If you are building an inbound marketing campaign, you are part of an increasingly larger group. According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 studies, 93% of B2B marketers and 90% of B2C marketers use content or inbound marketing. They are creating more content than ever before. Yet, in the same studies, only 34% of B2C and 42% of B2B say they are effective at content or inbound marketing. One reason might be that without context, even quality content is not going to be read, shared or discussed.
With a lot of their efforts going into creating good content, many marketers might be neglecting the need to build context for it. That’s because building the contextual elements of an inbound marketing program requires a lot more research and effort. Those who do will reap the rewards of building a more effective inbound or content marketing program. A look into the numbers shows that:
- 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (source: Content Marketing Institute)
- 61% of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content. (source: Custom Content Council)
- 78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships. (source: TMG Custom Media)
- 68% of consumers spend time reading content from a brand they are interested in. (source: The CMA)
- 58% of consumers trust editorial content. (source: Nielsen)
- 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site. (source: Content+)
Context is defined as the circumstances or events that form the environment within which something exists or takes place. Put more simply, the surrounding conditions are the context and it’s essential for inbound marketing. Context allows you to deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time and at the right place.
The right context for inbound or content marketing requires that you know:
- The personas of ideal customers
- Where they are in the buying process
- What search strings they use to search for information and solutions
- What channels they use to gain more information and to look for solutions to their wants or needs
Personas: It all starts with the personas of those who are most likely to purchase your product or service. Personas are model characters created to represent different individual customer types. They are the basis for targeting your content to the personal profile of a fictitious person. That’s how you create really relevant content.
Buying Stage: Before you build your inbound marketing strategy, you need to understand each stage of the customer buying process or cycle. Once they recognize that they have a problem, they will search for information on the issue and solutions to solve it. Marketers define this stage as top of funnel. As they move further through the buying process they will evaluate various options and solutions to meet their needs. They will also form buying criteria as they do. This is defined as the middle funnel stage. The final stage of the inbound marketing funnel is evaluating specific vendors and narrowing down the choices to a couple of vendors.
The important thing to keep in mind is that potential buyers are looking for very different content at each stage of the inbound marketing funnel. One size does not fit all.
Search Strings: Great content doesn’t work unless it is found by those searching online. You need to use the keywords and search strings that prospects will use as they search for information online. This occurs at the top of the funnel where your main content goal is to educate and inform. Keyword analysis and prioritization of search terms are part of the contextual mix.
Channels: For your content marketing efforts, choose the inbound channels that are best for each of your personas and their buying stage. You should have a presence on the channels that your prospects use. Your goal is to reach them and to provide value to them. Buyers enter the funnel and take many different types of paths on the way to buying. Businesses need to get good at tracking them to see which channels and paths work best.
Armed with this information, you can now create the content that will engage buyers and pull them through your inbound marketing funnel.
What were your priorities in building an inbound marketing campaign?
How much effort do you put into developing the context for your content?
Share with us so we can all learn.