Engaging content plays an integral role in inbound marketing. It helps you stand out from the more than 4 million gigabytes of data Americans consume every minute. It works well with SEO, social media, and other digital resources to bring customers to your doorstep.
In times past, companies flooded potential consumers with ads and hoped for the best. However, this style of marketing isn’t nearly as effective as it used to be.
Consumers expect more from businesses than they did in times past. They also have more options than consumers of years gone by.
You have to earn customer respect and loyalty. Creating knowledgeable content is one of the best ways to do this. Helpful, engaging content shows you understand your industry and have the solutions your customers need.
Winning content also shows that you care primarily about consumers, not their wallets. It shows that you’re eager to help, but on their terms. Rather than chase people down, you make it easy for people to find you when they’re ready to make a purchase.
The Value of Content in Inbound Marketing
Content marketing and inbound marketing are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct differences. Inbound marketing encompasses content marketing but also includes audience growth, metrics, testing, and scaling.
To better understand this relationship, let’s use a tangible analogy. Think of inbound marketing as the foundation and frame of a building. It provides stability and functionality, much like the core principles of inbound marketing. On the other hand, content acts as the interior of the building, making it inviting and livable.
A quick recap on inbound marketing
Inbound marketing involves attracting customers by providing valuable, tailored content and experiences, allowing qualified leads to come to you instead of interrupting their lives. This strategy fosters meaningful relationships with prospects and existing customers, focusing on delivering value and empowerment.
The principles of inbound marketing include attracting the right audience, engaging on a personal level, and creating a delightful customer experience.
By meeting customers’ needs at the right moment, inbound marketing establishes trust, positions your brand as an authority, and stimulates positive word-of-mouth referrals, leading to sustainable growth.
Content is a package that inbound marketing delivers
Many content marketers have learned the hard way that content alone, without a clear conversion path, won’t lead to sales. People consume your content and move on without any further engagement.
Similarly, an inbound marketing strategy without the right types of content is like an empty shell. You may have mapped out the buyer’s journey and identified buyer personas, but without compelling content, it becomes challenging to engage and retain potential customers.
A well-defined content strategy acts as an invitation for people to stay and engage with your brand. It provides the context that potential customers are drawn to within your inbound marketing strategy.
In return, inbound marketing gives content direction, purpose, and measurable results, which are essential for any digital marketing department.
What Types of Content Should a Content Marketing Plan Include?
The beauty of content marketing is that it can include all sorts of content, including:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- White papers
- And even text messages
Sometimes a piece of content will stand on its own, but just as commonly, one asset will include many different types of content. For instance, you might include some graphs inside a blog post in order to make it easy for people to understand a trend.
Similarly, you may post a video but also include a text summary or transcript, so visitors can choose which type of content they prefer and have an easy way to refer back to a particular point.
Choosing the Right Type of Content for Your Goals
The best kind of content to use to achieve your goals will depend on your target audience, the stage in the buyer’s journey, and even the publishing platform.
You should also consider any goals you have for your overall inbound marketing campaign, such as lead generation, direct sales, or improving brand awareness. Do you hope to improve search engine optimization, attract more social media followers, or attract the attention of other media?
Understanding both your overall goals and your audience will help you choose the best types of content.
Consider these types of content and where they might fit into your overall content marketing plan:
Long-Form Blog and Social Media Posts
You will probably hear some marketers and even content producers tell you that nobody on the Internet bothers to read long-form content. Here’s the deal. People will read long content if they find it valuable.
Active Content, a marketing automation company, published some helpful statistics:
- Long ad copy for Facebook can deliver lower costs-per-action and more engagement than shorter pieces.
- Increasing Crazy Egg’s content length by just 20 percent improved conversions by 36 percent.
Some examples of long-form content that you can produce for blogs, home pages, social media, and even behind-subscriber-wall reports could include how-to content, ultimate guides, case studies, and other in-depth informative pieces. Value-added pieces that summarize original research or new insights tend to also do remarkably well because they provide the sort of information or analysis that readers can’t get somewhere else.
