How to Promote Case Studies to Close More Deals

It can be challenging to tell a story about your value proposition; being able to show potential clients that you are capable of providing services that are catered towards them, their niche, and actually produce results, is a hyper-valuable marketing tool. The ability to demonstrate your relevance to the client can help foster “preference’ compared to other likely options.

If your company has made it to the shortlist, then you need to overcome objections. Why your company when others offer similar services? The answer is in the evidence.

This article is focused on explaining “how” you can use case studies in various parts of your marketing system, but if you’d like to know more about case storytelling, make sure to read “How to Write Project Case Studies.

Proving your capabilities lies in examples of how your company has solved similar problems in the past or how your company has solved problems that your potential clients aspire to be like. Just like a court of law or a science experiment, your prospect is looking for “evidence.”

This content asset is a use-case, project profile, or a case study. They all serve the same goals. Let’s go over what a case study is, why 63% of organizations want to know how to use business case studies in marketing, why they find them and find them useful, and some tips on how to create ones that compel clients as much as they do convince them.

What is a Case Study?

A case study uses your work with a previous client as an example of what your service is and why it’s valuable. It provides a prospect, an impression of your capabilities, how it relates to a specific company within an industry, and how your service provided value to that client.

Case studies will measure success, and in doing so highlight your abilities. Any case study with value will highlight specific actionable metrics and show their overall improvement through the use of your services.

Because case studies require you to highlight a past client, case studies aren’t overtly promotional, and, instead, they rely on a more journalistic tone and neutral voice.

How to Promote Case Studies

Case studies are valuable at every stage of your marketing process — as they act as evidence of your value. They are one of the most flexible content-assets that you can leverage throughout your marketing opportunities because they demonstrate who you’ve done work for and how you solved their problems and met their objectives.

Let’s go over a case study marketing strategy –  stage-by-stage and see how you use them in regards to your overall sales funnel.

How to Use Case Studies to Drive Traffic

The top of the funnel (or the awareness stage) is the stage where potential clients are looking around for a service that solves a problem that they currently have. Case studies provide them with valuable evidence of your abilities while simultaneously providing them with information regarding your overall service.

Potential clients at the top of the funnel are going to want to know what you offer. Case studies can give examples of what your services are and how they are actionable in real-life scenarios.

You can use your case studies in paid promotions to highly targeted prospects on LinkedIn or Facebook and bring them into your website or digital channel. A significant number of new prospects may find you via organic search, as they are searching for project scope, brand names, capabilities, etc…

Using Case Studies to Help Reinforce Positioning

The middle of the funnel (or the consideration stage) is where case studies start to become integral, and they act as the primary medium for highlighting your services.

The middle of the funnel is when potential clients are going to be searching for exactly why you’re the solution to the problem that they have, and what separates you from your competitors. This is the “why you?” phase.

A well-crafted case study should serve as a reminder of your solution, and how you positioned that solution in a way that improved actionable metrics and resulted in increased KPIs. All the while, it shows clients your experience within an industry and how you tackle unique problems.

The Bottom of the Funnel

The bottom of the funnel (or the purchasing stage) is when your clients are verified MQLs that are reaching for their wallet.

Case studies serve as a reminder of your overall value, evidence to mitigate risks, and leverage to help clients overcome objections.

In this stage case studies act as a sort of proof-of-concept for any additional worries that the customer may have. You want to be referring customers back to case studies if they have existing concerns about your ability to position a valuable solution to them. This is especially true if the case study exists within the same industry as they do.

What Elements are Critical for a Compelling Case Study?

As you can see, case studies are hyper-valuable marketing tools, so it’s crucial to craft them with care and diligence. Here are some of the critical components that make case studies engaging for the client.

Broad Context

Potential clients will want to know the overall context of your involvement. Before you get to the actionable metrics, your overall role, and the solution/s you provided, you need to make sure that your potential customer understands why your previous client required your services. What’s the overall picture? Is there a trend that you are combating? What gap did you fill?

