How’s that for a head-scratcher of a headline? Another way to state it would be that “... the Answer is Answers.” What I’m getting at is that at the end of the day, the primary reason visitors come to your website is to get their questions answered. “Can it do what I need it to do?” “Is it as cool as it looks in the ad?” “Does it come with a warranty?” “How much does it cost?”
Well, we’re smack dab in the middle of the entertainment industry’s awards season. The Golden Globes have been handed out, the Screen Actors Guild Awards have been presented, and the Academy Awards are just ahead. And while winners of the annual Content Marketing Awards (CMAs) won’t be named until September, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has just announced its “call for entries.”
While I wasn't watching, something wonderful happened at 30dps—we went from being a local marketing and advertising agency/web design firm here in Colorado Springs, to being a national boutique marketing agency that specializes in inbound and content marketing, growth-driven website design, and HubSpot integration. While we still serve an occasional client here in Colorado Springs (and count ourselves fortunate to do so), increasingly our clients are in the Denver/Boulder area and cities all across the country.
I love people, so I'm still a sucker for face-to-face meetings. But the truth of the matter is that with tools like GoToMeeting and Webex, you can still have a lot of the personal touch you enjoy about meeting in person with your long-distance customers. With the convenience and reduction in cost associated with virtual meetings, they have become a very compelling way to conduct daily business. I have worried in the past that we might lose the human connection that comes from the face-to-face. But with an occasional use of video conferencing, we seem to maintain the personal, high-touch relationships that we so much believe in, and seem to lose very little in the process.
One of the core elements of inbound marketing is the thoughtful, constructive, and strategic use of keywords. Keywords are first and foremost the words or phrases that users enter into search engines when they are attempting to find information or a company's website they are interested in. Understanding keywords and how they are used is critically important to any inbound marketing effort. Because these words and expressions are a reflection of interest on the part of the searcher, they are also critical to search engines' logic, and must therefore be a critical element of the inbound marketer's strategy.
If you’ve been involved in marketing for more than a few years, you were probably taught to always focus on solutions. Keep it light! Keep it upbeat! Don’t ever have a “negative lead” in your copy. Well, my friend, the times are changing. What marketers have come to understand in recent years is that today’s prospects don’t want their business challenges sugarcoated. What they want is to have their problems solved.
When it comes to creating or updating a website, companies not surprisingly tend to focus their time and attention on product pages and specialized landing pages. That’s good, because those areas are important. However, they often do so at the expense of other critical pages. One in particular that they often overlook is their About Us page.
Having written on the merits of inbound and content marketing many times, and the importance of truly committing to it, there is one clear risk that we are seeing evidence of that needs to be pointed out. With success, which can be clear and significant—especially if you're in a market niche in which your competitors are not competing for content attention—comes a temptation to say "This has been great! Our search engine placement is high. Our leads are coming in. Sales are making steady progress. We've got a lot of great content out there now, so... I think we can back off on the production and promotion of content now."
Don't get me wrong. I get it. We feel the same temptation ourselves. But here's the deal; content shock (an expression coined by author and marketing guru Mark Schaefer) is real, and the blog content that is choking some markets may well be headed your way soon. If you've been seeing positive results from your inbound marketing and content marketing efforts, it's extremely likely that your competition has noticed. If they are smart (and it's always unwise to assume they aren't) they will likely realize what is propelling your success. And that means that they are extremely likely to crank up the content engine themselves. When they do, that may mean doom for the success you've been enjoying.
As I’ve said many times (in blog posts, in client meetings, pretty much anywhere people will listen), content marketing success doesn’t come from simply executing certain tactics or following specific strategies. To be successful at content marketing, you have to rethink the way you interact with your prospects. You must create a new relationship focused on what you can provide them with rather than what you can get from them. In short, you have to establish a new kind of marketing culture.
