Create these five types of content at the same time, and in a specific order to give your inbound / SEO campaign consistency and make it easier to execute.
Inbound marketing is one of the most effective online marketing methodologies today - it was pretty much invented by Hubspot. Done right, it can double as an SEO effort. The core concept is to attract the right audience to your site and win its trust through useful, high-quality, and actionable content. Once you have a subscriber base that trusts you and regularly engages with you, converting it into paying customers becomes much easier through a process known as “nurturing.”
Here’s an overview of the inbound methodology that includes search engine optimization as well. We use this strategy for online reputation management (ORM) and SEO projects.
A Note About Where Other Expert Content Lives
This guide doesn’t seek to replicate already complete information on inbound – please see this guide by Hubspot for more in-depth information. But generally, the inbound marketing strategy aims to achieve two main goals:
- Converting readers into subscribers
- Turning subscribers into paying customers
The 5 Most Important Content Types for Inbound
There are basically five content types to be aware of, and most should be created at the same time if possible, and in a certain order.
Above is a diagram of the five content types to create.
The Five Main Content Types for Inbound Are:
- Earned, owned, or paid content on another site
- Short-form content on your blog
- A CTA (call-to-action) embedded in your short-form content
- Long-form content such as a guide or eBook
- A newsletter or similar way of staying in touch with the prospect
These five basic content types work together to attract people to your content, engage them with short-form content, drive them to click on the CTA to learn more and offer them longer-form content to download in exchange for their email address. The email address (and name, hopefully) will be used to reach out with other helpful information until they're ready to interact again.
Note: Different types of content show up in different places in search results. This guide to the main areas of Google search results, and how to get content to rank will help.
First: Create Long-Form Content to Gather Emails
Gated content is free content (usually an eBook, an email course, or a video tutorial) that your readers can access by entering their email addresses in your site’s opt-in box. It's usually "long-form" meaning it's longer than a blog post. Sometimes it's a whole book. Of course, you always have the option of buying email lists to speed things up, but in-house lists you create yourself from long-form content will be more targeted because the people on the list have already visited your site and shown interest.
Second: Create Short-Form Content to Drive Interest
Once you've created the long-form content, create short-form content like blog posts based on the long-form content. This can be teasers, statistics, research, or whatever. By creating the long-form content first you have something to pull the shorter-form content from.
Remember that the whole focus of your inbound marketing strategy is to drive as many toward your offer as possible. The success of an article can often be measured by the number of email subscribers it generates. This means that the articles or blog posts will have two purposes (at least):
- To inform your audience
- To get that audience to do something. That something will be to provide their name and email address in return for free long-form content or to purchase long-form content.
This will be done by including a CTA in your content and by promoting your offer with banners located in various places.
Third: Create the Calls-to-Action
Once the short-form content is done, create the CTA (one or more). The CTA (call-to-action) is a banner or link that entices people to get more information. The CTA goes into the body of the short-form content (blog post) or in the sidebar of the web page. Wherever it goes, people have to see it to click on it. Here is a good example of a call-to-action:
Align CTA’s with the Content
As a content creator, you’ll need to use CTA’s that are more aligned with the audience of the specific page. This will mean the creation of custom CTA’s. For example, if you have a guide as your long-form content, your short-form content will be about the contents of the guide. The CTA will also be about the contents of the guide.
You’ll need to match the right CTA to the right content. You need to attract people who’re already interested in the solution your product offers and want to know more about it. That‘ll only happen when your offer is aligned with your free or paid offer. If you have an offer for red widgets, but the guide is about blue widgets, you won't get so many people to click over to the long-form content.
Fourth: Drive People to Your Content
Creating gated content and promoting it with your content is just one side of the equation. To accelerate the growth of your subscriber base you need to actively promote your offer on third-party platforms as well. This can be done in a number of ways.
