relevant contentAn essential component to improving inbound marketing is to creating content. To attract website visitors via search engines and social media and get them to stay on your site or click through on an email you’ve got to give them reason and, as the saying goes, “content is king.” But here’s the tough part for a lot of folks, it needs to be good stuff.

From blog posts to social media updates, videos, ebooks, webinars, and more, you need to publish content that will be found online by prospects who are using search engines and social networks to research the goods and services they consume. That means content that’s emotional, entertaining or informative, or in some way relevant to the needs of the viewer.

Content That Captivates and Motivates

The best content captures people’s attention, holds their attention, and successfully prompts them to take a desired action, such as clicking on a “Next” or “Learn More” button, or picking up the phone to call your sales rep.

But creating great, engaging and relevant content on a frequent basis isn’t easy. Inspiration is in short supply if you don’t know how to stoke the creative juices. And, if you stop writing blog articles, posting to social networks or produce content that doesn’t fit your market, you risk losing leads, attracting the wrong leads, or turning off the leads you’ve acquired.

Know Your Audience

To write effectively for any audience, you need to know something about them. You may already have some knowledge about developing buyer personas, those fictional representations of your target customers based on real-world information and educated guesses about their likes, dislikes, habits, behaviors, motivations, concerns, and demographics.

The more you know about your ideal prospects, the better able you’ll be to produce content the content they want. Find out:

  • What are their interests, their biggest concerns, their most pressing needs?
  • How can you reach them? Do they read blogs, social media, or use search engines to help satisfy their needs?
  • Who are these people? Are they parents? Executives in specific roles? Young or old? Do they make their buying decisions solo or as part of a predetermined corporate process?

Once you’ve identified the general personas, ask yourself questions that will help you identify their pain points, needs, and challenges including:

  • What are the top two or three biggest problems they need you to help them solve?
  • What type of information are they typically searching for when shopping for your goods or services?
  • How do they typically search for your products or services? For instance, do they prefer reading blog articles, or watching a video?
  • What trends influence their needs, successes, and business operations?

Conduct a Content Audit

Once you know who your prospects are, what they do, what they need, where they get information, and how they use it, you can begin to produce information that best suits their needs. A content audit can save you time getting started.

Most businesses already have existing content that can easily be repurposed for an inbound marketing campaign.

A content audit will reveal how well you’re covering the topics your target audience cares about and whether you have the right mix of content to keep things interesting.

Conducting a content audit is easy.

  1. Collect all the content you’ve created for your business in the past year or so. This can include articles, brochures, sales collateral, product line cards, even electronic content like PowerPoint presentations and company videos.
  2. Create a spreadsheet to list these items by title.
  3. Label them according to: type of content, topic(s) covered, buyer personas, date created, and leads/customers generated.

Study the spreadsheet to reveal patterns that could indicate whether you’re heavy on some topics and light on others, whether you’ve got enough content for each buyer persona, whether you have plenty of text-based content for blogs or eBooks, and visually oriented content for videos or webinars. Then determine which content has generated the most responses and for which audience.

Online content, when done correctly, will improve search engine rankings, drive new traffic to websites, and nurture and nudge leads into the top of the sales funnel, down through the middle of the funnel, and out the bottom as a new lead or converted customer.