Don’t forget your customer’s pain point(s)

Remember, the person that’s reading your case study is going to be applying all of the value you provided to this organization as value that they can apply to their own. Highlight the pain points. What is the main issue you are solving and how can it be applied to any business.

The proof is in the numbers

Since case studies should act as evidence of your abilities, actionable metrics are critical. People want proof. Make sure that you really buckle down on the specific improvements that you were able to provide in the form of KPIs. Give them numbers, and make sure that the results speak volumes.

The Caveat: Complexities

Depending on your service, KPIs may be more complex for you than others. If you mainly address presenting issues that vary from company to company, it may be challenging to give metrics that will immediately apply to another potential client.

For example, let’s say your service is to provide data analysis. So, you work with companies one-on-one to restructure data in a meaningful way.

If that’s the case, it may start to get a little complex when it comes to actionable metrics. That’s fine. Make sure that you structure your case study in a way that shows your value at tackling specific issues, and explain what solutions you provided to your customers.

Case Study Tips

Here are some tips that will help you write that perfect case study.

Demonstrate Your Value

Case studies are a great place to highlight your uniqueness. Your company doesn’t exist in a black hole, and you surely have some competitors who offer similar services to your own. Make sure that you highlight the things that make you unique.

Compelling Title

Case studies should still be wedged into your overall marketing strategy, so make sure that you craft a title that is compelling and has a keyword in it. Note: Bonus points for #hashtagable and tweetable titles.

CTA

Always include a CTA. You should be used to these by now.

Market it

Make sure that you have a space on your website reserved for your case studies. Go ahead, send out links to them in emails, market them on social media, make some high-quality videos about them. Go out there and market them.

How to Write Case Studies for B2B Projects

Project case studies are required high-demand marketing assets for professional service providers. They’re essential resources for your prospects because they provide evidence to support your positioning at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Here’s how it works. As your prospect interacts with your content, such as descriptions of your services or capabilities, or blog articles which demonstrate your insights, relevant case studies and use-cases, provide the proof of your competencies, but that’s not all.

Positioning through Case Studies

The goal of positioning is to articulate the difference between your brand and that of likely alternatives. Your products, services, and capabilities, alone, won’t set you apart. Remember that your competitors offer comparable services and the gap between solutions that you and those of your competitors might be hard to find. The difference between being “on the shortlist” and discussing an opportunity lies making your solutions tangible, compelling and personal.

Case Studies don’t just provide evidence. They help demonstrate how your solutions are relevant to the customer’s problems, and they provide nuanced insights into not only what you do, but also, “how,” and “why” you do what you do. From a branding perspective, your case studies, and project references provide the most significant opportunity to integrate your solutions, with real-world examples that demonstrate your approach and your process.

Positioning Through Case Study Examples

  • How your solutions helped mitigate risk
  • How your process helps to improve communications
  • How you work with similar types of companies
  • How your company can handle work of similar scope
  • How you dealt with unforeseen challenges
  • How you share the same values as the customer
  • How your solutions addressed overall business goals
  • Demonstrate your roles and competencies
  • Demonstrate safety or reduced environmental impact
  • Impact your solution had on your customer’s brand

Case Study Structure

Today, we’re going to take a look at how to conduct case study research and structure for how to write a business case study, so that your content educates potential clients, supports the value of your, and express the significance of your company’s service.

Select the Right Client and Use

Before you start developing your case study content, you need to get a few critical details down — the project or the (use case) and the client.
As far as your project or use-case goes, you will want to select projects that best highlight your problem-solving abilities, capture the attention of potential clients within the same niche, and demonstrate the methods by which your company helps minimize risk. Risk is involved when problems arise in the development of a project that cannot be overcome – such as technical problems, critical project timelines or budgeting. For most clients, the projects that require your services are “high-risk” endeavors, so minimizing their exposure to project failure due to cost or schedule overrides can set your firm apart from… the rest.

