The number one concern about Inbound Marketing from most small business owners are - "Who has time and resources to write the blogs and e-books?". Most understand the logic of Inbound Marketing, but are really concerned about their ability to commit to delivering the content needed to power the Inbound investment. Alternatively, the idea of a static website seems more appealing. Developing a content strategy that is cost effective and works requires marketers to take a hard look at "the funnel" -- and take a more analytical look at the 3 most important steps below:
1. GET YOUR PERSONAS RIGHT:
Online personas help you understand, communicate and segment the audience you are targeting in a more personal way. Getting personas right is the first step in your content strategy -- this is simple -- know who you are talking to -- as a person and not as a demographic. When you develop content, you are developing content for a real person who will be reading your blog or e-book on the other end. In many ways, developing content for your target personas is like selling. Every salesperson know that in selling to an organization, you need to uncover and understand the role of each decision maker in the buying process. Each decision maker will most likely have different concerns which you have to address through your content strategy. If you are selling Hubspot to the SME, you will likely have to sell to the owner of the small business, the IT manager, the Finance manager, the Sales manager and last but not least, the Marketing manager. Once you have created the persona for each of the decision maker, your content strategy will need to match where they fit -- in the TOFU, MOFU or BOFU.
2. MATCHING THE RIGHT PERSONA TO EACH PART OF THE FUNNEL
Not every persona is relevant in all 3 parts of the funnel. At the TOFU level, you are looking for the persona who is trying to solve a problem and looking for a solution. In the case of Hubspot as an example, targeting at small business, it is likely the business owner working hard to promote his business or the marketing persona who is looking to promote the brand. These two personas are most likely to be actively looking a lead generation the solution to their business problems. At TOFU, your content should be focused on offering them the right level of information to help them in their search process. At this stage, your content should not be selling or promoting your product but helping the personas understand how to better analyse the options available. Be helpful without getting into the "sales mode". You are here to build trust by "taking their side" and doing some of the research work for them. This is where you are likely to be "professionally neutral" in talking about the subject matter. If you are not and start to pitch too hard at the TOFU level, you will like destroy the trust that you need for conversion later on. Your content may unfortunately be seen as "just another sales pitch".
At the MOFU level, you may have other stakeholders that you need to target. At this stage, the personas are now officially leads and you are here to move them closer to being your customers. At this stage, your content serves two purpose: (1) Telling them why they should choose your product or service, and (2) Overcoming Objections. In TOFU, you are presenting the options -- but in MOFU, you need to provide a compelling reason why they should favor your product. Your content strategy should focus on the benefits of what you have to offer -- not the features. Your sales persona would be interested how your marketing efforts can help with the conversion especially how to qualify leads. Your content strategy at this stage may also need to address a critical "show stopper" --"I like your products BUT ...." If you do not address this well, you will not get the conversion. Objections may come from different personas. For example, if it about costs, the Finance or IT manager will have a big voice. Developing a strategy to overcome any key objection is pre-emptive because if you don't, your leads may evaporate without you having an opportunity to overcome them.
Congratulations if you are able to move them to the BOFU - they are almost there. At the BOFU level, they have already looked at various options and they have narrowed the choices. If you have done your job, your product or services should be the shortlisted. They are ready to make the purchasing decision. Content at this level is all about providing the information required for them to close the deal. The content here should be most detailed about your products and services and will target other personas. In the Hubspot example, this may mean starting a free trial and getting the IT and Marketing staff to evaluate the functionalities. The close is probably the most challenging and your content must focus on making the buying experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.
3. PROMOTING YOUR CONTENT
Easier said than done. You have developed your blog or e-book and now it is time to get the word out. If not, your efforts will be wasted. Take the extra time to consider where and how this can be promoted. According to the Inbound Marketing philosophy, you should first make your content easy to find. Your blog should have all the right SEO executions -- make sure your titles and tags are helping search engines find your content. If done well, your content will the in the first page of Google's search results. Secondly, work your contact database. If your content is relevant to them, send them an email to promote the content. (To be true to Inbound, you should only send email to your contacts who are your target personas -- otherwise, it may be considered spamming!) Finally, get it out to your social media. Make sure you understand how each social media works, and posts them appropriately.
The key to a successful Inbound Marketing strategy is optimising and leveraging your content. There is a cost to creating content and every marketer should make sure that they are getting the most bang for the buck. Having alignment of your content marketing strategy to your persona, funnel and content promotion is not an option if you want to get the optimal results for your campaigns.