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Authority Rules: Content Marketing

6It’s not about what you sell, but about how you sell. With the access to abundant amounts of information, potential customers are proactive in the search process. More often than not, they already have framed companies and their competition. Consumers value information over advertisements. With content marketing, your company becomes the media – by using good content to inform people rather than to sell, enables people to get to know, like and trust your brand, ultimately reaching the main goal of building an audience. People want to learn before they buy; being the resource of knowledge gives you the opportunity to generate authority within your industry.

There are three main aspects of the content marketing process – content, social and search. All three are important and interconnected; social and search results derive from content.

  1. Content – Providing valuable information that speaks the language of your audience – needs to influence them to use your solution to solve their problem
  2. Social – Distributing content by word of mouth publicity helps improve ranking – provides natural links, gains quality and relevance signals
  3. Search – Making content available for Google to decipher and reach the “right people” – improves your ranking and increases traffic

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Authority Rules. Authority is defined as “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.” According to Brian Clark, from Scribe Content in The Business Case for Agile Content Marketing, “people want to do business with the foremost authority in the field because it makes them feel more satisfied with their choice.” Authority is educating prospects of your core competencies, letting them get to know, like and trust you. Being an authority, like inbound marketing, gets the prospects to come to you, engaging them with your content and solution to their need.

The potential customers’ intent makes the difference. People who are looking for something specific are more valuable than those people who are just browsing social media. Therefore, targeted search traffic is preferred over random social traffic. If someone is specifically searching a product or service, there is a purchase intent. By educating them, there is the opportunity to turn transitory traffic into loyal customers.

The internet is a platform for direct marketing, allowing businesses to directly communicate with and build their audiences. Clark states, “the job of any smart marketer is to enter a conversation that is already taking place, and channel existing desire for solutions and benefits onto a specific solution.” To do this effectively, marketers need to understand how their desired audience think, feel and view the world.  They need to be able to communicate to them in a way they understand, optimizing the level of trust they have in you. The following diagram shows the levels in Circle of Trust, with the obvious goal of obtaining repeat customers and clients (they are your advocates).

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Redbull is a perfect example of content marketing, becoming the media. The company has built their brand and become an authority figure around excitement, energy and extreme sports. You can find Redbull on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and they even have their own magazine. Not only is Redbull on every form of social media available, they also have accounts for different states or regions. Redbull even has college campus reps, that go around handing out Redbull, especially during finals week!

One thing that really reaches out to the audience is Redbull’s “Red Bulletin” Magazine, that focuses on sports, people, art and culture. They turned it into an the iPad app, allowing more audience interaction, offering videos, animations and exclusive content. Redbull does an excellent job providing good content in order to get a lasting audience.

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Content marketing is important aspect of inbound marketing. You need to identify the need, and in order to attract and keep an audience you have to offer something of value. Whether it’s information, or engaging and interactive content, it is necessary to make your product or service the chosen solution to their problem. By doing this, you become the authority, which makes you the go-to for your product or service.

7

They want you, to want them – Inbound Marketing

Lets face it, marketing has changed. Everyday people see thousands of advertisements whether they are aware of it or not. Marketers are no longer focused on finding you. They want you to want them, they want you to need them, and they want you to find them. The intrusive traditional ways such as cold calling, print advertisements and trade shows, also known as outbound marketing are being replaced. Instead, marketers have made a transition towards inbound marketing, getting you to come to them.

According to Marketo, “at its core, inbound marketing is about creating interesting, informative, and even entertaining content and optimizing and distributing it across online channels so it can be found by – and hopefully engage – prospective buyers.”