From a client perspective, you should try to prioritize clients that have recognized brands and segments that reflect your growth opportunities. You might also consider those that have enjoyed positive experiences which you can leverage customer feedback as quotes or testimonials. This allows you to incorporate the voice of your customer to express their values and priorities, as in what was important to them, in your marketing content.

Case Study Context

The first thing you need to do is frame your project with the necessary context provides the reader with information about what this project includes and what it doesn’t. Typically you’ll need to add the client, the project name, location, and key partners involved. For example, let’s say you are developing part of a much bigger project: for example, the next phase of a construction project, the manufacturing process for a pharmaceutical, or the integration of a specific component or system of a wind farm. Most projects are complex endeavors that include an array of stages and elements.

Case Significance

The background of the case helps establish the significance or importance of the project to the client AND the end-users. A project or initiative that is of high strategic importance means that they took great care in selecting the partners and solutions that would help them deliver it. A project’s significance to end-users means establishing the connection between the project and who it ultimately serves. For example, a new 400-bed hospital and the importance of what the access to health care means to the local community or a new school with security features that make it safer for local families.
Always ask the question…

Why does this project exist?

Problems to be Solved (The Scope)

Every initiative is a problem to be solved. Let’s use the word “problem” to incorporate a broad set of challenges that need to be overcome to complete the project successfully. If everything goes smoothly, there might not be much pain, but that doesn’t mean that problems weren’t encountered or solved along the way. Your problem includes the general scope of the project. The range might consist of the size of the project or the timeline, regulatory hurdles, technical challenges, or communication.

Solutions to Problems for Integrators

If you’re an engineer, architect, or you provide technology or product for a built environment or components to a more extensive system, you’re an integrator. Your expertise is realizing the successful delivery of the project. For example, the deliverable may be construction documents, but the results are achieved in the overall successful delivery and satisfaction of the project. When a significant initiative fails, everyone fails with it.
To tell the story of YOUR solution, you will incorporate the services that were utilized to address the challenges of the project. This is the part of your case study where you integrate your services and expand on *how* your services were applied. For example, explaining your proprietary processes, or expanding on the resources in your company that were utilized to deliver the results.

Extract the Challenges

You know your processes inside and out, but they’re not top of mind with your customer. They engaged you for the results and the journey to deliver those results might be overlooked or even completely invisible. Incorporate challenges that needed to be overcome, especially those that required additional problem-solving ingenuity. These are typically “normal,” but also unforeseen problems that need to be diagnosed and resolved. In many cases, these are business problems. By demonstrating that you understand the financial ramifications of the problem, you can provide business solutions that your competitor might solve with engineering solutions.

What I’m getting at is a valuable insight about telling the story of your solutions. In most situations, more time and more money can be added to any project to solve technical problems. However, sometimes, a business-minded consultant can advise the client about restructuring the project or addressing the pros and cons of design decisions that will impact project cost or operational efficiency.

Think about the value of demonstrating how project changes will cost an additional, unplanned $500,000, but will save the company $10 Million over the next five years. Remember that the above and beyond insights that you demonstrate will help propel you to the top of the short list.

Position your brand values

Great case study examples find ways to incorporate “why” you deliver your services the way that you offer them. For example, you can integrate the principles that guide how you serve your customers or why your products and services were packaged and delivered in your specific way.

  • Integrated communications
  • Green Solutions
  • Agile project optimization
  • High Efficiency

When you incorporate your values into your case study, you are demonstrating what you value and opening the door to the emotional reasoning that your customer selected you in the first place. When we understand what another person or company values, we gain comfort in understanding how they will approach working with us and dealing with the challenges that might come up in the process.

Review the Results

Reflect on the tangible, measurable figures that support the overall success of the project. Sometimes, these are takeaways that you will add in later, as your project lives in the real world and serves your client and the end-users. However; there’s no need to limit the results on hard-facts. Perceptions are also important. You can describe the experience of your efforts. For example, you can incorporate how the project champions felt about the delivery of the project or how end users experience the final product.