Shorter pieces have their place too, particularly if they deliver insightful solutions to common problems or questions. Sometimes, you might use a short, punchy post to draw attention at the top of the sales funnel. Then lead your audience to your in-depth content to help convert and close.
Some short pieces, like recipes that include the company’s products, can even stand very well on their own on a site that already has plenty of authority. Still, you will probably notice that most bloggers add in a lot of chat before they provide the recipes these days, probably to help with search engine optimization.
Sometimes, nothing beats the power of video.
In fact, 54% of Internet users say they wish businesses would create more videos.
I know that’s a tall order. And since you create content to meet business goals, it’s vital that you can get an ROI.
But consider this: 88% of content marketers who use video say they’re satisfied with their ROI. And marketing research has shown a well-produced video can generate about 66% more qualified leads than outbound marketing alone.
Videos are often more expensive and time-consuming to produce. So they work well as a supplement to faster, regular content like a blog post.
Companies might use videos to demonstrate innovative products and develop a more personal connection with their audience. Videos work really well to display how-to guides for unfamiliar products and services and even for an online help system customers can use after they buy. While people do read on the Internet, they also spend A LOT of time watching videos.
As one example, one of my clients sold garage door parts and accessories. Since repairing garage doors is often a more complex and potentially risky DIY job, he produced a number of guides that demonstrated the best way to safely install new products. This helped overcome some buyers’ reluctance to buy parts themselves instead of hiring a service.
Webinars provide you with an interactive kind of video. Viewers can participate with comments and questions. They tend to work well near the top of the sales funnel, and you can always save the recorded webinar to also use as an on-demand video later.
A lot of marketers overlook the power of podcasts. People can do other things while they’re listening to a podcast, and recently, they’ve increased in popularity as alternatives to radio for people driving cars, working, or doing tasks around the house. That may also contribute to the reason why people tend to listen to podcasts far longer than they’ll read articles or even watch videos.
Podcasts work really well to explore subjects in great depth. On the other hand, some marketers say that they struggle with discoverability, so it’s probably best to start a podcast if you already have a well-established audience or other marketing channels.
For instance, some popular YouTube channels produce fairly short videos to introduce topics and then have podcasts for interested subscribers to explore these subjects in more depth.
People are visual animals, so catchy graphics can help attract attention. Since many businesses deal with data these days, data visualization graphics — like infographics — can also offer viewers a quick way to analyze and absorb information. Infographics have traditionally also worked well as link magnets, so if you want to create sharable content, consider including them.
You can use graphics on social media, or your own blog. You can also distribute them, with a link back to your landing pages on a number of sites that specifically publish graphics of this type.
Content Strategies for Reaching and Attracting Audiences
People will notice you if you’re regularly putting out information. On the other hand, you won’t attract attention if you never have anything to say. As one expert aptly put it, “publish or perish.”
Content creation generates brand awareness by boosting your SEO. This is especially true if you plan your strategy and choose winning keywords.
Quality content is a long-lasting asset to your business. Unlike paid ads, it won’t be taken down when a campaign ends. It continually generates interest, even if it doesn’t get as many clicks as it did when it was first published.
Once you have a steady stream of visitors, you’ll see results on social media. People who like what they see will share your content with others. This boosts site visits and sales while increasing social media shares.
Your content is also a springboard for discussion on your own social media platforms. Share it and ask consumers for their opinions. You’ll generate interest and learn more about your target audience at the same time.
How to Create Content that Reaches and Attracts
If you want to create content that reaches and attracts, you must do your homework. In content marketing that includes:
- Social listening to see what people are talking about
- Keyword research to know what people are searching for
- Competitor analysis to understand how to overtake the competition
- Content analytics to understand what’s working for you
Now, take what you’ve learned. And fill out a content calendar. If you need help creating the actual content on a schedule, freelance content creators can help.
