How to Pivot to an Inbound Content Marketing Strategy
Updated: Nov 23, 2021
The coronavirus crisis has given us all an opportunity to reflect on where we are and what we’re doing.
Do you need to adjust the way that you’re communicating with your audience and reposition your company or organization?
Pivoting to a new strategy can be daunting – but it doesn’t have to be a herculean task.
There are easy steps that you can take now to adjust to the changing circumstances and set yourself on a path to success and efficiency in the long-term.
Content is King
That’s even more true now.
Content marketing has proven to be an effective way of both reaching a brand’s target audience and converting them down the engagement funnel – all of which boosts the bottom line.
Content marketing: A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. - Content Marketing Institute
HubSpot listed the benefits of content marketing for a brand. It can:
Educate your leads and prospects about the products and services you offer
Build relationships between your customers and business
Connect with your audience to show them how your products and services solve their challenges
Create a sense of community around your brand
Content marketing encompasses all types of content that can provide value for your brand, including social media, infographics, blog posts, podcasts, videos, and paid advertising to name just a few.
According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, 69 percent of the most successful brands have a documented content marketing strategy in place.
It’s not enough to just create high-quality content, though. It has to be part of a broader strategy that doesn’t just boost the metrics on the content but drives value back to the brand.
Enter inbound marketing. HubSpot defines it as “a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.”
That can sound like the same thing as content marketing, but inbound marketing has one key distinguishing nuance in how it’s used.
For decades, content marketing clung to outbound strategies, which interrupt the consumer and fight for their attention.
Think of newspaper or magazine ads, TV commercials, pop-up ads on a media website, spam emails – any type of content that kind of comes out of nowhere and tries to catch you with zinger taglines or glitzy visuals.
Brands that lean on these outbound content strategies spend a lot of time and money creating this content and finding opportunities to put it in front of their target audience. They might have whole teams or contracted agencies on retainer to feed this strategy, and they might only get a couple bites.
Consumers aren’t sold on commercials alone anymore. They’re looking for a relationship with a brand that allows them to learn more about who the brand is, what it stands for, how it can specifically help them – not just what its new product is.
Through inbound marketing, brands let the content do the heavy lifting. If you approach creating the content through that lens of providing valuable information and building a relationship with the consumer, rather than just momentarily capturing their attention, the consumer will organically come into your engagement funnel, carried forward by the first impression you make and the invaluable insights and takeaways they find.
It’s like the old adage “quality over quantity.” You can put a commercial in front of thousands of people and maybe get one or two leads. Or you can create an inventory of content that answers the questions consumers have and builds a relationship with them.
You’ll see a growth in the number of qualified leads you see coming in without the same monumental effort of cold-calling and brow-beating.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Changing Consumer Behavior
We can’t operate under the old assumptions anymore. We’re not necessarily in the “new normal” yet, but there are data available to show how the coronavirus crisis has already impacted the way we consume content.
GlobalWebIndex, a market research company, released a report with data on how consumers of different generations have changed the ways they consume media and content.
Any good inbound content marketing strategy should be segmented according to audience demographics so that you can specifically target your audience based on their characteristics and behaviors. behaviors and characteristics.
Here are the major takeaways to help inform your inbound content marketing, visualized by Visual Capitalist:
Six Step Process to Pivot to Inbound Content Marketing
“Sure, sure, inbound content marketing sounds great,” I can hear you saying, “but how do I use it for my business or organization?”
Here’s a six-step process that can help you pivot now and start implementing inbound content marketing
Step 1: Identify current goals for your business or organization
No one has been spared from the impacts of this crisis. Entire industries have seen their business models undermined and made irrelevant.
What’s changed for you? What’s stayed the same? Putting these down on paper will help paint the new landscape in which you’re operating.
Step 2: Describe how your audience has been impacted
As I’ve said, no one’s been spared. Your audience may now be looking for completely different things than they were before the crisis started. They might be facing new challenges, and they’re also trying to navigate this “new normal.”
What’s changed for them? Are they still looking for your products or services? Are there new audiences that might be interested or need what you provide?
Step 3: Outline what types of content would be valuable for your audience right now
As outlined above, we’re all consuming content differently than we did before. And different generations or audience segments have built-in preferences. For example, each social media platform reaches a different type of audience.
How is your target audience consuming content right now? Are they reading more blogs or are they watching more YouTube videos? Are they looking for informational or educational content or for entertainment?
Step 4: Identify ways you can capture value from your audience
In order to set up and see the benefits from an inbound system, you need to have clear calls-to-action for your audience.
What do you want them to think, feel, and do after consuming your content? Do you want them to sign up for a membership or subscription? Or do you want them to consume other pieces of your content first? How will you get them down from the top of the engagement funnel?
Step 5: Outline how you’ll create the content given current circumstances
Maybe your marketing budget has been frozen given the crisis, or sales are down and you’ve had to cut things from the budget. Some businesses and organizations might even have had to let people go.
How do you leverage existing time and resources to consistently create that high-quality content your audience is looking for? What will the process be from start to finish? What platform or system (like Trello or BaseCamp) are you going to use to facilitate communication and streamline the process?
Step 6: Adjust, adjust, adjust
Just like any other marketing initiative, there’s never a moment where you aren’t adjusting your approach.
How will you measure the success or failure of the content you produce and publish? What system will you have in place to allow you to collect feedback and tweak your approach based on what you’re seeing?
You can take these six steps today and begin to reap the benefits that an inbound content marketing strategy can provide for your brand.
Originally published on Ambedo Audio's blog on May 18, 2020.