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.
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.
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.”
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.
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:
When used well, inbound marketing is a strategy that can deliver outstanding results—especially for those companies that have the wisdom and the patience to watch it mature and blossom. However, there are a number of pitfalls that can leave you spinning your wheels and not taking full advantage of all that content marketing has to offer. Understanding what these pitfalls are and how to avoid them is critically important.
Throughout our many years in the marketing industry, we have often observed that instead of keeping a focus on marketing, year-in-year-out, many business owners and executives wait until they have begun to feel the pinch of financial stress or a decline in sales leads before they start focusing on marketing. And, of course, when finances are in really bad shape, marketing seems to be the first budget item cut.
We are firm believers in inbound marketing and the powerful affect content marketing can have on a business. But unlike a 20% off coupon or clever ad campaign that might drive a short-term, albeit unprofitable, spike in sales; inbound marketing, driven by content marketing, is a long-term strategy that requires a degree of patience.
The content you produce to feed your inbound marketing program must be of the highest quality. This is simply non-negotiable. But if you can create outstanding content more rapidly, you are not only increasing your output but cutting costs as well. Like any improvement you want to make in life, getting better at content creation requires focus and effort. But with that commitment, there’s no reason you can’t start cranking out material twice as fast as you are now.
In content marketing, as in life, sometimes you’re cruising along in great shape and suddenly you find yourself in a slump. And if you’re using a marketing automation tool like HubSpot, the analytics it provides may confirm that fact for you. The materials you’re putting out just aren’t as inspired as they used to be, and consumption is down as a result. Fear not. There are ways to get you back on top of your game.
As traditional publishers like trade journals, magazines, newspapers, etc. have continued to struggle to preserve their place in the world post-internet, more and more have turned to native advertising to fill the gap resulting from decreased distribution and faltering traditional ad revenues. Native advertising largely resulted from these publishers' realization that the effectiveness of interruption-based advertising was demonstrably in decline, and that consumers were increasingly looking for non-salesy information as they did their research and made purchasing decisions.
In an effort to save their publications from financial ruin,they are now offering their publishing platforms (whether print or digital) to help advertisers get their word out in a format that is more palatable to consumers. While they may at times offer to provide partial or full authorship of this content, typically they rely upon the advertiser to produce the content that they will then publish. This can indeed be good news for content marketers as it offers one additional platform for disseminating their content. However, don't kid yourself, native advertising is NOT content marketing.