If you’ve dabbled around the internet for longer than five minutes, you’ve probably read or heard this statement at least once. It’s one of the few buzz phrases that deserves to stick around, because it’s emphatically true.
Any step onto the trail of Inbound Marketing should be taken with the knowledge that quality content is crucial to success. Content is an important part of many areas of your Inbound Marketing. In this blog, we are going to share specifically about content on your site, as well as best practices when it comes to all the content you create and share.
What Do We Mean By Content?
When you hear the word “content,” your first thought is probably words. And that would be correct. But content can also come in the form of photos, videos and graphics. Because there are so many mediums available for your content, let’s try to focus what we mean.
By content, we mean the message you have for your audience. In order to be successful, this message must be valuable, helpful, and engaging.
Here are some examples of content that you might share in your Inbound Marketing:
- The copy on your website
- A video tutorial explaining how to use your product
- A blog series that addresses problems your customer has
- An eBook explaining an aspect your product or service
- An infographic with statistics on how your product performs against competition
- A set of photos showing your product or service in use
The important thing to stress is that your content must be valuable and helpful. Anything else isn’t worth your time or your customer’s.
Any content that isn't valuable or helpful isn't worth your time or your customer's time.
Your website serves as your online “home base”. It’s the biggest piece of online real estate that you actually own. This means that the copy on your website is critical, and should be done well.
The guidelines we share below for content still apply. Here are best practices to keep in mind when it comes to writing the words people will read on your site:
- Be clear and concise. Make it as easy as possible for people to find and understand the information you’re sharing.
- Use keywords intentionally, not obnoxiously. Use the words your audience is searching for, but don’t abuse them by trying to stuff them in every sentence.
- Photos, Graphics, and Videos are content too. The images used on your site need to be high quality and valuable. They should catch the reader’s eye and encourage them to stay on your site.
- Design still matters. While a great design can never cover up poor content, the visual appeal of your site is the best way to make sure people want to stay on it long enough to learn about your business.
Now that we’ve addressed content for your website, let’s look at your content for your Inbound Marketing.
What Should Influence Your Content?
We know we sound like a broken record, but go ahead and humor us on this. Any guesses as to what should always influence your content strategy?
If you said Buyer Personas, you deserve a badge. Wear it proudly.
Buyer Personas should be the obsession of every business. Knowing your ideal customer inside and out is critical in Inbound Marketing (and in business, for that matter). When you know your Buyer Personas thoroughly, you know the problems and issues they face. You know what they care about, what would make them interested in your business, and what holds their trust..
So, how do your Buyer Personas influence you content?
Your inspiration for what you share should come from what your customers want to know, care about, are interested in, and problems they want solved.
The other thing to think about when it comes to your customers? Their place in the Buyer’s Journey. Knowing the buyer’s stage your customer is in will allow you to know what kind of content he or she wants and needs.
Your inspiration for content should come from what your customers want to know, care about, are interested in, and need solved.
What Goes Into Remarkable Content?
When creating content, it can feel as if there’s a fine line to walk between being true to yourself and being true to your buyers. This is why it’s important to do your homework in these two ways:
- Know yourself. Know what your brand is, and what it isn’t.
- Know your buyers. Know your customers as well as you know yourself, and you’ll be just fine.
With these two things in mind, here are few best practices when it comes to sharing content.
There’s a reason Ernest Hemingway was so popular. Part of it had to do with the fact that the man was a genius at getting to the point. Seth Godin has won our hearts for his ability to say what needs to be said in as few sentences as possible.
We appreciate conciseness. And in a world where most people are viewing your content through the five inch screen of their iPhone, they appreciate it.
The takeaway: less is more when it comes to your content.
This is the beauty of Inbound Marketing: people come to you because they want to. How do you reach the place where people want to come to you? Be valuable. Be so valuable that they can’t help but want to come to you again and again. And how do you become that valuable? We’re glad you asked.
Make It Informational First, and Beautiful Second
It’s impossible to ignore the importance of visual appeal. But when it comes to your content, the only way to accomplish the value we mentioned above is by focusing on providing valuable information.
If the content you’re sharing is not valuable, educational, and helpful to your buyers, it won’t matter how pretty it is. No one will want to look at it because it doesn’t meet their needs or desires.
We want to stress here that we’re not saying that content shouldn’t be visually appealing. Design is important. We’re just stressing that it has to take a backseat to relevance and value.
What is the Process for Creating Content?
Now that you know best practices for creating content, let’s look at the process.
“Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
Planning is a necessary component to success, and this includes your content strategy. Before you begin creating content, go back to what you know your buyers want to know. Create topics that address their questions and problems.
Once you know the topics you want to share, think about the purpose and format. If your topic involves troubleshooting how to use your medical device, you may want to share videos and user guides to help educate your audience.If your topic involves a comparison of your service to your competitor’s, a graphic might be your best choice.
The best plans are those that are written down. Write out the topics you want to cover, the purpose they need to serve, and the best format to accomplish this.
Create (Gather, Execute, Revise)
Once you’ve laid out your plans, it’s time to get to work. The process of creating involves gathering what you need (sources, photos, graphics, etc.), executing the content (actually writing, designing, filming it), and then revising as necessary. If you post a new website page, blog post, or graphic without first giving it a once over and having at least one other set of eyes on it, you set yourself up for mistakes that could cost you.
After revising your content to make sure it’s as polished as possible, it’s time to share it. The means available to do this are incredible: post it to social platforms, blog about it, adapt it into a slideshare, turn it to a video, email it to your followers, text it to your audience...the list could go on. Evaluate the best platform for reaching your audience and distribute it there.
The point is to share respectfully, but also be willing to share something that is remarkable.
Numbers don’t lie. They might confuse you, but they don’t lie. This means you need to measure the response people have to the content you share. How many leads did it generate? How was it received? Was it shared? Analyze your efforts to see what went wrong and what went right. Then, do more of what works and come up with ways to change what didn’t go so well.
As with your favorite bottle of shampoo, the key to success is in your consistency. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. The more you discipline yourself in the habit of creating remarkable content, the more you will see your field of dreams come alive. When you rigorously plan, create, share, analyze, and repeat, they will come.
And they will keep coming back.