Practice Project Storytelling

Remember that your sales challenge is to differentiate your business from that of a likely competitor and it’s unlikely that you’re in a category of one. That means that your competitor is considering at least two other solution providers to work with. This is true for existing customers as well – they are vetting potential options to find out which one provides better value.
Don’t wait until a project is complete. Develop and enrich your cases in stages, from the earliest point, until long after they are experienced and enjoyed.

Which Departments in Your Company Should Be Involved in Creating Content?

Organizations that are thriving online at differentiating themselves from their competition recognize the importance of having a solid content development strategy. Not only does your content significantly influence how your products, services, culture, and values are perceived by your intended audience, your content also has a direct impact on your conversions as well. One approach that is key to achieving success online is to leverage the expert knowledge of your team members and users to assist you with your strategic content goals.

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How to Get Started in Video Marketing

People love to consume video. Whether we’re at their desk or on their tablet or phone, we’re all consuming a remarkable amount of video. The world of video marketing is growing exponentially, with hundreds of millions of hours of online video competing for our attention.

Four times as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers, and over half of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the content with the best ROI.

If your business has not yet embraced video marketing, it’s time to start; but getting started in this space can be understandably intimidating. Here is a quick planning guide to ensure that your marketing videos are clear, on-point, and effective.

Develop a Crystal Clear Value Proposition

What is your video about?

Or, in other words, why are you making this video? This is the first, essential step in planning your marketing video that you’ve got to fully understand before you can move on.

Be Clear and Direct

Video provides the opportunity for an unparalleled connection with your audience, but the tradeoff is you’ve got a very small window of opportunity. If your video is unclear or fails to engage, they’ll abandon it as quick as they’d hit play. It is imperative that your message be crystal clear and immediate.

1 Message Per Video

Videos aren’t cheap and they’re certainly not easy. Even if you save costs by doing yours in-house, you’ll still spend plenty in time and resources (more about this later). It may be tempting to cram everything you can into your video. Resist that temptation.

One video equals one message. You want your audience to walk away knowing what that video was about, not trying to remember everything it was about. Avoid including your entire sales pitch — quality, service, unique solution, etc. Every element of your marketing video should support the one key message. Don’t add extra fluff that will come between your value proposition and your viewers.

Determine the Type of Video

Now that you know what it is you want your video to say, it’s time to determine how it’s going to say it. Video is a powerful, versatile communication medium, and the possibilities for creatively engaging with your audience are endless, but there are a few video “types” that are proven to effectively reach online audiences (especially in the B2B space).

Branding Video

This is a great way to convey company personality and purpose. You might think of this as a “profile” or industrial video. This is the one place where the “1 message per video” rule can be bent a little, as these tend to be a bit longer in length (5-minutes and up) than your average video. Still, keep in mind what the key point is you want to communicate, and make sure that the video focuses itself on message.

Product or Service Video

These videos focus solely on one of your products or services. The best of these focus on how this product or service will affect your targeted viewers. How will it help solve their problems? reach their goals? change their lives? In the B2C space, Apple is incredibly good at this.

Explainers

These are concise, easily-digestible — and often quite entertaining — video tutorials that, as the name implies, explain something to the audience. They’re often animated and the epitome of clarity and engagement.

Webinars, Vlogs & Personalized Video

These are the simplest of the bunch when it comes to production needs, but they’re anything but easy to execute effectively. They’re usually filmed with a locked-down camera (mounted on a tripod, unmoving) and often filmed in a single, unbroken take. Ideal for providing helpful “quick tips” to your audience (usually under 2 minutes) or capturing an interview with an industry thought leader in a two-shot. Content and message are king here, because all other bells and whistles have been minimized or removed.

Decide on the Scope and Budget

Will your marketing video be shot in your office with your own equipment? Or will the production require hiring a professional?

