The content you create is aimed at addressing the questions your buyers have. It could be directed at those initial questions they are typing into Google or Bing, or it could be more content aimed at addressing questions buyers have when they’re further along on their journeys, such as why they should choose your solution over your competitor’s, or why should they act now rather than at some later time.
Also, you may create content that frames the problem in a new or different way ‒ one which is more favorable to the solution you offer.
A personal example comes from my days marketing a startup making electric vehicle charging stations. We felt confident positioning our charging station as the smart networking option for our buyers, who were local governments. Then, out of the blue, a competitor who did not have a smart solution changed the conversation to talking about the need for retractable charging cables that would prevent people from tripping or getting their hands dirty. The result was that those local agencies started requiring cable management in their RFPs.
Channels to Turn on Your Inbound Strategy
So, you’ve created a lot of great content that really speaks to your buyers throughout their journey. Great! Now what?
Well, this is where your Inbound Strategy is going to need some help from Outbound Marketing Tactics because, as the cliché goes, if a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it …
You need to activate some promotion to help get that great content seen and heard by your target audience. And this is for several reasons. First, Google and the other search engines may have indexed your website and seen that you have Content X that addresses a specific question being asked by your buyer, but they’re giving preference to other, similar content that’s getting traffic, engagement on the site, links, social shares, and mentions throughout the web. As a result of this ‒ and because you’re not the only one attempting an inbound strategy ‒there is a ton of great content being pushed out into the world.
I can’t say what channel or type of promotion is best for you. But, if you’ve done the legwork of building a robust buyer persona, you should have a pretty good sense of the channels your audience is using, whether that is LinkedIn, Facebook, syndication, PPC advertising, or some other vehicle.
What we will recommend is that you test which channels are working best for you ‒ and then test them again and again.
“One of the tactics that I’ve seen work very, very well is, at the end of any given quarter or the time period you’re measuring, look at where your lowest-performing channel was and reallocate that budget to your highest-performing channel,” Bosley said. “That way you’re constantly improving, dropping the dead weight, and maximizing those channels that work best for you.”
Nurture and Convert
What happens when folks do get to your website and want to access that great content you’ve created for them?
Well, you’re hoping they read your value-filled blog post and then click “buy.” But I’m guessing that, for most of us, it’s going to be a longer cycle, which is one of the reasons you may want to gate that content so you can begin to identify and nurture your prospective buyer until they’re ready to convert.
Gating content has its advocates and opponents. I’m an advocate ‒ as long as you’re providing real value in exchange for the visitor’s name and other information.
“When we’ve developed good content for our audience, content that’s designed to help them, that content has intrinsic value,” Bosley said. “And that’s the type of content that people will trade their information for so that they can gain access to that resource. It’s commerce, like anything else. The price of admission is your information. And if I believe that I have a problem and you have a solution that’s sitting behind that gate, I’m absolutely making that trade.”
Once you’ve made that initial exchange of identify for content, you should next segment those buyers so that your future conversations with them remain meaningful and valuable. This could be characterizing them by where they are in the buying journey, or by their persona type, such as CMO or decision maker, and so forth.
Next, you’ll want to create automated nurture programs that deliver your content to these prospects based on their engagement. For example, they originally downloaded your eBook on creating a high-performance marketing plan. A week or two later, you may want to invite them to watch an on-demand webinar on a related topic. And, if they watched the video, you may invite them to check out the next piece of content in their journey, such as a data sheet comparing various marketing automation platforms.
As your ideal buyer continues to engage with you and your content, you’ll start to have a conversation about converting to a sale. This could be as simple as your buyer clicking on a “buy-me” button on your website, but, more likely, it will be engaging your sales team to reach out and connect with them.
The good news is that those actions are going to be welcomed by your buyers because you’ve already had conversations built upon an inbound strategy for a targeted, specific buyer with value-added content made just for them.