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How does inbound marketing work? Hubspot, a leading developer of inbound marketing tools, describes inbound marketing with four marketing actions:

  1. Attract – You need to attract the “ideal customer.” Getting the right traffic is important because your whole business is based around these customers. Important tools:  blogging, social media, keywords, and webpage optimization
  2. Convert – This is where you turn your site visitors into potential leads. Obtaining contact information is crucial, so you need to offer them something of value, such as ebooks, whitepapers or tip sheets. Important tools: calls-to-action, landing pages, forms and contacts
  3. Close – Turn leads into customers. Giving each lead a personalized experience in their lifecycle stage is important. Keep track of which efforts brought the best leads. Important tools: lead scoring, email, marketing automation, closed-loop reporting
  4. Delight – It is important to maintain a relationship with customers even after they make a purchase. To do this you need to provide context – or engaging content to give them the inbound experience. Important tools: smart calls to action, social media, email and marketing automation

hubspot inbound marketing actions

The last step of the four marketing actions is delight. Dharmesh Shah, the chief technology officer and co-founder of Hubspot stated in the “2013 Inbound Keynote,” that the most important goal is customer “delightion.” Strive to give an exceptional buying experience so the customer is more than delighted. This is bigger than customer lifetime value (CLV) because not only does it result with customer loyalty, but it turns the customer into an advocate. Shah stated “the most valuable customers are not those who buy the most, your most valuable customers are those who sell the most.” Customer advocates tell their friends, who tell their friends = free advertisement.

inbound marketing vs outbound marketing

So what are some of the benefits of inbound marketing?

  • Interactive communication
  • Non-intrusive way of getting customers to come to you, therefore making your target market is more easily reached
  • Provided value, entertaining and educating (potential) customers
  • Content can be shared via blogs, third party sites and social media
  • Cost effective (no costs for print or TV ads, internet is viral)
  • Easy to track return on investment (ROI)
  • No blocking techniques (do not call list, spam filters)

Touching back on Hubspot’s “2013 Inbound Keynote,” they introduced three new inbound marketing products.

  1. the Social Inbox
  2. the Content Optimization System
  3. Signals

The Social Inbox

Browsing Twitter feeds for particular subjects is like searching for a needle in a haystack. But with the Social Inbox, Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of Hubspot says it’s “all needles, no hay.” The Social Inbox is a new way to personally organize content on social media such as Twitter. Not only does it allow you to filter through specific topics, but it also allows you to differentiate the users who are doing the talking.

How does it do this? Well first, you create a social media stream. You start a new stream, which is designed around three three simple questions

  1. Who do you want to listen to? e.g. leads, customers
  2. What do you want to listen for? e.g. keywords Hubstop & inbound marketing
  3. How do you want to be notified? e.g. email vs. app

This is beneficial because it let’s you get to know the customer on another level, allowing you to give them the best inbound experience possible.  Regular websites, and social media can’t tell the difference in their visitors or the devices they are using to access them.

The Content Optimization System (COS)

This may sound familiar, but what you’re probably thinking is CMS (content management system). These are different! A typical CMS system in Halligan’s words “turns your brochure into a website or online presence.” In this case, when a visitor visits the page, they get experience A. When a lead visits the page, the get experience A. And when a customer visits the page, they get experience A. It provides the same experience to everyone.

The content optimization system on the other hand, tailors content to specific people. The goal is to give people the best experience possible by understanding their relationship and the device they are using. COS allows companies to provide custom home pages for visitors, leads and customers, and personalize it by adding different tags such as their name and company. This gives visitors experience A, leads with experience B, and customers with experience C. This adds to the inbound experience, and benefits your company.

Signals

Signals in a new innovative technology that works inside of other applications. It gives you real-time notifications, providing better communication with leads and customers. It is similar to the Facebook messaging feature where you can see if the recipient has read the message or not, combined with the subscribe feature of being notified when someone posts a new status.

With Signals, you can “watch” new leads on platforms such as their LinkedIn. You will be notified if any changes are made to their page, and if you send them a message, you can see if they have read it, or have clicked on any links. Sales people struggle with following-up with customers and potential clients. With Signals, there is no mistake of forgetting to follow-up and no need to spam, it makes communication more efficient and effective.

These products were very interesting to learn about, because they are very interactive, and almost invasive. The word invasive might be too strong of a word, but the amount of information that can be yielded off of Internet tracking is unbelievable. I thought the tools were very innovative, and spins off of existing technology used throughout social media (in some aspects), but it will be interesting to see how crucial they become for businesses.


To reiterate, inbound marketing “helps potential customers find your company – often before they are even looking to make a purchase – and then turns that early awareness into brand preference and, ultimately, into leads and revenue.” (Marketo)

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