Content or Inbound Marketing is the practice of attracting highly qualified leads into your sales funnel rather than adopting a scatter gun approach as defined by most forms of ‘outbound’ marketing.
Traditionally outbound marketing depended on volume methods of drumming up business through media advertising, trade shows, cold calling, leafleting and cold calling. The theory was that if you played the numbers game –i.e. contacted or touched sufficient numbers of cold clients – one or two would pop their heads up over the parapet ready to be converted into customers.
This method of gaining customers is slow, ineffective and massively expensive, and when the credit crunch came along and purse strings were tightened (despite marketing being the last thing you should cut back on when the going gets tough!) the effectiveness and value for money of these practices was examined and found to be severely lacking.
Companies have suddenly woken up to the fact that old style marketing needed a shake-up and are now seeking efficient and affordable ways to acquire new leads.
The most commonly used forms of Inbound Marketing techniques are blogging, social media interaction, search engine optimisation, teleseminars and webinars, and companies are struggling to adapt to these new technologies because of an age-old problem.
Since the early days of the internet, the adage ‘Content is King’ has been the defining factor. Good content to feed the search engines to drive traffic, to keep visitors engaged.
Given the algorithmic idiosyncracies of Google and its recent round of Panda updates that can have a significant effect on the search engine visibility of some websites, having good relevant content is the cornerstone of any inbound marketing campaign.
Google has announced a new Panda refresh on January 22nd 2013, making this version number 24.
This refresh has a noticeable impact 1.2% of English based queries according to Google. The previous confirmed update was 23 which impacted 1.3% of English queries on December 21, 2012. Prior to that was a Panda refresh on November 21st 2012 that impacted 0.8% of search queries. It seems like Google is now rolling out these updates every four weeks or so.
Industry experts Econsultancy & Outbrain report that 90% of marketers believe content marketing will become more important this year. Translating this into real figures means that over 24 million marketers worldwide agree with this proposition.
New software specific to content marketing has boomed; Flockler, GatherContent, InboundWriter and Curata are just a few of the new iterations.
But is it really new? I know our sister company Glass Frog has been providing these services for over a year in the North East, but given the slow rate of adoption and economic caution shown by companies in this geographic sector, take up has not been huge.
We have had greater success in Canada and the US where innovative solutions are expected as the norm. However what these inbound marketing agencies are doing extremely well is to repackage existing offerings and appearing to offer something completely new. And as any marketer knows, NEW is a very effective sales tool.
Content marketing is very powerful, but does require talented exponents of the various crafts such as copywriting linked to strategic planning to make the necessary impact. These talents are not normally found in the organisations that need them most.
Content marketing also requires the same labour-intensive attention that Social Media Marketing demands. To create great content requires a good strategy, good writers and constant attention.
Writing blog posts, creating informative ebooks and developing infographics is a specialist area as are
the skills required to create engaging video and to distribute it effectively across the online media channels.
The new internet gold rush is on; just make sure you choose your tools wisely – and prospect in the areas that you know hold the potential for the biggest return.