The scope of your marketing video is directly tied to the type of video you’re making and the audience you’re trying to reach. Branding and product/service videos are usually best made by professionals, while webinars and vlogs could conceivably be shot internally. Technology is moving at such a pace that tools, such as Wistia’s Soapbox, allow you to record simple, quality videos with your webcam.

Your video budget is then determined by the type of video and the scope. Hiring a professional can be expensive and may seem cost-prohibitive for simpler projects. But there are several, often-overlooked costs associated with producing in-house that you should keep in mind when planning out your project.

  • Who within our company is responsible for producing the video content?
  • How long will it take for us to write the content copy internally?
  • How long will it take us to film?
  • Who internally is editing it? How long will that take?
  • Who’s responsible for uploading, publishing, optimizing and sharing?

Even if you have your own video and audio equipment, marketing videos take time to do correctly because there are so many production elements that come together to make a comprehensive whole. When budgeting, ask yourself if your team has ample time to focus on video production.

Video is not just the marketing platform of the future, it’s the most effective, engaging medium for reaching your audience today. Video marketing can be an intimidating area to get into, but once you do, the opportunity for results is incredible. Just plan your production one step at a time, and don’t be afraid to engage a professional when the video type and scope demand it. And, importantly, have fun! Before you know it you’ll be regularly releasing effective video content to your ever-growing audience.

Why Your Lead Generation is Failing (and How to Fix It)

Does your B2B business struggle with quality lead generation? Join the club.

B2B companies often list lead generation as the single biggest obstacle for their business, and it’s no wonder. In the world of Inbound Marketing, there are no magic bullets. There’s no one thing that will bring in a ton of leads. What Inbound Marketing does – and does very well – is attract high-quality leads through strategically-targeted, integrated campaigns. If you’re looking for overnight success, keep looking (and good luck to you). If you’re looking for steady, reliable, measurable growth, Inbound is where it’s at.

But you’ve heard this all before, and you’re probably already using Inbound Marketing in some form since 86% of B2Bs are already using content marketing.

You may be regularly updating your Facebook, blasting out content on LinkedIn, tweeting like mad and spending a respectable amount on paid search, but you’re still not seeing the results you want. So what’s the problem? My guess is lack of strategy.

At its core, Inbound Marketing can be summed up in one word: story. You can’t effectively execute any campaign without first knowing what your story is and how to tell your story to the right audience.

Know Your Story

This isn’t a slogan or a catch phrase – this is your value proposition. This is home page material: what your company does, how it benefits your customers, and why they should choose you over your competitors. It’s as simple as that. Strive to create a value proposition that is direct, compelling, and easily digestible.

If it can’t be clearly explained in one or two sentences, then it probably needs some reevaluation.

Here are some examples of companies with excellent value propositions:

HubSpot

“Grow your business. More than 13,500 companies in over 90 countries use HubSpot’s marketing and sales software.”

MPW Engineering Solutions

“A Highly-Skilled, Well-Regarded, Multi-Disciplinary MEP Engineering Firm with an Emphasis on Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire Protection and Refrigeration Engineering Solutions.”

KISSmetrics

“Track, analyze and optimize your digital marketing performance. We show you what’s working and what’s not across all campaigns, mobile and web.”

The Criterion Collection

“The Criterion Collection is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality, with supplemental features that enhance the appreciation of the art of film.”

Right out of the gate, tell your audience what you do and how that would benefit them. You want to position yourself in your industry and differentiate yourself from your competition. Show them that choosing you is the best choice that they could make.

How to create a value statement in 3 easy steps:

1. Identify how your product or service will benefit the customer.

2. Link those benefits to how valuable your product or service is to the customer.

3. Position yourself in your industry and differentiate yourself from your competition.Make it clear that you know who your target customer is, that you truly understand their goals and challenges (more on this in the next section), and, when it  comes to solving their problems, choosing your company is the best choice they could make.

