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Inbound Marketing And SEO: Attracting Qualified Leads With Content
In the span of a single month, more than 100 billion searches are conducted on Google worldwide. Studies show that organic search is responsible for 64 percent of web traffic, and that 80 percent of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. The numbers supporting SEO and organic search are astonishing. Online success used to be a matter of identifying relevant keywords, writing keyword-rich content, and link building or exchanging with little regard to quality. This is obviously no longer the case. As consumers become more educated and search engines more sophisticated, the ways in which businesses go about attracting qualified visitors must evolve, beginning with the development of an exceptional user experience. That experience begins and ends with quality content. Many businesses are realizing this and have turned to inbound marketing: a content driven, sustainable approach that continues to yield impressive results. In this post, we’ll dive deeper into how businesses can leverage inbound marketing, specifically content marketing, to attract qualified visitors.

The first action of the inbound marketing methodology is all about attracting the right “strangers” by publishing and promoting the right content. This is also known as the “attract” stage and is what we’ll be focusing on in this post. But before you even begin to think about creating content, you have to know whom you’re creating it for. You can do this by defining your buyer personas.

Defining buyer personas Businesses that fail to define their buyer personas are more likely to attract a majority of unqualified visitors. Because of this, they end up spending more of their time and marketing budget trying to correct their mistake rather than having spent the time to established their buyer personas in the first place. Like any form of marketing (traditional or digital), inbound marketing is more successful when you know as much about your audience as possible. In this case, the goal is to define what makes up a qualified visitor before we ever even begin developing content. The personas you define will make your content marketing efforts more efficient and prove valuable to other departments in your organization as well (marketing and sales alignment, product development, advertising, etc.). So what exactly are buyer personas? Buyer personas are the representations of your ideal customer that are based on research and real data about existing customers. Consider the following when creating your buyer personas:
  • Demographics (gender, age, race, income)
  • Psychographics (beliefs, values, attitude, challenges, behaviors)
  • Job description (role in company, key responsibilities)
  • Company details (company size, annual revenue, industry, related industries)
  • Company goals (primary and secondary)

These are just a few areas you’ll want to start with. If defining buyer personas sounds a little tricky to you (many people are scared off by them), Mainstreethost has created an intuitive Target Audience & Buyer Persona Worksheet to help you through the process.

In addition, there are many online tools to make this exercise a little less daunting. Just search for how-tos or for “Buyer Persona Template” and you’ll find many options to choose from. Once you’ve defined your personas, you’re ready to plan your content marketing strategy for a much more effective and efficient process.

Attracting qualified visitors with content Now that you have a basic understanding of inbound marketing, you’ve created your buyer personas, and your goals are clearly defined, it’s time to start attracting qualified visitors with your awesome content. Let’s go over the different types of content you can utilize (assuming you have the necessary resources):
  • Website content
  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • How-to guides
  • Videos
  • Ebooks / Whitepapers
  • Audio / Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Memes
  • Guest posts
  • Traditional print content
  • Advertising content (online, print, radio, TV)

When it comes to different types of content, there are endless possibilities. Zazzle created a list of 101 different types of digital content for some inspiration.
Part of defining your personas is to gain an understanding of the content they look for and like to consume. Once you have an idea of the types of content you need to create, your work can begin. But how much content do you need? Well, to have a successful inbound marketing strategy, you’ll need to invest a good amount of time (and of course, money). Creating quality content at scale is not a quick or easy task, but you’ll be glad you did. Studies show a strong correlation between frequency of posting and inbound leads and traffic. In other words, the more content you publish, the more traffic and leads you’ll see as a result. Now, before you start writing down random thoughts to your blog, here’s a friendly reminder about content: Quality trumps quantity, every time. Businesses should look for that happy medium between quality and frequency of content. Pro tip: Repurpose your content. A question I often ask new leads is “What is your biggest marketing challenge?” The answer I often get in return is “Time.” Repurposing content is a great way to ensure that you have a continuous, quality stream of content. So now that we’ve gone over some different types of content and how frequently you should be posting, let’s discuss some strategies you can begin applying to your content to ensure it’s found and that your efforts aren’t going to waste. Optimize your content for visibility Once you’ve determined the types of content that best align with your buyer personas and the optimal publishing frequency, you’ll want to optimize your content for visibility. Here’s a short list of questions to ask yourself prior to publishing your content:
  • Am I utilizing my audience’s language? In other words, are they going to naturally find your content during search
  • Am I using title tags, meta description, and keywords appropriately? Stay away from keyword stuffing.
  • Am I publishing at the ideal time and day? Do some research on when your audience is most likely to seek content.
  • Is my content relevant? Is it timely? Google Trends is a great tool for gauging timeliness.
  • Is my content easy to read / follow? Write for the appropriate level of your audience and have multiple people read it over before publishing.
  • Do my readers have the option to share my content on social media? Make it easy for visitors to share the content you’ve worked so hard to prepare.
  • Do I have a plan for sharing the content on social media? What is my promotion strategy? Get your staff to promote the content, too, for more reach. Don’t overlook this simple method of promotion.
  • And finally, how is the placement of my CTAs? Do they entice people to take action? This will take some testing to find the best solution.

Before you hit publish, send, post, whatever, check your content over. Neil Patel published a great article on 40 questions to ask yourself before publishing your next blog post. Most of these questions are applicable to all content types. Once you’ve reached this point, you’re ready to publish content.
What’s next? As more consumers turn to the web for information and ideas, businesses need to be at the forefront of this movement. What was once a matter of small website tweaks and routine maintenance is now a matter of attracting the right visitors with the right content at the right time. Establish and nurture those relationships by continuously creating positive and relevant content experiences. We just covered the basics of attracting the right visitors, but what do you do once the they get there? Continue proving your value to that unique visitor with more relevant, quality content. This beautiful cycle is known as inbound marketing.


What is inbound marketing?

Before we talk content, let’s cover inbound marketing. As defined by HubSpot:

“Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.”

If you’re a visual learner, you might enjoy this diagram on the inbound methodology:
img_1Inbound_methodology_LOW
Image from Hubspot.com
Craig Kilgore Craig Kilgore is the Inbound Marketing Manager at Mainstreethost, a Digital Marketing Agency in Buffalo, NY. He has helped a number of businesses increase revenue through a combination of content-driven marketing, marketing and sales alignment, and sales process optimization. Connect with Craig on Twitter @ckilgs.
Craig_Kilgore_LOW
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