The concept of “inbound marketing” is somewhat deceptive. It’s often described from almost a Field of Dreams point of view: “If you blog it, they will come.” While it’s true that SEO helps content attract a target audience, it’s still necessary to pound the virtual pavement, so to speak, in order to develop a following.
Likewise, simply developing a following for a blog or video channel isn’t enough to draw people in to buying a product. Like any other form of marketing, it takes work to turn those viewers into leads, and turn those leads into sales. So the question becomes how to turn anonymous Internet users into real, usable leads. Well, more in-depth targeting requires more in-depth content. Specifically, white papers and e-books.
White papers and e-books are longer and more involved than blogs. White papers are formal and text-heavy, while e-books tend to present data more dynamically, utilizing graphs and bullet points and breaking up content into bite-sized chunks. The purpose of both is usually to solve a specific problem for the reader or instruct them in how to do something, such as “10 Best Practices For Customer Service.”
But the main thing that sets white papers and e-books apart from regular content is this: user registration. Anyone can stumble across a blog or a video on the Internet, read it and move on. In order to view a white paper, readers have to provide their name, e-mail address and some other basic information. It’s still a free offering. But it allows a company the opportunity to compile a list of who is interested in what they have to offer and how to contact them. By offering a number of different documents on a variety of subjects in their field, a company can further categorize potential customers by their specific areas of interest.
After that, the next step is to contact them, sending out a series of personal e-mails, or at least e-mails that are tailored to their specific interests. Not a lot of them. Maybe one a week, over the course of a month or so, each offering new information, new e-books and new incentives for making a purchase. It’s important not to send too much or to be too forceful or bombastic, as it will turn people off, and the e-mails will just go into their spam folder. But by adding that personal touch and appealing to the things they already know are of interest to the target, a company can use carefully constructed content to turn viewers into customers.