When we truly committed to inbound marketing, the difference was profound. We'd been talking the talk for a long time, and we're certainly believers in content marketing, but we'd never really walked the walk. The data supporting a move to inbound is pretty compelling. For most small to medium-sized businesses, and many large businesses, inbound marketing should be a huge part of the marketing mix, or even the cornerstone around which marketing strategies are built. The worst thing you can do however, is to merely pay lip service to inbound marketing, because an inbound strategy that lacks commitment is a high-risk proposition. Here are the top five risks associated with a failure to commit to inbound marketing.
There is little doubt that outbound marketing is still an effective tool, especially for big national brands with huge marketing budgets. Even for certain types of small to medium-sized businesses, outbound marketing can be an important tool for getting the word out. But there is little question today, that for many types of businesses, inbound marketing pays significantly higher dividends than more traditional outbound marketing. Here are five clear ways that inbound takes the prize.
For a recent blog post, HubSpot (with whom we are a certified agency partner) combed through a number of insightful reports on inbound marketing, content marketing, social media, and online behavior. As they did, they extracted and shared more than 40 statistics related to the use of visuals in content marketing.
Yes, I know… people groan when they hear others talking about New Year’s resolutions. I admit, sometimes I do too. But, it occurs to me that if you dig in your heels and refuse to make some positive resolutions, you are, by default, making some negative ones. “We will not take steps to improve our content marketing.” “We will not increase traffic to our website or capture more leads.” And if that’s the case, you can probably count on achieving one more resolution: “We will not exceed our sales goals for the year ahead.”
It's true that social media continues to be an asset to marketers every day. Current trends project social media to be viable for marketers for an indefinite period of time. Let's face the facts, social media isn't going anywhere, and if you're not utilizing social, you are not maximizing your potential gain. It's time to get on board and start creating effective marketing campaigns.
Every once in a while we are approached by someone who actually says something like, "I'm really not into all of this social media jazz, but I know we probably need to start doing more of it. So we've been thinking... can you help us develop a [fill in the blank] that will go viral?" To which, I of course, always respond with, "Why of course! We'll get right on that!"
As a sign that content marketing has come of age, you’ll find that there are now awards—handed out by any number of entities—for the best marketing content. And if you look at the winning entries in any of these competitions, you’ll find that they all have one common denominator: the hard work it took to create them. In content marketing as in life, it seems, one of the core principles is “no pain, no gain.”
As I sat considering what kind of blog post to write this week before Christmas, I decided that I'd once again share one of the most meaningful pieces of advice I've ever heard. This tidbit comes from the legendary Zig Ziglar, who was (and is) an important figure and an ongoing encourager in my life. His constant refrain throughout much of his literature, video, and audio recordings was, "You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want." I can think of no better time of year to ponder the wants and needs of others than the season in which many of us are considering the gifts we'd like to give to others.
When we talk with prospects about the value of content marketing, most do seem to appreciate how it MIGHT work for some folks. But there is a natural resistance to trying new things, especially if you aren't convinced that the new thing is actually doable. In our experience, the following five things tend to be the biggest sticking points for those wrestling with whether they have what it takes to commit to content marketing.
In order for your content marketing program to produce the uninterrupted stream of high quality content it needs to attract, engage, and inform your target audience, there are many tasks that must be tended to. And as we all know, if those tasks aren’t clearly and specifically the responsibility of a particular role, it can be very easy for them to fall through the cracks. Consequently, it’s important that your content marketing “org chart” includes certain key positions.
As much as we talk about the details and inner workings of inbound marketing, we sometimes fail to clarify WHY we are such big proponents. We have discussed the different elements of inbound and content marketing, and hopefully shed some light on the pitfalls and challenges. But here are four reasons why we LOVE inbound marketing and content marketing:
As the year comes slowly to a close, it's important to reflect on our year and work hard to learn from our marketing mistakes. Everyone wants to kick off the new year with a good, solid strategy, and IF this is your goal, you have to really look at the fundamentals of your inbound marketing plan. Aside from making sure you have stellar content, you should also take an in depth look at your social media presence.
Social media is one of the most difficult aspects of marketing in general due largely to the fact that it's an ever evolving beast in and of itself. Everybody makes mistakes on social media. It's part of life! Here are the six largest blunders that many involved with social media marketing are making regularly and what you can do about it.