel): At this point, the prospect is experiencing symptoms of a problem, but is not yet sure what to call that problem. They are researching their 'symptoms' to understand more about them and put a name to the problem.
- Consideration Stage (Middle of funnel): The prospect defines their problem and is now looking for possible solutions for solving that problem.
- Decision Stage (Bottom of funnel): The prospect has identified the solution they'd like to pursue to solve their problem, but is now looking for the right vendors or products that align with that strategy. They are ready to purchase but need to decide from whom they will buy.
Now that you understand the motivations of the buyer, let's talk about where content comes in to accomplish your goal, which is to turn a website visitor into a sale:
Top of the Funnel Content
Goal: To attract the right visitors to your website and convert them into leads
Buyers who are at the top of the funnel are attempting to find a solution to their problem or to meet a specific need. Your content can help to attract buyers who are at the top of the funnel and to qualify them by doing the following:
- Provide a destination for search and social activity - There are two places where buyers will typically begin searching for a solution to their problem or a way to meet their need. The first is by using a search engine like Google. With high quality content that is properly optimized, you can position yourself to be highly visible during such searches. The second is via social media. By posting content on your social media channels and encouraging interaction with followers, you'll help to improve your brand's exposure through social activity.
- Educate visitors - Buyers will eventually make their way to your website. At this point, they may not be familiar with your brand and are simply doing research. Your content can help provide them with the information they need to determine if your product or service will be of use to them.
- Gateway to conversion - Blog content can help to convert buyers at the top of the funnel by leading them to download offers that are provided for free in return for joining an email list. Offer something valuable to your visitor, whether a guide, template, resource, coupon or other offer, to receive their contact information in return for that content.
Middle of the Funnel Content
Goal: To nurture leads with more information and build a relationship
While top of the funnel content is meant to help attract and inform potential buyers, middle of the funnel content helps to nurture those leads towards the end of their buyer journey by showing them why your products or services are the best choice. One of the most effective ways to nurture your leads is via a drip campaign.
A drip campaign involves automating your email marketing system to periodically send your leads content that is personalized to their specific needs - information that you gather from the opt-in form they filled out during the gateway to the conversion process. This content can be sent out automatically based on certain actions that they don on your website, such as downloading certain eBooks or whitepapers, or based on a time-based schedule.
HubSpot has a great article on a 3-email drip you should test out.
Bottom of the Funnel Content
Goal: To prompt leads to act and ultimately purchase
Once you've taken your leads through the middle of the sales funnel, it's time to take them through the bottom of the sales funnel by providing content that will help turn them into customers.
There are several ways that you can do this:
- Special Offer: Sometimes, all you need to do is send out a strategic offer based on the information you've collected on your lead, or the content they've read or interacted with. A couple examples of this include a free consultation or audit if you're a service provider, a free trial if you have a product or even some kind of discount code.
- Case Studies: For B2B businesses, case studies prove to your qualified leads that your product or service has successfully solved similar problems to the one that they have before. By allowing prospects to see how your product or service will meet their needs, you inspire more confidence in their decision to buy.
Referral Generation Content
The great thing about content marketing is that it doesn't just end after you've closed a sale. You can continue to use your email marketing and content as a way to deliver more relevant information to your customers. Your email newsletters will help to keep your brand visible - and the quality of your content can help turn your one-time customers into regular customers. Regular customers don't just provide more sales, they also refer your brand to friends and family, making them extremely valuable to your business.
As you can see, content marketing is absolutely essential to an effective B2B inbound marketing campaign. An effective inbound marketing campaign needs content not just to attract potential leads, but to guide buyers through every step of the sales funnel. Learn more here.