Once you have this nailed down – once you know your story – then it’s time to start sharing it with your audience.

Tell Your Story to the Right Audience

Buyer Personas are representations of your “ideal customers,” composited from interviews, observations, and industry trends. They’re generalized characters that emphasize the various needs, wants, goals, challenges, and pain points of your real and potential customers. You learn about who they are, what interests them, and where they go for information. But you learn more than that – more than just the Who’s and the What’s. You learn the Why’s and the How’s. These insights drive every component of the Inbound Marketing process.

After you have your value statement and your Buyer Personas, it’s time to put them to use.

Drive High-Quality Lead Generation with Buyer Personas

1. Create original content tailored specifically for your Buyer Personas

Address the needs, goals, and pain points of your ideal customers. They’re already online searching for these things, so this is your way of creating and giving them valuable information that they need. Write blogs, create videos, and publish eBooks and white papers. Discover the information that your Personas desire, then create it for them.

2. Rework your existing content

If you have a great blog post about “Tips for Effective Project Management” and you discover that your ideal customers include architects, tweak your post to be specifically about their industry. This may take as little as new introduction and a few additional sentences, or it may be slightly more involved. Either way, you’ve got the content already there and laid out, all you have to do is make it more targeted to reboot it as part of a lead generation campaign.

3. Utilize the right channels

Identify the various communities, social networks, and websites where your ideal customers spend their time. These are the places where you’ll share all of this highly-targeted content we’ve just outlined. Share and promote links to blog posts, CTAs (Call-To-Actions), landing pages, and free resources. The idea behind sharing things on multiple social platforms is simple: drive visitors back to your website for more information, and convert those visitors into leads.

4. Give away tools

Driving visitors to your website opens up a world of opportunities. One of the best way to convert visitors into leads is to give them free stuff in exchange for their contact information. This is called “gated content,” and it can be anything from “Download your free eBook” to “Request a free estimate.” All the visitor has to do is fill out a form with their name and email before the download begins. And voilà! That visitor is now a contact in your system and a lead for you to guide through your sales funnel.

5. Curate content on your social channels

Don’t limit yourself strictly to creating and reworking your own content for your audience to devour – you’ll never be able to keep up, especially on social media. You can continue to attract and engage those coveted high-quality leads using the same methods that we’ve already discussed – by sharing content that’s important to them. Even though the content is not originating with your company (and therefore doesn’t directly drive them back to your own website), your audience will continue to see you as a valuable resource for the content that they crave.

6. Personalize the experience

Let’s say your ideal customers consist of architects, electricians, and the construction firms. They all work together, but each of those industries needs different things from your business. Wouldn’t it be amazing if when each of them visited your website, your site was personalized for their specific industry? With HubSpot’s powerful smart tools, your site can do just that. If a visitor visits your site for the first time and exchanges their information for access to your free content, then your site will remember them in the system and every subsequent visit will be even further tailored to their specific needs.

If an electrician visits your site for the second time, your home page would be displayed as an alternate version just for that industry. Pretty cool, right? It is an incredibly powerful tool.

Having a strong, clear value proposition and knowing who your ideal customers are is the foundation for building all of your successful Inbound Marketing campaigns. Take this information, know your audience, perfect your story, and get started on generating some high-quality leads.

How to Create Great Content for Inbound Success

Ultimately, your website is not about your business; it’s about your prospects and customers – the questions that they’re asking and the problems that they need solved. Your website’s job is not to be your virtual business card or digital portfolio; its function is to show to your audience that you understand their challenges and that your business is equipped and knowledgeable enough to help them reach their goals. The way that you demonstrate this is through your original content.

For many of you, the words ‘content’ or ‘content marketing’ may apply singularly to blogging, but blog posts are only one element of an effective content strategy. Every single thing on your site contains content — from the overall messaging and product or service pages, to landing pages, eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, infographics and, yes, blog articles.

