If you’re familiar with corporate buzzwords, you’ve probably heard about the importance of “content.” There are countless businesses out there that want to produce quality content – and it’s not for their own edification. Content is how we bring people to our websites, how we capture their attention. But the problem is, content sometimes gets out of hand.
It’s unnervingly common now for websites to produce “clickbait” – essentially, articles that are merely meant to drive traffic. Now, for those of you with inbound experience, you might be taken aback. After all, content marketing’s main purpose is to use content to increase traffic, right?
But there’s one major key difference between what we do (as inbound marketers) and clickbait: clickbait doesn’t care if it’s any good. Once you’ve clicked the link, the transaction is over. All that site wanted was your visit. Once you’ve arrived at the site, they could care less if you enjoy the article. They got what they needed. But within content marketing, the quality of our content matters a lot.
Why does it matter if the content is good?
Because with inbound marketing, traffic isn’t the end-all, be-all. We’re also trying to truly educate our prospects and provide them with solutions to problems – real solutions. Also, if our content is garbage, do you think they would ever consider doing business with us?
Not only does quality content prove you know what you’re doing as a business, it also demonstrates your value to the prospect. By providing an interesting or helpful blog article, you’ve already given the visitor something for free. That builds goodwill, and will make them more likely to become a lead.
So what is this “content,” anyway?
For inbound marketing purposes, there are really two primary types of content: blog articles and content offers. Let’s discuss both here:
The blog articles will do most of the heavy lifting for your website, because these are what drive traffic. A blog article is similar to a news article, in that it aims to be informative and interesting. However, it differs in a few key ways. Unlike news stories, blog articles can have first-person perspective and opinion – although this should be used sparingly. Blogs also should include at least one link per article, in order to help boost traffic. Ideally, it should be between 300-600 words, and cover a topic relevant to your field.
It’s critical that the topic be of interest to visitors, because this is how they will find your website. They’ll perform an internet search for a topic related to your field and hopefully come across one of your blog articles. That leads them to your site, where they can eventually become a lead.
The blog articles are what get people to the site, but it’s the content offers that finish the job. Just consider a content offer to be like a long-form blog. Most of our content offers are eBooks, but you can utilize a variety of formats for this: infographics, Soundslides presentations, white papers. This content offer will give an in-depth look at a topic in your field, going even further than any of your blog articles. And there’s a very good reason for that.
Your content offers should be completely free, with one major condition: the customer must submit contact information in exchange for them. This might not seem like a big deal to the customer – it’s just contact info, right? – but what it actually means is the visitor has just willingly become a lead. With the contact info in-hand, we can now market to them freely and try to convert them into a customer.