In its recent Inbound Marketing Strategy Report, Ascend2 and its research partners graded nine inbound marketing activities according to their effectiveness and difficulty. The scales for both metrics ranged from 0 percent to 70 percent. Social sharing scored lowest, at about 9 percent effectiveness and 5 percent difficulty. Seven other activities — including press and public relations, lead nurturing and scoring, and search engine optimization — were clustered in the 20 percent to 40 percent range.

One activity far exceeded the others in terms of both effectiveness and difficulty: content creation and marketing. It scored about 67 percent in terms of effectiveness and 51 percent in terms of difficulty.

It’s not surprising that content marketing is the most effective inbound marketing tactic. After all, people don’t want to be sold to. They want to be informed, and guided through the decision-making process. They want assurance that your product or service will be able to solve their problem, save them money, or make them more efficient. Effective content marketing gives customers that confidence through education and thought leadership.

Content marketing is difficult, however. It requires research into the kinds of information your customers are looking for. (Pro tip: Ask your sales people what questions they frequently hear from customers.) It requires knowledge of that information, and the ability to convey it in a meaningful way.

It also requires a significant amount of effort. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to consistently create and disseminate high-quality content through blogs, white papers, e-books, case studies and other assets.

This is particularly true in B2B technology marketing. Small business leaders who know very little about technology are looking for help and answers. IT professionals in large enterprises are looking for quality information that can help them make the right decisions. There’s a lot of technology content out there, but much of it is so high-level or self-serving that it has limited value. Find your niche, fill it with high-quality content and you ultimately will be rewarded.

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