With all of these different content varieties, it can be easy to get caught up in the details of content production and lose sight of the objectives and overall strategy. Follow these guidelines to maximize your content’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Great Content Begins with Clear Objectives

Before even beginning to think about creating content, it’s important to do some goal-setting. Decide what it is you want to accomplish with your content strategy — more visits, more leads, more sales,… all of the above? That’s all well and good, but it’s important here to be specific. In fact, it’s crucial that you set SMART goals:

  • Specific – Resist the temptation to lean safely toward ambiguity. “More leads” is not a goal, but “increase leads by 25% within 90 days” is. Forget goals like “social impressions” and “brand awareness,” as these do not directly affect your business performance. The more detailed you are, the more effective your goal-tracking and data analysis will be.
  • Measureable – Setting goals with real numerical values is the key to having goals you can actually measure. Break your goals down into regular, smaller goals to keep your team on track — for instance, you should have several benchmarks set within a 90-day lead generation campaign in order to assess your progress and reach your overall goal. Ignore the fluff and stick to the cold hard data when evaluating performance.
  • Attainable – Your goals should challenge your team, while still being within reach. Don’t overdo it here. Overpromising and underperforming will result in all parties being dissatisfied.
  • Realistic – If you don’t have the time, resources, or mental bandwidth to effectively reach your goals, then the goals need to be adjusted to something more realistic. Know your limits (while still reaching for the stars, of course!).
  • Time-based – Give yourself a deadline and adhere to it. Having a hard stop date before you begin will result in stronger focus and better results.

Once you have your SMART goals set, you’ll be able to dive into your strategic content creation.

Effective Content is Persona-Driven

The first step in creating successful content is determining who you’re creating the content for. These are your buyer personas — semi-fictional, composite characters that embody the various needs, goals and challenges of your real and potential customers. Buyer personas are developed through research such as industry trends, observations, and, most importantly, interviews with your real customers.

Your personas represent your ideal customers, and they serve as the foundation for all your Inbound Marketing efforts. These are the people you want buying your products or services, and these are the people you want searching out, finding and consuming your original content.

Use the insights gained from your buyer personas to tailor relevant, valuable content specifically around your customers’ wants, needs, questions and problems:

  1. Create a master keyword list of your persona’s most searched terms.
  2. Choose 3-5 long-tail keywords that have the most potential for relevant content creation and audience engagement.
  3. Identify which type(s) of content your persona prefers to consume (i.e. eBooks, infographics, podcasts, brief or in-depth blog posts, etc.).

And that’s essentially it — your master keyword list serves as the building-block for your master content and topic lists, and the most-likely-to-be-consumed-formats help you decide which types of content to prioritize. Now you’re ready to start creating tailor-made content for you buyer personas.

Create Content that is Valuable to Your Customers

That’s right — we’re going to go over persona-driven content in even more detail, because creating something of value is critical to generating results. Valuable, relevant content is what search engines are looking for, but, more importantly, it’s what your customers are looking for. Give them something special; give them something that they’re not getting anywhere else.

Take that keyword list and dig deep. Focus on content that is educational, helpful, inspirational and/or entertaining. Create content that engages on all levels of your niche.

Keep Your Messaging Clear and Compelling

Writing cute, clever or enigmatic copy has its place, and this ain’t it. Don’t let the power of your message get lost in an over-complicated delivery. Regardless of whether you’re creating a product page, Call-To-Action or a title for a blog post, strive to write clear, engaging and persuasive content.

Engage in a Full-Funnel Content Strategy

Increasing website traffic is generally a positive thing, but it’s absolutely worthless if you don’t effectively engage with the visitors once they’re there. What good are visitors if your website fails to capture any leads, right?  For a content strategy to work — and I mean really work — you’ve got to have valuable content at each stage of the Buyer’s Journey.

buyers-journey.png

When great content is doing its work, it’s reaching its goals. When great content works together at each level of your sales and marketing funnel, a beautiful thing happens — your site and its content effectively and intuitively guides them down the funnel and through each stage of their Buyer’s Journey. This is Inbound Marketing at it’s finest — strangers become visitors; visitors become leads; leads become customers; customers become advocates.