Types of Content that Reach and Attract
Earlier, I talked a little bit about the different types of content that you can use as part of your content marketing strategy. But now, let’s look at the types of content that work particularly well to help you reach and attract new leads:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Memes, gifs, and other images
Content Strategies for Conversion and Closing
The end goal of your content is to convert and close. To reach this goal, you’ll have to be able to offer something consumers can’t get anywhere else.
If your goal is to bring in subscribers, your offering could be a white paper, eBook, or exclusive market research. It could also be premium video content not available on YouTube.
Content conversion works a bit differently if you’re selling a product or service. However, the same principle applies. Consumers must feel you have the best deal on what they want.
Your content should explain why people should do business with you. If you aren’t sure how to create this type of content, spend some time doing research and careful planning.
What sets you apart from the competition? Are your goods/services cheaper, more sustainable, or more efficient than a competitor’s? Do you offer the best customer service or the highest level of convenience?
Once you’ve shared your story, you’ll need a compelling call to action. Your CTA text should be short and attention-grabbing. The button should be a different color to stand out from the rest of the page.
Types of Content that Convert and Close
Here are a few different types of content that are well-suited for the conversion stage of the buyer’s journey:
- White Papers
- More in-depth how-to videos
- Exclusive market research, studies, reports
- Other educational resources
- Demonstrations and free trials
Content Strategies for Delighting and Retaining Customers
Good content tells your story. It elicits emotion and creates a connection between you and your clients.
Beardbrand successfully used this approach in its content creation. The company focused on storytelling to connect to its audience and make them feel seen and heard. As a result, it made a whopping $120,000 per month in sales in its first year.
Bringing your clients into the content creation process is also very effective. Diamond Candles did this when it couldn’t afford Facebook advertising. Its customer product photos attracted over 300,000 new Facebook fans.
Wet Seal made a similar move. The company encouraged creativity and validated consumers who tried different styles. Wet Seal’s revenue rose by over 20% as a result.
How to Create Content for Retention
Customers appreciate troubleshooting resources that help them use your products. How-to videos and blog posts show you care about the people who do business with you. FAQs are also helpful, both for new and returning customers.
Don’t forget a welcome or onboarding email. It should make customers feel excited about doing business with you. It should also provide any information they need to know about your product/service.
You may even want to offer a special discount or reward to new customers. The gesture shows you appreciate their business without being overly promotional.
It’s wise to invest in creating quality content to boost customer loyalty. Research shows that boosting your retention rate by only 5% can increase profits by at least 25%.
Building brand loyalty lowers your overall marketing costs. It increases customer lifetime value, lowers the refund/return rate, and generates goodwill.
Happy customers are likely to leave positive reviews of your business. They will recommend your business to others. The free advertising will build trust and brand awareness to bring in new buyers.
Types of Content that Retain Customers
Here are just a few types of content that you can use to drive customer retention:
- Troubleshooting Resources (Videos, Blog Posts, eBooks)
- How-To Videos
- Onboarding or Welcome Emails
What Makes Quality Content?
Quality content is not determined solely by factors like length, formatting, readability, visual aids, correct spelling and grammar, or keywords. While these elements are important, they do not define quality content.
Let’s explore the key attributes of quality content:
Quality content sets your brand apart by offering a unique perspective in the industry. It goes beyond regurgitating popular or mass-produced content.
Creating valuable and distinct content tailored to your audience’s needs establishes your brand as a thought leader rather than a follower.
Quality content guides the reader towards a next step and provides actionable value. It addresses questions, includes relevant links to resources, and offers a clear call-to-action.
Effective content funnels leads towards conversions without excessive self-promotion, aligning with your marketing goals.
Great content demonstrates credibility by providing accurate and well-researched information. It incorporates reputable sources, data, reviews, and cited facts.
While thorough research takes time, it helps establish your content as a reliable source of industry expertise and authority.
Quality content stimulates reader engagement by sparking thoughts and discussions. It goes beyond surface-level coverage and offers unique insights or perspectives on common topics or industry issues.
Thinking creatively and approaching subjects from different angles can help generate thought-provoking content.
Understanding your audience is essential for determining the quality of your content. Utilize analytics and data to identify the top-performing content, considering factors like click-through rates and social engagement.
