I have spent some time this week diving into the world if content marketing, the essential ingredient in the inbound marketing recipe. Content marketing is the creation and publication of videos, white papers, technical reports, articles, studies, tweets, infographics and yes, even blogs. In a post published earlier this year by the Content Marketing Intstitute they break down their 5 Pillars of Content Marketing:
1. Understand your audience
-This pillar explains something that should be intuitive but is often overlooked: before content is created, consider who it is being created for.
2. Map the content to sales cycle
-The content to sales cycle is the process a viewer of your content will ideally go through. It includes The Awareness Stage, The Consideration Stage, and The Decision Stage. With this process in mind, develop a plan to deliver viewers of your content from their first interaction to a sale.
3. Create the content
– The simple creation of content is often not enough. It must be the right content presented in the right way. While it has been found that many consumers prefer short, interesting bits of content, most B2B buyers prefer longer more technical content. In general, for B2B markets, the more words published in an article of content, the more it will be shared. This is important as sharing exponentially increases the number of people who view your content.
4. Promote content
– You can’t just close your eyes, cross your fingers and chuck your content out into the world and hope for sales. You must promote your content through channels such as Google Adwords campaigns, Email campaigns and SEO to ensure that your published content is being viewed by the right people.
5. Measure and analyze
– Just like all other things marketing, you must keep an eye on meaningful metrics to determine the efficacy of you content and use these metrics to develop plans to continually improve your content marketing strategy.
Now to explain the title of this post: I reviewed Hubspot’s The Fundamentals of Blogging, a lesson in their Inbound Certification Academy, that revealed to me that this blog does not do at all what a blog should be doing for a business. I had a brief personal crisis then bounced back when I realized that I am not a business and do not have the same objectives in blogging as a business. I’m not saying by blog is great, but it doesn’t suck. Now that we’ve resolved my personal issues let’s dive into what makes a good blog according to Hubspot.
Much of what the Content Marketing Institute provided in their five pillars is true across all forms of content but Hubspot provided a few additional insights unique to blogs:
Blog consistently and frequently, ensuring that you remain a consistent and present force for your customers. Also, the more you put out there, the more likely you are to be found.
Promote your blog across all of your media channels. Your blog should be discoverable through your website, social media feeds, email campaigns and whatever other communication you keep with potential leads. Additionally, all of these channels should be discoverable through your blog, creating a web of content to pull customers in.
I also looked into the Inbound Certification Academy’s Creating Content Lesson. The big take away from this lesson is Hubspot’s “Golden Rule” of content creation, also called the 80/20 rule. The idea here is that 80% of the content you publish should be focused towards providing awareness and education to potential customers while the remaining 20% is sales content focused on you and your product. The concept behind this rule is that while in the initial stages of interacting with content, people aren’t interested in your company or product, so don’t tell them about that. Publish content that targets their pain points and allow them to determine whether or not they need your product. It is also vital that all of your content publishing is part of a plan and in no way random.
A good example of a successful blog is Southwest Airline’s blog, Nuts About Southwest (for those of you who haven’t flown Southwest, there is a bag of peanuts served to every customer on their flight). This blog delivers very little promotional data about Southwest but focuses on interesting travel stories or fun industry related topics such as the story behind various airport codes. Southwest publishes new content on their blog nearly every day and the blog features ample not-interruptive opportunities to purchase a ticket.
It seems fitting to end with a review of Kane Jamison’s 2015 Content Marketing Trends. This blog post explains what Kane expects to see preform well in content marketing and what he expects to see decline in performance. The big take away I found is that published content has to be more thoughtfully generated and connect on a more personal level.