InboundMethodology.png

Increase Organic Traffic at the Top of the Funnel

The Top of the Funnel (TOFU) corresponds directly with the Awareness Stage of the Buyer’s Journey. Your potential customer is experiencing symptoms to his problem, and likely doesn’t know how to begin solving it. He’ll begin by searching for resources to expand his knowledge of the situation, and we want him to find your content in his search. TOFU content includes:

Blogging – Regular blog posts are the “bread and butter” of your Inbound content strategy. This is due not only to their frequency (usually a minimum of 2 posts per week), but in large part to their versatility. Inspirational or educational, 400-word posts or 1000+ words — it all depends on the persona you’re making these for and the goals you’re striving to hit.

Site Pages & SEO – This includes optimizing each site page around one long-tail keyword. For instance, if your signage manufacturing company primarily works with the healthcare industry, a site page optimized for “wayfinding signage” will help you show up in search results for that term.

Social Media – You may not think tweeting would be considered part of your content strategy, but it most definitely is. Engage with your customers and prospective customers on the social channels they most frequent. Share and post relevant content that interests your buyers, regardless of whether or not it originated from your website. However, be sure to consistently share your own content, as well!

Generate Leads in the Middle of the Funnel

Once you’ve got people coming to your site, you need to convert them from visitor to lead. The Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) corresponds with the Consideration Stage of the Buyer’s Journey, where your prospect is starting to look at solutions for her problem. MOFU content is of a much higher value than TOFU content and typically centers around a gated content offer where the visitor is willing to submit her contact information in exchange for a valuable piece of content.

Gated Content – This can be an eBook, guide, checklist, whitepaper, template — anything in-depth or helpful enough for a visitor to be willing to fill out a brief form to get it.

Calls-To-Action (CTA) – This is the value proposition for your content offer — eye-catching and effective — clearly worded in such a way that people are compelled to act.

Landing Pages – The page the CTA takes you to, with more information on the content offered, as well as the opportunity to download the content upon completion of a form.

Forms – Required on every landing page. The amount of information requested on the form should be inline with the perceived value of the content offered. The minimum amount of information should be name and email address.

Nurture Leads at the Bottom of the Funnel

Don’t stop with leads — use even more amazing content to nurture those leads into sales. By still providing touch points at the Decision Stage of the Buyer’s Journey, you’ll be able to continue nurturing your leads while qualifying them for your sales team.

Thank You Pages – This is the page the contact is taken to after completing the form on the landing page, and the it’s first opportunity to nurture your lead. It is an excellent chance to include an additional CTA for the next stage of the Buyer’s Journey.

Email Marketing – A visitor becomes a lead when he provides his email address, and what better way to continue engagement after content delivery than through follow-up emails. Through segmentation and automation, emails can offer the lead additional blogs or downloadables related to the completed offer. Additionally, the lead should also begin receiving regular email newsletters containing relevant blog posts and CTAs. The more the lead recognizes your business as understanding and being able to solve his problem, the closer you’ll be to a sale.

Case Studies – The difference between a lead and a sale could be lack of familiarity. Case studies are real-world examples of your abilities to perform. Prove to them that you’re not all talk by showing them your exemplary track record.

Pricing Page – Displaying pricing on your website can be either a tool or an obstacle. Make sure it’s the former by structuring the page to clearly address the benefits gained by choosing your solution.
Infographics – Simple, visual, and easily shared and consumed, helpful infographics can illustrate everything from your business’ process to the advantages of your particular solution.

Remember that inbound marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s all about building a relationship with your prospective buyers. No one piece of content is likely to explode into instant success, but all of your content working together — when created around clear objectives to provide real help to your targeted customers — will ultimately lead to an effective inbound program. Stick to it, be consistent, and above all, be valuable.