By analyzing this data, you can identify the posts that resonate most with your audience and define what constitutes quality content for your brand.
How Content Quality Directly Affects the Outcome of Inbound Marketing
Quality content takes precedence over quantity in content marketing. Previously, search engines relied on keyword stuffing, where articles were filled with repetitive keywords to manipulate search rankings. However, this approach led to low-value content and spammy tactics.
As search engines evolved and algorithms became more sophisticated, they began prioritizing quality over quantity. Today, search engines focus on delivering the most relevant and valuable content to users. They consider factors like relevance, user engagement, credibility, and overall quality when ranking search results.
To succeed, focus on creating valuable and engaging content that addresses audience needs. By establishing trust and authority, you can foster meaningful connections and achieve long-term success.
Quality is now the key to effective content marketing. By investing in well-crafted, insightful, and relevant content, you can differentiate your brand, attract the right audience, and achieve sustainable success.
A Shift in Value
Search engines have become more intelligent in detecting natural writing, content popularity, and value. They consider factors like outbound links, authoritative sources, content length, visitor shares, and backlinks to determine value.
Google alone implements 500-600 algorithm changes annually to prevent cheating the system. In 2018, they reported 3,234 algorithm changes, averaging over 9 changes per day.
This shift combats “black hat” SEO practices, where Google penalizes content that violates rules such as keyword stuffing. Search engines prioritize delivering the best results to users to maintain their satisfaction.
Websites now focus on providing valuable content that genuinely addresses keyword topics to keep users engaged and happy.
Enter Social Media
The advent of social media in 2004 revolutionized the sharing of links and posts. Facebook alone witnesses an astounding 54,000 links are shared per minute, resulting in 1 million links every 20 minutes.
During this time, clickbait articles experienced a surge in popularity. Brands resorted to crafting sensational titles to entice users into sharing and clicking. You probably remember the titles that read like:
- She took a routine trip to the doctor, but what happened next will blow your mind…
- I read these 10 shocking food facts and never want to eat again…
- Looks fun until 2:03 and now I think I’m scarred for life
However, many of these articles turned out to be disappointing, filled with fluff and lacking substance. Users grew irritated by the endless scrolling and irrelevant content.
Fortunately, clickbait is losing its effectiveness. It’s counterproductive when 100,000 people click on an article only to feel tricked and annoyed. Marketers now understand the importance of creating interesting and engaging content that truly delivers what the title promises.
Professionals are shifting their focus to producing longer, high-quality content. According to OptinMonster, the average blog post takes about 3.5 hours to write and performs better when it exceeds 2,000 words.
Bloggers have reduced their publishing frequency, with the majority now posting a few times a month instead of multiple times a week.
Blogging has proven to be highly beneficial for marketers. US audiences spend three times more time on blog posts compared to emails, and prioritizing blogging makes marketers 13 times more likely to achieve a positive ROI.
In fact, at WriterAccess, we have increased our production of long-form content, providing more value-packed posts despite publishing fewer articles.
You need engaging, attention-grabbing content to grow your business. This is true, both for businesses that have been around for a long time and new businesses alike. It applies to companies in any industry and geographic location.
Content helps people find you easily. It inspires them to do business with you. It keeps them coming back to your company and motivates them to tell others about your business.
Creating great content is hard work but well worth the effort. What’s more, you don’t have to go it alone. The WriterAccess platform offers access to over 10,000 vetted, experienced content creators.
All content is 100% human-created and fact-checked for accuracy. We also offer AI-powered tools to help you find the perfect writer for any project. Check out our 14-day free trial period to see if what we offer can meet or even exceed your expectations.
Sarah Jane Burt is Sr. Content Strategist at WriterAccess. For the past decade, she’s helped brands big and small, from tech giant IBM to the local plumber, tell their stories and create strategies for customer-driven content. When she’s not working on developing and implementing our content strategy, she’s writing blog posts that help demystify content marketing and strategy for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and enterprise content teams.