Think Like a Publisher: 4 Low Cost Marketing Strategies to Drive Demand Creation

May 6, 2016
by Peg Miller

I was doing inbound marketing before it was cool, long before it had a name. For the 15 years I worked in tech media, we were doing inbound marketing out of necessity. We didn’t call it inbound marketing or content marketing, it was simply our business model.

Content is the product, and data are the currency.

We had no budget to build an audience through traditional paid media. We were “media”, but in reality we were a content business who called itself a media company.

Wikipedia defines inbound marketing as “promoting a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, physical products, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to attract customers through the different stages of the purchase funnel.”

According to Hubspot, by aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.

While there are additional methods to help drive inbound marketing, such as email marketing, pay-per-click, and others.  Today I’m focusing on low-to-no cost ways of driving organic traffic to your site. This post is first in a two-part series. In his book, Content Inc., my friend and former colleague, Joe Pulizzi, does a great job of diving much more deeply into this concept, giving step-by-step instructions for how to execute a content-driven business model. Today, I’ll give you the short version. Here is the general concept of how it works:

  • Create great content that entices an audience.
  • Use analytics tools to monitor which content performs the best.
  • Enable influencers to amplify the best content through social channels. Note: when I say influencers, I’m referring to anyone not on your department’s payroll. This can be customers, industry analysts, journalists, subject matter experts, employees, etc. The idea is to think of your influencer community in a broad sense, and to develop programs that help make it easy for people to share your content.
  • Collect email registrations. When you’ve provided enough value to the prospect, they will pay you with data.
  • Build revenue models off the data you’ve collected.
  • Scale and repeat. {Enter virtuous cycle}

Content is the product. Data are the currency.

I wish I could say we were innovative because we were brilliant, but as I look back I think we were innovative because we were cheap. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.

I’m sharing with you some very simple, yet highly effective, ideas to link your inbound strategy to your demand creation strategy. Chances are, you may be doing many of these things already, but can you look yourself in the mirror and feel confident you are doing them really well? I work with many clients who have many of these content marketing tactics in place, but they have room to improve their strategy.

4 Easy Tips to Link Your Inbound Marketing to Your Demand Creation Strategy

  1. Develop a content strategy that reinforces your business strategy. Align with industry trends and milestones, align with product milestones, align with prospect interests. Make sure you keep a customer-focused, outside-in approach; don’t let the internal-speak leak into your planning.
  2. Create a blog. If you haven’t already, start a blog. If you already have a blog, which only includes product announcements or press releases, start writing better content. Be sure you have thought through your strategy and content plan before you commit to a blog. You should be able to answer the most fundamental questions:
    • What is the goal? What do we expect to gain from our blog?
    • What will we write about?
    • What is the tone and voice?
    • Who will contribute content?
    • How frequently will we post content?
  3. Every page has a purpose on your web site. Use a hub and spoke approach to your content strategy on your web site. For years, marketers have tried to analyze and predict a linear content consumption pattern amongst their prospects. Reality is, your prospects will consume content in the order and form factor that makes the most sense to them. It could very well be unique to every prospect. It’s important to keep these consumption patterns in mind as you’re architecting your content strategy and building your web site map. The common tendency is for people to build out their web site with a hierarchy of home page and sub-pages underneath, envisioning that prospects are following a neat and orderly progression of increasingly deeper engagement with content.
  4. User-generated content. You don’t have to hire a huge content team or a passel of freelancers to generate ongoing content. Think about ways you can generate content from activities that are already happening every day within your business. What are you doing to encourage and enable your customers and your influencers to talk about your product or service? LinkedIn is a great example of enabling user-generated content. I’ve seen numbers as high as 60,000 long form posts being added to LinkedIn every week. All of this content is user-generated. LinkedIn doesn’t pay a dime to produce this content; they simply create a platform to give users a voice. Think about ways you can enable others to create content for your business, and most importantly, content that is in line content strategy and business goals? Here are some practical ideas, which even the most resource-strapped businesses can execute with very little time or technology:
    • Interview 5 customers and write a quick case study or blog about their experience with your product. Be sure they see the post, so they can help share it with their social networks.
    • Encourage customer reviews and create a place to post them on your site.
    • Quick polls – set up a one-question poll about an industry trend on your website, invite prospects and customers to take the poll, and allow them to share the results with their social network.
      • Pro Tip: Don’t forget to use these data in your sales enablement materials, because you’ve now just positioned yourself as a thought leader, collecting and sharing useful industry trends and data.
      • Take it a step further and include the knowledge in your analyst relations conversations.
      • Take it two steps further and turn these tidbits into an annual industry research study that becomes a full-blown content initiative on its own!
    • Create a contest for your customer service team to collect 5 pieces of customer feedback this week. Tweet about what you learned, and create a blog post about the feedback. And don’t forget to share the feedback with your product team!

Challenge: I encourage you to implement one of these ideas each month for the next four months, then monitor your traffic behaviors to watch how much the volume and quality of traffic improves. Now that you’ve improved your traffic numbers, next in the series, I’ll share 5 Quick Tips to Convert Organic Traffic and Drive Demand Creation.

About

Peg Miller is Co-Founder of the B2B Marketing Academy, and consults with high growth companies on their marketing, content and product strategies to achieve revenue results.