Why Inbound Marketing Works

For generations, marketers have relied on intrusive outbound marketing to sell their wares. From advertising to direct mail to telemarketing, companies have continued to spend many billions of dollars annually. The explosive growth of inbound marketing spurred by the Internet has changed that equation. Business owners have seen prospects and customers respond to the content marketing component of inbound strategies with seemingly insatiable appetites for relevant information. The term content marketing is thrown around with a lot of individuals not really understanding its full context. The search engines, and primarily Google, are largely responsible for this situation. From their earliest use, these engines employed algorithms that were intended to provide relevance to a searcher’s query. In other words, a search term was intended to find relevant information on the web. To achieve this relevance, the search engines scanned the entire web for information on websites. Keywords helped determine relevance and search ranking. If someone typed in “antique fishing poles” as a search term, the search engine tried to provide websites that had information about antique fishing poles on their web pages. As the concept evolved, a lot of time and energy was spent by web entrepreneurs intent on gaming that goal of relevance. Tactics such as keyword stuffing were used in the place of quality content to achieve higher rankings. Fortunately for today’s serious players, Google and other search engines have continually refined their search algorithms and methods. Updates such as Panda and the recent Hummingbird dropped as many as 20 percent of all sites off the front page overnight. Replacing them in higher rankings are those companies providing quality, relevant content on their web pages. This will continue to be the priority for all search rankings. As a result, there is a renewed importance of and focus on quality content. Before talking about what that quality content is, several statistics are worth noting. A recent Yahoo infographicsummarises recent surveys that show:

  • 80 percent of business owners and decision makers prefer to get company information from well-written articles rather than advertising.
  • That number is reported at 70 percent by consumers in general.
  • An overwhelming 78 percent of CMOs indicate that custom content has significantly impacted their marketing results in the past five years.
  • 37 percent of all consumers visit websites with marketing content at least once a month, with 68 percent looking for articles from brands in which they’re interested.

There is much more supporting data. What they point to, however, is two key summary points:

  • First, customers (B2B and B2C) have gotten adept at avoiding and ignoring traditional marketing, and
  • Secondly, they crave and seek out quality content from companies.

So what is this content that your customers are reading and looking for? For the vast majority of individuals, it is the written word. Articles that provide needed information in a useful format are at the core of all quality content marketing. However, once articles are used to organise and present coherent messages, they can find many lives and faces as:

  • Blog posts (internal and guest)
  • Combined into downloadable ebooks
  • White papers
  • Emails and newsletter snippets
  • Podcasts
  • PowerPoints and PDFs
  • Scripts for videos and mini-videos
  • Posts and tweets for social media

In other words, an investment in organising your company or relevant information into concise memos generates a potential ROI across all media formats. It’s also worth noting that these articles can be transformed into:

  • Tip and Helps sheets
  • FAQs
  • Top 5, 10, etc. lists
  • Fact sheets from expert sources
  • Training and customer education materials

With the new and growing importance of content marketing, some companies are even creating positions for Directors of Content. Few successful companies, however, believe they are capable of creating internally the quality of content their customers want. For that reason, the business of providing outsourced content has rapidly grown from a small cottage industry to a major force in the market. The reason for this growth is one of simple economics and selection. It is much easier and significantly less expensive to have professional writers create content to strict standards and guidelines than attempting to staff up for the job. By drawing on a market of thousands of writers-for-hire, you’re able to select the style, tone and quality you desire. You gain those options at very low prices, often a few cents per word. That means a quality, researched 500-word article for a small amount. That is what you call a strong ROI when that article is used and re-purposed into many formats and media. Quality content, internally generated and outsourced, is not only here to stay, it is becoming an increasingly important part of every competitive company’s marketing strategy.