Use Guest Blogging to Drive People to Your Short-Form Content
Instead of publishing articles only on your site, create high-quality blog posts and offer them for free to other established blogs and publications in your niche. Your article would include a call to action with a link to the landing page of your offer.
The beauty of guest blogging (contributing to someone else's blog or site) is that it builds inbound links to your site as well as traffic. It shouldn't be overdone though as too many guest blogs as a percentage of your total links might be considered a flag. But doing a bit of it is generally considered safe.
Tip: Create the content at the same time and in this order:
- Long-form content
- Short-form content
- Guest blogging content
Guest blogging helps you reach a broader audience in your niche and expose your content to more readers. This can result in more subscribers to your email list.
How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities
You can find guest blogging opportunities in your niche by using the following search queries on Google. We use “guns” as an example, but it could be any relevant search phrase.
- [search term] + write for us
- [search term] + guest post
- [search term] + contribute
- [search term] + guest author
Guest Blogging Resources
Here are a few resources to help you understand this process
Using Social Media Marketing to Drive Traffic
Use social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to not only engage with your target audience but also to actively promote your latest content and offer. This includes both free and paid social media marketing.
Facebook.com in particular is a great place to promote your offer and attract more subscribers using paid advertisements.
Social Media Resources
Here are links to detailed resources that explain how you can do it.
- Lead Generation With Facebook.com Ads – The Definitive Guide
- How I Got 500+ Email Subscribers Using Facebook.com Ads
Influencers are currently driving more sales than direct advertisements for some of the biggest brands in the world. If you can partner with influential bloggers, social media marketers, and experts in your niche to promote your content and endorse your offer, you may be able to skyrocket the growth of your email list.
Influencer Marketing Resources
These step-by-step resources will help you successfully execute an influencer outreach strategy.
- The Step-by-Step Guide to Influencer Outreach
Fifth: Nurturing Leads with Email Marketing
As soon as a reader joins your email list to access the gated content on your site, you need to start engaging him with timely emails. The content of these emails is just as important as the content of your site.
Subscribers are likeliest to take action on your emails when they’re new. So, make your first few emails count. The best way to do this is to really understand what the person wants, and give it to them.
The objective of these emails is to keep your subscribers engaged, build credibility by sharing more useful content, and turn them into customers by pitching exclusive offers.
Email Lead Nurturing Resources
Here are additional resources to help you understand this process better.
Inbound Marketing Strategy Checklist
- Create the long-form content first
- Create the short-form content second
- Create a CTA to embed in the short-form content
- Create or promote content on third-party sites or platforms
- Create an email autoresponder campaign with targeted content
Content creation FAQs
What are the best types of content for SEO?
The main content types for inbound are earned, owned, or paid content on another site. Short-form content on your blog. A CTA (call-to-action) embedded in your short-form content. Long-form content such as a guide or eBook. A newsletter or similar way of staying in touch with the prospect.
What is gated content?
Gated content is free content, usually an eBook, an email course, or a video tutorial, that your readers can access by entering their email address in your site’s opt-in box. It's usually long-form meaning it's longer than a blog post. Sometimes it's a whole book.
What is short-form content?
Short-form content can be blog posts based on long-form content. This can be teasers, statistics, research, or whatever. By creating the long-form content first you have something to pull the shorter-form content from.
What is a call-to-action?
The call-to-action is a banner or link that entices people to get more information. The CTA goes into the body of the short-form content (blog post) or in the sidebar of the web page. Wherever it goes, people have to see it to click on it.
How can I promote my content?
Drive people to your content by guest blogging, using social media, doing influencer outreach, and nurturing leads with email marketing.
About the author
Kent Campbell is the chief strategist for Reputation X, an award-winning online reputation management agency. He has over 15 years of experience with SEO, Wikipedia editing, review management, and online reputation strategy. Kent has helped celebrities, leaders, executives, and marketing professionals improve the way they are seen online. Kent writes about reputation, SEO, Wikipedia, and PR-related topics, and is an expert witness for reputation-related legal matters.